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Cover Me

The country I visited last week is rich in history. The stories of kings and queens, dukes and duchesses, popes and bishops, knights in shining armor, peasants and reformers can be found etched in stone, enshrined in castles and venerated in shrines. Beneath the layers of a thousand years worth of black soot and air pollution lie inscriptions and statues of people we’ve never heard of, but were the movers and shakers of a generation long since deceased. The Czech Republic, historically known as the kingdom of Bohemia, is filled with gold figurines, silver chalices, painted ceilings, and works of composers such as Mozart, Haydn, Bach, Dvorak, Vivaldi, and the finest crystal vases and chandeliers in the world. But, it is also the site where the darker side of humanity may be seen as well. Torture devices such as the rack, the boot, the head crusher, heretic’s fork, tongue tearer, knee splitter and more may be seen on display. The pit, a large unheated hole in the ground, fitted with a fourteen foot domed ceiling with the only opening at the top, from which it is impossible to escape, was often used to punish criminals. The worst prison in our land pales in comparison to the average kind of correctional device in medieval times.

The Dark Ages were not the source of judgment, punishment and retribution. The very concept of justice fills the pages of the Word of God.

Romans 2:1 Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things. 2 But we are sure that the judgment of God is according to truth against them which commit such things. 3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? 4 Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? 5 But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; 6 Who will render to every man according to his deeds: 7 To them who by patient continuance in well doing seek for glory and honour and immortality, eternal life: 8 But unto them that are contentious, and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, indignation and wrath, 9 Tribulation and anguish, upon every soul of man that doeth evil, of the Jew first, and also of the Gentile;

There is no denying of the fact that God has, does and will administer unassailable judgment at the last day. His righteousness demands it, his Holy Word calls for it, and the blood of all the victims of unjust acts throughout the annals of history require it.

Sin will be judged. Injustice will be avenged. Wrongdoers will be held accountable for the crimes that they never had to pay for in this life.

2 Peter 2:4 For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; 5 And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly; 6 And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly;

Revelation 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.

What kind of sins will be judged in the last day?

Galations 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.

Galations 6:7 Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. 8 For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption;

I think these scriptures serve as a sufficient warning, or reminder, that no sinner will be exempt from the wrath of God.

With this in mind, let me guide you to a specific instance in the Bible of a certain sin and its punishment.

Deuteronomy 21:18 If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: 19 Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; 20 And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. 21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

This is Old Testament law.

It was a absolute, zero tolerance system.

And all the men of the city lined up with stones in their hands to throw them on the victim who had been judged by his own parents.

Some of these men may have tried to help this young man. They may have hired him to do odd jobs for them and knew he was worthless. The youth may have even stolen from them in the past. They were ready to do their job. Word may have gotten around in the city that a stoning was about to take place. People may have crowded around the gate to see the spectacle.

Now, I want to take you to another instance of a young man who was guilty of the same offenses as the rebellious son in Deuteronomy.

Luke 15:11 And he said, A certain man had two sons: 12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living. 13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living. 14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. 15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. 16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him. 17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger! 18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, 19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. 20 And he arose, and came to his father.

Maybe this would have been a good time for someone to stop this young man and remind him of the scripture in Deuteronomy 21.

Hey, boy! Don’t go home. They are lined up waiting to stone you to death. You are making a huge mistake. Turn around and go back into the world. They hate you back home. They don’t want you back.

If anyone fits the profile of the stoning victim in Deuteronomy, it’s you. You are disobedient. Stubborn. Rebellious. A drunkard. A glutton. You won’t listen to anyone. If anyone deserved to be stoned to death, it’s you.

The church despises you. Your older brother never wants to see you again. You’ve reproached them, hurt them, offended them and they will never accept you.

That’s what might have been said. That’s even what you would expect God to have said based on his commandments and judgments in the Old Testament.

But let me read to you what really happened.

Luke 15:20 But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. 21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. 22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: 23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: 24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

But where are the stones? Where is the line up of the elders?

It was a totally different reaction than anyone would have anticipated. No blood for blood. No spite for spite. No eye for eye or tooth for tooth. Something has totally changed in the economy of God.

  • It’s confession.
  • Acceptance of blame.
  • Contrition.
  • Meekness.
  • It’s forgiveness. Healing. Love. Acceptance.

I want you to get the picture here. The father was probably not out in the country on a big estate. Most farmers had their fields out from the city, but they lived behind the city walls. The father saw his son afar off and did not wait until the young man arrived at the gates where the elders were. He ran to him and fell on his neck.

Why did he fall on his neck? It was to cover him. To be a protection for him. To send a message to those who were ready to throw stones, “If you are going to get to my son, you’re going to have to go through me.”

  • The father covered the son.
  • The innocent protected the guilty.
  • The sinless one stood between the sinner and his punishment.

Do you know what the Bible says?

1 John 2:1 My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: 2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

The word propitiation means “covering.”

Our Savior comes running to us and covers us with himself.

Judgment is sure. Punishment is certain. There is no recall of the commandments against sin. The difference is that Jesus has determined to receive our stoning in himself.

Isaiah 53:5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

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