Weather and Land Are No Longer God’s Enforcers Of Covenantal Judgment


Hurricane Isabel in 2003 from space

In the Old Testament God promised covenantal blessings and curses on the nation of Israel for obeying or disobeying his laws. The land and the weather served as God’s sanctioning agents (though not exclusively).

Leviticus 26 is a comprehensive discussion of blessings and curses for obedience or disobedience. Deuteronomy 28 is very similar.

In Leviticus 26 we read:

If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, I will send you rain in its season, and the ground will yield its crops and the trees their fruit. (Leviticus 26:3-4)

But if you will not listen to me and carry out all these commands, and if you reject my decrees and abhor my laws and fail to carry out all my commands and so violate my covenant (Leviticus 26:14-15)

I will break down your stubborn pride and make the sky above you like iron and the ground beneath you like bronze. Your strength will be spent in vain, because your soil will not yield its crops, nor will the trees of your land yield their fruit. (Leviticus 26:19-20)

Clearly, if the Israelites obeyed God’s commands then the weather and the ground would predictably cooperate. If they did not, then the weather and the ground would act together to produce famine and drought — also predictably.

Furthermore:

But you shall keep my statutes and my rules and do none of these abominations, either the native or the stranger who sojourns among you (for the people of the land, who were before you, did all of these abominations, so that the land became unclean), lest the land vomit you out when you make it unclean, as it vomited out the nation that was before you. (Leviticus 18:26-28)

CHANGES TO THE NEW COVENANT

So, in the New Covenant era, should we expect God’s judgment to manifest itself predictably in the forms of weather-related phenomenon or cursed ground?

No, because Jesus announced a change in the sanctioning agents of the covenant.[1] Covenental blessings and curses still apply corporately, but they are administered differently:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Jesus announced that God sends rain and sunshine on the righteous and unrighteous alike, signaling a shift from Old Covenant to New. This is God’s common grace on display to the unrighteous.

Furthermore, the predictable sanctions in history, positive and negative, are to come socially: we are to treat even our enemies lawfully, for as Paul wrote, “Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.” (Romans 13:10)

Loving our neighbors — and our enemies — means fulfilling the commandmants of God’s law. God does not respect persons when administering righteous justice. (Deuteronomy 1:17, Romans 2:11) Neither should we.

This is fair, equal treatment. This is another demonstration of common grace to the unrighteous. But there’s another aspect to this: bringing condemnation upon the heads of those who know God but refuse to bow their knee to His authority.

As Jesus said:

And that servant who knew his master’s will but did not get ready or act according to his will, will receive a severe beating. But the one who did not know, and did what deserved a beating, will receive a light beating. Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more. (Luke 12:47-48)

As Paul said, if our enemy is hungry, feed him, or if he is thirsty, give him something to drink because, by doing so, we heap burning coals on his head (Romans 12:20). He is quoting from Proverbs 25:21-22.

Thus, God’s predictable sanctions show up in the New Covenant era through more social means on the individual level, and economically on the corporate level. If we all obey God’s laws that respect property rights and condemn theft then we’ll prosper economically. If not — if we adopt some form of socialism which favors some groups of people over other groups of people — then we should expect our wealth to be stripped from us and our inheritance squandered.

CONCLUSION

In the New Covenant era the unbeliever benefits from God’s common grace: sunshine and rain and equal treatment under the law. God did not necessarily bring ample rain and sunshine to nations outside of Israel, so they could not expect their prosperity to endure.

Consequently, we should no longer expect to find an ethical link between predictable weather patterns and our obedience to God’s laws in the New Covenant; we should look instead for predictable sanctions to be delivered economically. Nations that are wealthy are probably obeying God’s laws that respect property rights.

Even pagan nations who uphold God’s laws can benefit from their positive sanctions, just as other nations outside Israel did in the Old Covenant. But without special saving grace, the common grace poured out onto a nation cannot last. Without the nation’s people confessing saving faith in Jesus Christ, the blessings will not last because the physical benefits alone are not enough to motivate men to continue keeping God’s laws. After a while, and without the power of the holy spirit, men will revert to their unlawful ways and provoke God to anger, and his wrath will be poured out on them.

Predictable sanctions come from predictable applications of the law. In the Old Covenant, the land spewed out its inhabitants. In the New Covenant, Jesus is the one doing the spewing:

So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. (Revelation 3:16)

Therefore, Christians should be on guard about attributing acts of nature to God’s wrath. His divine will is secret and unknown to us. In Mosaic Israel, weather patterns could be predicted based upon adherance to the laws. In the New Covenant era, this direct link has been broken because the land boundaries of ancient Israel, given to the Israelites after they destroyed the Cananites, have been broken. The land spewed them out after their repeated violations and unrepentance.

In the New Covenant era, there are only two earthly demarcations: the Church; and the rest of the world. The land stopped being an enforcing covenantal agent when it disinherited the Israelites — when they were sent into exile. Finally, the nation of Israel was publically — covenantally — executed in A.D. 70 with the fall of Jerusalem and the destruction of the temple for their unrelenting apostasy which led them to kill our Lord of Glory. This completed the transition from the Old Covenant in the flesh to the New Covenant by the Spirit: [2]

Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof. (Matthew 23:43)

It is in the New Covenant era where Jew and Gentile alike can be in-grafted into the Church by adoption that God’s kingdom will come into fullness in time and in history. Our growth and adherence to God’s laws will bring forth an unprecedented outpouring of blessings that we should continue striving for:

And I will rejoice in Jerusalem, and joy in my people: and the voice of weeping shall be no more heard in her, nor the voice of crying. There shall be no more thence an infant of days, nor an old man that hath not filled his days: for the child shall die an hundred years old; but the sinner being an hundred years old shall be accursed. (Isaiah 65:19-20)

___________

1. Gary North, Boundaries and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Leviticus, (Dallas, Georgia: Point Five Press, 2012), ch. 32.

2. Ray R. Sutton, That You May Prosper: Dominion By Covenant, 2nd ed. (Tyler, Texas: Institute for Christian Economics, [1987] 1992), Appendices 8 and 9.

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s