If we were to prepare a 0 – 100 line chart of the possible range of God’s emotions,
humans would be limited to a small area somewhere in the center. HUMANS CANNOT COMPREHEND THE EXTREMES OF GOD’S EMOTIONS, either on the end containing mercy and compassion, OR the end that shows HIS harshness or severity.
This article will introduce you to the Jesus Christ who DEMANDS that we believe, and live by, every word of God. This Jesus Christ has a harsh, inhuman character which will play a major roll in how we are judged. Christ will be using the full range of His emotions when sentencing is done. Let’s look at two places in the New Testament where Christ spells this out for us: Matthew 25 and Luke 19.
As we study this out, you need to realize that these two parables are “red letter” in many Bible editions. This means that the concepts, the ideas, the characters in these parables came straight from Christ’s own mind, or the Father’s mind, or both. Christ makes them say and do exactly what he WANTS them to say and do, in order to teach us the concepts that He wants us to learn. We would be wise to consider carefully the message in these two parables and not lightly brush that message aside.
Matthew 25:24 Then he which had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art an hard man, reaping where thou hast not sown, and gathering where thou hast not strawed: 25 And I was afraid, and went and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, [there] thou hast [that is] thine. 26 His lord answered and said unto him, [Thou] wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I have not strawed:
27 Thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the exchangers, and [then] at my coming I should have received mine own with usury. 28 Take therefore the talent from him, and give [it] unto him which hath ten talents 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not shall be taken away even that which he hath. 30 And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Luke 19:20 And another came, saying, Lord, behold, [here is] thy pound, which I have kept laid up in a napkin: 21 For I feared thee, because thou art an austere man: thou takest up that thou layedst not down, and reapest that thou didst not sow.
The Amplified Bible reads, verse 21, “For I was constantly afraid of you, because you are a stern (hard, severe) man; you pick up what you did not lay down, and you reap what you did not sow.”
Luke 19:22 And he saith unto him, Out of thine own mouth will I judge thee, [thou] wicked servant. Thou knewest that I was an austere man, taking up that I laid not down, and reaping that I did not sow:
The Living Bible Paraphrased says in verses 21-22, “’because I was afraid [you would demand my profits], for you are a hard man to deal with, taking what isn’t yours and even confiscating the crops that others plant.’ ‘You vile and wicked slave,’ the king roared. Hard, am I? That’s exactly how I’ll be toward you! If you knew so much about me and how tough I am…”
Luke 19:23 Wherefore then gavest not thou my money into the bank, that at my coming I might have required mine own with usury? 24 And he said unto them that stood by, Take from him the pound, and give [it] to him that hath ten pounds. 25 (And they said unto him, Lord, he hath ten pounds) 26 For I say unto you, That unto every one which hath shall be given; and from him that hath not, even that he hath shall be taken away from him. 27 But those mine enemies, which would not that I should reign over them, bring hither, and slay [them] before me.
If we will not BELIEVE God’s Written Word, then He is not REIGNING OVER US.
Here is an example of Christ reaping where He did NOT sow:
Matthew 13:25 But while men slept, his enemy came and SOWED tares among the wheat, and went his way. 26 But when the blade was sprung up, and brought forth fruit, then appeared the tares also. 27 So the servants of the householder came and said unto him, Sir, didst not thou sow good seed in thy field? from whence then hath it tares? 28 He said unto them, An enemy hath done this. The servants said unto him, Wilt thou then that we go and gather them up? 29 But he said, Nay; lest while ye gather up the tares, ye root up also the wheat with them. 30 Let both grow together until the harvest: and in the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, GATHER ye together first the tares, and bind them in bundles to burn them: but gather the wheat into my barn.
Notice that Christ’s ENEMY SOWED THE TARES, verse 25. Yet, Christ orders HIS reapers to gather the tares first, verse 30. Here is a clear Biblical example of Christ reaping where He did not sow.
