What the Bible says about Judgment Delayed
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Amos 6:3

The very act of believing judgment is delayed causes violence and destruction to descend nearer and swifter! As Solomon puts it, "Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil" (Ecclesiastes 8:11). When humans think they have gotten away with sin, their hearts become calloused to it, and they commit more and worse sin, bringing on its penalties: distress, destruction, and death.

Richard T. Ritenbaugh
Where Is the Promise of His Coming?

Luke 13:9

That the owner wants to destroy the tree but the keeper prays for its continued life for another year is not a case of the owner being full of wrath and the keeper defying him. The owner and the keeper have the same goal: to help the tree to produce fruit, if possible. Similarly, both the Father and the Son are angered by sin. Any thoughts Christ had toward Israel were also the thoughts of the Father (John 5:19; 10:30). Even though He is longsuffering, Jesus agrees with the owner of the vineyard in cutting down the tree if it refuses the offer of help (Hebrews 6:4-6; Proverbs 29:1). The Son never denies the right of the Father to destroy, and both agree in offering grace to the sinner at the best time.

Since the vineyard and the tree planted in it belong to the owner, he has a right to expect it to bear fruit—or to destroy anything barren or useless on his land. Some people falsely believe this delay means judgment will not come against them. However, the owner clearly says to cut the tree down if it ultimately does not produce fruit—a righteous decision since it would be given every opportunity to bear fruit. If a tree does not produce fruit, it wastes valuable resources and occupies needed space where a fruit-producing tree could stand (John 15:2-6). Within this parable stands a warning for anyone to whom God has revealed His truth: Do not delay producing good fruit (I Peter 4:17-19; II Peter 3:3-10)!

Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Barren Fig Tree

1 Corinthians 10:12

This verse warns that we who are God's people must not presume, while there is still time for us to get in shape, that, because God has not come down on us like a ton of bricks, everything is fine with our character and attitudes.

Paul includes this verse in a context that lists three or four of Israel's outstanding sins (I Corinthians 10:6-10). Could the ancient Israelites have also thought that they were in good standing when they were not? Were they presuming something? The answer is likely, yes, they showed a careless presumption by their lack of concern about works—by their belief that God is so merciful that He will accept any old attitudes and behaviors and just overlook their sins. However, by doing that, God would not be showing love because the people would not be prepared for the Kingdom of God. Without that preparation, they would not fit into the culture around them and would be absolutely miserable in the Kingdom of God.

The presumption that Paul is talking about is the same flaw that appears in the Laodicean's thinking, revealed when he says, "I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing" (Revelation 3:17). The members of the Laodicean church felt very good about themselves, but everything was not all right. Their self-satisfaction reveals that their self-evaluation is far from reality, which is that God threatens to vomit them out (verse 16)! We can see what the sin of a Laodicean is. It is presumption, a product of their self-satisfaction that everything is okay.

Because of his lack of faith in the knowledge of God, the Laodicean is deceived into thinking, as Ezekiel 8:12 says, "The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land." In other words, he believes that God does not care. But God has always cared—not even for one second since Adam and Eve has He stopped caring!

We must never overlook the principle in Ecclesiastes 8:11: "Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil." People presume that everything is okay with the way they are acting. There is a flaw in human nature that persuades men to think that, if God does not immediately punish, He must approve. Yet, do we ever consider that God's non-punishment may very well be the trial that He has imposed on us to see if we will pass it and make the necessary changes ourselves?

John W. Ritenbaugh
Does Doctrine Really Matter? (Part Four)


 

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