Shades of Gray Part 2
The thing that amazes me about religion is, there are so many religions. I’m not sure how many there are, but they all believe in death and one type of resurrection or another. Most believe in some type of judgment period. Even if you believe in some form of reincarnation, there is a judgment period that looks at the life you lived and the findings determine what type of life form you return as. For the rest of us, we believe in one form of Heaven and hell. And of course there are versions of something in between. In any case, each religion is founded upon some sort of judgment system. Then of course there are those who don’t believe in any type of god. They believe we exist then die and that is about it. As if matter is some type of controlling factor. Of course that branches out into many different forms of beliefs. Some rather difficult and many impossible to explain.
What seems rather confusing is the fact, the three major religions in this world all believe in the same God. Yes, Muslims, Jews, and Christians all believe in the same God. From there each of the major religions disagrees on the concept of God. Not to get into details, because people have disagreed on the major concepts for thousands of years, the fact of the matter is, each of the those three major religions branches out into dozens and hundreds of sub or splinter religions. In the United States alone it is estimated Christianity has over 300 denominations. But that doesn’t matter. The one thing they have in common is death and some type of resurrection. Before that resurrection each religion has a belief in a judgment period.
No one really knows actually what happens during that judgment period. One of the major Christian denominations believes the last generation will get a second chance to redeem themselves they refer to as, “left behind.” In either case, the left behind believers do adhere to a judgment process. There has to be a judgment process. Before Jesus returns to take the those who are living to Heaven, God, Jesus, and the angels have to know who is going to Heaven, who is going to hell, and in their case, who is left behind. But no one seems to talk about that judgment period. Maybe because, the Bible doesn’t contain any story explaining the judgment process. What do we need to do to gain salvation? That is the sticking point and the question that divided Christians into so many denominations. They are not divided by what is in the Bible. They are divided by what is not in the Bible. Take the left behind theory. A concept based on one verse in the Bible. They produced a number of books and movies on the subject, all written on one verse in the Bible and a host of human imagination. Of course people may argue their concept is based on more than a single verse, but how do those verses explain God’s judgment system? How do those verse explain the scene, time, location, and process God’s judgment follows?
Questions about the judgment system have been around a long time. A number of denominations claimed to have found the answer. In simple terms they clung on to the belief, Jesus died for our sins. So dozens of concepts sprang from that belief ranging from once saved, always saved, to a variety of works and faith. But not one of them has been able to explain a single step in God’s actual judgment process. But wait, the Bible has a couple of stories written by prophets who were drawn to Heaven to witness God’s judgment process. The problem is, God’s judgment exceeds human understanding and is beyond any court proceedings in this world. Is that a good reason for three major religions and hundreds of denominations to ignore the subject? It seems to me, if God put the entire process in writing and we have it all in black and white, why don’t we sit down to study the subject and learn from the facts we have. Maybe because the answer is not what the majority of people want to hear.
The Bible is filled with stories about God’s judgment. Look at the flood.
And GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. And it repented the LORD that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart. And the LORD said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repenteth me that I have made them. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD. (Gen 6:5-8 KJV).
Of course that story contains giants and a comment on the sons of God and the daughters of men. Hundreds of books have been written on those giants and how people want to interpret the sons of God and daughters of men. But who has written a word or page about the judgment process God followed before He passed judgment on the world? This is evidence, people want to ignore the judgment process and are more than willing to run down dozens of rabbit holes with a fraction of information the judgment process has in the Bible.
Imagine a scale with the brightest white on one side and darkest black on the other. In between is every imaginable shade of gray blending from one to another. Of course Jesus is on the bright white side of the scale and satan on the black side of that scale. We all lie somewhere in between. Every religion agrees with that concept.
John described what he saw about the judgment system when he was translated to Heaven in what is called, Jesus’ Revelation. Which basically means, a letter John was told to write where Jesus reveals the end of the world and events that will happen. People often find Revelation confusing because of the timelines recorded in the book. In short, John is shown exactly what will happen in the future. The vision contains symbols. After viewing the vision, John is obviously bewildered and confused. An angel or other being comes to John and explains the vision in terms John can understand and explain to the world. To properly explain the vision, the angel has to back up to historical events John is familiar with and go forward from there. With that in mind, the average reader can read the vision, then examine events at or before John’s time that help to explain the future event. Once the timelines in Revelation are understood, the entire book is easier to understand. We need to look at one single timeline that spans three chapters.
