Saturday, February 16, 2019

Judges 19

It took me a while to get to this story because I can't stand it.  It's the story of Judges 19.  I won't even retell it here but merely ask you to read it because it is so hideous.

There are many glorious stories in the Bible where someone was in trouble and God came through just in time to rescue them.  Daniel was rescued from the mouth of lions.  David was spared many times even when his troubles were his fault.  Isaac is my favorite.  God told Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac, and at the last minute, God said no, here is a ram instead as a substitute.  It prefigured Christ who was the ultimate sacrifice for our sins, the only time God said "no" to his only Son.  His people's sins needed to be punished, and Christ was the only one who could survive it.

Then, there's the story of Judges 19.  In Genesis 19, Lot almost gave his daughters to be gang raped, but angels blinded the crowd and saved Lot and his girls.  This was not the case in Judges.  A young concubine was released to the wolves and when morning came, she was dying on the door stoop of the house.

And we think of all the people not saved in this life: the babies not rescued form abortion, the children not saved from sacrifice, the Jews not saved from the Holocaust, the girls and boys not saved from sex trafficking, and we wonder why?  As the world turns its back on God and his laws, people become more violent, and this is how God sends his judgment?  By destroying the most innocent ones?

But there is one situation more unfair than this, and it was when the only innocent man ever gave his life to save me from my sins.  Jesus came as a baby, grew to be a man, didn't sin once, and then both the religious Jews and callous Romans had him crucified.  He could have called angels to have it stopped, but he loved his Church way too much to let them perish forever under God's wrath.  And he died not only for my sins but the sins of the rapists, abortionists, heartless politicians, Nazis, and more.

All I can think of is this song by Caedmon's Call called "Petrified" where they wrote the woman of Judges 19 into a song and compared her to Christ, torn for the twelve tribes.

We won't know all the answers, but we can still trust that God has a place for the victims and and even hotter anger for the ones who never repent.

Saturday, February 2, 2019

SS: David Spares Saul

This is the gist of my Sunday School lesson this past Sunday from a curriculum that had a pet theme.

Read John 10:17b-18, “I lay down my life that I may take it up again. 18 No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.”

Do you know that we are more than pets to Jesus?  Even though he calls us sheep (and it’s not a compliment), we are his special friends who he chose to save.  We were lost in our sin and were going to die apart from God, but God sent Jesus to take our punishment for our sins on the cross.  Nobody took Jesus’s life.  He gave it because he loves us.

Now, I’m going to share a story of someone who lived long before Jesus, in fact an ancestor of Joseph, his earthly dad.  David did something a lot like Jesus would have done in his situation.

Then, we read the account from 1 Samuel 24.  David hid in a cave from Saul with his many man.  Saul wandered in there because he had to go to the bathroom.  David's men said, "Yeah, David, go kill him since he's been trying to kill you."  David cut off a corner of his robe, but then decided not to kill him.  Then, he said, "Saul, I cut off a corner of your robe and could have killed you, but I didn't."  Saul was sorry and decided to not kill David that day.  This actually happened twice.  Both times, David did not kill Saul because God had made Saul king, and he had mercy on Saul.

David knew
that God had promised to make him king, so David could have killed Saul and become king immediately. But what did David do? (Had mercy on Saul, didn’t kill him) That’s right! David didn’t kill Saul because he wanted to show mercy.

What is mercy? (It is not punishing someone, even though they deserve it.)
How is it different from grace? ( Grace is giving someone a privilege that is not deserved.)

He also knew that God had made Saul king although David would be king someday.  David showed respect by trusting that God would make him king one day and by being kind to King Saul while he waited. Just like David, God wants us to be kind and show mercy to others, too!

In just the same way, we have sinned against God and deserve to be killed in his anger.  But God showed mercy on us and sent Jesus to die for our sins.  David risked his life by having mercy on Saul.  Jesus laid down his life to have mercy on us.  By doing thus, God took away his anger from us that we deserved (that's mercy), and allows us the privilege of living in heaven with him and serving him now which we don't deserve (that's grace). 

I also gave scenarios where a kid would have to show mercy.  A kid hit you.  He probably deserves to be hit back.  How do you show mercy?  By not hitting him (which isn't allowed anyway) and telling the teacher.  How do you show grace?  By asking him to be friends and to play with you.

The people at lunch are making fun of your best friend and you stick up for her.  Then they start calling you a baby and accuse you of watching baby shows.  How do you show mercy? By not making fun of them in return.  How do you show grace?  By still sitting with them.  (This really happened to me.  And you know those baby shows that they made fun of me for?  The next year they were like, you should watch these shows!)

And lastly, someone accidentally trips you in the hall.  How do you show mercy?  By not getting made and tripping in return.  How do you show grace?  Helping this person.