December 9: Self-Evident Hope
Jeremiah 16:1–17:27; Romans 1:18–2:11; Proverbs 16:1–11
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all impiety and unrighteousness of people, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what can be known about God is evident among them, for God made it clear to them” (Rom 1:18–19). A statement like this could easily be taken out of context if we leave off everything after “people.” But when we contextualize this message, we find hope instead of hopelessness.
Paul goes on to tell us that creation itself reveals God and His goodness to humanity, so there is no excuse for failing to understand God and the salvation He offers: “For from the creation of the world, his invisible attributes, both his eternal power and deity, are discerned clearly, being understood in the things created, so that they are without excuse” (Rom 1:20).
We have all heard people who are concerned that salvation seems unfair: What about the people who won’t ever hear about Jesus? Yet Paul argues that everyone has an opportunity to witness Christ at work in creation itself. In Colossians he remarks that it’s in the “Son [Jesus] … whom we have the redemption, the forgiveness of sins, who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation, because all things in the heavens and on the earth were created by him, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers, all things were created through him and for him” (Col 1:13–16).
All people have an opportunity to know God. No one has an excuse. God’s justice reigns in creation; it reigns in Christ; and it reigns in the lives of those who choose Christ. Christ is everywhere, in all things. The world is not condemned unfairly by a God of unreasonable wrath; instead, it’s ruled by a God of joy and empathy who is love.
What misperceptions do you have of God? How can you correct them and work in the lives of others to do the same? How can you spread the empathy God wants you to display?
JOHN D. BARRY
- The word of the Lord came also unto me, saying, Thou shalt not take thee a wife, nor have sons nor daughters in this place. For thus saith the Lord concerning the sons, and concerning the daughters, that are born in this place, and concerning their mothers that bear them, and concerning their fathers that begat them in this land. They shall die of deaths and diseases: they shall not be lamented, neither shall they be buried, but they shall be as dung upon the earth,a nd they shall be consumed by the sword, and by famine, and their carcasses shall be meat for the fowls of the heaven, and for the beasts of the earth. For thus saith the Lord, Enter not into the house of mourning, neither go to lament, nor be moved for them: for I have taken my peace from this people, saith the Lord, even mercy and compassion. Both the great, and the small shall die in this land: they shall not be buried, neither shall men lament for them, nor cut themselves, nor make themselves bald for them. They shall not stretch out the hands for them in the mourning to comfort them for the mourning to comfort them for the dead, neither shall they give them the cup of consolation to drink for their fathers or for their mother. Thou shalt not also go into the house of feasting, to sit with them to eat and to drink. For thus saith the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, Behold, I will cause to cease out of this place in your eyes, even in your days, the voice of mirth, and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom, and the voice of the bride. And when thou shalt show this people all these words, and they shall say unto thee, Wherefore hath the Lord pronounced all this great plague against us? or what is our iniquity? and what is our sin that we hae committed against the Lord our God? Then shalt thou say unto them, Because your fathers have forsaken me, saith he Lord, and have walked after other gods,a nd have served them, and worshipped them, and have forsaken me, and have not kept my Law. (And ye have done worse than your fathers; for, behold, you walk everyone after the stubbornness of his wicked heart, and will not hear me.) Therefore will I drive you out of this land into a land that ye know not, neither you nor your fathers and there ye shall serve other gods day and night: for I will show you no grace. Behold therefore saith the Lord, the days come that it shall no more be said, The Lord liveth, which brought up the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt, But, The Lord liveth, that brought up the children of Israel from the land of the North, and from all the lands where he had scattered them, and I will bring them again into their land that I gave unto their fathers. Behold, saith the Lord, I will send out many fishers, and they shall fish them, and after will I send out many hunters, and they shall hunt them from every mountain, and from every hill, and out of the caves of the rocks. For mine eyes are upon all their ways: they are not hid from my face, neither is their iniquity hid from mine eyes. And first I will recompense their iniquity and their sin double, because they have defiled my land, and have filled mine inheritance with their filthy carrions and their abominations. O Lord, thou art my fortress, and my strength and my refuge in the day of affliction: the Gentiles shall come unto thee from the ends of the world, and shall say, Surely our fathers have inherited lies, and vanity, wherein there was no profit. Shall a man make gods unto himself, and they are no gods? Behold, therefore I will this once teach them: I will show them mine hand and my power, and they shall know that my Name is the Lord. Jeremiah 16:1–17:27
- For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness, and unrighteousness of men, which withhold the truth in unrighteousness. Forasmuch as that, which may be known of God, is manifest in them, for God hath showed it unto them. For the invisible things of him, that is, his eternal power and Godhead, are seen by the creation of the world, being considered in his works, to the intent that they should be without excuse: Because that when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful, but became vain in their thoughts, and their foolish heart was full of darkness. When they professed themselves to be wise, they became fools. For they turned the glory of the incorruptible God to the similitude of the image of the corruptible man, and of birds, and four footed beasts, and of creeping things. Wherefore also God gave them up to their hearts lusts, unto uncleanness, to defile their own bodies between themselves: Which turneth the truth of God unto a lie, and worshipped and served the creature, forsaking the Creator which is blessed forever, Amen. For this cause God gave them up to vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use int that which is against nature. And likewise also the men left the natural use of the woman, and burned in their lust one toward another, and man with man wrought filthiness, and received in themselves such recompense f their error, as was meet. For as they regarded not to acknowledge God, even so God delivered them up unto a reprobate mine, to do those things which are not convenient, Being full of all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, of murder, of debate, of deceit, taking all things in the evil part, whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, doers of wrong, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, without understanding, covenant breakers, without natural affection, such as can never be appeased, merciless. Which men, though they knew the Law of God,how that they which commit such things are worthy of death, yet not only do the same, but also favor them that do them. Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that condemnest: for in that thou condemnest another, thou condemnest thyself: for thou that condemnest, doest the same things. But we know that the judgment of God is according to truth, against them which commit such things. And thinkest thou this, O thou man, that condemnest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? Or despisest thou the riches of his bountifulness, and patience, and long sufferance, not knowing that the bountifulness of God leadeth thee to repentance? But thou, after thine hardness, and heart that cannot repent, heapest up as a treasure unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath, and of the declaration of the just judgment of God, Who will reward every man according to his works: That is, to them which through patience in well doing, seek glory, and honor, and immortality, everlasting life, But unto them that are contentious, and disobey the truth, and obey unrighteousness, shall be indignation and wrath. Tribulation and anguish shall be upon the soul of every man that doeth evil: of the Jew first, and also of the Grecian. But to every man that doeth good, shall be glory, and honor, and peace: to the Jew first, and also to the Grecian. For there is o respect of persons with God. Romans 1:18–2:11
- The preparations of the heart are in man: but the answer of the tongue is of the Lord. All the ways of a man are clean in his own eyes: but the Lord pondereth the spirits. Commit thy works unto the Lord, and thy thoughts shall be directed. The Lord hath made all things for his own sake: yea, even the wicked for the day of evil. All that are proud in heart, are an abomination to the Lord: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. By mercy and truth iniquity shall be forgiven, and by the fear of the Lord they depart from evil. When the ways of a man please the Lord, he will make also his enemies at peace with him. Better is a little righteousness, than great revenues without equity. The heart of man purposeth his way: but the Lord doth direct his steps. A divine sentence shall be in the lips of the king: his mouth shall not transgress in judgment. A true weight and balance are of the Lord: and the weights of the bag are his work. Proverbs 16:1–11