Because they have rejected the law of the Lord and have not kept his decrees…I will send fire upon Judah that will consume the fortresses of Jerusalem. Amos 2:4-5
I have always had a problem with seeing God as a God of judgment. One problem for me is that people forget that it’s God’s place to judge and presume to interpret who is deserving of judgment and who is not. (And those who are judging never feel that their sins are worse than those whom they are judging.) I was reading somewhere that the purpose of God’s judgment is not to punish and shame but to lead people to repentance and, ultimately, to restoration. Judgment, then, isn’t so much an end to itself but more of a means to the desired outcome — restoration. Judgment is the pointing out of where you have gone wrong with the great hope that it will cause you to re-think and get back on the right track. Judgment — the recognition of sin — is therefore necessary. If you don’t name something, it’s hard to deal with it. First you have to recognize that there is a problem before you can begin to address it. Judgment, like sex, should only be between two partners that are involved in a covenantal relationship; it’s not the role of others to point fingers in an attempt to get people to conform to what they think is right. (My anti-fundamentalist orientation is showing here.) I know that in the books of the prophets, most are proclaiming how the people have gone astray. However, unlike the environment of today, the prophets are not singling out a specific group of people or specific acts. They were pointing out how the Israelites – all the people – have gone astray from God and that there will be consequences for this. I think that the prophetic books can be seen as signs of God’s love for us, rather than signs of how wrathful God is; judgment is not an end in itself but a light to make us aware that we are no longer on the path that leads to God. Without judgment, we would not know that we are on the wrong path, and, more importantly, we won’t be able to correct our steps to get back on the path that leads to eternal union with God.