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Jesus, Judgment, and Hell

Jesus and Judgment "Woe to you Chorazin! Woe to you Bethsaida! If the powerful deeds had been done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented sitting in sackcloth and ashes. But it will more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon in the judgment than for you. And you, Capernuam--you want to be lifted up do you? No: you'll be sent down to Hades!" Luke 10:13-15

Jesus, Hell, and Judgment

American Christians who still hold a high view of the scriptures, are also very often eager to defend the standard traditional view of Hell as an eternal place of torment for those who reject Jesus. Luke 10:13-15 is often used as evidence or proof that Jesus thought of Hell in the same way that we do. But Jesus is not warning about Hell here in the traditional sense. This passage only looks like it is talking about the traditional view of Hell if you have come to the text looking for that kind of thing. Within its' own context, the understanding of this particular scripture comes out rather different. Jesus is not threatening people with an arbitrary retribution for rejecting Him. Jesus isn't using the threat of eternal torment to coerce people to follow Him. Rather, Jesus has evaluated the current political and theological positions of the nations of Israel and He believes that their sum total equals disaster for Israel. The nation as a whole seemed bent on violent revolution against Rome but Jesus was preaching the Kingdom of God in a way that resisted this violent revolutionary movement. Imagine if the large American populations of Muslims in cities like Detroit decided to declare open war on the United States right now. They may win some early victories through some surprise attacks or what have you, but ultimately, they would be completely devastated by the US Military. That is similar to the situation that Jesus and His contemporaries faced with Rome.

Jesus, Judgment, and Hell

Jesus' warnings about the coming judgment of God in this passage are not warnings about eternal consequences as a personal vendetta for rejecting Jesus. These warnings are the compassionate pleas of a friend who doesn't wish his own people to be destroyed. God was visiting His people in and through Jesus and if they did or recognize this fact, they were going to miss God's will for their lives and all that they would have left would be their own mess which they had, at least in part, made themselves. The natural consequences of rejecting Jesus' version of the Kingdom of God in favor of their own would and should also be seen as the judgment of God for a nation that refused to do things the way that God had called them to do it. Again, this isn't arbitrary post-mortem judgment. This is a natural consequence for refusing Jesus' way and God's way of doing the Kingdom of God in favor of one's own.

In what ways might we be in danger of God's judgment due to resisting or being ignorant of God's Law and Kingdom agenda today? And what happens to us after the consequences of our rebellion take out lives? What chance will be left to us then?

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