Punishment or Penalty and Guilt.
Scripture reading: Deuteronomy 28:15-30, 45-47.
Blessing and curses.
15 But it shall come to pass, if thou wilt not hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command thee this day; that all these curses shall come upon thee, and overtake thee:
16 Cursed shalt thou be in the city, and cursed shalt thou be in the field.
17 Cursed shall be thy basket and thy store.
18 Cursed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy land, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep.
19 Cursed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and cursed shalt thou be when thou goest out.
20 The LORD shall send upon thee cursing, vexation, and rebuke, in all that thou settest thine hand unto for to do, until thou perish quickly; because of the wickedness of thy doings, whereby thou hast forsaken me
21 The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto thee, until he have consumed thee from off the land, whither thou goest to possess it.
22 The LORD shall smite thee with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with an extreme burning, and with the sword, and with blasting, and with mildew; and they shall pursue thee until thou perish.
23 And thy heaven that is over thy head shall be brass, and the earth that is under thee shall be iron.
24 The LORD shall make the rain of thy land power and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
25 The LORD shall cause thee to be smitten before thine enemies: thou shalt go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and shalt be removed into all the kingdoms of the earth.
26 And thy carcase shall be meat unto all fowls of the air, and unto the beasts of the earth, and no man shall fray them away.
27 The LORD will smite thee with the botch of Egypt, and with the emerods and with the scab, and with the itch whereof thou canst not be healed.
28 And the LORD shall smite thee with madness, and blindness, and astonishment of heart:
29 And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.
30 Thou shalt betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: thou shalt build an house, and thou shalt not dwell therein: and thou shalt plant a vineyard, and shalt not gather the grapes thereof.
Deuteronomy 28: 45-47
45 Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee:
46 And they shall be upon thee for a sign and for a wonder, and upon thy seed for ever.
47 Because thou servedst not the LORD thy God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the abundance of all things.
1 COMFORT ye, comfort ye my people, saith your God.
2 Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.
3 The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
4 Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low; and the crooked shall be made straight and the rough places plain:
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.
6 The voice said, Cry. And he said, What shall I cry? All flesh is grass, and all the goodliness thereof is as the flower of the field:
7 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: because the spirit of the LORD bloweth upon it: surely the people is grass.
8 The grass withereth, the flower fadeth: but the word of our God shall stand for ever.
9 O Zion, that bringest good tidings, get thee up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, that bringest good tidings, lift up thy voice with strength; lift it up, be not afraid; say unto the cities of Judah, Behold Your God!
10 Behold, the Lord GOD will come with strong hand, and his arm shall rule for him: behold his reward is with him, and his work before him.
11 He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.
This is an extremely important matter. Our study is on “Penalty and Guilt”.
This may sound a bit strange to you at first, but I trust that the Lord will give me the grace to explain it to you that when you come to the end of this study, you may have a far better understanding of it.
May the Lord grant us grace to understand the times we are living in. Man’s mind and life is short. It is as the grass, and the flowers of the field. Yet we are part of the pattern of eternity. This generation didn’t simply fall from the sky. We are the descendants of these people of whom we have been reading.
When we look at the Lord’s Word, we see how He spoke to Israel and made mighty promises of blessings to them. He made beautiful promises of blessings if they obey, but they could not obey.
However, the LORD warned them that if they did not obey, these things would befall them. Not because God is a vengeful God. Not because He finds satisfaction in hurting us, but because He is a God of order – and because He is the Ruler of the Universe. The LORD created the Universe according to His Wisdom, Majesty and Wonder.
If the sun, moon and stars had to suddenly decide: “We are no longer going to bide by the laws that God placed us in our orbits, then you and I perish this moment. For then there shall be chaos in space. Those lifeless beings without a soul, as beautiful and wonderful as they are – the sun, moon and Stars. They did not get the life of God in their “hearts”, for they are not living beings. They are creations of God and they were placed there as God wanted them, and so they speed and circulate along in harmony. That is why the trees are blossoming again, as there is a new season at hand. We expected it and could mark off our calendars because nature is obedient to God. The LORD has built it into them to obey those laws and we can see the results.