The POINT here is that Christ has a severe aspect to his personality and character that is INHUMAN or superhuman. Examine the words Christ CHOSE to MAKE THESE TWO MEN USE TO DESCRIBE HIM: Strong’s # 4642, the Greek word skleros in Matthew 25:24 means “dry, i.e. hard or tough (fig. harsh, severs):- fierce, hard”; also, Strong’s #840, austeros, in Luke 19:21,22, translated “austere.” Strong’s definition of #840 is “blown rough, as a gale, i.e. fig. severe.” In contrasting skleros with austeros, “Skleros always conveys a grave reproach indicating a harsh, inhuman character, which is not the case with austeros.” (Zodhiates Lexical Aids to the New Testament)
Zodhiates Complete Wordstudy Dictionary New Testament explains: “4642…skleros; fem. sklera, neut. skleron, adj. from skello (n.f.), to harden, dry up. Dried up, dry, hard, still; of the voice or sounds as hoarse or harsh; of things as hard, tough , not soft… Of persons as harsh, stern, severe…(Skleros always indicates a harsh, brutal character which is not the case with austeros)”
Zodhiates explains further under 840, austeros, ”Austeros is often associated with honor, meaning earnest and severe, BUT NOT SO WITH skleros WHICH ALWAYS CONVEYS A HARSH, INHUMAN CHARACTER…” (emphasis mine)
Also, see Vines Bible Dictionary, p.45 (NT), “Austeros is not necessarily a term of reproach, whereas skleros is always so, and indicates a harsh, even inhuman character.” That is WHY Christ CHOSE to use skleros to make us AWARE of this inhuman characteristic.
Look at some examples of the harsh side of Christ as recorded in the Bible.
Consider the Genesis account of the flood. Christ used a method of progressive execution over a period of up to 40 days. Maybe the last of the flesh died before the 40th day, but it was literally the survival of the fittest as the people fought for the safety of the higher ground or higher buildings, etc. As the death-dealing water crept higher and higher up the sides of the buildings, hills or mountains, the places of safety became smaller and smaller and people fought more fiercely to hold possession. Who died first? The children, the elderly, and the infirm. How many atrocities were committed in this fight for survival? What about the animals? What did they do to deserve this premature death by drowning?
Why did Christ use this method of destruction for all flesh? Why did He not just ZAP those slated for destruction? Did He get some FIENDISH thrill from seeing the horror in the eyes of the humans and the animals as they felt death upon them? How would YOU exterminate 100 animals and humans, if YOU had ALL POWER to do it in any way you chose? Would you just ZAP them and get it over with instantaneously? Or would YOU fence them into the local lake with no escape and let them swim until they drowned?
What about the sinners, the non-repentant, the ones who will be thrown into the lake of fire? These people are dead and in their graves; there is absolutely NO hope for them. WHY are they resurrected to a short physical life of abject horror, waiting for their turn to stand before the judgment seat of Christ, only to be found guilty and SENTENCED TO BE EXECUTED? No wonder that there will be “weeping and gnashing of teeth!” IS THIS THE WAY THAT YOU WOULD DO IT? Why doesn’t God just leave these people in their graves? Normal human beings do not think in these extremes. Our extremes are very limited compared to God’s, but HE IS GOD AND WE ARE DIRT (Genesis 3:19). We had better fear what this GOD says in His Written Word.
What about the five foolish virgins? We humans would probably cut them more slack, give them a break. Notice Matthew 25:11-12:
11 Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. 12 But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Their time limit for repentance had run out. They realized that the Marriage Supper was under way inside, while THEY were yet physical, standing on the outside, having been refused entrance. It is a sure bet that they were in tears at this point, but it made no difference to the harsh side of Christ. They did not repent within the time frame ordained by God, thus they lost their salvation. We humans would have invited them in and said, “Glad you made it. You’re a bit late, but so what, you’re here now. Congratulations.”
Nature is replete with the severe side of Christ. Christ designed, created, and ENFORCES the rules by which the balance in nature works:
Romans 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed [it] unto them. 20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, [even] his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
Consider winter-kill in North America where animals die by the millions from the largest moose to the smallest mouse when there is too much snow. When the snow is deep, it hampers acquiring food. OR, if snow cover does not melt, as it did two years ago in the Colorado Front Range when on July 6,1995, 85% of the high mountains were still covered in snow, these animals starve to death day by day in summer when there ought to be food available. In warmer areas, the same thing is accomplished by drought and the resulting lack of food. In the world of predators, some prey animals are EATEN ALIVE in one big gulp. Some prey animals are eaten alive, BITE BY BITE, until blood-loss causes death. This is what happens to the large prey of wolves, such as moose. Is this the way that humans with limited emotions would have created the world of nature?
God’s emotions are perfectly balanced. He is just as extreme on the side of love, mercy, and compassion as he is on the side of sternness or harshness. Humans get so much more from God than we deserve. There are many examples of this in the Bible, but do not think that we can take advantage of God’s love and compassion. God is not mocked. It is very plain from what is written in some of the parables that this harsh, stern side of Christ will be very evident in the time of judgment just as it was in the days of Noah and the Flood. We’d better be ready to reap the blessings of the merciful side of Christ at the resurrection. We are judged by what is written in the books according to our works, Revelation 20:12.
Published September 26, 1997
© Edgar Y. Bennett
PO Box 509
Black Hawk, CO 80422 USA