"When thou goest with thine adversary to the magistrate, as thou art in the way, give diligence that thou mayest be delivered from him; lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison" (Luke 12:58)
We can easily imagine the scene before us. Someone has committed an offence and is being dragged to the judge for legal action. Jesus showed the wisdom of settling with the offended party before it is taken to the courts. Far better to be humble and acknowledge the wrong done. Far better to look for forgiveness and grace, rather than have the court punish you according to the full extent of the law (as the next verse points out). "I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite" (Luke 12:59).
This was a parable. There was a deeper meaning. He was showing the people that they were like the offender in His parable, but in a much more serious context. They had offended God. The crime he had in mind was sin.
His parable reminds all who sin that there is a court date awaiting. The Bible clearly speaks of a day when sins will be answered for. Judgment will be handed down. Punishment will be meted out. John prophesied of this day in some detail. "And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them" (Revelation 20:11).
Jesus' parable foresaw the strict justice of this hearing. The records of human sin will be reviewed and the punishment demanded by God's holy law will be passed down. "and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works" (Revelation 20:12c). There is absolutely no leniency, no escape, and all sentences are served for eternity. "And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire" (Revelation 20:15).
The whole point of Jesus' teaching was to direct the wise to deal with their sin problem now and avoid the judgment of the Great White Throne. He is the Saviour. By His death on the cross, payment was made for our sins. God accepts this as full satisfaction for His offended law for those who repent and receive His Son as personal saviour. The lesson is clear. Settle out of court now.
"This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come" (II Timothy 3:1).
Bible prophecy speaks of what lies ahead in eternity for each individual, depending on their relationship to God's Son. Prophecy also foretells the course of world events here on planet earth in the present age, leading up to the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And in a nutshell, the short term prognosis is not good; We are to expect "perilous times".
The rest of II Timothy, chapter 3 goes on to expand on the meaning of this and teaches us that we may expect it to become progressively worse as people increasingly turn from the truth of the Bible on every side. "But evil men and seducers shall wax worse and worse, deceiving, and being deceived" (II Timothy 3:13). Those called seducers are people in places of leadership or influence that would promote ungodliness as a viable and even preferred alternative.
The message of many today, in fact, is the exact opposite of the warnings of God's Word. It is amazing to hear the many promises of happiness and peace being offered if we will throw aside all the moral and spiritual values found in Scripture. Western culture has been pursuing this course now for some time, and yet the promised improvement is never achieved. Still, people are not deterred from following the road another step, and another step, thinking satisfaction is just around the corner.
The Bible warns of the insanity of following such a carrot on a stick. Any objective person can look around and see that the state of the world is getting progressively and consistently worse, rather than better, as God is being denied. "We looked for peace, but no good came; and for a time of health, and behold trouble" (Jeremiah 8:15). The problems that come from sin in this world, increasingly on a global level, are lessons from God.
We are left with only two choices. We may continue on a global collision course with the displeasure of God or we may have a change of heart and mind and return to God His way.
These are sober words to have to write, but hoping for something better when it is contrary to what the Bible promises is not optimism; it is folly.
"Many seek the ruler's favour; but every man's judgment cometh from the LORD" (Proverbs 29:26). What is left unsaid in this proverb of Solomon's? YET FEW SEEK HIS FAVOUR! Why be more preoccupied with the reward or judgment of men when the final word is the sentence of the Almighty?
The judgment of the Lord is sure. The rulers of this earth, despite their higher position, are limited like other men in their ability to bring to pass their intentions. They have plans to do good and to do bad that often cannot be carried out. "There are many devices in a man's heart; nevertheless the counsel of the LORD, that shall stand" (Proverbs 19:21). There is no way to overturn what God determines in His judgment. "There is no wisdom nor understanding nor counsel against the LORD" (Proverbs 21:30). No wonder some people would like to believe there is no God.
The judgment of the Lord is eternal. This world's rulers' favour, or their punishment, cannot extend beyond the things of the present, but God's sentences matter forever. "And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell" (Matthew 10:28).
The favour of the Lord must be through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, since sinners have no personal merit. He paid the penalty for our sins when He died on the cross. God now extends favour to those who trust in His Son for salvation from sin, and He promises them a home in heaven for all eternity.
Isaiah's words complete the thought of the Proverb we began with. "Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon" (Isaiah 55:6-7).
"But if I with the finger of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you" (Luke 11:20).
When Jesus came into the world as the Messiah foretold in the ancient Scriptures, He demonstrated the reality of His claims in many ways. In Luke 11 we can read of a great victory over the powers of darkness by Him casting a devil out of one who had been robbed of the power of speech by the devil. However, when the Lord's enemies saw the remarkable miracle and heard the man speak in proof of his deliverance they accused Jesus of doing the miracle by the power of Beelzebub.
The Lord's answer was that the miracle was not the work of Satan but in fact had the fingerprint of God upon it. It was the kind of thing only God could do. And if their hearts had been honest they would have recognized both the miracle and the claims of the miracle worker. Jesus' ability to set this possessed man free from the power of the devil confirmed His claims of being the One who came to solve man's spiritual problem.
The works of God are unmistakable to the honest judge. His creation of the universe left a great testimony of omnipotence and wisdom. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork" (Psalm 19:1). Romans chapter one further assures us that our rational constitutions must lead us to a certain realization of God's existence and powers if we consider the Creation.
At times God intervenes in the course of human history so that we are constrained to confess that it can only be the providence of God. Even the magicians of Egypt came to a place where they were forced to recognize God's miracles and plagues He brought upon the country. "Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God" (Exodus 8:19a). What had happened was outside the sphere of natural explanation or imitation.
We can be very thankful that there is one Book that we can believe unreservedly because it also shows the unmistakable mark of God's hand. In fact the very first transcript of God's law is described as, "tables of stone, written with the finger of God" (Exodus 31:18b). The whole Bible is the very written Word of the Living God.