The Book of Luke, Judge Yourself, Part I- Lesson 166
It is interesting to note that near the beginning of this chapter Luke reports on an occurrence where a man from the crowd asked Jesus to be an arbitrator between himself and his brother.
Take that event into account when you read this last statement of Christ relative to a man going to a magistrate for a judgment against his adversary.
The message is clear that Jesus Christ advised both to resolve their conflicts between themselves without the involvement of a judge.
This is the warning of this passage.
Take care to see that any conflicts that you have in life are resolved before it is necessary for a judge to resolve them.
The Bible says that all things are to be done decently and in order.
That means that all things will be done decently and in order.
If you do not do them decently and in order God will do them in the capacity of a judge.
This is the message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is a judge in the wings and unless you get your house in order the judge will get it in order for you.
This passage that we have read this morning contains a most dire warning to the earth and those of the earth for in the beginning verse of this passage Jesus Christ tells of a mission that he has been given, a mission of bringing fire on the earth.
We know from scripture that Jesus Christ came to seek and to save that which was lost.
We know that Jesus Christ came to take out a people for his name.
We also know from John 3:17 that: ….. God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
But here we are told that Jesus Christ was come to send fire upon the earth and that he wishes that it were already kindled.
This verse as translated in the New American Standard bible reads:
I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled!
So what is Jesus Christ talking about here?
How does this seeming reference to an act of judgment reconcile with John 3:17 where God told us that He sent not his son to condemn the world.
This passage of course follows that which we have been studying in recent weeks relative to faithful watching servants and unfaithful un-watching servants.
To the unfaithful un-watching servant Jesus Christ comes as a thief who breaks into the house and takes all that the goodman of the house holds dear.
Blessings come to the watching servant while judgment comes to the unfaithful un-watching servant.
Notice that the servant chooses what he get.
Blessings or judgment.
God has blessings but if blessings are not chosen then there is only one other option and that is judgment.
Now these blessings and this judgment come after the masters return.
In other words this speaks of Christ's second coming so I believe that is the subject that is continued in this passage where Jesus tells his disciples that he had come to cast fire upon the earth.
The word fire brings to mind many responses.
Our freedom of speech does not extend to the yelling of the word fire in a theater.
Perhaps the ACLU has not thought to sue for that right, but I suppose it is only a matter of time.
Don’t you feel put upon by not having the freedom to yell “fire” anywhere and anytime?
Isn’t this America where we are supposed to do and say as we please!
But seriously while we sit in a auditorium we certainly don't want to hear the word “fire” but we love to hear the word “fire” when we are nested in our living rooms gazing at a roaring open fire in our fireplace.
But ask the question: What death do you fear most and most would reply that the most fearful way to die is burning to death in a fire.
So fire can be a friend or fire can be the worst enemy imaginable.
But when Jesus Christ tells us that he is come to cast fire upon the earth it is not a friendly fire that he is talking about.
When Jesus Christ says that he has come to cast fire on the earth he is speaking of an awful thing, a dreadful thing.
He is speaking of a thing to be most feared.
A thing that by itself should cause a person to think deeply about their own standing before a master who commands faithfulness.
It ought to cause anyone who has the sense to fear fire to bow before the one who commands the fire, the one who has the burning embers with which to destroy your house and all that you hold dear.
In other words the choice is this: Do you want blessings or do you want your house burned up?
What a no-brainer this is and yet most of the people of the world will choose to have their house burned up!
In verses 49‑53, Jesus explains the way in which His coming will “cast fire on the earth.”
He also expresses an eagerness to get on with the process of bringing fire to the earth.
He also tells us that this “fire” has implications for the family, implications that we would not choose.
The coming of Christ into hearts will cause great division within families, driving wedges between those family members in which there normally is a strong natural bond.
In verses 54‑57, Jesus speaks specifically to the multitudes, pointing out a very serious hypocrisy.
He reminds them that while they can forecast tomorrow’s weather by looking at the clouds and the winds, they cannot see the coming kingdom of God as being foreshadowed by Christ’s first coming.
Verses 58 and 59 conclude the chapter by making a practical application for he tells the crowd to reconcile with those who oppose you so that you will not have to stand before the judge.
Judge yourself or you will be judged!
Declare to yourself that you are indeed a sinner in need of a Savior or the judge will declare it for you at a time when his mercy will be far from you.
lest he hale thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and the officer cast thee into prison. 59I tell thee, thou shalt not depart thence, till thou hast paid the very last mite.
The Bible is replete with references to fire.
The Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah.
The Lord led the children of Israel though the desert by a pillar of fire.
Elijah called upon the false prophets to call upon the name of their God and he would call upon the name of his God and his God would identify himself by fire from heaven.
David built an altar to the Lord and David sought God's blessing and received it by fire from heaven.