And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them. And I looked, and behold a white cloud, and upon the cloud one sat like unto the Son of man, having on his head a golden crown, and in his hand a sharp sickle. And another angel came out of the temple, crying with a loud voice to him that sat on the cloud, Thrust in thy sickle, and reap: for the time is come for thee to reap; for the harvest of the earth is ripe. And he that sat on the cloud thrust in his sickle on the earth; and the earth was reaped. And another angel came out of the temple which is in heaven, he also having a sharp sickle. And another angel came out from the altar, which had power over fire; and cried with a loud cry to him that had the sharp sickle, saying, Thrust in thy sharp sickle, and gather the clusters of the vine of the earth; for her grapes are fully ripe. And the angel thrust in his sickle into the earth, and gathered the vine of the earth, and cast it into the great winepress of the wrath of God. And the winepress was trodden without the city, and blood came out of the winepress, even unto the horse bridles, by the space of a thousand and six hundred furlongs. (Rev 14:13-20 KJV).
Most Christians know, the harvest is a symbol describing the judgment process. Although many explain the harvest simply as the end of the world, the judgment process needs to be completed before the end of the world. Thrusting in the sickle points to the end of the growing season, which is known as the harvest. Jesus clearly explained this symbolism when He explained one of His parables.
He answered and said unto them, He that soweth the good seed is the Son of man; The field is the world; the good seed are the children of the kingdom; but the tares are the children of the wicked one; The enemy that sowed them is the devil; the harvest is the end of the world; and the reapers are the angels. As therefore the tares are gathered and burned in the fire; so shall it be in the end of this world. (Mat 13:37-40 KJV).
Jesus leaves the temple once the judgment process is completed. That is the scene John witnessed and wrote about. Turn the page and the next chapter tells us the next event.
And I saw another sign in heaven, great and marvellous, seven angels having the seven last plagues; for in them is filled up the wrath of God. (Rev 15:1 KJV).
Turn the page again to see what the first plague is.
And I heard a great voice out of the temple saying to the seven angels, Go your ways, and pour out the vials of the wrath of God upon the earth. And the first went, and poured out his vial upon the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore upon the men which had the mark of the beast, and upon them which worshiped his image. (Rev 16:1-2 KJV).
When the judgment process is complete, the last seven plagues begin. The first plague places a sore on people who decided to follow the beast. In simple terms, the world will have no problem seeing the difference between people who are saved and people who are lost for eternity.
When we look around the world today, we need to ask ourselves if we are in the middle of the judgment process, or if the judgment process has finished. It is not difficult to see who has chosen to take sides with the beast, and those who refuse to bend the knee to the devil. As time marches on, we can see daily increases in crimes of all types. Those siding with satan are working over time to legalize all kinds of crimes, release criminals, force the world to accept their views on sin, and the list goes on and grows everyday. Looking back at the flood we see, God didn’t share a whole lot of information for us to go on. “GOD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” Which is a vivid description of what we see today in this world. One example. The president has a pedophile son on crack. The only solution he can come up with is to turn the world into crackhead pedophiles. Which is a common view on sin. If everyone does it, it must be okay. For some reason people seem to think, if the world agrees with a sin, there is no way God will condemn everyone for that sin. A sort of, majority rules concept. In a way, the president is trying to save his son by condemning the world. Or he may have reached a point, nothing matters more than money and personal pleasure. He may have given up on being saved and decided to take what he can from this world with the time he has. How far down that scale from white to black is he operating?
For some reason God decided not to explain details telling us what sins the world was involved with before the flood. Just that most people were past the gray scale and into shades of black. When we think of that, our minds drift to dozens of people in the public eye. We always tend to want to determine which sins drifted too close to black. We all seem to have the answer to that with no study and no prayer, as if God gave us some built in knowledge we refer to as common sense. If that was the case, why didn’t people before the flood use that common sense and stay within safe areas of gray? Are there safe areas of gray on that scale. Are there sins God will simply overlook and others that bring instant condemnation?
The Bible also has a number of other stories about people, tribes, cities, and other who went overboard, into the shades of black where there was no return. We all heard the story about Sodom. What information do we have about that city?
And he said, Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak yet but this once: Peradventure ten shall be found there. And he said, I will not destroy it for ten’s sake. And the LORD went his way, as soon as he had left communing with Abraham: and Abraham returned unto his place. (Gen 18:32-33 KJV).
