The AMI QT Devotionals from July 15-21 are provided by Pastor Yohan Lee of Remnant Church, New York City. Yohan graduated from University of Pennsylvania and Cairn University, where he studied theology. He is married to Mandie, and they have four adorable children: Simon, Maggie, John and Abigail.
Devotional Thought for Today
“Heroes and Villains”
Now Johanan the son of Kareah and all the leaders of the forces in the open country came to Gedaliah at Mizpah 14 and said to him, “Do you know that Baalis the king of the Ammonites has sent Ishmael the son of Nethaniah to take your life?” But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam would not believe them. 15 Then Johanan the son of Kareah spoke secretly to Gedaliah at Mizpah, “Please let me go and strike down Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, and no one will know it. Why should he take your life, so that all the Judeans who are gathered about you would be scattered, and the remnant of Judah would perish?” 16 But Gedaliah the son of Ahikam said to Johanan the son of Kareah, “You shall not do this thing, for you are speaking falsely of Ishmael.”
1 In the seventh month, Ishmael the son of Nethaniah, son of Elishama, of the royal family, one of the chief officers of the king, came with ten men to Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, at Mizpah. As they ate bread together there at Mizpah,2 Ishmael the son of Nethaniah and the ten men with him rose up and struck down Gedaliah the son of Ahikam, son of Shaphan, with the sword, and killed him, whom the king of Babylon had appointed governor in the land. 3 Ishmael also struck down all the Judeans who were with Gedaliah at Mizpah, and the Chaldean soldiers who happened to be there.
After the Avengers Infinity War movie, a friend of mine tried to convince me that Thanos, the chief antagonist in the movie, was not so much evil as misguided. For those of you who haven’t seen Infinity War (I don’t know where you’ve been), Thanos had a conviction that because resources like food and energy were finite and sentient life had grown to unsustainable numbers, life for half of the universe’s population would be better if the other half of the universe ceased to exist. So my friend made the argument that from a certain point of view, Thanos could be considered a hero (which was actually how Thanos thought). Of course, my response was that anyone who tries to kill off half the living things in the universe has to be an evil guy; Captain America agreed with me (as did Ironman before he bit it… spoiler!)
As ridiculous as this might sound, Hollywood isn’t always that different than real life. People do all kinds of crazy things because they rationalize the ends justifying the means. In today’s narrative, I bet you Ishmael thought he was doing the right thing. I also bet you a bunch of people left in Jerusalem agreed with him. Think about it, in Jeremiah 39, we read that Jerusalem was conquered by the Babylonians, and Gedaliah was installed by the Babylonians to run Judah. I bet you Ishmael and many of the remaining Israelites looked at Gedaliah as Nebuchadnezzar’s puppet and actually wanted him out. In some sense, I bet Ishmael, and perhaps many in Israel, saw himself as the hero who was going to spark a rebellion against their oppressors. But of course, heroes don’t assassinate people.
Here’s the point: Just because you aren’t leading a rebellion or assassinating government officials doesn’t mean you haven’t rationalized the ends justifying the means. We’re all tempted to fib a little to cover up a mistake at work, or fudged on our resumes, or convinced yourself that you don’t need to mend that relationship. Either way, let’s just call it what it is: Rationalizing. Hopefully, we haven’t gone so far as to call our villainous acts heroic; however, if this is indeed what we have been doing, then there is only one counter left on the table: repentance!
Prayer: Heavenly Father, search my heart. Is there something within me that needs to be brought to light and confessed. If so, help me to face it honestly and act righteously. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Kings 18
Lunch Break Study
Read Matthew 24:31-46: “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. 35 For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’37 Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? 38 And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you?39 And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers,[f] you did it to me.’ 41 “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42 For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ 45 Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Questions to Consider
- What are the similarities and differences between the sheep and the goats?
- Why are the goats so surprised?
- What are some things that you feel like God wants you to do lately that you haven’t done?
- Both the sheep and the goats have encountered similar types of people, but the sheep acted in love towards these people. Both groups were surprised by the Lord’s reaction; it’s as if sheep never noticed their tender hearts, while goats never realized their callous hearts.
- The scary part about this parable is that the goats were oblivious to the state of their hearts. They thought they were doing fine, loving God, etc. But in reality, they were very far from him. I hope none of us will be unpleasantly surprised on the day of judgment.
- Personal response
Today’s theme was searching our hearts and making sure our actions align with our calling as children of light. How has the Lord been speaking to you about your life and how you’re living it? Do you represent him well in this world? Ask the Lord to reveal something that he wants to refine in you.