March 6: Signs and Satire
Numbers 6:1–27; John 13:21–38; Psalm 7:1–17
The images of judgment in Psa 7 are sometimes hard to take. We are so acquainted with a God of love that it’s difficult to understand a God who blinds eyes, hardens hearts, and “has indignation every day” (Psa 7:11). While these passages paint a picture of a judging God, they also emphasize how foolish and evil people can be—specifically focusing on those who push the boundaries of God’s mercy and thus eventually find themselves outside of it.
In Psalm 7, God is preparing to judge the evil man. Suddenly, the psalm switches focus to the evil man’s situations: “See, he travails with evil. He is pregnant with trouble, and he gives birth to deception. He makes a pit and digs it out, then falls in the trap he has made” (Psa 7:14–15). The evil man’s folly is directly correlated to God’s just judgment. God is ready and willing to forgive those who repent. But the evil man dwells in evil—he conceives it and is intimately connected to it. He gives birth to it. What’s more, he is willingly walking into his own punishment. His actions of digging a pit and falling into his own trap expose his foolishness—that he has effectively judged himself, as “His trouble comes back on his head, and his violence comes down on his skull” (Psa 7:16).
The same sentiment is expressed in the Gospel of John. “But as many signs as he had performed before them, they did not believe in him” (John 12:37). While they had ample opportunity to believe Jesus’ words, the Jewish people depicted in the passage chose not to believe in Jesus. They had even seen miracles. But because of their unbelief, they brought about their own judgment. And although they had an opportunity to believe, they abandoned it; thus, it was “taken away.”
These passages illuminate the folly of the decision to disobey. The judgment brought on those who disobey is really their own doing. It’s all the more reason to believe in the just God whose sacrifice defines what love is all about.
Are you hesitant in your commitment to Jesus? What is keeping you from devoting totally to Him?
REBECCA VAN NOORD
- And the Lord spake unto Moses saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When a man or a woman doth separate themselves to vow a vow of a Nazirite, to separate himself to the Lord, He shall abstain from wine and strong drink, nor shall drink of any liquor of grapes, neither shall eat fresh grapes or dried. As long as his abstinence endureth, shall he eat nothing that is made of the wine of the vine, neither the kernels nor the husk. While he is separated by his vow, the razor shall not come upon his head, until the days be out, in which he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall be holy, and shall let the locks of his hair of his head grow. During the time that he separateth himself unto the Lord, he shall come at no dead body: He shal not make himself unclean at the death of his father or mother, brother or sister: for the consecration of his God is upon his head. All the days of his separation he shall be holy to the Lord. And if any die suddenly by him, or he beware, then the head of his consecration shall be defiled, and he shall shave his head in the day of his cleansing: in the seventh day he shall shave it. And in the eighth day he shall prepare the one for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering, and shall make an atonement for him, because he sinned by the dead: so shall he hallow his head the same day. And he shall consecrate unto the Lord the day of his separation, and shall bring a lamb of a year old for a trespass offering, and the first days shall be void: for his consecration was defiled. This then is the law of the Nazirite: when the time of his consecration is out, he shall come to the door of the tabernacle of the Congregation, And he shall bring his offering unto the Lord, an he lamb of a year old without blemish, for a burnt offering, and a she lamb of a year old without blemish, for a sin offering, and a ram without blemish, for peace offerings, And a basket of unleavened bread, of Cakes of fine flour, mingled with oil, and wafers of unleavened bread anointed with oil, and wafer of unleavened bread anointed with oil, with their meat offering, and their drink offerings: The which the priest shall bring before the Lord, and make his sin offering and his burnt offering. He shall prepare also the ram for a peace offering unto the Lord, with the basket of unleavened bread, and the Priest shall make his meat offering, and his drink offering. And the Nazirite shall shave the head of his consecration at the door of the Tabernacle of the Congregation, and shall take the hair of the head of his consecration, and put it in the fire which is under the peace offering. Then the Priest shall take the sodden shoulder of the ram, and an unleavened cake out of the basket, and a wafer unleavened, and put them on the hands of the Nazarite, after he hath shave his consecration. And the Priest shall shake them to and fro before the Lord: this is a holy thing for the Priest beside the shaken breast, and beside the heave shoulder: so afterward the Nazirite may drink wine. This is the law of the Nazarite, which he hath vowed, and of his offering unto the Lord for his consecration, besides that that he is able to bring: according to the vow which he vowed, so shall he do after the law of his consecration. And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, Speak unto Aaron and to his sons, saying, Thus shall ye bless the children of Israel, and say unto them, The Lord bless thee, and keep thee. The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be merciful unto thee, The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace. So they shall put my Name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them.. (Numbers 6:1-27)
- When Jesus had said these things, he was troubled in the Spirit, and testified, and said, Verily, verily, I say unto you, that one of you shall betray me. Then the disciples looked one on another, doubting of whom he spake. Now there was one of his disciples, which leaned on Jesus’ bosom, whom Jesus loved. To him beckoned therefore Simon Peter, that he should ask who it was of whom he spake. He then as he leaned on Jesus’ breast, said unto him, Lord who is it? Jesus answered, He it is, to whom I shall give a sop, when I have dipped, it: and he wet a sop, and gave it to Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son. And after the sop, Satan entered into him. then said Jesus unto him, That thou doest, do quickly. But none of them that were at the table, knew, for what cause he spake it unto him. For some of them thought because Judas had the bag, that Jesus had said unto him, Buy those things that we have need of against the feast: or that he should give something to the poor. As soon then as he had received the sop, he went immediately out, and it was night. When he was gone out, Jesus said, Now is the son of man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God be glorified in him, God shall also glorify him in himself, and shall straightway glorify him. Little children, yet a little while am I with you: ye shall seek me, but as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, you can not come: also to you say I now. A new commandment give I unto you, that ye love one another: as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know, that ye are my disciples, if ye have love for one to another. Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now: but thou shalt follow me afterward. Peter said unto him, Lord, why can I not follow thee now? I will lay down my life for thy sake. Jesus answered him, Wilt thou lay down thy life for my sake? Verily, verily I say unto thee, the cock shall not crow, till thou hast denied me thrice. (John 13:21–38)
- O Lord my God, in thee I put my trust: save me from all that persecute me, and deliver me. Lest he devour my soul like a lion, and tear it in pieces, while there is none to help. O Lord my God, if I have done this thing, if there be any wickedness in mine hands, If I have rewarded evil unto him that had peace with me, (yea I have delivered him that vexed me without cause.) Then let the enemies persecute my soul, and take it: yea, let him tread my life down upon the earth, and lay mine honor in the dust. Selah. Arise, O Lord, in thy wrath, and lift up thyself against the rage of mine enemies, and awake for me according to the judgment that thou hast appointed. So shall the congregation of the people compass thee about: for their sakes therefore return on high. The Lord shall judge the people; judge thou me, O Lord, according to my righteousness, and according to mine innocency that is in me. O let the malice of the wicked come to an end: but guide thou the just: for the righteous God trieth the hearts and reins. My defense is God, who preserveth the upright in heart. God judgeth the righteous, and him that condemneth God, every day. Except he turn, he hath whet his sword; he hath bent his bow, and made it ready. He hath also prepared him deadly weapons: he will ordain his arrows for them that persecute me. Behold, he shall travail with wickedness: for he hath conceived mischief, but he shall bring forth a lie. He hath made a pit, and dug it, and is fallen into the pit that he made. His mischief shall return upon his own head, and his cruelty shall fall upon his own pate. I will praise the Lord according to his righteousness, and will sing praise to the Name of the Lord most high. (Psalm 7:1–17)