Last week we began a three week mini-series entitled “God is…” and the goal of this series is to help us discover who God really is by looking at some of His attributes as found in the Bible. There are so many different opinions out there of who God really is… Is he like a sweet, old Grandpa? Is He like the force on Star Wars? Is He the ultimate policeman? We need to know what the Bible says, because what we believe about who God is, completely effects everything about how we live our lives.
We’ve been following this little graphic that I found in the study notes of my Bible. So last week we saw that God is the Creator. He is all-powerful – that means that He can do anything. Nothing is beyond His abilities. He is ever-present – that means that He is present everywhere all the time. He is all-knowing – that means that He is aware of every detail, every event, every thought that ever has been or ever will be. And He is sovereign – that means that He can act without restriction and without interference from anyone or anything. He is God – the Creator of all things.
So that was last week. This week we want to look at God as Judge. This is a major theme of the Bible. God is referred to as a Judge over 100 times throughout Scripture. Let me give you a small sampling:
“And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return.” 2 Timothy 4:8
“Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge.” Revelation 14:7a
“For the Lord is coming to judge the earth. He will judge the world with justice, and the nations with fairness.” Psalm 98:9
So we can see that in addition to being the Creator of the world, God is also the judge of the world. And we’re going to talk about exactly what that means little bit later on. But for now, I want to look at why God is qualified to be our judge. Because, of course, a judge must be qualified to make judgements.
For example, the judge of a wood-working competition should know something about woodworking. In the Olympics, most of the judges are either previous competitors or coaches of the sports that they are judging so they know exactly how to judge. In a criminal case, the judge must have full knowledge of the laws of the land so that they can judge fairly and according to the law. A judge must be qualified to make judgements.
So the question I want to address this morning is “What are God’s qualifications as judge of the world?” Is it a matter of ‘might makes right?’ Is God our judge simply because He is all-powerful, all-knowing, ever-present, and He can do whatever He wants? If He wants to be judge, who’s going to stop Him? And as I mentioned last week, if that’s all we knew about God, He would be a terrifying judge. A judge like that would certainly have the power to execute judgements – but there would be no guarantee of justice or fairness or equality. You would have no way of knowing whether you would be punished or rewarded. It would be up to God’s arbitrary decision.
But thankfully, that’s NOT all we know about God. The Bible tells us of some unique attributes of God that perfectly qualify Him to judge the world. And knowing these attributes allow us to know exactly where we stand before God and to know exactly how we must live our lives in order to please Him.
Now just to give you a forewarning, these four attributes that we are going to look at today are such huge, defining elements of who God is, there is no way that we’re going to plumb the depths of them in just twenty minutes this morning. I mean, these are aspects of God that it will take a lifetime just to begin to understand. So my intention is not to do a full-blown, in-depth study of these attributes, but simply just to whet your appetite – to stir up that desire in you to get to know God more and more.
So recognizing that, the first attribute of God that perfectly qualifies Him to be our Judge is that God is Holy. This attribute of God is very significant. Look at this verse in Isaiah 6:3.
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Isaiah 6:3
Now, because we speak English, we might miss the significance of this verse. You see, in the Hebrew language, they have no comparative terms like big, bigger, or biggest. Instead, to show comparisons, they use repetition like big, big big, or big, big, big.
For example, in Genesis we read about some tar pits in the valley of the Dead Sea.
“As it happened, the valley of the Dead Sea was filled with tar pits. And as the army of the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled, some fell into the tar pits, while the rest escaped into the mountains.” Genesis 14:10
That’s our English translation, but in Hebrew, instead of the term “tar pits”, it actually says “be’erot be’erot” or “pit pit”. They repeat the word ‘pit’ – signifying that it wasn’t just a small pit, but it was a very large pit – a pit pit. Do you see how that works? If it was an enormously large pit, they would say it was a pit pit pit. That would be a huge honkin’ pit. Does that make sense?
Ok, so let’s look at Isaiah 6:3 again – thinking like a Hebrew…
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies! The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Isaiah 6:3
Wow. God is not just holy. He’s not even holy, holy. But He is holy, holy, holy. That’s maximum holiness. And that’s very significant. Because we don’t even read in the Bible that God is strong, strong, strong – or even love, love, love. But we do read that God is holy, holy, holy. So I think we’d do well to try to understand what it means that God is holy.
Now quite often, we equate the word ‘holy’ with purity. Moral perfection. And that’s certainly a part of the holiness of God. But it’s only a part. The word “holy” primarily means “set apart” – a more literal translation of it might be to ‘to cut’ or ‘to separate’. So to say that God is holy – basically means that God is set apart – He is separate from His creation.
One Christian writer describes God’s holiness this way…
“The point is that God is separate from everyone and everything else. He alone is Creator. He is altogether and wholly other, both in his character and his deeds. He is transcendently different from and greater than all his creatures in every conceivable respect. To put it in common terms, ‘God is in a class all by himself’” ~ Dr. Sam Storms
God is so far above and beyond us in every respect. He is holy, holy, holy. And everything about Him is holy. His power is a holy power – above and beyond us. His wisdom is a holy wisdom – above and beyond us. His love is a holy love – above and beyond us. He is transcendently different from and greater than all his creatures in every conceivable respect.
