Battleground Earth 4: Judgment Begins at Home - David Mitts

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? (1Pe 4:17 NASB)

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These are times of great challenges to our sense of justice, right and wrong. People are marching in the streets crying out for justice. Ancient racial evils and hatreds that are beneath the veneer of civilization are being exposed.  Many feel the wrongs and are trying to express their outrage and, in the outrage, create more wrongs.  As we learned as children, two wrongs do not make a right

The Lord speaking through the Apostle Peter proclaims that it is the responsibility of the household of God to judge ourselves and be agents of the gospel of God. What does that mean? How can we be in the conflicts and be a light of love and truth in times of great peril to the fabric of our lives?

We begin with learning how-to live-in judgment. Judgment is often seen as the result of an error. We make a mistake, commit a crime, and are eligible for judgment. In today’s polarized world this must be extended to being judged for even the possibility of error. Facebook and other platforms offer people an opportunity to rail against one another with the presumption of error and the self-righteousness of judgment.  There is a ferocity to the conflicts.

It would do us well to remember that there is an enemy who has a scheme in all of this and not to play right into his hands. 

"Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour."  1Pe 5:8 (NASB)

How does the enemy devour us? Well, let’s return to our word for justice or judgment, Shaphat. The word shaphat is composed of 3 Hebrew letters. The first is the letter “shin” which is the picture of teeth and represents chewing or destruction. The second is the letter “pey” or “fey” which is a word picture for an open mouth. The final letter is the letter “tet” which is the word picture for a snake which is interpreted sometimes as encircling. The interpretation that I came away with that is that judgment is the process of chewing, which if we think about it, is the action of separating things. When we chew on something, we are mulling it over.  If we think of digestion as the taking of something that is “not us” and making it part of us, then the process of chewing over some information is an essential component to deciding what to keep and what to not keep as a part of our thinking.

So, we see that judgment is actually the eating or the devouring of how we think of something or someone. It is from this spiritual reality that we get the scripture about our thinking and our being.

For as he thinks in his heart, so is he. "Eat and drink!" he says to you, But his heart is not with you. (Pro 23:7)

When we can come to the realization that judgment is a bitter reality in that it defiles us thoroughly through our thinking, we can begin to release forgiveness in our lives when we experience offense.

Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; (Heb 12:14-15)

Bitterness is the root of judgment. It produces in us, the fruits of defilement. 
Yeshua told us that we aren’t defiled by what we eat physically, this may make us physically sick but are defiled by what we become spiritually in our heart.

After Jesus called the crowd to Him, He said to them, "Hear and understand. "It is not what enters into the mouth that defiles the man, but what proceeds out of the mouth, this defiles the man." Then the disciples *came and *said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this statement?" But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father did not plant shall be uprooted. "Let them alone; they are blind guides of the blind. And if a blind man guides a blind man, both will fall into a pit." Peter said to Him, "Explain the parable to us." Jesus said, "Are you still lacking in understanding also? "Do you not understand that everything that goes into the mouth passes into the stomach, and is eliminated? "But the things that proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and those defile the man. "For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, slanders. "These are the things which defile the man; but to eat with unwashed hands does not defile the man."(Mat 15:10-20)

The enemy of our soul is working to defile us by corrupting our inner man through judgments. He feeds off of our evil thoughts and the resulting actions. What many don’t realize is that we feed off of them as well. We literally digest and make ourselves into our judgments.

"Do not judge so that you will not be judged. "For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. "Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother's eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me take the speck out of your eye,' and behold, the log is in your own eye? "You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother's eye. "Do not give what is holy to dogs, and do not throw your pearls before swine, or they will trample them under their feet, and turn and tear you to pieces. (Mat 7:1-6)

When we judge one another, we throw our pearls before swine, we trample what is holy, God’s children under the feet of our judgments. Worse of all, we become what we judge. Satan feeds of our judgments.

Satan is described as a roaring lion. The lion is “king of the beasts”. Let’s look at Proverbs 30 to get a perspective on the connection:

There are three things which are majestic in pace, Yes, four which are stately in walk: A lion, which is mighty among beasts And does not turn away from any; A greyhound, A male goat also, And a king whose troops are with him. If you have been foolish in exalting yourself, Or if you have devised evil, put your hand on your mouth. For as the churning of milk produces butter, And wringing the nose produces blood, So the forcing of wrath produces strife. (Pro 30:29-33)

The lion is one who does not yield, shows no meekness in its natural state. It is paralleled in this scripture verse with a king with his troops. A King is defined by his troops, his military might.  This is what a mob is. A mob is the physical expression of a king. But, in the case of a mob, their king is their own group thinking.  The mob is violent because it has no meekness. The mob respects no boundaries. It takes and takes without respect to the hard work that built the businesses and the courage that the statues were built to honor. The mob redefines life from honor to destruction.

