Tough Love

John 2

March 29

When you happen to see paintings of Jesus, how is he typically depicted? Often, he is shown as a tender, gentle, and soft man holding children on his lap or reaching his hand out to grab Peter’s hand while drowning. This can give us the idea that Jesus didn’t have an intense and confrontational bone in his body. Boy is that far from the truth! There is a whole other side of Jesus we often don’t depict.

The chapter starts with his first miracle: turning water into wine at a wedding. After this, the scene shifts to an exciting interaction Jesus had while in Jerusalem during the Passover feast. When he entered the temple, which was THE place of worship for the Jews, he noticed something that bothered him greatly. There were people selling oxen, sheep, and pigeons in the temple courtyard. There was even a section of people who were money changers. An entire market and part of the Jewish economy was founded on deceiving and cheating people into getting the “better sacrifices” for temple service. If you wanted to be in the presence of God and worship, you had to have money. What is even worse was they were not even trying to hide, they were out in the open in the middle of the temple! You know how we tend to feel when we see those well known televangelists who spiritually abuse or deceive people to get material wealth? That is how we should feel about what these people were doing in verse 14. 

What did Jesus do when he saw this happening? Before I answer that, I want to take a minute to depict what our culture might imagine Jesus’ answer to be based on all the soft and gentle paintings. “Oh guys, you know what, that is probably not the best course of action to take now is it? I’m not going to make you do anything, but I really hope you reflect on your actions and stop cheating people for personal wealth by means of spiritual abuse. What do you say, will you stop now? *proceeds to give them all hugs*” Sounds silly and ridiculous doesn’t it? Fortunately, we see Jesus respond quite differently:

“Making a whip of cords, he drove them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. And he told those who sold the pigeons, ‘Take these things away; do not make my Father’s house a house of trade.”

Way to go, Jesus! That’s my Lord and Savior! Jesus was not the kind of man who put up with injustices and evil. Like his father, he made sure righteousness was upheld and wickedness was put to an end—one way or another. There is something important to learn from Jesus’ actions here. This wasn’t shown for us to think “Oh wow, that was a bad moment when Jesus lost his cool.” No! There is important wisdom and teaching of who God is, how His kingdom is, and how we are to act like His kingdom’s citizens. The lesson from today talks about the side of love that is not focused on enough. This is the kind of love that is not afraid to turn over tables and drive out wickedness on behalf of the cheated. This is the kind of love that is willing to say the difficult truth to someone who so desperately needs to hear it. Jesus truly is the soft and gentle image that we so often see, but he is also the table turning, whip cracking, and bold image too. 

If we are going to call Jesus our Lord, we have to note not only what he says, but what he does. In this case, we need to note that sometimes the best way to show love is to be willing to confront what is wrong. Sometimes the best way to show love is to tell someone the cold hard truth, even if it hurts in the moment. Sometimes the best way to show love is to protect those who are not able to protect themselves. This has to be done in love of course, otherwise we may become aggressive, domineering, or even violent! This type of love is a powerful fire, that if controlled by a master, is powerful; if it falls into the hands of a careless person, it can bring about disaster.

I encourage you all today to dwell and meditate on this unique account of Jesus. Think about how this was truly loving and a pursuit of justice. Then in your own life, pray for God’s wisdom to know how to appropriately handle the fire that is this bold and confrontational love. 

-Isaac Cain

Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. After this event, John records, “His disciples remembered that it is written: ‘Zeal for your house will consume me.'” (John 2:17 – from Psalm 69:9) Well-done disciples for knowing your Old Testament well, and finding Jesus there! What made the temple (God’s house) such a special place for Jesus? How do you rate your zeal for the Lord’s house? How do you show it? Room for any improvements?
  2. Where else in Scripture do we find Jesus prepared to do battle? How might seeing this Jesus in the future surprise people?
  3. If Jesus visited your church or community what might he see and hear that he would have to zealously act upon? What might he do?
  4. As suggested earlier, pray for God’s wisdom to know how to appropriately handle the fire that is this bold and confrontational love. What wrong/injustice does God want you to see and be zealous about? How would he have you confront it in love – but not in weakness?

Not Fair!

Matthew 20

January 20

That is not fair!

Have you ever found yourself saying this very same thing? A coworker or classmate does not seem to be doing their share of the work but they get the same pay or grade as you, maybe even better. Maybe you say it when nothing seems to be going your way; car troubles, relationships fractured, bad grades, your sanity cracking. We all experience situations that make us want to scream at what we perceive as an unjust life.

