Sunday, August 2, 2015

There is a checkout in life’s supermarket



Isaiah 2:6–4:6, Luke 1:39–66, Job 1:13–22

This weekend in California has made visual sins that once were kept hidden. We have seen good things for we look for them, but we have seen activities that make us shudder. As I read the OT prophet’s words of condemnation to Israel, they seem to also describe what is happening in this city . . .

“For God has rejected His people, the house of Jacob, because they are full of things from the east and of fortune-tellers like the Philistines, and they strike hands with the children of foreigners. Their land is filled with silver and gold, and there is no end to their treasures; their land is filled with horses, and there is no end to their chariots. Their land is filled with idols; they bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made.”

Perversions abound and those not involved tolerate them. Evil is good and good is called evil. What will happen to those who sin without shame? And what will happen to this city? Isaiah describes the fate of Israel. Will this be the fate of this place?

Isaiah say, “So man is humbled, and each one is brought low— do not forgive them! Enter into the rock and hide in the dust from before the terror of the Lord, and from the splendor of his majesty. The haughty looks of man shall be brought low, and the lofty pride of men shall be humbled, and the Lord alone will be exalted in that day.”  (Isaiah 2:6–11)

In the NT, the mother of Jesus shows understanding of God’s plans for the righteous and for those who turn from God. She said, “His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” (Luke 1:50–53) She knew that God is the judge and He will do what He says.

Back to the OT story of Job which adds another thought to this: life’s circumstances here and now are not the ultimate test for goodness in the sight of God. Job was a righteous man. Satan challenged God and said that Job’s faith in Him existed only because he was living a blessed life. God said not true, and allowed this enemy to test Job’s faith . . .

Now there was a day when his sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and there came a messenger to Job and said, “The oxen were plowing and the donkeys feeding beside them, and the Sabeans fell upon them and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The fire of God fell from heaven and burned up the sheep and the servants and consumed them, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “The Chaldeans formed three groups and made a raid on the camels and took them and struck down the servants with the edge of the sword, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

While he was yet speaking, there came another and said, “Your sons and daughters were eating and drinking wine in their oldest brother’s house, and behold, a great wind came across the wilderness and struck the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young people, and they are dead, and I alone have escaped to tell you.”

Job’s reaction to all of this shows the difference between him and those who have no faith in God.

Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.”
In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong. (Job 1:13–22)

Those who believe in Christ know that God is good, no matter what happens. The greatest example is the Cross. Jesus died there at the hands of evil people who falsely accused Him. His Father allowed this, yet He was not a victim for God used it for the greatest good that is available to all; Jesus died that sin could be forgiven, that all who believe could have eternal life.

The circumstances of life are not the final test nor do they reflect the rewards or the punishment yet to come. Good people may suffer now, and evil people seem to prosper, but no matter the items in the shopping cart, there still awaits each of us that trip through the checkout!

I love this line from Mary’s song of praise. She declares this wonderful truth of where true blessings reside: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” (Luke 1:45)



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