The proverb continues by connecting this portrayal of authority by describing it as self-exaltation, the devising of evil, the putting you hand on the mouth, which is forcing someone to be silent, and the forcing of wrath which produces strife.

You can get a clear picture of the scheme of Satan to produce offense, judgments, and strife. This is the climate we live in, a polarization to create strife. It does not matter which side we find ourselves on. All that matters is the polarization.

Returning to the Book of Judges as our template for justice in this hour, it is no surprise that the first judge of Israel is named Othniel. This is translated as either the strength of God, which we have spoken some about, or as the lion of God. God has his own lions to confront the lion that is Satan.

God alone is just. Othniel is the first of the Judges in the Book. As the first, he sets the stage for justice and the process in Israel. First, let us notice that Othniel is from the tribe of Judah, or praise. Yeshua is also known as the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.

and one of the elders *said to me, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals." (Rev 5:5)

The seals are the sevenfold bindings of the release of wrath on the Earth. They contain, the four horsemen of the apocalypse, the voice of the martyrs, the shaking of the earth, and the seventh seal which releases the final justice of God.

So, this connection with the lion is key to living in the justice of God. Let’s look at the story of Othniel.

The first time we hear of himOthniel is responding to a love challenge. Turn with me to Judges 1:12

And Caleb said, "The one who attacks Kiriath-sepher and captures it, I will even give him my daughter Achsah for a wife." Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother, captured it; so he gave him his daughter Achsah for a wife. Then it came about when she came to him, that she persuaded him to ask her father for a field. Then she alighted from her donkey, and Caleb said to her, "What do you want?" She said to him, "Give me a blessing, since you have given me the land of the Negev, give me also springs of water." So Caleb gave her the upper springs and the lower springs. (Jdg 1:12-15).

The one who would become the first anointed and appointed deliver of Israel had a bride as his motivation. When love motivates you, it opens your heart for God to move. When hatred motivates or offense it drives us into pride, self-exaltation. Like David after him who would also respond to a love challenge from Saul and Yeshua who would respond to a love challenge from the Father for His bride, the foundation stone for deliverance is love.

Satan as a roaring lion is seeking to devour through judgments. When we judge, we become a member of his pride.

God also has a pride which is a tribe. It is the tribe of the Lion of Judah. Othniel was the first judge in the tribe. 

Let’s turn to Judges 3 and see how the rest of the story plays out:

Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly). These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-Hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses. The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. (Jdgs. 3:1-6)

Notice that Israel had fallen through marriage. Sons marrying idolatrous wives and wives marrying idolatrous sons. The result of this was oppression in Israel. Turn to verse 7

The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth. Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaimking of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb's younger brother. The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaimking of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim. Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died. (Jdg 3:7-11)

This is the beginning of a time of testing for Israel. This pattern is repeated throughout the book of Judges and throughout the life of Believers. Serving the Baals and the Asherah takes on many forms. Baals is the Hebrew word for lords or authorities outside of God. Baals would include any secular authority including medical and political authorities that violate God’s authority. This is called evil in the sight of the Lord. 

Many feel like their role as "good Christians" is to obey all authority. When the authority of a nation is opposed to God’s authority and His Word and manipulates Christians to act in an ungodly way then that is evil in the sight of God. When we allow that to happen, we are changing who we are. We then begin to judge ourselves as “godly” by the standards of “ungodliness”. This puts us in the position of being sold into the hands of ungodly authority.

This is the time to cry out for the Lion to deliver His people. We need to judge ourselves. We all carry evil with us. Any of us can become the mob. Any of us can become self-righteous. In this hour, we need to be acutely aware of our propensity to hate to be divisive. Then we need to remember Proverbs 6:16-19:

There are six things which the LORD hates, Yes, seven which are an abomination to Him: Haughty eyes, a lying tongue, And hands that shed innocent blood, A heart that devises wicked plans, Feet that run rapidly to evil, A false witness who utters lies, And one who spreads strife among brothers. (Pro 6:16-19).

Let’s examine our hearts as we take communion and realize that this is us and it is only by the blood of Jesus and His body broken for us that we can find a place of peace in this storm that seeks to consume our lives and make us the consumers of the lives of others, agents of a devouring lion who lives off our souls in conflict.


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