But what makes one thing fair and another unfair?

In Jesus’ parable of the workers in the vineyard, everyone was paid the same. Is that not fair? The first workers agreed to a set amount, reasonable pay for a day’s labor. The other workers only agreed to work for what was right. They left it to the discretion of the landowner. In his generosity the most recent hires received what he had promised the original workers. Those who were hired first said nothing as the landowner began to dole out the money. Because of his generosity towards the newer workers, they expected more.

And that is the key concept that strains so many aspects of our life; what we expect. Our expectations make it difficult sometimes to see God answering our prayers or His hand actively working in our lives. Our expectations may set us up for failure in our schools, our jobs, our relationships with one another, and certainly in our relationship with God through Jesus. If our expectations are not met then, “I guess I did not really need to learn that,” “It will not matter in the ‘real’ world,” “I will just find a new job,” “I do not need anyone else.”

Our expectations, our limited understanding of all that is makes us think that God must have failed to answer our prayers, He is not here with us, He does not care. The reality is that could not be farther from the truth! God loves us all! He is with us in every moment but rarely how we would expect.

This parable has a double lesson to teach. The first is that God is just. God alone rightly discerns what is fair and unfair. The wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23). If we truly want life to be fair, we would all be dead the first time that we sinned. If that were the case, I doubt that humanity would exist and we would not even be here to debate the fairness of life.

God’s justice is tempered by His abundant love. In His love for us He is merciful and forgiving. Those who come to God through Jesus, will all receive the same wage when the days are done: eternal life and citizenship in God’s Kingdom, to be called His children!

This message is reiterated as Jesus addresses the request of James and John’s mother. They have an expectation of their place in God’s Kingdom and their mother wants assurance that it will be so; after all they were among the first disciples to be called by Jesus. Jesus answered this question through the parable before it could even be asked, and still it was asked.

The second lesson to learn from the parable takes us to Matthew 9:35-38 and 28:18-20. We are the workers, called to go out into all of the world and make disciples of all the nations. We have been given a task, a responsibility, a privilege to live our life for God and preach the Good News of His Coming Kingdom so that everyone would have the opportunity to choose to come to Him through Jesus, our savior!

This is not easy but it is immensely satisfying. What we do and say here in this age can open people’s eyes to see the glorious future our amazing God has planned for all who enter His vineyard. We may never give the physically blind back their sight but thanks to God’s love and power we can heal the spiritual blindness of those we encounter each day. Rely on God’s power, His plan, and His will. Trust in Him with all of your heart, soul, and mind and rejoice in knowing that the God of all creation will wipe away your tears and call you son or daughter!

-Jeff Ransom


Questions for Reflection and Discussion

  1. What are your expectations of God as you pray? Do you have a preconceived notion of what an answered prayer looks like? Can you think of times when you missed His answer initially only to see it later on?
  2. Do you see circumstances in your life as being unfair? Think about how they might be helping you to grow stronger in your relationship with others and especially with God through Jesus. It is difficult sometimes but how can you turn your view of these circumstances around? Our response to situations is often more powerful than the situation itself.
  3. What does your work within the vineyard look like? How are you working to spread the Gospel message of salvation through Jesus and the Coming Kingdom of God? Is there someone specific that you can think of who is blind to God’s love? How can you help them to finally see?

“Why, God?”

Habakkuk 1 – 3

One widely assumed fallacy about Christianity is that once you choose to follow God, all of your problems will just go away.  Habakkuk wasn’t that kind of believer, and we shouldn’t be either.

Habakkuk was a contemporary of Jeremiah – living at a time when things were really bad for Judah.  He loved the Lord with all his heart, and longed for justice.  But he saw only violence and injustice wherever he turned.  He had some complaints, and took them to the right place – to God.

In Habakkuk 1:2, Habakkuk complained, “How long, O Lord, must I call for help, but you do not listen? Or cry out to you, “violence!” but you do not save?”

In Habakkuk 1:3, he complained, “Why do you tolerate wrong…?”

Then in Habakkuk 1:13, he complained, “…Why are you silent while the wicked swallow up those more righteous than themselves?”

