Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘Judah’

The Bible’s Theme Song

What kind of song does God prefer?  “Worship wars” have waged long and hot over the style of songs God’s people prefer.  Maybe we should be asking what kind of songs God himself prefers.

In the hymnbook of the Old Testament, the Psalms, one song appears over and over again:   Note 

“Give thanks to the Lord for he is good, for His faithful love endures forever.”  (Psalm 86:5; 100:5; 106:1; 136; and many more.)

This was the song sung on these notable occasions:

–The dedication of Solomon’s temple (2 Corinthians 5:13)

–The choir leading God’s people out meet attacking armies.  What a story!  As soon as they started to sing, God cause the enemies to attack one another, leaving only a sea of dead bodies and booty for the Israelites to clean up when they reached the scene.  (2 Chronicles 20:21-26)

–When the foundation of the second temple was laid after God’s people returned from exile (Ezra 3:11)

–When God brings His people back from exile and restores their fortunes and their land.  (Jeremiah 33:11)

This song is based on God’s self-description to Moses on the mountain, and it’s echoed also throughout the Bible:

The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out,
“Yahweh! The LORD!
The God of compassion and mercy!
I am slow to anger
and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
I lavish unfailing love to a thousand generations.
I forgive iniquity, rebellion, and sin.
But I do not excuse the guilty…. (Exodus 34:6-7a)

Whatever tune or instrumentation they may have used, God loved their song! Note

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How Far Can We Go?

Since when is it “cool” and “progressive” to commit and tolerate sin?  Why are those who live within God’s laws viewed as weird?  Why are those who push the limits farther and farther admired and worshipped as heroes? 

To go back to my first question, I think the Garden of Eden would be the answer.  Eve certainly was persuaded that disobeying God would be the cool thing to do.  After all, she must have been so bored with exploring all the delights of paradise that God had provided for her enjoyment, with petting tigers and playing with bears, that there was nothing left to do but the one thing that God had forbidden.  But think of the consequences–not only to her but to all humankind!

Who are some others who defied God and paid dearly for it?

–Noah’s contemporaries: totally evil, corrupt, violent, & depraved. (Gen 6:5-13)  Drowned in a worldwide flood!

–The residents of Sodom & Gomorrah:  “extremely evil,” & “wicked.” (Gen 18:20)  Cremated by a heavenly holocaust!

–The nations of Israel and Judah, first tolerating and then indulging in the disgusting acts of their neighbors such as religious prostitution and child sacrifice. (Does this sound like anything in our culture?)  Finally, after centuries of patient warning and pleading, God had it “up to here,” and cruel nations were allowed to destroy them.

Psalm 1 contrasts the lives and destinies of those who honor God and those who mock Him:

1 Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked,
or stand around with sinners,
or join in with mockers.
2  But they delight in the law of the LORD,
meditating on it day and night.
3  They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
bearing fruit each season.
Their leaves never wither,
and they prosper in all they do.
4  But not the wicked!
They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind.
5  They will be condemned at the time of judgment.
Sinners will have no place among the godly.
6  For the LORD watches over the path of the godly,
but the path of the wicked leads to destruction.  (NLT)

Peace and the Prophet

God’s chosen nation was collapsing from the moral vacuum caused by rebellion against God and corruption in leadership. And on the outside, Nebuchadnezzar’s army was attacking.  God’s patience had finally run out.

Jeremiah was God’s man on the scene.  A dozen times in his book he debunks the false prophets’ repeated assurances that all would be well.  Like this in chapter 14:

13 Then I said, “O Sovereign LORD, their prophets are telling them, ‘All is well—no war or famine will come. The LORD will surely send you peace.’ ”

14 Then the LORD said, “These prophets are telling lies in my name. I did not send them or tell them to speak. I did not give them any messages. They prophesy of visions and revelations they have never seen or heard. They speak foolishness made up in their own lying hearts.

But there is hope of peace after the punishment has been endured and the hard lessons have been learned.  Peace on God’s terms necessarily involves cleansing from sin and rebellion.  But wow, the benefits are out of this world!

“The time will come when I will heal Jerusalem’s wounds and give it prosperity and true peace. I will restore the fortunes of Judah and Israel and rebuild their towns. I will cleanse them of their sins against me and forgive all their sins of rebellion. Then this city will bring me joy, glory, and honor before all the nations of the earth!  Jeremiah 33:6-8

What kind of peace are we looking for in our world and our lives? 
A fragile peace on this earth, IF nations and individuals can solve their differences and piece back together shattered economies? 
Or the true and lasting peace that comes only by turning to God and accepting it on His terms?

 

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