Isaiah speaking of the Lord as judge says in Isaiah 30:27, Behold, the name of the LORD cometh from far, burning with his anger, and the burden thereof is heavy: his lips are full of indignation, and his tongue as a devouring fire:
Malachi in chapter 4 verse 1 spoke of the day that cometh …..that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
In the book of Acts the coming of the Holy Spirit is pictured as tongues of fire sitting on each of the believers.
And God will use fire at the end of the millennium age as John records in:
Rev. 20:9, And they went up on the breadth of the earth, and compassed the camp of the saints about, and the beloved city: and fire came down from God out of heaven, and devoured them.
And we are told by Peter that the heavens will be dissolved by fire.
II Peter 3:12, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat?
From the Amplified Bible: While you wait and earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God by reason of which the flaming heavens will be dissolved, and the [material] elements [of the universe] will flare and melt with fire.
We can see from these references in scripture and many others that fire is closely linked with the presence and the power of God.
We can also easily see that fire is used, as an instrument of divine wrath, exercised against sinners, both Jew and Gentiles.
Biblical prophecy speaks of “fire” as yet to come, brought by God against sinners.
And the future fire of divine judgment is closely linked with the coming of the Messiah.
Fire is used to purify, to separate, to dissolve.
When Jesus said that He had come to “kindle a fire” He is therefore saying that He has come to bring about the outpouring of God’s wrath on sinful Israel and sinners in general.
When Jesus clearly said that he did not come to judge but to save he was speaking of his first coming.
Here when he casts fire upon the earth it will be for all those who reject Him for there is no other name given among men whereby they can be saved.
Therefore there is only one thing left to do when He comes again, and that is to come as the judge to judge those who do not have a Savior.
He will have already come as Savior and there is no other remedy left so judgment must take place against those who have rejected so great a salvation.
You either choose a Savior or you choose a judge.
But notice his words which indicate a zealousness on his part for this work of judgment.
From the Amplified Bible: “I have come to cast fire upon the earth; and how I wish it were already kindled! I have a baptism with which to be baptized , and how greatly and sorely I am urged on (impelled, “constrained) until it is accomplished.
But isn't this what Peter told us to do when he told us to earnestly long for (expect and hasten) the coming of the day of God.
For everything that God does or intends to do, including judgment, is good and must not be opposed by his children.
We know from scripture that this outpouring of wrath is a prerequisite of and preliminary to the establishment of the kingdom of God.
In order for the kingdom of God to be established, sinners must be punished and sin eliminated for God is just and will not allow sin to exist in his creation.
How often do trials precede victory in our lives.
Peter tells us of this in: I Peter 1:7, That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
Jesus Christ is our example in this process for he must suffer the baptism of the cross before the kingdom will be throughout the earth.
God’s thoughts are not our thoughts nor God's ways are our ways.
Christ is the Prince of peace but we are told in this passage that he will bring division.
He promises men life, but He calls on them to give up life.
He tells men to lay up treasure in heaven, but they are to give up the pursuit of riches in this life, and to give to the poor.
“Blessing and riches” are the end, but giving up the pursuit of them is the means.
Sometimes in our way of thinking we think the means contradict the ends but we are to obey God by faith for God will bring about the ends in accordance with the means which he prescribes.
The means by which God has determined to bring about His kingdom is not just painful to sinful men but it is exceedingly painful to God, because Jesus Christ, God’s Son will suffer His wrath as a payment for mans sins.
Jesus said that before He cast fire on the earth He had a baptism with which to be baptized.
This baptism is clearly the death which He would die on the cross of Calvary.
His death on the cross would set in motion a series of events, which will result in the pouring out of God’s divine wrath on sinners.
That sad reality is that it is not really necessary, because Jesus experienced the full extent of God’s wrath on the cross.
For those who trust in Him, that is the full payment for their sins, but for those who reject Him, there is yet to come the outpouring of God’s wrath in the day of judgment.
Jesus could look forward to His baptism and to the “fire” that was to be kindled in the same way that a pregnant woman can look forward to her “labor.”
She is eager to get on with it, not because it is pleasant and enjoyable, but because of what will result.
The “fire” of God’s wrath, first poured out on Christ on the cross, and yet to be poured out on those who reject Him, is that which will bring to pass the coming kingdom of God.
The Israelites had forgotten this.
They had neglected or overlooked the sequence of events which was to bring in the kingdom of God.
They looked forward to the “day of the Lord” as the day of salvation, rejoicing, and blessing, but they forgot that the day of the Lord began with judgment.
This is what the prophet Amos reminded them:
Amos 5:18‑20, Woe unto you that desire the day of the LORD! to what end is it for you? the day of the LORD is darkness, and not light. 19As if a man did flee from a lion, and a bear met him; or went into the house, and leaned his hand on the wall, and a serpent bit him. 20Shall not the day of the LORD be darkness, and not light? even very dark, and no brightness in it?