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In Scripture, instantaneous judgments to seemingly minor infractions can be interpreted as confirming eternal consequences. In some cases, however, the intended effect may be more local, demonstrating to an endangered community, for example, that God is indeed serious about his law and his way with his people. Consider the following stories as the basis for the discussion questions:

The stories:

Lot’s wife (Genesis 19)
Nadab and Abihu (Lev. 10)
Samson (Judges 16)
Gehazi (2 Kings 5)
Uzzah (2 Samuel 6)

Discussion Questions:

  1. Old Testament vs. New Testament. Though the story of Ananias and Sapphira can be cited as a New Testament example of sudden violent judgment of sinners, most of the examples of instantaneous judgment are in the Old Testament. Does the New Testament have a better way to teach about the seriousness of sin? Judas, for example, is not struck down by God, but goes out and hangs himself.
  2. Individual vs. community. In which of the stories above does the fate and good of the community loom larger than the fate and destiny of the individual? Could that suggest, for example, that Uzzah might be present in God’s kingdom, a tragic example of the danger of inadvertent sin, but not necessarily an example of inadvertent sin leading to eternal consequences?
  3. Large or small sins? Is there any value in distinguishing between lesser and greater sins? Or is sin simply sin? What is the teaching value of a “small” sin having enormous impact? For some sensitive souls, could such examples actually be destructive rather than protective or redemptive?
  4. Temporal vs. eternal results. Can one always say that sin has lasting temporal effects even if there are no eternal consequences? Can one make the case against sin effectively by focusing on the temporal results? What is the effect of invoking God’s name? Could the mention of “God” affect some people positively, but others negatively? If so, then should we use God’s name more selectively?

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