Today's Foundations Devotional: Historic judgement and eternal judgements
You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God,
am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to
the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy
to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.
Having established during the last week the general principles of divine judgement, we shall now go on to point out two distinct and separate stages in which God’s judgement is administered to the human race.
The first of these two stages is God’s judgement in time; that is, that part of God’s judgement which is carried out upon the scene of human history. The second of these two stages is God’s judgements in eternity. It is this second stage of judgement which is called “eternal judgement” (Heb. 6:2). Eternal judgement is not carried out upon the scene of time or of human history. Eternal judgement is the judgement which awaits every human soul in eternity, after time and history have closed.
The main purpose of our present studies is to examine the teaching of Scripture concerning God’s judgement in eternity. However, it will be helpful to begin by a brief examination of the first stage, God’s judgement in history. In this way, as we carefully observe this logical and scriptural distinction between God’s judgement in history and God’s judgement in eternity, we shall be able to reconcile certain statements of Scripture which seem inconsistent with each other. Take, for example, the following commandment and warning given to Israel by God.
You shall not make for yourself any carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth; you shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments (Ex. 20:4-6).
Jeremiah reminded the Lord of both the promise and the warning which He had given to Israel.
You show lovingkindness to thousands, and repay the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them (Jer. 32:18).
These passages of Scripture and others like them make it clear that – in certain cases, at least – the sins of one generation cause the judgement of God to come upon succeeding generations, as far as down to the third or fourth generation. Conversely, the righteousness of one generation can cause the blessing of God to come upon many thousands of their descendants. Such passages as these all deal with God’s judgements in time; that is, in history.
Lord God and Father, help me to be a living witness to You in my
environment and this time. You alone are worth all our praise and
worship, God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. I will
praise and worship You, and make Your name and greatness known to
everyone who wants to hear. Amen.