Thursday, 19 December 2013

Taking a 'Bite' out of Universalism?

I remember some years ago coming back from a business trip in central Alberta when suddenly the whole highway seemed to move. No, it wasn’t an earthquake; it was grasshoppers, … locusts, … billions of them! Suddenly one literally couldn’t see the road surface as the invading army of locusts crossed the highway from one poor farmer’s field to another’s. By the time I got home, the front of my previously white car was yellow as millions of locusts met their maker (so to speak) via the tires and front grill of my car. Unfortunately for me, it seemed to take forever to later wash their residue off my car. Maybe they did have the last laugh after all.

Locusts are known to eat everything green that stands in their way. A quick visit back to Exodus 10 shows us that God used them as one of the plagues against Egypt in which they infested everything. Like my trip down that lonely secondary highway, God said, “They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields” (Exodus 10:5; NIV). It is no secret the damage locusts can do to the agricultural industry!

This morning I read at the other end of my Bible another Scripture that deals with locusts, but this time it almost seems as someone messed with their DNA, or some such thing, as they seem to have lost their appetite for vegetation. When we meet the locusts again in Revelation 9 it’s like they’ve been cross-bred with scorpions. Now it would seem that their sole purpose, according to divine instruction, is “not to harm the grass of the earth or any green plant or any tree, but only those people who do not have the seal of God on their foreheads” (Revelation 9:4; ESV). What are we to make of that?

For me, there is only one answer, and it comes in two parts. First, God is sovereign and can use any part of His creation for any purpose He chooses, even if it means messing with what we might think of as the natural order of things. If He chooses to reorganize the DNA of locusts so that suddenly human flesh becomes more interesting to them than simply being vegetarians, then so be it. He is God, and as Creator, it is His right to do with the creation as He wills. Secondly, this serves as a reminder of an unpopular subject: Judgment. Despite our preaching on the love of God, which is true and correct, there is another side of the story that doesn’t seem to get as much air-time: Judgment of the unbelieving human race, those without the seal of God on their foreheads.

What then shall we say? Is God unjust? Not at all! For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” It does not therefore depend on man’s desire or effort, but on God’s mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: “I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’ Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? (Romans 9: 14-21; NIV)

It is interesting how many people have looked at me funny whenever I’ve quoted anything from Romans 9. Based on some of the responses I’ve gotten from these well-meaning brothers and sisters, you’d think some of that locust-juice from the car wash was still splattered on my face. But with all due respect, people, I didn’t write that chapter; God orchestrated it.

This begs the question: So what are we going to do with it?

Could it be that some who read these words will be counted among those who will experience the torment of the locusts with the sting of the scorpion? As of today, there is still a little time left to get the antidote; the seal of God on your forehead. But one day it will be too late, and the door will be closed. Then all you will hear is, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you” (Matthew 25:12). Does that make God unjust? No, it just means that some Universalist feathers will be ruffled. God is more than gracious, but if men continue to reject Jesus, they will have no one but themselves to blame, as they are wholly “without excuse” (Romans 1:20).

“And in those days people will seek death and will not find it. They will long to die, but death will flee from them” (Revelation 9:6; ESV).

Something to think about. Peace.

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