His basic complaint was, “God, I’m pouring my heart out to you in prayer, why don’t you do something?”  And “Why do you let the wicked persecute those more righteous than themselves?”  As we pointed out yesterday from 2 Peter 3:9, the answer may be that God is just being patient, wanting to give people as much time as possible to repent, before he steps in and judges.  And from Romans 3:10-12, we recognize there is no one that is righteous, no one who does good, not even one.

In God’s response to Habakkuk in 2:2-3, God said, “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it.  For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end.”  Then God gave a series of 5 “woe”s.  God was reminding Habakkuk that eventually, God will punish the wicked, but until then, Habakkuk needed to be patient and trust God.

I love Habakkuk’s response in Habakkuk 3:17, “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”  

This ties into our Revelation 12 reading for today, where we read in Revelation 12:17, “Then the dragon went off to make war against the rest of her offspring – those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus.”  For the last 3.5 years of this evil age, Satan will try to annihilate the Jews, but God will miraculously protect them.  So Satan will vent his wrath against Christians.

As Christians, there may come a time when we cry out to God, “Why don’t you answer my prayers?  Why do you let the wicked persecute those more righteous than themselves?”  But no matter how bad it gets, we need to have the same response as Habakkuk.  “Even though it appears that there is no hope, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior.”

-Steve Mattison

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway.com here – Habakkuk 1-3 and Revelation 12

Get Right with God

Micah 5-7

Many people point to Micah 6:8 as a simple, straightforward verse telling us how to get right with God:   Micah 6:8: “He has shown you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”  

Let’s look at this in context.

Micah 6 starts out as a courtroom scene.  “Plead your case”… “For the Lord has a case against his people”.  God then reminded His people of the things He had done for them including leading them out of Egypt, protecting them from Balaam’s cursing them, and leading them into the promised land.

We might pause here to remind ourselves how the Israelites reacted to each of God’s protections that He pointed out to them here.  

  1. He led them out of Egypt to be His people, but they grumbled repeatedly, wanting to go back to Egypt; worshiped a golden calf; and didn’t trust that God could bring them into the promised land – so they had to wander in the desert for 40 years.
  2. He caused Balaam to bless Israel instead of cursing them.  This was a spiritual battle God was fighting on their behalf, without them even knowing about it.  Their response was to sin sexually with Moab’s women and worship Moab’s gods – so God sent a plague and killed many of the Israelites.
  3. He caused the Jordan River (at flood stage) to dry up, letting the Israelites cross on dry ground.  This was reminiscent of what He had done for the Israelites when they had left Egypt 40 years earlier.  God had done for Israel what they could not have done for themselves – but the people didn’t remember all the righteous acts God had done for them, and turned away again and again.

In Micah 6:6-7, we see that things we do can’t reconcile us to God, including bowing down to Him (presumably in hollow worship), performing sacrifices (remember that to obey is better than sacrifice), even sacrificing things most precious to us – including our children.  None of these things can reconcile us to God.

Then, we find the beautiful verse of what God really wants.  Not religious ceremonies, but moral and ethical conduct – “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

None of us can do these things until we first submit to God as broken sinners and allow Him to transform our lives.  We can only act justly once we have been justified.  We can only love mercy (and extend it to others) once we have experienced and recognized God’s mercy.  We can only walk humbly with our God after we bow humbly before Him, confess our sins, and claim his promise of forgiveness (I John 1:9).

Titus 3:5 reminds us, “He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.”  So people are misguided if they think they can follow this formula from Micah 6:8 to be saved.  It’s only because of our saving relationship with God that we can do what He requires in Micah 6:8.

As we continue reading Micah, we see that Israel hasn’t lived up to God’s requirements, so in 6:13, He says, “Therefore, I have begun to destroy you, to ruin you because of your sins.”  If God treated Israel this way, and if God doesn’t change, I’ll let you consider for yourself the implications for you and the implications for our nation.

Micah 7:13 is pointing to a time still in the future to us, when “the earth will become desolate because of its inhabitants, as the result of their deeds.”

But the last 3 verses of Micah remind us of who God is and what He has done in the past. 

Micah 7:18-20: “18 Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?  You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.

19  You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.

20 You will be faithful to Jacob, and show love to Abraham, as you pledged on oath to our ancestors in days long ago.”

To quote Warren Wiersbe from his Bible commentary, “the better we know the character of God, the more we can trust Him for the future.  The better we know the promises and covenants of God, the more peace we will have in our hearts when things fall apart.”