We are not lifeless beings, especially this nation of God. We are part of God’s elect, whom Satan wants to destroy. God gave this elect nation Mighty and Wonderful laws to live by.
If we would bide by these laws, God’s glory would be revealed in us. The world would notice it and the heathen would see it, as well as the angels. And heaven would rejoice. The difference between us and the stars and the planets is that they have their orbits to move in and to us, the LORD gave the choice: “If you want to, you can work together with Me, if you will that it may go well with you.”
Please read the first fourteen verses of Deuteronomy 28 and Leviticus 26.
Unthinkable glorious blessing! But the LORD warned that we could not only want the blessings. We cannot have the positive of God’s laws and not the negative, if we simply do as we please. No, the LORD said:
“If you shall obey diligently, then that will be the result: the rain shall fall in season, it will be wonderful for the crops, the animals, and in your bodies. There shall not be any disease. There shall be no drought, No pestilence.”
It will be wonderful!
If you do not obey however, then this and that shall happen. We cannot expect God to give us only the good things and when we disobey, that He wouldn’t give us the bad things. What sort of God would that be? If I then choose to disobey God’s laws, then I must expect that the result of breaking His laws should come to me.
In Leviticus 26 we read that the LORD appointed a period, that if Israel did not obey His voice, He would punish them seven times over. That period is 2520 years.
We have now reached that period where we are experiencing the climax of it.
Our forefathers and their successors up to today have broken God’s laws. We have disregarded God’s will and systematically deteriorated till where we are now, in the climax period of God’s punishment. His grace alone can save us out of it.
When I break God’s laws then immediately His conditions of punishment apply. If I climb onto a roof, I ought to take precautions because of the law of gravity. Therefore I should tie myself to the nock of the roof with a rope in case my foot slips. But if I do not take the precaution and I fall and hurt myself, I cannot blame God. The result is my fault because God’s laws are in effect.
The punishments of Israel were certain because of the built-in principles that keep the universe in place. The same principles still apply today.
Things are not right in nature either. We don’t know what type of summer to expect, because we have not had any wind in August yet. We do not know whether we shall have any rains, because so far we haven’t had any cold weather this winter.
Things are wrong with our health. There are many sicknesses and it is increasing every day.
Things in the economy are going the wrong way. That we all know and I need not say any more.
Our politics are all wrong, and everyone knows that.
Why are the things the way they are? Is it accidental??
No, there is a mighty explanation in God’s Word. Because God has given us unwavering laws on each of these areas and these laws are dependent on what takes place in our hearts. This is the wonder of it that if our hearts are restored, then all nature, the rain, politics and the economy will be restored too.
We need to know the difference between guilt and penalty. Look at the subtitle of Deuteronomy 28 again – “Blessings and Curses”. Just as certain as the blessings would come if Israel obeyed, equally certain would the curses come if Israel disobeyed.
Instead of looking for the core of the problem in the economy or the politics, we form another political party; we look for solutions to the economical problems by raising the interest rates and then drop them.
Then the value of the Rand is adjusted upwards and then it is adjusted downwards again. The price of gold shoots up the one day and then drops again. All eyes are fixed on those indicators with the hope that things will improve. We ought to keep our eyes on the Word and the Lord in our hearts for then only will things change.
God is merciful and full of compassion, but He cannot deny His own Word.
Neglect and disobedience doesn’t occur overnight either. I would like to use an example here to illustrate. I should think that you men would understand, as you often work with machinery, and perhaps you have heard a noise in your motorcar for a while already but then your wife had not yet heard it.
Something doesn’t simply happen. You have to look at the symptoms to access the situation. Likewise, all these droughts and failed crops did not occur overnight. These things take place over a long period of time.
Should we not have taken notice a long time ago?
Should we not have looked at God’s Word a lot sooner?
I would like to point out a few symptoms to you:
The symptom of unrest in our country, in other words, the rising up of the heathen.
