Jeremiah began to wonder, is there any good news? Is it all bad news?
Like Ezekiel whom God told to look for a man who would stand in the gap, [Ezekiel 22:30] God told Jeremiah, “See if you can find a single person who deals honestly and tries to be truthful. If you can, then I will not punish this city.” [Jer 5:1] In Gen 18 the Lord and Abraham had one of those “hard conversations.” Abraham asked God if he would kill the godly with the wicked. [Gen 18:25] In His mercy, God had quietly shared with Abraham; if I find 50 godly people, I will spare the whole place for their sake.
One of the marvelous things we can count on is that God always thoroughly investigates a situation before passing judgment. He cannot nor will He arbitrarily destroy because He is a fair and judge. As He did with Sodom, He does with us.
We can count on the fact that the God we serve is “compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and truth.” It is because His “lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail.” [Lam 3:22]
Do we have these same character qualities? Do we judge before we have evidence? God’s heart is clear: He is fair and just and He expects us to be the same.
Judges 19-21 How do we handle stories like the one God left for us in these last chapters? God wants us to see how patient He is with our sinful natures. God is also challenging us to recognize why we need to evangelize the world with the gospel message, which is the only path to redeeming hearts that are “deceitful above all things and desperately sick.” [Jer 17:9] A third lesson we can glean from this is to see how deep the depth of sin leads even men of the cloth to be callous, irreverent, deceitful, selfish, and liars—they need Jesus too. In summary, God has saved this story to help us see the depravity and reality of Romans 1:18-31.
There are some questions we need to be asking. Are we spreading the good news that can alter the hard hearts, whether they are men of the cloth or just people like you and me? Are we standing up for those like the concubine and whose voice is never heard? Are we outraged at self-righteousness and hypocrisy? Are we compassionate for those who fall beneath the cracks of society? Take time today to pray for those who are caught up in this depravity. Pray for a heart change. Pray for boldness to speak words of God’s love. Pray for God’s eyes to see and His ears to hear the cry of those who need defending.
Numbers 5 &6: Why so much given to the innocence or guilt of the woman and not the man? Is this not one-sided? But to help us see the bigger picture we must recall the warning in Prov 6:34. Men are more prone to retaliation than women. Second, her womb must be preserved; unlike today. Thirdly, God has put into place that which will protect her from the accusations from her husband. Lastly, is the warning from Eccl 5: if you make a vow, be sure to keep it otherwise you are seen as a fool. [Eccl 5:4]
Fast forward to the NT and we see how Jesus used this law to protect the Samaritan woman [John 4] who had been used by unscrupulous men, even up to 5 of them! Then the woman caught in adultery [John 8:10] and the Pharisees in their self-righteousness are exposed because they too were “jealous” and their sin exposed as Jesus wrote on the sand. Did he write this passage? We don’t know but one by one they left beginning with the eldest to the youngest. Jesus asked her where are your accusers and she said there is no one. In his most gracious and loving way he said, neither do I condemn you, but go and sin no more. He acknowledged her sin but forgave her.
So what is our takeaway? Purity is held to a high standard in God’s eyes. Be ye pure so God can bless you. We are cleansed by Jesus. It is interesting that Numbers 6 includes the Aaronic Blessing which is in summary form was what Jesus offered to the woman caught in adultery.
Luke 18 Yesterday Luke introduced us to the “freak, geek and the seek(er).” Today Luke shares another group of citizens: the “scoundrel and the scam artist.” First we meet a widow who encounters the “scoundrel” who is an unjust judge who cared little about God or man. She also is taken in by the “scam artist” who has bilked her out of her savings. The world is full of these unsavory characters. The judge understands his own character yet sees no need or desire to change and the scam artist thinks he has gotten away with the widow’s pension. But, it is the widow’s persistence that wins out in the end. She gets her reprieve and the scam artist gets his due.
So what is the point? The last line in the parable asks: Will the Son of Man find faith when He returns? God is looking for those who will come to He who can change circumstances and people to help His chosen ones. The key is faith. God is looking for those who will be like Joseph, faithful in and out of circumstances, EVEN when the answer is no, sometimes wait, and sometimes yes.
You may be facing scoundrels or even scam artists. First be shrewd and patient. Secondly, persist in prayer. Thirdly, trust God even if His answering machine seems to be cluttered! He will answer in His perfect time with His perfect response.
Daniel 7 to 9 Daniel has been in Babylon for a v-e-r-y long time. In that time, he has faithfully served the Babylonian kings as he reverently continues to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It is as if Daniel has put on a pair of virtual-reality glasses. He sees the heavenly beings and the future. He saw God’s throne room and a river of fire proceeding from it and tens of thousands ministering to Him. He saw the saints of old who now are blessed to see the radiance of God’s glory! And then all of a sudden–Heaven’s glory is tainted with the beast with the arrogant words. While Daniel watched, God threw this arrogant beast into the lake of fire “prepared for the devil and his angels!” just as the Apostle John prophesied would happen.
The vision of heaven was so real that it broke Daniel’s heart, and he falls to his knees in prayer. “O Lord, great and awesome God!” You are faithful while we have been unfaithful. You are righteous, but we are unrighteous. You are exalted, but we have been humiliated. You were right to judge our sin.
Daniel has recorded all of this for us that we might join him in prayer.
Psalm 16-18 “Innocent” When you see this word what comes to mind? What is the standard we use to determine whether one is innocent or guilty? The Hebrew defines that word as what is right, rightness, justness. When we look at David’s life we read and see his sin of adultery, his faithlessness in disciplining his son for rape. We cry guilty but what does God cry? He cries innocent. Does that seem contradictory?
