One verse of the Bible was formerly quoted more often than it is today --- although today we are arriving at the time of its fulfilment: that is I Peter 4:17, "For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall be the end of them that obey not the gospel of God?" But strangely enough, this verse is almost always used by the ministers to threaten their own congregations with judgment and condemnation, as though it was the Christians who should be in fear of this judgment. Perhaps that does get more money in the offering that Sunday: but is this a correct use of the word of God? Let's examine this subject in detail.
This is a Christian nation: it was founded by Christians, who came to this continent when it was an untamed wilderness, peopled by fierce savages; but they came here, as their own records tell us, to establish Christian communities where they could worship God without interference. Even today, although we have allowed the entrance of millions of people who hate our God and everything we hold sacred, yet the great majority of our people are still Christian. They are not completely perfect, of course: people were never sinlessly perfect at any time --- that is why there was need for Jesus Christ to come and save us by His sacrifice made for us on the cross. But His death and resurrection were not in vain: He has cleansed us of the guilt of our sins: if He had not, then He would have died in vain. But God's purpose can never fail: He has saved us from the judgment for our sins, and redeemed us as His children, who had strayed like lost sheep. Therefore, it is not the Christians who need fear the judgment: indeed, I John 4:17 tells us, "Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as He Is, so are we in this world."
Now it is still true that "Judgment must begin at the house of God"---but we see that it is not judgment upon the Christians. Who, then, are to be judged, among those who are found in this nation which is the household of God?
Those who hate our God are loud in their denunciation of us for our supposed sins --- which consist mostly in not helping them to commit their own sins on a scale as great and profitable as they desire. Should we hang our heads in shame and plead "guilty" to their accusations? Never! Isaiah 54:17 gives the answer: "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the Lord, and their righteousness is of Me, saith the Lord." Yes, our righteousness is of Him: the righteousness which God imputed to Christians because Jesus Christ died and was resurrected to accomplish this very thing. Therefore, "every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn."
In many places, the Bible tells us that God's judgment will fall upon the ungodly, upon those who hate Him and refuse His sacrifice made for us upon the cross. One of these many Is I Samuel 2:10, "The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall He thunder upon them: the Lord shall judge the ends of the earth; *** " and there are many more to the same effect. Those nations which are not Christian must face the final accounting for their wickedness: and since they have refused to accept the salvation offered them by Jesus Christ, what can possible remain except the judgment of complete justice? And what a heavy penalty complete justice will require for their many centuries of continuous wickedness!
Then why are we told that "Judgment must begin at the house of God?" There is time enough to get to the other nations in their own turn: meanwhile, let them " stew in their own juice." But the household of God, His people, the Aryan, Scandinavian, Germanic Israel, must be cleansed at the beginning of this period of judgment which we see already coming over the horizon: we must be made ready to receive Him. And since the Christians are not the people against whom the Judgment Is coming, then why does it begin with our own nation?
Precisely because we have allowed those who hate our God to come here and live among us in great numbers: they ceaselessly attack every mention of the name of Jesus Christ; they constantly strive to prohibit all mention of His name in the schools, in any public or governmental proceedings; they even want to remove the slogan "In God We Trust" from our money (although in all other respects they love our money with a greed which has been proverbial for many centuries!) No nation can be righteous with such people in its midst: so the judgment must begin at this nation in order to remove those who fight against our God in His own houeshold.
Psalm 1:5 tells us, "Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous." Note that this is completely different from the judgment upon the other nations, those who reject God and all His commandments, and could never be called "the congregation of the righteous". This speaks of a judgment which falls upon those who are sinners while they are among the congregation of the righteous: obviously, they could not be part of the congregation of the righteous, for then they would not be sinners; but they are found among the congregation of the righteous, as an unassumilable, forever alien element among them. Having rejected Jesus Christ, they must therefore face the judgment they have earned. Jesus Christ Himself tells us, in John 12:48, "He that rejecteth Me, and receiveth not My words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day".
It should not be hard to identify those who must be removed by this judgment. Jesus Christ, as well as many other prophets, tells that their rejection of Him leaves them no escape from judgment. And Isaiah 3:9 completes the identification. It is very appropriate that this should come in verse nine, as nine Is a number always associated with judgment in the Bible. Isaiah 3:9 points out, "The show of their countenance dcth witness against them: and they declare their sin as Sodom, they hide it not. Woe unto their scull For they have rewarded evil unto themselves."
Today, our nation is flooded with corrupting influences: salacious movies and books; a false psychology taught In many of our schools which undermines the confidence of the youth in their own parents; liquor dealers who grow rich selling whiskey to youths; a vast, well-financed campaign to break down all moral standards in the rising generation; politics wherein nothing counts but getting public office, no matter what kind or degree of corruption is needed to win; merchandise sold by advertising which cleverly contrives to mislead the buyer to expect better quality than he receives.
Surely none of this could have come from truly Christian sources: it is the very antithesis of Christianity. Yet we find It here, wealthy, powerful, numerous, and utterly corrupt. It is the work and the evidence of sinners who are physically present in, but not a part of, the house of God, the congregation of the righteous. This element must be removed before we can be ready to enter into the Kingdom of God as the congregation of the righteous, the household of God. It is upon them that the judgment falls, not upon us. It is this very process which Jesus Christ was describing to us in the parable of the tares among the wheat, in Matthew 13:24-30., 36-43, where He told us of the tares growing among the wheat --- but being no part of it: they were the children of the Devil (as He also identified them in the 9th. chapter of the Gospel of John), living among God's own children, and who must be weeded out to be burned in the fires of judgment.
When this is completed, we shall have a glorious nation which is truly fit to be the Kingdom of God, the Congregation of the Righteous, with nothing remaining that can tarnish our glory. Indeed, Jesus Christ concludes His explanation of the parable of the tares amon § the wheat with the statement that, as soon as the tares are removed, Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun In the kingdom of their Father.
The time of judgment Is at hand: the tares themselves are publicly declaring their fear of the national resentment rising against them, bitterly attacking every attempt to reinstate the moral and political values of the days when this nation was morally great, attacking all this as t1a movement of "the extreme right". Be glad that you are extremely right---for only thus can you be in the company of God. Let judgment begin at the house of God as quickly as possible, so that we can be cleansed and made ready to receive our God!