Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. Tonight, is study #10 of Genesis, chapter 12 and we are going to begin by reading Genesis 12:10:
And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
We have been looking at the word “grievous” and we saw that it could also be translated as “sore.” We did not look at them, but there are some verses where it is translated as “heavy.” We did look at some verses where it was translated as “slow,” where it was said of Moses that he was “slow” of tongue and “slow” of speech, in Exodus 4, verse 10. We have seen how God’s judgment is at times a slow process. It is not something that is over in an instant. It was not over in an instant for Judah, as they went through a judgment lasting seventy years. There were elect among the Jews at that time, like Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, that were taken into captivity in Babylon for a number of years. Daniel spent decades living in Babylon as God’s judgment process worked itself out over a long period of time.
Likewise, we have learned from the Bible that the judgment upon the churches and congregations was a slow process that took place over the course of 23 exact years or 8,400 days.
Let me just say that as we think about this, we should not be confused in thinking that God’s judgment program is slow to start. We must keep in mind that God’s judgment program begins immediately at the proper “time and season.” There was the season of the church age and the outpouring of the early rain to bring in the firstfruits and God was not bringing judgment upon the churches while that season was actively occurring. But as soon as that season ended, the judgment began on the churches immediately. Then the 23-year Great Tribulation worked out and as soon the judgment on the churches came to its conclusion, then it says in Matthew 24:29: “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken:” There was no period of waiting when it is time for the judgment of God to be poured out. That is not what God is saying in the verse we have been looking at in Ecclesiastes 8:11:
Because sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil.
Again, the execution is the carrying out of the sentence. So, on May 21, 1988 the Lord came to visit the congregations and He saw that they were unfaithful. They had set up their high places and God gave them space to repent over the 1,955 years of the church age, but they did not repent and the sentence came: “I will end my relationship with the New Testament corporate church. I will remove my Spirit from their midst. I will loose Satan and he will enter into the congregations and take his seat as the man of sin.” That was the judgment of God that took place the moment the church age ended. God’s judgment came upon it. God’s Holy Spirit left and Satan’s spirit entered in. After that point, it was the execution of the sentence and in God’s wisdom that sentence was carried out over 23 full years – year after year, after year – until May 21, 2011. Then the judgment that began at the house of God was completed. Then the very moment God finished the judgment on the churches, He expanded it to include all the unsaved inhabitants of the earth and the kingdom of Satan; spiritual Babylon came under the judgment of God (the kingdom of this world). Once again, the judgment or sentence was the shut door of heaven, a darkened “sun,” the drying up of the Gospel rivers of living water and there would be no more salvation. It was a spiritual judgment. The Holy Spirit of God ceased all evangelization, as far as utilizing His Word to create new hearts and new spirits. It was all accomplished and finished. That was it – no more salvation for anyone in the world. The sentence was decreed. The judgment was pronounced. Following that, there is a length of time that God has determined to carry out that sentence. For His own purposes, He did this and we could list some of the reasons why God is working out the final judgment of mankind over the course of years. It has to do with “testing” and putting the “fire” to all to see if they are truly born again, and so forth. There are Biblical reasons and God has been revealing them to us. Also, the people of God are making an appearance (or being made manifest) before the judgment seat of Christ. As we read in Psalm 149, the judgment is being executed. Is that not interesting that this is the language we find there? But let us go to the Book of Jude first, where it says in Jude 1:14-15:
And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints, To execute judgment upon all…
He comes to “execute judgment upon all.” God comes with all His elect. (the “ten thousands” points to the complete number of saints) to carry out the judgment. Then it says in Psalm 149:5-9:
Let the saints be joyful in glory: let them sing aloud upon their beds. Let the high praises of God be in their mouth, and a twoedged sword in their hand; To execute vengeance upon the heathen, and punishments upon the people; To bind their kings with chains, and their nobles with fetters of iron; To execute upon them the judgment written: this honour have all his saints. Praise ye JEHOVAH.
This is our privilege. This is our honor to judge the world with Christ. If you do not know that, then you should turn to 1Corinthians, chapter 6 where it is written in 1Corinthians 6:2:
Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world? and if the world shall be judged by you, are ye unworthy to judge the smallest matters?
Here, God is asking a question, but the implication is that, “Yes, we do know because it is written.” There are passages that say that Christ comes with His saints. So, here, it says, “Do ye not know that the saints shall judge the world?” And as it says in Psalm 149, it is “to execute upon them the judgment written,” so it means to perform or do judgment. It spoke of the “twoedged sword in their hand,” and the twoedged sword is the Word of God, so God’s people today find ourselves living in the world in the time after the Tribulation in the Day of Judgment and we are declaring and sharing these things from the Bible. In sharing these things, we are carrying out the judgment written. We are executing judgment when we tell people what we are learning from the Bible. This is the process that the Lord has established. It is not a speedy process, as we discussed earlier. Judgment often has as part of its punishment a time element attached and the longer the time, the more grievous and severe the punishment. We understand that with our penal system and its punishment for crime. We recognize that.
