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Posts Tagged ‘national sin’

Word:  Ezekiel 18:19-32(abridged)(NLT)

19 “‘What?’ you ask. ‘Doesn’t the child pay for the parent’s sins?’ No! For if the child does what is just and right and keeps my decrees, that child will surely live. 20 The person who sins is the one who will die. The child will not be punished for the parent’s sins, and the parent will not be punished for the child’s sins. Righteous people will be rewarded for their own righteous behavior, and wicked people will be punished for their own wickedness. 21 But if wicked people turn away from all their sins and begin to obey my decrees and do what is just and right, they will surely live and not die. 22 All their past sins will be forgotten, and they will live because of the righteous things they have done.

23 “Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? says the Sovereign Lord. Of course not! I want them to turn from their wicked ways and live24 However, if righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things and act like other sinners, should they be allowed to live? No, of course not! All their righteous acts will be forgotten, and they will die for their sins.

25 “Yet you say, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ Listen to me: Am I the one not doing what’s right, or is it you? 26 When righteous people turn from their righteous behavior and start doing sinful things, they will die for it. Yes, they will die because of their sinful deeds. 27 And if wicked people turn from their wickedness, obey the law, and do what is just and right, they will save their lives. 28 They will live because they thought it over and decided to turn from their sins. Such people will not die. 29 And yet the people … keep saying, ‘The Lord isn’t doing what’s right!’ O people…, it is you who are not doing what’s right, not I.

30 “Therefore, I will judge each of you . . . according to your actions, says the Sovereign Lord. Repent, and turn from your sins. Don’t let them destroy you! 31 Put all your rebellion behind you, and find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die. . . ?32 I don’t want you to die, says the Sovereign Lord. Turn back and live!

The King of All Nations has been portrayed too often as the hanging judge. Off with their heads!! Not true, says the King himself.  Do you think that I like to see wicked people die? . . . I don’t want you to die. And yet one of the main reasons for disloyalty to the King of All Nations is a misguided sense of fairness.  If the inevitable consequences of Sin come down upon us, we cry foul. If innocent people suffer because of the Sin of others, we are incensed. If the good die young, we feel cheated and robbed. Is the King of All Nations on our side—or theirs?

The King has not brought evil to our country and our lives; we have with our own sinfulness.

What can we do?  Repent, and turn from your sins. . . . Put rebellion behind you. . . .find yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. . . . Turn back and live!

Prayer:  Forgive us, O God, for believing that our suffering and our losses are because you are evil. We as a people have rebelled, so we suffer hardship and die because of our own sin. You have shown us how to avoid judgment, how to live, but we would rather do what we want to do and blame you. Forgive our foolishness, O God. Give our nation a new heart and a new spirit. Amen

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Word:  Nehemiah 9: 22-31 (abridged) (NLT)

22 “Then you helped our ancestors conquer kingdoms and nations, and you placed your people in every corner of the land…23 You made their descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and brought them into the land you had promised to their ancestors.

24 “They went in and took possession of the land. You subdued whole nations before them….Your people could deal with these nations and their kings as they pleased. 25 Our ancestors captured fortified cities and fertile land. They took over houses full of good things, with cisterns already dug and vineyards and olive groves and fruit trees in abundance. So they ate until they were full and grew fat and enjoyed themselves in all your blessings.

26 “But despite all this, they were disobedient and rebelled against you. They turned their backs on your Law, they killed your prophets who warned them to return to you, and they committed terrible blasphemies. 27 So you handed them over to their enemies, who made them suffer. But in their time of trouble they cried to you, and you heard them from heaven. In your great mercy, you sent them liberators who rescued them from their enemies.

28 “But as soon as they were at peace, your people again committed evil in your sight, and once more you let their enemies conquer them. Yet whenever your people turned and cried to you again for help, you listened once more from heaven. In your wonderful mercy, you rescued them many times!

29 “You warned them to return to your Law, but they became proud and obstinate and disobeyed your commands. They did not follow your regulations, by which people will find life if only they obey. They stubbornly turned their backs on you and refused to listen. 30 In your love, you were patient with them for many years. You sent your Spirit, who warned them through the prophets. But still they wouldn’t listen! So once again you allowed the peoples of the land to conquer them.31 But in your great mercy, you did not destroy them completely or abandon them forever. What a gracious and merciful God you are!

 

Often people and nations want to see the King of All Nations as the Judge of All Nations, eager to punish, eager to enforce, indifferent to human frailty, intolerant of human error.  This is not the picture that the prophet Nehemiah painted—and he could have easily. His task was to rebuild walls that the enemies of his nation had destroyed and demolished in the time of his grandparents.  He could have chosen to focus on all the suffering of the nation because of their rebellion at the hand of God, but instead he focused on the grace and mercy of the King of All Nations.

Yes, there was judgment as a consequence of rebellion, but over and over again, when the people of the nation realized that they themselves were the cause of their own suffering and when they turned back to God, over and over again he rescued them!  Over and over, the King warned them what would happen if they became proud and obstinate. Over and over again, he sent his Spirit who warned them through prophets—over and over again.  Over and over, he sent them liberators.

The King of All Nations desires to bless and to reward. Even the suffering, the consequence of rebellion, is not revenge; it is not justice. Even the punishment is not meant to destroy, but to draw the nation back so that God can give people the joy of his salvation.

 

Prayer:  Show us the sins of our nation, Father, so that we may repent and return to your blessing. Free us from those who would ignore your Word, who would attempt to set up their own throne over your nation, O Lord. You are gracious and merciful. Without your mercy, we are lost.  Amen.

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