Then God gave the people all these instructions: … [The Ten Commandments]
When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.
And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!” Exodus 20:1, 18-19 (NLT)
The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, “Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father’s house a marketplace!” John 2:13 – 16 (CEV)
Today’s Lectionary Texts: Exodus 20:1-17, Psalm 19, 1 Corinthians 1:18-25, John 2:13-22
If you have ever listened to a news report of some horrific event and asked the question, “Why didn’t God intervene in some way?” then take some time this week and read these Scriptures. In fact, since you have a whole week, read the four Scriptures in context with their chapters.
I believe God is all-powerful. He is the Creator of all. When I read this Exodus chapter and put myself at the bottom of that mountain, I would stand some distance from the mountain and tremble in fear, too! It’s easy to say that I want to hear from God. I want Him to tell me what He is thinking. I want Him to bring His wrath to those who hurt His children. Why doesn’t He?
Then I read John 2. The Gospel accounts of Jesus’ clearing the temple is a popular passage to quote when I want to warn people about God’s ability to “clear out the sinners”! It must have been pretty impressive to see Jesus turning over tables and hear Him speak with barely controlled fury! I can just imagine the look in His eyes. I’m feeling that trembling fear again.
So I know God has the means and temperament to bring His wrath and justice to those who deserve it. Why doesn’t He?
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul;
the decrees of the Lord are sure, making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the Lord is clear, enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the Lord is pure, enduring forever;
the ordinances of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. Psalm 19:7-0 (CEV)
How much I learn when I spend time reading God’s Word! God speaks perfect words to me that revive and renew me. His words are healing and life-affirming. While God is capable of bringing wrath down on sinners, … oh-oh … I am a sinner! I may not have killed someone this week but could I find myself fitting in with the Israelites, picking and choosing which of His laws I will keep and which ones I will ignore? Am I treating worship of God without honor and holiness?
But to those called by God to salvation, both Jews and Gentiles, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. This foolish plan of God is wiser than the wisest of human plans, and God’s weakness is stronger than the greatest of human strength. 1 Corinthians 1:24-25 (NLT)
Jesus is the manifestation of God’s power and plan. When I want to know the “Why?” about God and His plan, the place to begin my search is in Jesus’ life and ministry.
Love. Jesus tells His disciples to “love God with all that you are” and “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:31-33). God gets #1 priority in my life. And if I am not sure who my neighbor is, who I am supposed to love, Jesus teaches me that also (Luke 10:25-37).
Forgiveness. How I have often wished that the Gospel writers had left out Jesus’ response to Peter’s inquiry about how many times he had to forgive his brother! (Matthew 18:21-22) Or when Jesus was nailed to the cross, He could have stayed silent like He did in front of His accusers the previous 24 hours! But no, He had to forgive those who were nailing Him to the cross right then! (Luke 23:34)
Judgment. Jesus said that God sent Him into the world, not to judge us, but to save us (John 3:16-17). Jesus knows that judgment will come, but judgment has its appointed time and today isn’t it either. (John 12:44-50) And nowhere in any of these passages does it say that judgment is my job!
Abundant Life. First Jesus tells me to “seek God first” and the rest of my life will fall into place (Matthew 6:33). Then He affirms that God wants me to have an “abundant life” where I have peace beyond my understanding and love and mercy beyond my capabilities; treasure that will not deteriorate (Matthew 6:19-20).
Yes, Jesus gives me insight into much of what I question, but His answers are not always what I want to hear. He tells me what I need to hear.
Let us take the time to read and listen to God this week. Let us tune in to God’s network.
I Need You More written & sung by Lindell Cooley