The LORD warned Israel that this would happen if she did not obey His Word. Let us go to Deuteronomy 28:7
7 The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thy face: they shall come out against thee one way, and flee before thee seven ways.
On what condition?
If you obey My laws!
“If thou shalt hearken diligently unto My voice” then your enemies will flee before you. They will be powerless against you. But what do we do today?
When they rise up against us, we give in to their demands, we appease them and coax them in all sorts of ways – and this process is not yet finished.
Take note of the world abroad, how their eyes are fixed on us, especially now within the next few months (This is August 1985).
We ought to take notice of the events that occur around us, and we ought to search our own hearts to see if the symptoms are good and whether we are in right standing with God.
We read Leviticus 26: 7-8
7 And ye shall chase your enemies, and they shall fall before you by the sword.
8 And five of you shall chase an hundred, and an hundred of you shall put ten thousand to flight: and your enemies shall fall before you by the sword.
A hundred of our beautiful young men shall send ten thousand of our enemies to flight provided that we are in right standing with the Lord. On the contrary, if we are not in right standing with the Lord, we shall have to flee before our enemies.
Let us look at the symptoms of disease.
There are many sicknesses in our land, although we are a Christian nation and many believe in divine healing. We also realise that although many are healed through prayer, many have also died in spite of prayer. I thank the Lord for His great mercy that He still proves to us that He is still a Prayer answering God.
We look at Deuteronomy 7:15
15 And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee;
but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
What a wonderful promise!
But if you read the entire chapter, you will see what the conditions are that the Lord requires of you.
We go back to Deuteronomy 28:58
58 If thou wilt not observe to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that thou mayest fear this glorious and fearful name, THE LORD THY GOD.
“If thou wilt not observe to do all”.
We live in an age where we are very concerned about thoroughness. Specific instructions for a piece of machinery, or a specific pattern for a lady’s dress. If it doesn’t fit perfectly, it is taken back to the dressmaker. A specific recipe is needed to bake a cake. However, when it comes to God’s Word, that diligence seems to be absent. Then we wonder why things go wrong.
Deuteronomy 28: 59
59 Then the LORD will make thy plagues wonderful, and the plagues of thy seed, even great plagues, and of long continuance, and sore sickness, and of long continuance.
How often do we not read of people in the newspaper whom we knew, that they have died after a long illness, we immediately think of cancer or some other incurable disease. The King James speaks of “long continuance” of an illness, the Amplified Bible says also: “long duration” of sickness. Isn’t the Bible so up to date?
The LORD said that if we do not obey, then we shall get those types of sicknesses.
Deuteronomy 28: 60-61
60 Moreover he will bring upon thee all the diseases of Egypt, which thou wast afraid of; and they shall cleave unto thee.
61 Also every sickness, and every plague which is not written in the book of this law, them will the LORD bring upon thee, until thou be destroyed.
Times are hard, but will get even harder, as the period of punishment has to be fulfilled.
What sort of God would He be if He allowed His laws to be broken and did nothing to implement His punishments? It would bring about an impossible situation. In today’s preaching of the Gospel on prosperity and divine healing it is often said: “Oh, God is a good God, have faith in God”, but they
do not stress the importance of repentance from sin and turning away from it! That is misleading, for we have to turn back to God as a nation!
Therefore, the droughts continue, the heathen becomes more rebellious; the economy is worsening, unemployment increases, inflation is increasing, and famine continues. Our pockets seem to have holes in them according to the prophet Haggai. Each time inflation increases, there are extra holes in our pockets and the money we put in them falls to the ground.
Sicknesses increase. Yet, in the meantime our young people continue with their licentious living. You may speak to them about God. They do not want that, but they want prosperity.
They are concerned about their future. They wonder whether they will be able to become that lawyer, advocate, teacher, doctor or minister, businessman or farmer that their parents or forefathers were.
Will they be able to afford a nice house one day?
The result is, they become depressed and rebellious, they are disrupted and yet they will not turn to the truth to look for the root of the problem.
What is our reaction?
Is it repentance?
