For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God;
and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those
who do not obey the gospel of God?
I don't want to get into a deep theological discussion about the meaning of this verse. Others far more wise than I could expound upon its complexity in depth. They could talk to you about the questions that arise; if you don't accept the salvation that comes from faith in Jesus Christ in this life, will you get another chance? Does "those who do not obey the gospel of Christ" refer to those who reject Him outright, or simply to those who have not had a chance to hear the Word?
Like I said, I will leave those discussions to educated theologians. I just want to share what my heart reveals as I read these words. "For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God".... that is an understatement! We, as 21st Century Christians, are the household of God. As our Creator, Jehovah God has the right to make assessments and decisions about us, because He is the head of the household, so to speak. And His judgment is part of an ongoing process. It lasts our entire lifetime. And, yes, God is in the process of judging Christians today.
Just as the father of a modern-day family watches and weighs our actions according to the rules of his household, and then hands down decisions based on those actions; so will our Heavenly Father. And what happens when we disobey our earthly fathers? There is always some kind of consequence for our actions when we stray from the laws of the house.
I guess what strikes me about this verse is that I read it from the standpoint that we have disobeyed so egregiously, that God can no longer put off His judgment. He has watched and assessed our motives and our hearts, and granted His mercy and grace over and over; until it is now time that He must take some action.
And so, if that time of judgment is now for us.... for those who profess belief and allegiance to Him; what will His judgment be like for those who choose to disobey Him with malice and purpose? I do not deny that His judgment is warranted; discipline is needed against this nation that has strayed so far from His precepts. But I fear for those who have delighted in mocking Him; who have demonstrated a stubborn and determined intention to do as they want, regardless of the consequences or effects.
There is an implied warning in this Scripture, as well. Judgment is just the first part of the consequences of our actions. God determines the amount of time He will judge, and then there comes the inevitable sentence; the punishment for a particular offense. Unlike in our earthly court system, where the Judge has a variety of sentences he can hand down and they can be for varying time spans, God has only two possible sentences .... eternal life in His presence; or death in the fiery pits of hell, separated from Him forever.
That should give every human being on the planet pause. Are you willing to bet that I am wrong? Please pray for all of us; we who are still in the process of being judged. Pray that those who belong to Jehovah will be obedient followers, and pray on behalf of those who reject Him; that they will choose life and avoid the path that leads to eternal death. Judge me and find me worthy, O Lord!