Psalm 14 provides God’s perspective on people who believe that they will not be held accountable for their actions.
They are “fools,” because they believe they will live free from accountability.
Fools say in their hearts, “There is no God.”
They are corrupt; they do abominable deeds;
there is no one who does good. (Psalm 14.1)
They are “fools,” because they refuse to seek God and his wisdom.
The Lord looks down from heaven on humankind
to see if there are any who are wise,
who seek after God. (Psalm 14.2)
Instead of loving other people, they “eat them up like bread.”
Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers
who eat up my people as they eat bread
and do not call upon the Lord? (Psalm 14.4)
It is right for a just and righteous God to hold them accountable for their actions.
There they shall be in great terror,
for God is with the company of the righteous. (Psalm 14.5)
The ancient Greek philosopher Euripides was right when he said, “God’s justice grinds slowly, but it grinds exceedingly fine.”
John’s vision of God’s judgment in Revelation 16 is a picture of how the Judge of all the earth calls humans to account for their behavior.
Then I heard a loud voice from the temple telling the seven angels, “Go and pour out on the earth the seven bowls of the wrath of God.”
So the first angel went and poured his bowl on the earth, and a foul and painful sore came on those who had the brand of the beast and who worshiped its image (Revelation 16.1-2).
The bowls of God’s judgment resemble the plagues visited upon Egypt prior to the Exodus of God’s people from slavery.
We do well to reflect on how the people who bore the mark of the beast will be visited by the “marks” of God.
Those who thought they could “eat up people” with oppression and persecution find that there are consequences to their behavior.
Human pride often overlooks the necessities of life until they change. Egypt was a superpower in the days of Moses, because of a plentiful supply of water for their crops.
God’s plague on the water supply in Egypt (Exodus 7.19) pictured the second and third bowls of God’s wrath.
The second angel poured his bowl into the sea, and it became like the blood of a corpse, and every living thing in the sea died.
The third angel poured his bowl into the rivers and the springs of water, and they became blood (Revelation 16.3-4).
In the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man reflects the need for water when the judgment of God comes upon those who believe there would be no accounting for their behavior.
“He called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in agony in these flames'” (Luke 16.24).
The judgment of God is neither vengeful nor capricious. It is an expression of his just and righteous nature.
And I heard the angel of the waters say,
“You are just, O Holy One, who are and were,
for you have judged these things;
“Because they shed the blood of saints and prophets,
you have given them blood to drink.
It is what they deserve!” (Revelation 16.5-6)
God’s perspective in Psalm 14 and Revelation 16 announces that judgment comes from a holy God who is just.
As a thought experiment, consider a recent horrific crime that has been in the news. Imagine the public outrage if the judge said this about the criminal.
“I know you committed the crime, but I’m having a good day and I’m going to set you free. Case dismissed.”
If God does not hold accountable the crimes of humanity, then he is exactly like the unjust judge in our example.
The third chapter of Romans considers how “all have sinned” (verse 23). The chapter outlines how Jesus is the one who took our rightful punishment for the offenses we have committed.
Because of Jesus, Paul was able to declare God to be both just and the justifier of people who place their trust in Jesus.
The crucifixion and resurrection took place so God “might be just, and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus” (Romans 3.26).
It is true that all humanity deserves to be held accountable for our rebellion. Jesus suffered the punishment that is rightfully ours. We are released from the guilt of our sins when we receive God’s gracious gift through Jesus Christ.
Think About It.
In a world where it may seem that wrongdoing goes unpunished, we are reminded that God’s justice may be slow, but it grinds exceedingly fine.
It is good to reflect on our own actions and attitudes, embrace accountability and strive for righteousness.
Praise God for the redemptive work of Jesus Christ, who took upon himself the punishment for our offenses, enabling God to be both just and the justifier of those who place their trust in Him.
Rudy Ross and I discuss this passage on YouTube today. It is on the Bob Spradling channel.