Devotional Thoughts for Today
“God’s Astonishing Grace”
Thus says the Lord: “Has Israel no sons? Has he no heir? Why then has Milcom[a] dispossessed Gad, and his people settled in its cities? 2 Therefore, behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will cause the battle cry to be heard against Rabbah of the Ammonites; it shall become a desolate mound, and its villages shall be burned with fire; then Israel shall dispossess those who dispossessed him, says the Lord. 3 “Wail, O Heshbon, for Ai is laid waste! Cry out, O daughters of Rabbah! Put on sackcloth, lament, and run to and fro among the hedges! For Milcom shall go into exile, with his priests and his officials. 4 Why do you boast of your valleys, O faithless daughter, who trusted in her treasures, saying, ‘Who will come against me?’ 5 Behold, I will bring terror upon you, declares the Lord God of hosts, from all who are around you, and you shall be driven out, every man straight before him, with none to gather the fugitives. 6 “But afterward I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites, declares the Lord.”
Conflict with others is inevitable but few situations hurt more than betrayal. One example occurs in The Empire Strikes Back when Han Solo and his Rebel Alliance flee to Cloud City to escape the Empire. Upon arrival, the group is warmly welcomed by Han’s long-time friend and Cloud City Administrator, Lando Calrissian. Unfortunately, Lando himself is under the Empire’s influence and soon betrays the rebels by handing them over to Darth Vader.
In Old Testament history, one people group that continually interfered with and betrayed Israel was the Ammonites, who resided east of the Jordan River, between the Jabbok and Arnon rivers. During Moses’ lifetime, the Ammonites had lost some territory to King Sihon (Num. 21:21-35), who was subsequently defeated by Israel and whose territory was granted to the tribe of Gad (Num. 32:33). Despite Israel’s victory, they did not encroach upon Ammonite territory, as the Lord specifically dictated that it was “given as a possession to the descendants of Lot [the Ammonites]” (Deut. 2:19). God’s mercy is even more astounding in light of the fact that Ammonite ancestry originated with Ammon, Lot’s son born through incest with Lot’s daughters (Gen. 19).
In spite of God’s grace, the Ammonites frequently fought against Israel during the eras of the Judges and Kings (Judges 3 and 2 Sam. 10). Furthermore, the Ammonites continually encouraged Israel to engage in idolatry through worship of their god, Molek (Lev. 2 and 1 Kings 11). As Israel had fallen by Jeremiah’s time, Jeremiah’s prophecy against Ammon (49:1) begins with a lament, “why then has Molek taken possession of Gad?” Subsequent verses in this prophecy foretell imminent destruction and terror for the rebellious Ammonites.
However, God declares that “yet afterward, I will restore the fortunes of the Ammonites” (49:6). Some scholars suggest that this indicates New Testament fulfilment, as the Ammonites were “eventually absorbed into the peoples of Arabia, some of whom were present on Pentecost”. Thus, it is likely that some souls saved on Pentecost included Ammonite descendants. What an amazing testimony of God’s astonishing grace to humanity!
Prayer: Father, I confess that I am not all that different from the Ammonites. Despite Your many gifts to me, I engage in rebellion and idolatry against You by looking to others to meet my needs and fulfill me. Thank You for Your saving grace; help me lead a life of repentance in step with the faith I declare. In Your Name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Job 40
Lunch Break Study
Read 1 John 1:5-10: This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Questions to Consider
- What does it mean to walk in darkness?
- What is so important about verses 8-10?
- Where may you be walking in darkness right now?
- From this passage, as well as other passages from John (John 1), walking in darkness can be described as living a secret life of intentional sin.
- Verses 8-10 indicate that sin is inevitable because of our rebellious nature. Verse 8 is probably the clearest indication of this and verse 9 indirectly refers to this as well (it begins with “If we confess our sins…” not “If we sin…”). However, the fact that we have sinned is not as important as our need to confess to God and to others (verse 9), as well as to depend on God for His help.
- Personal response.
As you reflect on your day, how may you have looked to others to fulfill your needs? Take some time to confess specifics to God and ask for His strength for the next day.