In the early sixties one of the chief architects of the Nazi holocaust was brought to trial in Israel. Chuck Colson tells the story in his book, The Body. The prosecutors had gathered a group of concentration camp survivors to testify against Adolph Eichmann—a man who had presided over the deaths of millions. One of those men was a small haggard Jew named Yehiel Dinur, a man who had somehow managed to survive the Hell that was Auschwitz. On the day he was to testify he entered the courtroom, turned the corner and saw Eichmann sitting behind bulletproof glass. As the eyes of the two men met, Dinur began to shout and sob, until he finally collapsed on the floor of the courtroom.
What made him collapse? …The horror of encountering a man capable of such evil? Later, a reporter on Sixty Minutes asked Dinur that question. Dinur responded, “I was afraid about myself… I saw that I am capable to do this… exactly like he.” Mike Wallace turned to the camera and posed another question, “Was (Eichmann) a monster? A madman? Or was he perhaps something even more terrifying… was he normal?’
Are you normal?
Isaiah 66 is the last chapter of an Old Testament book, which Jesus seemed to quote more than any other. The last two verses of the book describe life in the New Jerusalem—that is, “Heaven:”
“From new moon to new moon, and from Sabbath to Sabbath, all flesh shall come to worship before me, declares the Lord. ‘And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.” –Is. 66:23-24
Wow! So where are you in that picture? … Are you a man (or woman) that’s rebelled against Him? According to Jesus anything less than absolute love for God and for others is “rebelling against Him.” And oh yeah… if you read Isaiah you’ll discover that all have “rebelled” against God, including Isaiah. Isaiah was normal. Eichmann was normal. I bet you’re normal. Perhaps you’re worse than you thought.
But don’t stop reading. There’s more… or did you miss it?
“All flesh” shall look on the dead bodies of evil men and women being consumed by flames and “worship.” Do you have flesh? I mean meat on your bones, any at all? “All flesh” would include you…. wouldn’t it?
See? If I take the Bible seriously, one day I will walk out to the edge of the New Jerusalem and look on my old body being consumed with flames. Think about that:
When that happens, I must be walking in a new body. And not just me, “all flesh.” That’d be you, Yehil Dinur and maybe even Adolph Eichmann… If you take the Bible seriously, that is.
Few people have the courage to take the Bible seriously. It will cut you down to size, that’s true. But keep reading and you’ll find yourself exalted to the heavens.
It’s not just Isaiah. It’s the pattern throughout Scripture. In Scripture “All people,” not just Nazis and Satanists, have serious “issues.” Our self-centeredness, greed, pride, faithlessness and judgmental attitudes are the same evil that infected Eichmann’s heart. Those things; my normal nature; my “boys will be boys,” “look out for number one” nature, cannot exist in the Eternal City—that city which is saturated with the glory of God—God, who is Love.
These old bodies that only feel their own pain and their own pleasure; these old bodies that form a prison of shame, fear and isolation; these old selves that think they win cause another has lost… they must be destroyed.
But I am not just self-centeredness, greed, pride, shame and fear. Neither are you.
Have you ever hoped for a world of truth and justice?
Do you have just a mustard seed of faith in the God who is Love? Have you ever loved; felt the joy or pain of another, just a bit?
Well according to the Bible, those realities, faith, hope and love “abide.” They are eternal. And they aren’t just you. “He who loves is born of God and knows God” (1 John 4:7) According to the Bible, you contain the breath of God…
See? We are worse than we thought and far better than we ever imagined.
According to the Bible, we need to be judged. The word means “cut.” Cut from these bodies of sin and death… but who can withstand that surgery?
Jesus taught that we are judged at his cross. His love reveals our old nature and bears it to destruction. And He himself is our new nature; the life of God given to us. He is the judgment of God. And He is the revelation of Grace. He is the substance of who we truly are.
When we run from God’s Judgment, we hide our hearts in darkness, outside that Eternal City, where men “weep and gnash their teeth.”
But, when we surrender to the Gracious Judgment of God; when we surrender our sin and trust His mercy, we begin to love. We lose our life and find it. We lose that old body of death and begin to feel the heart beat of another. We begin to love.
So God’s Judgment is good. Actually, I kind of want it now. For it’s this self centered lonely old me that is the source of all my problems. It’s this self centered lonely old me that engineers the holocaust—emotional or otherwise—of everyone in my life. It’s this self centered lonely old me that makes Hell.
So I’m getting rather excited about the day I stand in a new body, one that actually feels what other’s feel; the day I finally say good-bye to this lonely old hunk of meat. On that day, I bet I’ll “worship,” for I’ll see it: God saves me from myself… my self centered, vengeful, miserable and lonely old normal self.
“All” must be judged. And the Judgment is good.
“It was grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.”
At the end of the Bible, in the book of Revelation, a voice cries from the throne of God—that’s the Judgment seat of God. The Voice is the word of God. And the Word of God is Jesus. He cries:
“Behold, I make all things new… write this down for these words are trustworthy and true… it is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the End.”
That’s the Judgment of God.
You’re worse than you thought (that must be why we fear God’s judgment), You’re worse than you thought, but far better than you ever imagined. God’s Judgment is Grace. God’s Judgment is Jesus. God’s Judgment is good.
If we believed that…
We might take God’s advice, His Judgment, a little more often.
And we might stop condemning others to feel better about ourselves.
And we might spend a little less time outside the eternal city weeping and gnashing our teeth.
We might become “abnormal.” The Biblical word for that is “Holy.”