David writes You I call to you because you will answer me, O God. The Lord is my high ridge, my stronghold, my deliverer. My God is my rocky summit where I take shelter, my shield, the horn that saves me, and my refuge
Truth: God looks NOT at outward appearances but at the heart. We judge by what we see, God judges by what we DO NOT see.
Outwardly we see a failing individual but inwardly God sees a man fully consecrated to Him. Outwardly we see a man who is faltering but God sees a man who chooses faith. Outwardly we see just a man but God sees a man who chooses to trust Him. God sees a man who allows God to examine him during the night hours while the world swirled around him.
No matter how the world sees you, (or you see yourself), know this, the Everlasting God sees you and your heart. Our question then is when He looks into your heart what does He see?
There is a pattern that becomes very evident in this book and it is what we read in Judges 10:1 “The Israelites cried out for help to the Lord: “We have sinned against you. We abandoned our God and worshiped the Baals.” How many times does a nation have to walk around the wilderness to get the message that God is God and He will not share His glory with another? The patience of God is mind-boggling! And here we are in the 21st century viewing this same pattern and God is still patient with us today.
Judges 9-12 reveals that once again the nation started out correctly but soon diminished into chaos and idolatry. It is then that they come back to God in tears and repentance only to remain that way until the judge died and the people are left without a godly leader. Yet the patience of God is remarkable. He allows us to wallow in the mire but is ready to forgive and reinstate us to a higher state. How often are we like Thomas Jefferson when we come to chapters like these? When Jefferson found a passage he didn’t like he took scissors to it. But, we are not to be like that because God has placed these chapters in here for a reason that we might learn and apply biblical principles to our lives.
What lessons is God teaching you as you read this book?
Zechariah 3 “How Do You Stand; Guilty as Charged or Forgiven?”
Picture a courtroom scene with the accuser and the defender and you in the middle. You stand before the righteous judge who listens to both sides of the argument. One says you are guilty and provides the evidence. Heads turn and you as the criminal listen and wonder. Will I be convicted? Is there hope? Yet, you also know that your very presence in prison garb hardly is a testimony of any innocence but in fact your guilt. As the accuser cries out your crimes we hear from the bench: May the Lord rebuke you –not once but twice. And at that moment you see the accuser and the courtroom silenced.
How strategically God has placed this vision before Zechariah as a picture of us in all of our iniquities and prison clothing. We stand guilty but the Lord of Heaven’s Armies cries out: I was in the fire with him, but I snatched him out. Instantly, t the smoke and smell of fire were extinguished and you hear: remove his filthy clothes! What the accuser meant evil; God meant for good that His plan of redemption could be seen by all.
Gently and with love you hear; Follow my ways, keep my requirements and you will come and go with others. You will be a picture of my love, my forgiveness, and my blessing.
You have been forgiven and given a robe of righteousness. Go forth as God’s forgiven child.
There are many TV shows that trace a fledgling law firm which seeks to help those who are less fortunate navigate the judicial system. Some come out with what seems perfect justice but sometimes the evidence seems rather sketchy and even a stretch. Only God knows the truth and only an individual who will stand before God knows his heart.
Psalm 16-18 Innocent: When you see this word what comes to mind? The Hebrew defines that word as what is right, rightness, justness. Hmm, seems kind of a muddy definition and especially so when we look at David’s life and see his sin of adultery, his faithlessness in disciplining his son for rape. We cry foul! God cries innocent! Does that seem rather contradictory? It is then that we must stop pointing fingers and look at what David and we know if we are believers.
Truth: God looks not at outward appearances but at the heart. We judge by what we see, God judges by what we do not see.
Outwardly we see a failing individual but inwardly God sees a man fully consecrated to Him. Outwardly we see a man who seems to be faltering but God sees a man who chooses to reject worthless idols because of faith. Outwardly we see a man who pours out his heart to the living God but God sees a man who chooses to trust Him. We see a man who reveals his heart but God sees a man who allows Him to examine him during the night hours while the world swirled around him.
No matter how the world sees you, (or you see yourself), know this, the Everlasting God sees you and your heart. Our question then is when He looks into our heart what does He see?
Do you find it hard to talk about death? Why is it that we avoid that topic–especially if we are believers? Is it fear? Is the lack of trust? It wasn’t that way for Job or Peter or Paul or Jesus.
Job is a man who continues to remain strong in the midst of his three friends’ conclusions of why he is in this ‘mess.’ He is aware of his destiny but isn’t sure of what happens after death. Sadly, there are many today around in our world that also lacks the peace of knowing. They have not heard the words of our Savior nor have they seen the marvelous work that the Holy Spirit does when He comes to indwell the believer. James reminds us that we best not take life for granted. It could be snuffed out at any moment.
Eliphaz will have none of this! He is correct in saying that God judges all corrupt sinners. However, in his analysis he cannot see into the future nor can he see what Job’s destiny book shows. Although Job has reminded all three so-called comforters of this fact, Eliphaz pursues this train of thought without missing a beat. Again he calls Job a windbag of sorts and it is because of him that meditation before a holy God is certain to die.
So how do we face such harsh criticism? Job gives us a clue when he says; I would try to comfort you. My advocate is in heaven, My intercessor is my friend. My eyes will continue to pour forth my tears to God. I will not give up.
How about you? Are you certain that if death came knocking you would be ready?