3. Judgement After Jesus' Time

The record of the gospels covers a relatively short period of time, compared that of the incidents in the whole Bible. So one reason why we may see fewer acts of God's Judgement in the New Testament is simply because it covers a shorter time period. Then, in looking at the time following the ministry of Jesus, there are again examples of destruction similar to that found in the Old Testament.

Destruction of Jerusalem

There is an emphasis in the Old Testament on the national punishment of the people of Israel. Many times when as a nation they ignored God and served idols, God would send other nations against the Israelites to defeat them in battle. These represent many of the incidents involving God's anger in the Old Testament.

However, the New Testament times reveal a similar occasion after the time of Jesus. In AD70, within 40 years after the death and resurrection of Jesus, a siege developed between the Jewish people in Jerusalem and the army of the Roman empire. The end result was the destruction of the city and temple. The origins of this incident can be seen in the words of Jesus, where he tells how and why God was going to cause it to happen. It was essentially because the people had rejected God, just as they had done in the times past.

At the sentencing that led to the crucifixion of Jesus, the people of the city made it clear that they wanted Jesus crucified. The Roman governor, Pilate, didn't see Jesus as worthy of death, and so tried to convince the crowd to release him.

Matt 27:24: So when Pilate saw that nothing was being gained, but rather that a disturbance was starting, he took water, and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this righteous person. You see to it." 25. All the people answered, "May his blood be on us, and on our children!" WEB

Here the people assented to the fact that they would have to deal with the consequences of their choice to crucify Jesus. It brings an endorsement to some earlier words of Jesus in how he spoke of the actions of the leaders of the Jewish people. There he had called attention to the pattern of persecution that they had brought against the prophets of God.

Matt 23:29: "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you build the tombs of the prophets, and decorate the tombs of the righteous, 30. and say, `If we had lived in the days of our fathers, we wouldn't have been partakers with them in the blood of the prophets.' 31. Therefore you testify to yourselves that you are children of those who killed the prophets. 32. Fill up, then, the measure of your fathers. 33. You serpents, you offspring of vipers, how will you escape the judgment of Gehenna? 34. Therefore, behold, I send to you prophets, wise men, and scribes. Some of them you will kill and crucify; and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city; 35. that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zachariah son of Barachiah, whom you killed between the sanctuary and the altar. 36. Most assuredly I tell you, all these things will come upon this generation. WEB

This follows on to Jesus' description of the destruction of Jerusalem that was to occur in AD70. That was an event very characteristic of the periods of destruction in the Old Testament when Israel ignored God and served idolatry.

Luke 21:20: "But when you see Jerusalem surrounded by armies, then know that its desolation is at hand. 21. Then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains. Let those who are in the midst of her depart. Let those who are in the country not enter therein. 22. For these are days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled. 23. Woe to those who are pregnant and to those who nurse infants in those days! For there will be great distress in the land, and wrath to this people. 24. They will fall by the edge of the sword, and will be led captive into all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled down by the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. WEB

So just as war had been brought against the city in Old Testament times for the judgement of God, so again it occurred in the first generation of Christians. God is quite consistent between the Old and New Testaments on this.

Judgement Day

A theme that runs through the New Testament is that the execution of justice may be deferred. While under the Law of Moses people would suffer capital punishment for a range of crimes, often in the New Testament there is instead an emphasis on a more delayed punishment. In Thessalonians, Paul spoke about this to the Christians who were suffering at the hands of enemies who were apparently going unpunished,

2 Thess 1:5: This is an obvious sign of the righteous judgment of God, to the end that you may be counted worthy of the Kingdom of God, for which you also suffer. 6. Since it is a righteous thing with God to repay affliction to those who afflict you, 7. and to give relief to you that are afflicted with us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, 8. giving vengeance to those who don't know God, and to those who don't obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, 9. who will pay the penalty: eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of his might, WEB

This passage talks about Jesus giving violent vengeance at the time of his return to those people who have denied his God. The same imagery of firey destruction is carried through the New Testament. In Hebrews God is pictured as a “consuming fire”, and worthy of reverence and awe.

Hebrews 12:28: Therefore, receiving a kingdom that can't be shaken, let us have grace, through which we serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe, 29. for our God is a consuming fire. WEB

A Fate Worse Than Sodom

When Jesus sent his disciples out to preach the Gospel in other cities, he warned of how in some cities they would be rejected and despised. Jesus encouraged them in saying that their rejection of God would not go unnoticed.

Luke 10:10: But into whatever city you enter, and they don't receive you, go out into the streets of it and say, 11. `Even the dust from your city that clings to us, we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the Kingdom of God has come near to you.' 12. I tell you, it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city. 13. “Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the mighty works had been done in Tyre and Sidon which were done in you, they would have repented long ago, sitting in sackcloth and ashes. 14. But it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you.” WEB

The punishment for the cities at that time was described as being worse than that of Sodom. This is significant because the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah in Old Testament times is the typical example of God's judgement. They were destroyed when he rained fire from heaven on them.