In closing, 

  1. We need to recognize we can never measure up to God’s requirements on our own.  
  2. We need to humbly come to God as broken sinners, confessing our sins, and asking for His forgiveness.  
  3. We need to remember who He is, what He has done in the past, and what promises He has made for the future.  
  4. We then need to develop a deep personal relationship with God.  

Only then can we “be imitators of God as dearly loved children” (Ephesians 5:1).  And only then can we live a life acceptable to God – “To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”

-Steve Mattison

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at Bible Gateway.com here – Micah 5-7 and Revelation 10

God’s Business

Jonah 3-4

Yesterday, we saw Jonah’s reluctance to God’s call for his life. Actually, “active rebellion” against God’s call is more accurate! However, we saw Jonah pray to God during his time in the belly of the great fish. We were left asking the question, “Will Jonah finally answer the call to proclaim God’s message?”

He does. In 3:1, the word of the LORD comes a second time to Jonah. In 3:3, “Jonah obeyed the word of the LORD and went to Nineveh.” As the story goes, which so many of us learned in our childhood Sunday school, Jonah preaches that Nineveh will be destroyed, and so the Ninevites repented. And our happy ending occurs in 3:10: “When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened.” 

But wait. There’s more.

Why was Jonah SO reluctant to preach to Nineveh? Why did he run in the opposite direction to avoid God’s call on his life? Why did it take a great storm, being thrown overboard, and three days in the belly of a fish to learn his lesson? And why did Jonah scoff at the mercy of God in 4:1? 

The truth is, we will never be able to see Nineveh or Assyria in the same way Jonah did. We didn’t grow up witnessing the brutality and evil that Assyria committed with every passing year, and we will never experience the same wars and terrible things that it did to Israel. But Jonah was very close to the evil that Nineveh did. In fact, Jonah had some really good reasons to really, really dislike Nineveh. Jonah didn’t want to see God’s mercy extended to his enemies. He actually wants to see the destruction of a city with 120 thousand people because he dislikes them so much! In fact, he camps out at the edge of the city hoping that their repentance doesn’t last.

And so God decides to teach Jonah a lesson. He grows a plant that gives shade and comfort to Jonah, and then kills it. Jonah reacts with anger once again. And finally God teaches Jonah the lesson he needed all along: Nineveh is like the plant in this story. God grew it and has concern for it (see 4:11). But on the other hand, he scolds Jonah for caring about a plant he never grew in the first place. In other words, just like the plant, Jonah has no right to be angry about a people that are actually God’s business all along.

So what do we learn here? There are a lot of lessons that come out of Jonah: God’s ways are far higher than our ways. His sense of justice and mercy will sometimes be at odds with our understanding of justice and mercy. We are challenged to lay down our prejudice and serve others in the name of God. And when God calls you to Nineveh, don’t run away– just go!

-Levi Salyers

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading passages at BibleGateway.com here – Jonah 3-4 and Revelation 7

Seek the LORD and Live

Amos 5-6

Amos. A prophet to Israel in a difficult time. Amos introduces himself as a mere shepherd rather than as a prophet–and God still used him to deliver a mighty message to His people. His words still ring loud for us today:

Seek me and live. (Amos 5:4b)

Every culture, every civilization, and every era of history has given false promises about where to find life to the full.

Seek the LORD and live (Amos 5:6).

God uses Amos to tell His people over and over again: life is only found in Him.

The God who made the stars, brings each passing day and night, and moves each and every tide of the ocean waves– the LORD is his name! (Amos 5:8).

We have a great God, who is glorious and mighty beyond comparison. He is a beacon of goodness, and if we seek him, we can pass that onto others. A major theme of Amos is a call to pursue justice and righteousness.  Verse 14 says “seek good, not evil, that you may live.”

What does the LORD require of us? Church traditions?  Heartless obedience? Quite the opposite. God tells us in verses 22-23 that the sacrifices, songs, and festivals mean nothing without– you guessed it– justice and righteousness. Treat your neighbors justly, and live rightly.

How do we know what justice and righteousness even look like? Where do we go? 

Seek the LORD, that we may live!

