October 10, Wednesday

Devotional Thoughts for Today

“Mercy even in Judgement”

Jeremiah 44:1-6

This word came to Jeremiah concerning all the Jews living in Lower Egypt—in Migdol, Tahpanhes and Memphis—and in Upper Egypt: 2 “This is what the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, says: You saw the great disaster I brought on Jerusalem and on all the towns of Judah. Today they lie deserted and in ruins 3 because of the evil they have done. They aroused my anger by burning incense to and worshiping other gods that neither they nor you nor your ancestors ever knew. 4 Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’ 5 But they did not listen or pay attention; they did not turn from their wickedness or stop burning incense to other gods. 6 Therefore, my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the towns of Judah and the streets of Jerusalem and made them the desolate ruins they are today.

Recently, I’ve been talking to my mother about disciplining children (since I am going to be a dad soon). My mother probably isn’t all that different from other mothers in that she hated spanking us because it made her sad to see us in pain. Deep in her heart, she hoped that her warnings would be enough to stop us from misbehaving.

In today’s passage, the Lord is once again speaking through Jeremiah to the Israelites in Egypt. He reminds them of the previous punishment that the Lord inflicted on the people of Judah because they worshipped false idols. While the Lord’s anger burned towards the people of Judah, we see that He still had mercy towards them. In verse 4, God says, “Again and again I sent my servants the prophets, who said, ‘Do not do this detestable thing that I hate!’” Amid their rebellion, God gave the Israelites many chances—approximately 400 years’ worth, to repent from their rebellion. Sadly, despite God’s mercy, Judah refused to repent.

There is a popular view that God is a capricious deity who delights in punishing those who do not follow His ways. Quite the contrary, Scripture presents a God who is slow to anger and rich in love. Yes, our God is truly merciful. Because He hates to punish His children, He first warns them of the consequences that will come if they refuse to repent. However, like with any rebellious child, if there is no change, discipline must be applied. But, even His discipline, which is never punitive, is meant to restore our hearts back to Him.

Our God is a God of second chances who delights in blessing His people. Let’s take some time to give thanks for His mercy.  And if you need a second chance from God, take it.

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You are merciful to us. I know You are a Holy God who cannot and will not tolerate sin, but You still give us second chances to repent of our sins. Help us not to take Your mercy for granted, and to walk in obedience to Your commandments. Amen.

Bible reading for Today: 1 Kings 15


Lunch Break Study

Read Exodus 34:4-14: So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the Lord had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the Lord. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation.”8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 “Lord,” he said, “if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance.”

10 Then the Lord said: “I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the Lord, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

Questions to Consider

  1. If the Lord is a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, why does the Lord still punish?
  2. What covenant does the Lord make with the Israelites? What are His requirements?
  3. What does the Lord mean when He calls himself a “Jealous” God?

Notes

  1. While the Lord is slow to anger and rich in love, He is still a holy God, “a righteous judge” (Ps. 7:11), who needs to properly deal with sin, including punishing those who refuse to repent.  But, even in the midst of being punished for our sins, we never bear the brunt of it because “[God] does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities” (Ps. 103:10).    
  2. The Lord promises to reveal His power and glory through the Israelites. Not only will they see God’s power, but also how He blesses the Israelites. The former reminds us that blessing is not just what God does for us, but how we can join in His work.
  3. The word “jealous” does not mean envy like how we are jealous when someone has nicer things. It is a great compliment to us that God is jealous when we offer our worship to something or someone else. Who are we that our worship would matter to God of the universe! But, it does.  It is in this context we can truly grasp the jealousness of God.

Evening Reflection

Our God is a merciful God, and He desires all people to turn back to Him. While His mercy is full of kindness, there are times where He exercises discipline to wake us up. Let’s take some time to give thanks to our Father for His mercy.

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