Devotional Thoughts for Today
And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah. 12 Go, and proclaim these words toward the north, and say, “‘Return, faithless Israel, declares the Lord. I will not look on you in anger, for I am merciful, declares the Lord; I will not be angry forever.13 Only acknowledge your guilt, that you rebelled against the Lord your God and scattered your favors among foreigners under every green tree, and that you have not obeyed my voice, declares the Lord. 14 Return, O faithless children, declares the Lord; for I am your master; I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and I will bring you to Zion.
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” – Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
No, seriously Richard, tell me what you really think about God!
God gets a really bad rap for His works in the Old Testament, and undeservedly so. Today let’s just focus on one of the characteristics in Dawkins’ laundry list of complaints: “unforgiving.” Is that really the case? In today’s passage, God was confronted with serious infidelity. His people, whom He created, and who willingly entered into covenant obedience to Him at Mount Sinai, have completely turned their backs on their commitment and forsaken Yahweh for any and every floozy god that struts his or her stuff. They “scattered [their] favors among foreigners under every green tree.” Those “foreigners” are foreign gods, and Israel has played the whore.
Marital infidelity is a serious offense that wreaks serious devastation—many marriages don’t recover. Now imagine if your spouse cheated on you with not just one person, but entered into illegitimate relationships with anyone and everyone—even veritable strangers! How would you feel about that? Even the most patient and forgiving among us may declare the marriage beyond repair. Yet here is the God of the Old Testament, calling out to His wayward wife to “return.” His only requirement is that she “acknowledge [her] guilt.” Does this sound like a “petty… unforgiving… vindictive” God to you? His forgiveness should blow us away. This is the same forgiving nature that we see thousands of years later upon the cross.
If there is anything holding you back from coming to God, don’t wait, but only “acknowledge your guilt,” and God is waiting to receive you. Even today He calls to you, “return”! There is nothing that cannot be forgiven, sins old and new, by the God of the Testaments, both Old and New.
Prayer: Dear Lord, I bring You my heart. I confess my shortcomings, my waywardness, my inner thoughts that align with the desires of my flesh—thoughts of vengeance, jealousy, pride and insecurity. I know that in Christ, I no longer stand condemned, but rather accepted on account of the cross. Thank You for a forgiveness that surpasses my wildest imagination—thank You for the cross. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Hebrews 10
Lunch Break Study
Read Hebrews 10:11-14:
And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Questions to Consider
- If the sacrifices of the priests couldn’t take away sins, why were they offered?
- What is the significance of Christ sitting down?
- How is it possible to be “perfected” yet still be in the process of “being sanctified”? What impact should this have on our daily living?
- They were offered in faith that one day there would be a sacrifice that could truly take away sin, and there was- Jesus’ sacrifice upon the cross.
- The work of forgiveness is done! So stop trying to earn it!
- This is the “already, not yet” nature of life in the church age. When God looks at us, He sees no sin on account of the cross. However, we still must deal with a sinful nature that must be put to death daily, hence our need for sanctification.
Have you brought everything to God? Is there anything you feel ashamed, fearful, or simply shy about acknowledging before Him? Take your relationship to a new level of intimacy and share the depths of your heart with God.