But before they retired for the night, all the men of Sodom, young and old, came from all over the city and surrounded the house. They shouted to Lot, “Where are the men who came to spend the night with you? Bring them out to us so we can have sex with them!” So Lot stepped outside to talk to them, shutting the door behind him. “Please, my brothers,” he begged, “don’t do such a wicked thing. (Gen 19:4-7 NLTse).
When we look at the destruction of Sodom, we don’t have a lot of details, but one detail was pointed out. The men of the city wanted to have sex with the angels who visited Lot. That seems to be one point people feel safe with when they judge others. It also happens to be one point we see the world drifting into on an ever increasing rate. Are details becoming to come together? They are if you agree with them. Few people will argue, the description of that one sin pretty much summed up the reason God send angels to Sodom to destroy it. But what about Abraham and his deal with ten righteous men. What are we supposed to learn from that? Can the existence of a few righteous people save a city of sinners from destruction? We may never know since the angels didn’t seem to find ten righteous people. The majority of Lot’s family decided to stay in Sodom and face the consequences. For some reason they lost their faith in God and lost sight of God. They had drifted too close to the dark side.
Were there other sins Sodom was involved with we are just not seeing because we were satisfied with that one sin and decided not to look any further? Let’s examine a few simple facts. Lot entered Sodom a rich man. One of the richest men in the city. Lot left with little more than the clothes on his back and his two daughters who of course started two new generations that led to two tribes and nations that are thorns in our sides until this day. But the question is, what happened to Lot’s money? It seems Sodom was filled with what we refer to as scammers today. The rich country boy didn’t stand a chance in the city. We have proof of that in another story we refer to as the prodigal son. There is nothing wrong with one story shedding a little light on another story in the Bible that teaches us lessons in life. Most people us the Bible as a guide to learn lessons in life. As a matter of fact, if we backed up a few chapters we find another interesting story, a complete contrast to the destruction of Sodom.
When Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been captured, he mobilized the 318 trained men who had been born into his household. Then he pursued Kedorlaomer’s army until he caught up with them at Dan. There he divided his men and attacked during the night. Kedorlaomer’s army fled, but Abram chased them as far as Hobah, north of Damascus. Abram recovered all the goods that had been taken, and he brought back his nephew Lot with his possessions and all the women and other captives. (Gen 14:14-16 NLTse).
When we pay attention to details, we see things most people miss. Abraham attacked the largest army the world had seen to that day with only 318 men. Who in their right mind would attack an army when they are out numbered somewhere between 100 to 1 and 1000 to 1? Needless to say, that took a lot of courage and faith. Now we notice, those men were, “born into his household.” Up to this point, Abraham didn’t have any children. That was a pivotal point made later in chapter 16. In other words, the Bible is making a point. It was a spiritual birth those men underwent. That is what it took for them to face that army. There was no way they would have the faith to face that army if they relied on Abraham. Each of those men needed a direct connection with God to have the courage, faith, strength, and skills to face that army.
When we look at that story about Abraham and his men saving Lot, and the destruction of Sodom, we see a host of stories in between. We see Abraham talking directly with God, then taking matters into his own hands. Most of us know the consequences that resulted from Abraham’s first son, Ismael. We are still living with that curse. We also see a host of other lessons that explain shades of gray few of us consider as dangerous. Which brings us to the point. We can read one sentence in the Bible and walk away thinking we have the answer we wanted, and convince ourselves, that is the only detail we need to know. Or we can have someone study for us. But where does that get us? That would have gotten Abraham’s men no where. They would have been the first to run. When we look at the political atmosphere today, we all know who is going to be the first to run and hide and who we want at our side if God ever gives the order like the orders we’ve seen in the Old Testament.
We have a few points to consider. Do we judge the entire city of Sodom based on a group of people who surrounded Lot’s house? Or do we take a step back to look at the facts and draw more out of the story than what preachers tend to spoon feed people. Were all the people in Sodom as sinister as the people who wanted to have sex with those angels? Or were other people satisfied in the shade of gray they chose to live? What about the speed at which that influence spread and why did the people in Sodom allow that influence to spread? It seems we are in the same position today that Sodom was between the attack on their city, their safe return, and its destruction. Somewhere in that timeline a group of demented people were able to influence a good number of the people in Sodom. Keep in mind, every one of those people in Sodom were taken captive. Each of those people were saved by Abraham. They all witnessed the miracle first hand. Why did so many people choose to ignore that miracle and follow others from the gray area into total darkness?