Monday, December 4, 2017

12.4.17 // Expecting the Messiah: The God of Mercy

So, yesterday I admitted that as I read Genesis 3 as a child, I immediately judged Adam and Eve for falling into the serpent’s trap, assuring myself that I would have never made that choice… Right. And yesterday, we humbly concluded that we are no different than Adam and Eve. Consequently, the first sin led to many, many other sins. Humanity is plagued by sinfulness. Thankfully, even at the start of Genesis, the Lord already had a plan set in place for the 1st Christmas a savior born to the world for the redemption of God’s people! We even see glimpses of that plan in Genesis 3.

Well, the saga of sinfulness continues throughout the Old Testament as God’s chosen people, the Israelites, continue to run after other gods as they forget the Lord’s goodness and faithfulness to them.

Take a look at Psalm 106.

6 “We have sinned, even as our ancestors did; we have done wrong and acted wickedly.
7 When our ancestors were in Egypt, they gave no thought to your miracles; they did not remember your many kindnesses, and they rebelled by the sea, the Red Sea.
8 Yet he saved them for his name’s sake, to make his mighty power known.
9 He rebuked the Red Sea, and it dried up; he led them through the depths as through a desert.
10 He saved them from the hand of the foe; from the hand of the enemy he redeemed them.
11 The waters covered their adversaries; not one of them survived.
12 Then they believed his promises and sang his praise.
13 But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.
14 In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wilderness they put God to the test.
15 So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease among them.
16 In the camp they grew envious of Moses and of Aaron, who was consecrated to the Lord.
17 The earth opened up and swallowed Dathan; it buried the company of Abiram.
18 Fire blazed among their followers; a flame consumed the wicked.
19 At Horeb they made a calf and worshiped an idol cast from metal.
20 They exchanged their glorious God for an image of a bull, which eats grass.
21 They forgot the God who saved them, who had done great things in Egypt,
22 miracles in the land of Ham and awesome deeds by the Red Sea.
23 So he said he would destroy themhad not Moses, his chosen one,
stood in the breach before him to keep his wrath from destroying them.
24 Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe his promise.
25 They grumbled in their tents and did not obey the Lord.
26 So he swore to them with uplifted hand that he would make them fall in the wilderness,
27 make their descendants fall among the nations and scatter them throughout the lands.
28 They yoked themselves to the Baal of Peor and ate sacrifices offered to lifeless gods;
29 they aroused the Lord’s anger by their wicked deeds, and a plague broke out among them.
30 But Phinehas stood up and intervened, and the plague was checked.
31 This was credited to him as righteousness for endless generations to come.
32 By the waters of Meribah they angered the Lord, and trouble came to Moses because of them;
33 for they rebelled against the Spirit of God, and rash words came from Moses’ lips.
34 They did not destroy the peoples as the Lord had commanded them,
35 but they mingled with the nations and adopted their customs.
36 They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them.
37 They sacrificed their sons and their daughters to false gods.
38 They shed innocent blood, the blood of their sons and daughters whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan, and the land was desecrated by their blood.
39 They defiled themselves by what they did; by their deeds they prostituted themselves.
40 Therefore the Lord was angry with his people and abhorred his inheritance.
41 He gave them into the hands of the nations, and their foes ruled over them.
42 Their enemies oppressed them and subjected them to their power.
43 Many times he delivered them, but they were bent on rebellion and they wasted away in their sin.
44 Yet he took note of their distress when he heard their cry;
45 for their sake he remembered his covenant and out of his great love he relented.
46 He caused all who held them captive to show them mercy.
47 Save us, Lord our God, and gather us from the nations that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise.
48 Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting! Let all the people say, “Amen!” Praise the Lord.”

Wow. Israel’s history is plagued by so much unfaithfulness and disobedience. As I read Psalm 106, I can easily get back into my prideful childlike mindset of Genesis 3 and think, “How in the world could the Israelites be so hard headed?? Could they really forget the parting of the Red Sea?? That’s a huge deal! Could they really turn their backs on God and bow down to a golden calf simply because Moses was gone for a mere 40 days?? Could they really think it was ok to obey certain parts of God’s plans they liked, rather than obey His commands fully? God would have been just in forgetting about them because they turned their backs on Him a million times! When will they ever learn??” However, just as I can humbly relate to Adam and Eve’s failure in Genesis 3, I can relate to the Israelite’s continual unfaithfulness, too…  

And yet, GOD IS MERCIFUL. While He is still a God of justice, holiness, and discipline (The Israelites experienced their fair share of discipline, and so do we!), He continues to bestow mercy on His stiff-necked people. And we are that stiff-necked people, too. Psalm 106 is beautiful because while it portrays the stubborn sinfulness of the Israelites, it also portrays the beautiful and incomprehensible love and mercy of a God who would not give up on them, and does not give up on us!

Take time this Christmas season to reflect on your journey with Christ. If you are anything like me, your story probably relates a little too closely to the Psalm 106 account of the Israelites rocky history of following (or failing to follow) the Lord. Following God, turning from Him to worldly pleasures, being humbled by Him, and returning to Him. Then, repeat the cycle over and over and over again. While it is good and right to be humbled and repentant, don’t stay in a state of depression about your failures. Rather, praise the Lord that despite those failures (just like the Israelites continual cycle of idol worship), He loves you and shows you unlimited and unmerited mercy. He sent Jesus as a baby 2,000 years ago on that first Christmas night because He is a God of MERCY. He longs to show you mercy despite the fact that you don’t and will never deserve it. Why? Because He loves you. Period. And this Christmas season, worship Him because He sees your sinfulness and depravity and unfaithfulness, and STILL CHOOSES TO LOVE YOU! He chose to love you on that first Christmas night when He entered the world as a humble baby, and He loves you TODAY!

And to take this one step further, who in your life needs to know of God's mercy? Who needs to hear that despite their sinfulness and hopelessness, God has chosen to love them? What greater gift could you give someone this Christmas season than to share this GOOD NEWS with them?? Don't keep it to yourself, friends! Share HIS MERCY because the world DESPERATELY needs it!

Merry Christmas!

Always, Jacquelyn

1 comment:

RFolse said...

Oh, my! Thank you so much for the Word today. Just what my wayward heart needs. Regina