Our reaction is not repentance, but rather: “How can I escape the punishment, if I can just be healed from this disease. Or if I can somehow get out of this financial problem I’m in.”
When I look back on my ministry, and remember all the people who came to my house for prayer, I have to admit that most of them cried over their punishment and not their sin. They cried over their husbands who mistreated them, or their wives who were unfaithful to them, or about the money they lost, or their unruly children who do not want to serve the Lord.
Why do we actually stop at a stop sign?
We stop because we might get caught, or fined for not stopping. But is that correct? No, you have stop at a stop sign even though there might not be a penalty. Why do you stick to the speed limit? Is it for fear of the penalty, or do we keep the law out of principle?
23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The sinning is not the punishment. That comes after the sin. Sin is the breaking of God’s law. Sin is a deed of disobedience. It is the violation of a relationship. The climax of this violation was the death of our Lord Jesus on the cross of Golgotha.
The villain, who rapes that beautiful young girl, doesn’t think of the lovely innocent and promising young life he has destroyed for the rest of her life. No, he only thinks that he must not be caught. What he did does not bother him in the least.
We think more of the penalty than the sin. I want to illustrate it to you: If I steal something and I get arrested. Say, for instance it is something precious. I get fined R500-00 or six months in prison, which is my penalty. Now someone comes and pities me – remember Paul said: “Let him that thinks he stands, take heed that he does not fall” – I cannot see that my brother should go to prison for six months, that’s terrible! So you pay my penalty of R500-00. My punishment is ransomed. But could you change the fact that I stole?
Not at all!! I stole. It’s my fault!
Therefore Jesus said: Father, not only will I bear the punishment – the punishment is death – but Father, I shall also bear the guilt. I will become as those who did all these things. I will become as that person who stole that precious thing. Regardless of what people say, or You say and what the devil says: I committed that theft.”
That is substitution!
That is what Jesus came to do – He became the guilty one and He bore the punishment, and if I believe in Him, then I am truly free!
Punishment and guilt.
We just want to hear of a loving God who takes away our sin. Only, believe in the Lord Jesus and you won’t go to hell. Believe in the Lord Jesus and heaven is opened for you.
It is true, but only half of the truth. We must have remorse over sin!
The prophet says: “For this nation’s hearts are grown dull, hardened.”
We are afraid of the punishment.
If only we would weep before the Lord and say:
“My God, we have ruined the entire Plan of God.
Lord, we are disobedient, we are rebellious.
Lord, my heart is unclean, be merciful to me, a sinner!! My heart must be cleansed and I must have respect for Your law again.”
In Jacob’s Trouble, which is coming relentlessly as a result of our sins, there will come a moment when you and I will realise the great problem is not the punishment, but the sin!
We read in Zechariah 12: 8-14
8 In that day shall the LORD defend the inhabitants of Jerusalem; and he that is feeble among them at that day shall be as David; and the house of David shall be as God, as an angel of the LORD before them.
9 And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will seek to destroy all the nations that come against Jerusalem.
10 And I will pour upon the house of David, and upon the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon me whom they pierced, they shall mourn for him, as one mourneth for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.
11 In that day shall there be a great mourning in Jerusalem, as the mourning of Hadadrimmon in the valley of Megiddon.
12 And the land shall mourn, every family apart; the family of the house of David apart, and their wives apart; the family of the house of Nathan apart, and their wives apart;
13 The family of the house of Levi apart, and their wives apart; the family of Shimei apart, and their wives apart;
14 All the families that remain, every family apart, and their wives apart.
The mourning must come over the guilt.
We must mourn because of our disobedience to God. I must mourn because of the hardness of my heart. Not over the great punishments that are coming, for they are coming!
The punishments will be great, but in the punishment the repentance will come.
In the punishment the acknowledgement will come:
“I am guilty, Lord Jesus,
Be merciful to me!”
You may think: “I’ve been on the road for so long” but have you ever seen this difference, or has your repentance been because of the punishment?
Let us ask the Lord that we may have true remorse over our sin and not only the punishment – then repentance will come and then revival will come!
May the Lord give us grace in Jesus Name.