So that’s the first attribute of God that perfectly qualifies Him to be our Judge – God is Holy. He is separate from his Creation. Above and beyond us in every respect.
The second attribute of God that perfectly qualifies Him to be our Judge is that God is Truth. Jesus Himself said in John 14:6
“I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
Now that’s an interesting statement. What does it mean that God is the truth? Well, we know that God knows everything – we looked at that already. God knows all about the past and all about the future. But the fact that He is truth, means that everything He reveals to us (about Himself, about life, about anything) is true.
“God is not a man, so He does not lie. He is not human, so He does not change His mind. Has He ever spoken and failed to act? Has He ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19
No, what God says is true. If He says He will do something, He will do it.
God told Abraham’s wife, Sarah, that even though she was 90 years old, she would soon have a baby. And what happened? Sure enough, she had a baby.
Through Pharaoh’s dream, God told Joseph that seven years of good crops were going to be followed by seven years of drought. And what happened? Exactly what God said.
He told Joshua to march around Jericho 13 times, make a lot of noise, and the walls would fall down. Joshua did, and what happened? The walls fell down.
God always does what He says He will do. He is truth. And so we can believe what He says. We can believe His Word. We can trust in His promises. And there’s a lot of them.
On one website I saw, it said that God has made 3573 promises in the Bible. Now I haven’t counted them myself, but whether there is more or less, you can trust in every single one of them.
Now Satan, on the other hand, is described as the “Father of lies” – the complete opposite of God who is the the way, the truth, and the life. Satan would have us believe, first of all, that there is no God. And if he can’t convince us of that, then he’d have us believe that God will not judge us. And if he can’t convince us of that, then he’ll have us believe that we will be judged according to the standards of the world. But not so.
God tells us in His Word (and God is truth. He tells no lies) – that He certainly does exist, He will judge every one of us, and He will judge us according to His standards – that is, according to the standard of His righteousness. And that leads us into our third attribute.
The third attribute of God that perfectly qualifies Him to be our Judge is that God is Righteous.
“Everything he does reveals his glory and majesty. His righteousness never fails.” Psalm 111:3
So what exactly is does it mean that God is righteous? Of all the attributes of God that we’ve looked at so far, I’ve found this one to be the hardest to define.
But here’s what I’ve come up with. The fact that God is righteous means that He always acts like Himself. He is always consistent with His own character. If God is love, He always acts with love. If God is patient, He always acts with patience. If God is merciful, He always acts with mercy. So righteousness is always acting according to character of God.
And that’s actually where we get the definition of sin. It’s the opposite of righteousness. It’s acting any way contrary to the character of God.
Romans 3:10 & 6:23 says…
“As the Scriptures say, “No one is righteous—not even one.”
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.”
Romans 3:10 & 6:23
Sin is acting any way contrary to the character of God. In fact, that’s why God is sinless. Because He can’t act unlike Himself. It’s impossible for Him not to be absolutely righteous, because His character sets the standard for righteousness.
So righteousness, in a nutshell, means acting according to the character of God. And it is against the standard of God’s righteousness that we are going to be judged. That takes us to the next attribute.
The final attribute of God that we are going to look at today is that God is just.
“He is the Rock; his deeds are perfect. Everything he does is just and fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong; how just and upright he is!” Deuteronomy 32:4
This means that God is completely fair in all of his dealings. Everyone is treated equally. There is no favoritism with God. No one can earn any special favors. He see us and treats us all the same.
“In this new life, it doesn’t matter if you are a jew or a Gentile, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbaric, uncivilized, slave or free. Christ is all that matters and he lives in all of us.” Colossians 3:11
So when it comes to God being our Judge, God will judge every one of us (no matter who we are) according to the same standard – that is, the standard of His righteousness.
And that posses a problem for us – because as we saw earlier, none of us are righteous. All of us fall short of standard of the the glorious righteousness of God. And so all of us face the wrath of God and the punishment that is due us because of God’s justice. Sin must be punished and Bible says that the wages of sin is death. And so for God to be just, all of us face the punishment of death – complete separation from God forever.
The good news is, however, that God isn’t just our Creator and our Judge – but He is also our Saviour. And we’re going to talk about that more next week. So make sure you come back to find out how God made a way to execute justice while at the same time, show us His love and mercy.
I hope you’re beginning to see just how amazing our God is. It’s impressive enough just to know that God is all-powerful or to know that He is holy, holy, holy. But when you start putting them all together and you see how each of his attributes compliment and enhance each other – you begin to see just how incredible and how great and how good and how perfect our God is. And then to think, that such a being created you personally. That He knows everything about you and that He loves you and that he wants to be with you. It just about blows your mind.
Our God is truly worthy of all of our praise and all of our worship. I’m going to ask the music team to come forward and lead us in one more song of worship as we close this morning.