“For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry”. 1 Samuel 15:23.
This tart retort to Saul from Samuel was in response to Saul’s excuse for not obeying the instructions given to Saul from Samuel. Samuel chided Saul by saying in 1 Samuel 15:22, “to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams”.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rebellion
There is nothing scriptural to suggest that obeying God’s commandments is optional either then or now. The standard is inescapable according to the narrative given in the Bible and the consequences conveyed through God’s chosen people the Israelites. The theme is always the same…God does judge sin.
This repetition is declared and demonstrated against Israel in a multitude of examples by both the major and minor prophets. The absolute standard for right and wrong applies to our modern world today as the rebellion, stubbornness, iniquity, and idolatry are still being played out today with people having the same pious attitudes.
Judgment against sin always takes place or God will have a lot of apologizing to do.
God’s love for Israel is synonymous to Christ’s love towards the Gentiles; even those both Israel and Gentiles do not deserve it. Grace is obtaining something you do not deserve while mercy is not getting what you do deserve. Judgment is quite different.http://biblehub.com/sermons/auth/young/the_everlasting_love_of_god.htm
Mankind has a tolerance for sin, unfortunately God does not. Ongoing rebellion along with all of the ugly features that accompanies rebellion will cause God to act. Since it is God’s desire that none perish, God will warn those practicing rebellion that repentance needs to take place.
The Bible says God’s is slow to anger because God allows the iniquity, gross injustice or violation of right or duty, to run its course before taking action. God informed Abraham that one people’s iniquity “was not yet full” before He would pour out judgment. There is a spiritual evil that apparently is reached before God will pour out His wrath.
This judgment can arrive in a variety of methods as stipulated in the Bible’s Old and New Testament. It takes place with individuals or kingdoms.
Some wicked communities could be destroyed completely as with the cities on the plains with Sodom and Gomorrah. Individuals as Jezebel may reap what they sow in a moment of destruction. These consequences for practicing evil are handled by God as final outcomes.
There are cities that have been given edicts of judgment from God as Nineveh where God used the prophet Jonah to warn the city of its impending doom. However in a sign of mercy and grace, when Nineveh repented God did not destroy the city. There typically is a compassionate reaction from God whenever true repentance is shown, a sign or foreshadowing of Christ even in the Old Testament.
Destruction can arrive two ways, either an enemy from a far will be given the ability to pillage a people that have continuously rebelled, or a natural disaster will be allowed to run its full course. The standard curse outlined in Deuteronomy where God allows “a nation from afar, as swift as the eagle flies” to come and bring destruction, or “the land in which you inhabit will vomit you out” as a warning for practicing sin and rebellion, suggesting a natural calamity would bring destruction.
God also has an ongoing warning to those coming against His fig tree Israel. Abraham received God’s assurance that He would “bless those that bless thee and curse those that curses thee”.
There are several prophets stipulating end time redemption of Israel, one being Zephaniah 3: 3-20 which warns nations concerning their poor treatment of Israel ending in judgment. Yahweh God promises to end the observances of the feast celebrations while gather the Jews together from throughout the world. The world will also be gathered for the sin of opposing God’s chosen people.http://weblessisrael.org/blessed_and_cursed.html
Zephaniah was not only warning a rebellious Israel at the time, but the world and a victimized Israel in the latter days of history.
As Jesus declared, “Not one dot or tittle of the law shall pass away until all be fulfilled. Heaven and Earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away.”