I do want to point out that we used to have a wrong idea of the final judgment, before we were corrected by the Spirit of God and He opened the Scriptures to reveal that the true nature of the final judgment of God will be complete annihilation, but it has a time limit. God’s punishment does not go on and on forever in some place called “Hell.” That was our error and it was an incorrect understanding of the Word of God and the churches (still) have this misunderstanding, but the people of God have been corrected. With that previous understanding, what was the grievous nature of a place called “Hell” where people would be tormented eternally and without end? What made that super grievous was that it was such a long period of time. Of course, when speaking of eternity, you cannot even say how long it is because it never ends. But what we now understand is that there is a time element to the judgment and a longer period of time is what makes the judgment more grievous and, yet, we must recognize that the idea of an endless judgment goes contrary to the teaching of the Bible. To remind us of what the Bible says, I am going to turn to Deuteronomy 25 and read about matters of judgment. It says in Deuteronomy 25:1:
If there be a controversy between men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked.
It is interesting that we see both the righteous and the wicked in view in the context of judgment. This passage is going to teach us about the judgment of God and, as we have seen elsewhere, the righteous and the wicked must appear before God – there is one event to all. It goes on to say in Deuteronomy 25:2-3:
And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and to be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.
We see that God sets a limit. There is a limit to judgment. There are a certain number of stripes that may be meted out or applied to the wrongdoer. The number is set at “forty” and you cannot go beyond that number. So, as we are thinking about these things, we recognize that God’s judgment is not done in a single instant or in a single day. We were wrong about it taking place over a literal five months, but it is longer than that and the five months signifies a longer judgment. There is mounting Biblical evidence that the final judgment could work itself out from May 21, 2011 for as many as 22 years to some point in the year 2033AD. That is what the evidence points to, although it is not conclusive. That is a 22-year period. It is still in accord with what the Bible says about the application of stripes. It is a severe punishment to draw out the sentence to 22 years and some would think it is a long time.
It is discouraging for some people to think about and, yet, keep in mind that we used to erroneously believe that God would punish the wicked forever and ever, without end. So, it does not make any sense for us to say that it is unjust, unfair or cruel for God to shut the door of heaven and then allow the world to continue for over two decades and then destroy it. How is that not fair or not just? It is God’s judgment program and if He determines that is the sentence, there is no injustice there. There is nothing unfair about it. As a matter of fact, in comparison to the faulty understanding of punishing billions of unsaved men, women and children and forever punishing them, what is a few years? There is no comparison, is there? It is an extremely light judgment in comparison to the idea of eternal Hell, so we should not think, “This prolonged Judgment Day is too long – it is just too long.” God’s judgment upon Israel in the wilderness was forty years and, yet, He called it “the day of temptation” in the wilderness. That was the will of God. God has determined as the Judge to pass a sentence upon criminals (and all sinners are criminals in His sight) and the penalty will be death, ultimately. That death starts with spiritual death, but it leads to complete death in both body and soul and complete annihilation on the last day. But if God so determines this to happen over a period of several years, whether it be 22 years inclusive or 40 years or 70 years, no one can say to God, “You are wrong. It is unjust and unfair.” No, that does not affect anything because God is God and He is the righteous Judge.
The things we have been learning is emphasized here by God in an interesting way, as He says in Romans 2:5:
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;
The Lord makes a point of emphasizing that it is a “righteous judgment.” There is nothing unrighteous about it. He is righteous. He may shut the door and end His salvation program and that is the judgment. That is the judgment and no one can say it is an unfair thing.
Let us get back to Genesis, chapter 12 and we are going to pick up reading in Genesis 12:11-13:
And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon: Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive. Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
Here, the Lord is turning the discussion to Sarai, Abram’s wife. It said in Genesis 11:29-31:
And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
Then when Abram was 75 years old, he entered into the land of Canaan. It says in Genesis 12:5:
And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
Interestingly, God tells us about Sarai. The Bible gives a lot of information about this woman, the wife of Abraham. We can understand that Sarai was a true child of God. All we can read about her points to that. She is also very interesting because we know a lot about the timeline of her life. We know that Abram was born in 2167BC to Terah and then God tells us in Genesis 17:17:
Then Abraham fell upon his face, and laughed, and said in his heart, Shall a child be born unto him that is an hundred years old? and shall Sarah, that is ninety years old, bear?
From this statement, we know that Sarah was 10 years younger than Abraham. If Abraham was born in 2167BC, then Sarah was born in 2157BC. Whenever we are given age references to Abram or Abraham, we can know that Sarai or Sarah was ten years younger. When Abram was 75 years old and crossed the flood from Haran to cross into the land of Canaan, how old was Sarai? She was 65. The number “65” is a very interesting number because if you break it down it is “5 x 13,” with the number “5” pointing to the atonement and the number “13” pointing to the end of the world. Or, we know that when Abraham was 100, the promised son was born and we know that Sarah was 90 years old when she gave birth to Isaac in 2067BC. Abraham was 100 and Sarah was 90. We are told about Sarah’s death in Genesis 23:1-2:
And Sarah was an hundred and seven and twenty years old: these were the years of the life of Sarah. And Sarah died in Kirjatharba; the same is Hebron in the land of Canaan: and Abraham came to mourn for Sarah, and to weep for her.
This lets us know that from the point of Isaac’s birth when she was 90 until her death at age 127 was a time period of 37 years. The number “37” identifies with judgment. And then she died. It is amazing that God gives us her age upon death because it is the only time in the Bible that God gives the death age of a woman. You can read about the death age of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph and many, many men, but only once did God give the death age of a woman, which we just read in Genesis, chapter 23. So, Sarah is a very special character the Lord tells us about in the Bible.