-Levi Salyers

Read or listen to today’s Bible reading plan passages at BibleGateway.com here – Amos 5-6 and Revelation 3

A Time for Justice, A Time for Mercy

Ezekiel 20-21Ezekiel 20 8b 9a NIV sgl

In Ezekiel 20 God is explaining to the Israelites why he has gotten so tired of their rebellion.  He explains how each time they had rebelled he had mercy on them for the sake of his name so that the rest of the world would not mock him, but this generation of Israelites is following in the path of their ancestors and this time he will not have mercy.

 

“30 “Therefore say to the Israelites: ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will you defile yourselves the way your ancestors did and lust after their vile images? 31 When you offer your gifts—the sacrifice of your children in the fire—you continue to defile yourselves with all your idols to this day. Am I to let you inquire of me, you Israelites? As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I will not let you inquire of me.”

 

God has had mercy on them so much that the people of Israel do not really see the consequences of their sins and continue to go back to their sins over and over, and God has decided that it is time for them to feel the full weight of their sin and realize what the consequences are.  Again, though, he says that he will not stay angry with them forever, and he will bring them all back and will lead them again after a time.

 

“42 Then you will know that I am the Lord, when I bring you into the land of Israel, the land I had sworn with uplifted hand to give to your ancestors. 43 There you will remember your conduct and all the actions by which you have defiled yourselves, and you will loathe yourselves for all the evil you have done. 44 You will know that I am the Lord, when I deal with you for my name’s sake and not according to your evil ways and your corrupt practices, you people of Israel, declares the Sovereign Lord.’””

 

We are so blessed that we live after the time of Jesus, and can have our sins covered by his blood.  That way God can deal with us in mercy and use our example and our witness to spread the gospel and the glory of his name.  It is important to remember that it is not for our sake, but for the sake of God’s glory that we are shown this mercy.

Chris and Katie-Beth Mattison
Today’s Bible reading passage can be read or listened to at Biblegateway here – Ezekiel 20-21
Tomorrow’s Bible reading will be Ezekiel 22-23 as we continue on our 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Better Things are Coming

Isaiah 59-63

Isaiah 60 2 NIV sgl

Isaiah 59 describes what it is like to be separated from God as we are now. Our sins are responsible for the barrier between us and God. Because of this barrier, there is sadness, there is depravity and there is a hope for something that cannot be attained. Everything in this world is touched by this separation. Our attempts at justice are a pale reflection of the true justice that God promises. In the American courts for example, there are instances where innocent men are punished, and guilty men go free. This is not justice, but it is the closest that we are able to get to it because of our human nature. We try to imitate true justice as well as we can, but we will always fall short. We even fall short in our pursuit of truth. Even when truth is proclaimed, there will be some who accept it and some who won’t. Truth is meant to have the power to convince anyone.

The following chapter speaks of what it will be like when that barrier is broken down, when God establishes His perfect kingdom. Everything that we love now, that brings us joy, will be replaced with something better. It says, “I will bring gold instead of bronze and silver instead of iron, bronze instead of wood and iron instead of stones.” If you had no possessions and someone asked you if you’d like $20, you would be excited and would gladly accept it. But if you knew that later someone was going to give you $1000, you would be grateful, but not nearly as excited. This is the way it is in God’s perfect kingdom. When thinking about the coming kingdom, we often lament the things that we will miss doing in our current lives if Jesus were to return today. “I can’t wait for the kingdom, but I’d like to finish college first.” Or, “I’d like to have children first.” There are so many things that we look forward to in this life, but here it says that the good things will be replaced with something better, and more than that, we will still have some of the good things that we already enjoy! It says that iron is replaced with silver, but also that stone is replaced with iron. When we think about our future in God’s kingdom, it can be hard to imagine, but we have to remember that God’s ways are not our ways and that he will give us something so much better than all of the good things we have now.

Nathaniel Johnson

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Isaiah+59-63&version=NIV

Tomorrow we finish the book of Isaiah with chapters 64-66 as we continue working through the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

Micah 1-7

What does the Lord require of you_

Micah was a minor prophet who simply conveyed the truths of God to the people of Israel of his day and in just 7 chapters he spoke volumes! What I love most about his message was that he spoke of God’s judgement as well as God’s mercy.

His task at hand must have been very daunting to speak in a day of a divided nation (Israel and Judah) about their sins and the judgement of destruction it would bring on them. 

Chapter 1 speaks of their Idolatry and looting. (Vs. 6&7)  Chapter 2 refers to the schemes of the wicked oppressors and their evil plots and injustice to others. (1-3) Chapter 3 brings out that the leaders were corrupt and many were “paying off” false prophets to tell the people what they wanted them to hear. (Vs. 5)

Can we relate to a nation like this?

