Dr. Henry B. Waiters: The retributive God
God not only dispenses or exacts rewards or punishment in the hereafter; He has done it often here.
Satan became the powerful prince of the air, and was eventually successful in organizing the world of unbelieving mankind upon his code of force, greed, selfishness, ambition and pleasure. His mission as the enemy of God is to deceive and destroy — and so the world system is now dominated by these satanic principles. II Peter 5:8.
Of all primitive life, man and beast were the first victims of Lucifer (satan, the devil). According to expert anthropologists, archaeologists, paleontologists and geologists, Australopithecus man lived 1,000,000 years BC; Java man 700,000 years BC; Peking man 150,000 years BC; Neanderthal man 30,000 years BC; to name a few.
In Genesis 1:2, the condition of the earth is described as “without form and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.”
Most teach that this condition existed because God had not finished creating. But Jeremiah 4:23-26 and some commentators actually describe this state as retribution — a cataclysmic change occurring as a result of divine judgment. No primitive life remained and the completed, created earth was disordered. If this was God’s judgment, it was because Lucifer had been successful in directing primitive life.
It is believed that the earth remained in this lifeless, disordered state for some 5,976 years until 4004 BC, when God reordered it and created modern man — Adam and Eve — and all lesser life.
Lucifer was very present in the earth and waiting for God to act. Again he was successful. He caused Adam to disobey and fall from the perfection. The fall affected his nature — which became sinful, alienated from God, leading to spiritual and physical death. And his descendants inherited this sinful nature.
Lesson not learned
In 2353 BC, 1,651 years after Adam’s disobedience, we read in Genesis 6:5-8 “And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, … and it repented the Lord that he had made man on earth … And the Lord said, I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man and beast. But Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord.”
So God told Noah to build an ark large enough to accommodate him, his family, and two of every sort of all living creatures, and plenty of food for all. After 120 years, it was completed. Forty days and nights of rain destroyed all life on earth, except that in the ark.
After the rain and the receding of the waters, God commanded Noah’s sons to be fruitful and multiply and replenish the earth. They became a great nation, but filled with the pride that would eventually divide them. They said, “We can build a tower that will reach up into heaven, and we will have our own way to heaven.”
Genesis 11:5-9 “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children builded. And the Lord said, Behold the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the fact of all the earth; and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel.”
Sodom and Gomorrah were two of the many cities that were settled after that scattering. In 1898 BC these two cities plus two adjoining villages, Admah and Zeboim, had become so sinful — men loving men, sodomy, homosexuality — that God told Abraham he was going to destroy them. Although, if ten righteous people could be found, he would not. But recruitment increased, intolerance decreased, respect for others’ rights and indiscrimination increased — until ten people who were not participants could be found. God rained upon them fire and brimstone from heaven, incinerating Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboim, leaving very little evidence these cities and villages ever existed. Genesis 19:24-25.
The 12 Tribes
Abraham is the progenitor of the one nation called Hebrews — Jews and Israelites that God chose to be his representatives in the earth. Abraham’s grandson Jacob had 12 sons that were the leaders of the 12 tribes of Israel, and was known as the United Kingdom. After Solomon’s death in 931 BC, the kingdom divided. The ten northern tribes retained the name Israel, the two southern tribes became Judah.
Israel no longer came to Jerusalem to worship God. They began adopting the practices of the Canaanites: worshipping the farm god Baa, conducted by priests who included sacrifices of first-borns and animals. There were special chambers for the sacred prostitution by male prostitutes and harlots.
The gaiety and licentious character of Baal worship had a subtle attraction for the austere Hebrews bound to serve a holy God under rigorous moral code. They turned from God.
The worship of Ashtaroth, the goddess of sensual love, maternity and fertility, was conducted by the 400 prophets, who engaged in the required sexual ritual with the 400 prophetesses. God’s chosen people chose to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season, rather than continuing to serve a holy God under a rigorous moral code. Judges 2:13.
So God sent prophets from Judah to warn them. Those “prophets” in Israel were not God’s and they refused to hear God’s word. God was patient with them, but 19 kings and 209 years later, His patience ran out. II Kings 17:1-23 tells us that God sent the king of Assyria and his army into Israel to attack, deport and occupy the land. From 722 BC until 1948 Israel was known as the ten lost tribes (2,670 years).
Judah, the two southern tribes in the holy city and worship center of God, observed their brothers in Israel and at times adopted some of their practices. Judah had 20 kings from 931 BC to 586 BC and only two of them — Hezekiah and Josiah— sought God’s will, word and way for his people. Judah was a free people for 345 years, 136 years longer than Israel. But they too had to suffer the consequences of their intermittent idolatry. God sent Nebuchadnezzar, king of Babylon, and his army to Judah to attack, deport, and destroy. The people were in captivity in Babylon for 70 years, then released to return to Judea to rebuild. II Kings 25:1-21.
Any people who think they can reject God’s word and still continue to survive, even survive comfortably, is very mistaken. God is love, but he is also a God of wrath, destruction and death. I Peter 4:17-18.
The final dispensation
God used his forces of nature to annihilate all antediluvian life (before the flood) except the remnant in the ark, plus later, sodomite/homosexual life. He used his arch enemies, king Shalmaneser of Assyria and king Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon, to inflict retributive suffering upon his chosen people.
The apostle Paul reminded the Corinthians of Israel’s wilderness experience after Moses brought them out of Egypt. I Cor. 10:5-11 “But with many of them God was not well pleased: they were overthrown in the wilderness. … Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the end of the age is come.”
The end of the age referred to here is this current age of dispensation of grace, and is the closing age of God’s dealings with sinful humanity.
A dispensation is a period of time during which man is tested in respect to obedience of some pecific revelation of God. Seven such dispensations are distinguished in the Scriptures: (1) Innocence, 1 year; (2) Conscience, 1655 years; (3) Human Government, 222 years; (4) Promise, 635 years; (5) Law, 1524 years; (6) Grace, which began in 33 AD and is now 1,983 years. Grace is rapidly coming to its end so the last, number (7) Kingdom, can begin.
The apostle Paul describes the near end, which sounds uncomfortably familiar: the apostasy, the falling away from the faith by the church, departing from the faith, but not from the outward profession of Christianity, and the moral decadence of society.
Jesus said in Matthew 24:14 “And this Gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh.”
Dr. Waiters can be reached at 704-636-3369.