October 28, Sunday

Devotional Thoughts for Today 

“Unseen, Ugly, and Radical Beauty” 

Jeremiah 48:31-33, 36, 46-47 

Therefore I wail for Moab; I cry out for all Moab; for the men of Kir-hareseth I mourn. 32 More than for Jazer I weep for you, O vine of Sibmah! Your branches passed over the sea, reached to the Sea of Jazer; on your summer fruits and your grapes the destroyer has fallen. 33 Gladness and joy have been taken away from the fruitful land of Moab; I have made the wine cease from the winepresses;
no one treads them with shouts of joy; the shouting is not the shout of joy… 36 Therefore my heart moans for Moab like a flute, and my heart moans like a flute for the men of Kir-hareseth. Therefore the riches they gained have perished… 46 Woe to you, O Moab! The people of Chemosh are undone,
for your sons have been taken captive, and your daughters into captivity. 47 Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days, declares the Lord.” Thus far is the judgment on Moab.

Have you ever been happy that your friend failed?  They missed the last shot, made mistakes in their performance, or didn’t get the promotion they wanted.  You don’t want colossal failure for them; you just don’t want them to outshine you by a mile.  Maybe you feel better about yourself because of their failure.  Or, have you ever felt bad when your friend succeeded?  You’re happy for them, but at the same time, you’re not.  It’s almost like you can’t celebrate for them because you feel sorry for yourself.  If not, good for you!  But many of us have had thoughts along these lines.  It’s not that we despise our friends, but we love ourselves so much.  It’s pretty ugly.  It comes from a selfish spirit, an envious heart, and a competitive impulse.  Maybe it’s actually a form of hatred—like Jonah, who didn’t want God to forgive Nineveh because they were the enemy of Israel.  He didn’t want mercy for them, because he thought that they didn’t deserve it—again, pretty ugly.  Even scarier is how we can hide our ugliness from everyone else—but not from God.  This should remind us all—we don’t deserve God’s mercy either.

Chapters about God’s judgment against sin and against nations like Philistia and Moab can be pretty heavy stuff.  But always traveling alongside God’s ferocious anger at sin is His audacious passion for a lost creation.  Even when Moab’s fate seems set, we see God’s compassion.  Neither God nor Jeremiah—who is known as the weeping prophet for a reason—delights in the suffering of the Moabites: “I wail for Moab; I cry out for all Moab; my heart moans for Moab like a flute.” This is not the unseen ugliness of the human heart; it’s the radical beauty of God’s compassion.  At the end of the chapter, even for Moab, is a promise of restoration: “Yet I will restore the fortunes of Moab in the latter days, declares the Lord”—which points not to nationhood or prosperity but redemption.  In fact, through the prophet Isaiah, God declares of Jesus: “I will make you as a light for the nations, that my salvation may reach to the end of the earth” (Isaiah 49:6).  This means good news for all nations!  Never forget that we don’t deserve this.  And always celebrate and be glad that we have it through Jesus!

Prayer:  God, we thank You that in Jesus we have received mercy!  We don’t deserve it.  We deserve the opposite.  Expose the unseen ugliness of our hearts and lead us to the radical beauty of Your grace.  Help us today to see the beauty of Your compassions, the strength of Your victory, and make us a people who will live for Your fame and renown.  Amen.

Bible Reading for Today: 2 Peter 3

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