But in the midst of this we are told in chapters 4 and 5 of the Peaceful reign to come in “Latter Days”. Chapter 5:2-5 tells us of the baby to be born in Bethlehem and that this One (Jesus) will be our peace.   

How refreshing is that?

In Chapter 6 God speaks of all He has done for His people. His words apply to us today as well. He requires our faith and obedience to Him over our sacrifices. We are told that we cannot justify our own sins by living wicked and then offer burned sacrifices to obtain salvation. (Giving up your first born is mentioned.) Thank goodness Jesus is now our atonement and our way to salvation! (Vs. 6&7)

The answer to what God requires of us is found in the verse I would like to highlight today… act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with Our God (Vs.6:8).  Do we show love, kindness and walk with Him?

The acknowledgement of the Prophet himself is what we find in chapter 7. He reflects on the mercies of God and how God is our Salvation and Light. He is quick to forgive, if we truly repent, and we are redeemed by His unfailing love and compassion. He will be faithful to His Remnant. 

Thank goodness Micah bravely spoke truth in such a difficult day and time. The beautiful words we have from his message, along with Isaiah, Hosea and Amos’ as well, as they stood up for the ways of God despite the downward spiral of their society still speaks to us today.

Micah leaves us with the reminder that there is a final day of judgement coming for all the earth so we must stay faithful no matter what we are facing even in our uncertain present day. That false prophecy is ringing in our ears every day and we must ingrain ourselves in the truths of God’s word and stand up to a society where many are turning away from God. Jesus is with us in the midst of this and we are to follow him and look expectantly for his return. Our God is faithful and will remember those who have remained true to Him just as He did all those before us and all to come. Most of all God expects us to ACT JUSTLY, LOVE MERCY AND WALK HUMBLY WITH HIM. May the peace of Christ be with you today.      

~ Donna L. Smith          

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway.

Tomorrow, we continue reading the history of Israel in 2 Chronicles 28 & 2 Kings 16-17 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

 

Amos 1-5 – A Just God

7_10 Blog

Justice is a solid theme throughout the book of Amos, especially in today’s reading. Through the prophet Amos, God is pronouncing judgement upon Israel and neighboring nations. He first announces why said nation is being punished, and then warns of the coming consequences. It stood out to me how God cast judgment upon the same nations he would also be defending. For example, in Amos 1:12, the people of Edom are to be punished for crimes committed against Israelites. In 2:1, Moabites are punished for having desecrated the bones of Edom’s King. In later chapters, Israel is being punished for idolatry. God’s justice reigns. 

Whether a group was victimized or guilty, God did not let wrongs go unnoticed. 

God is a God of compassion and mercy, but he is also just. It can be difficult for us to fully comprehend how these attributes coexist, but that is because we are understanding these concepts in mere human terms. To simply put, God has a God brain, and we, with our human brain, will never be able to fully understand how God works through both grace and justice. Fortunately, we don’t need to know the how in order to believe He does. 

Everyone experiences injustice in their lives. Whether large scale injustice like racism or sexism, to smaller personal injustices within relationships and friend groups. No matter the severity, God is aware of them all. It is the smaller injustices I want to address, today. 

When our feelings are hurt, when lies or gossip as been spread about us, when we are betrayed by people we trust, we feel robbed and empty. We want someone to hear our side of the story. If we’re honest with ourselves, we really aren’t looking for God to rain down fire upon the guilty individual(s). Usually, all we really want is an apology. But there are some situations in which we will never get this. This can hurt, so deeply. I know. I’m in a situation like that now. 

If you’re like me, dealing with a relational injustice, you probably aren’t wishing terrible horrible judgment upon said person. You are probably just wanting closure or a chance to be heard. Take comfort in today’s reading. God is a God of justice, one who rights wrongs. While I may never get the respect I deserve, or the chance to rewrite the narrative believed about me, God knows, and God sees. In these cases, punishment need not necessarily occur in order for us to feel justified. The fact the LORD knows and sees can be justice enough.

~ Emilee Ross

 

Today’s Bible passage can be read or listened to on Bible Gateway.

Tomorrow, we continue reading the writings of Amos – Amos, chapters 6-9 – as we continue the 2020 Chronological Bible Reading Plan

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