21.5 Revelation – God’s justice and mercy under the new covenant

God’s justice and mercy under the new covenant

Yesterday we talked about how sin broke our perfect holy relationship with God, the same way a child breaks a window.  We discussed that while justice and mercy were consistent in the old testament as well as in the new, since there is only one God and He is unchanging, the “fix” under the old testament was insufficient.  A patch was put in place, but it wasn’t a fix.  We simply did not have the means to pay the price of the fix.

You see, the price of the repair was one perfect life, lived, and laid down in perfect, full, and holy obedience.  Only one man has ever lived such a life, and He is who starts the New Testament and the New Covenant.

By Jesus’ work, through His entire life, to deny temptation, to resist sin, culminating first in His sacrificial death on the cross and His resurrection from the dead, Jesus fully paid the price to restore the perfect holy relationship between God and mankind.

By accepting the sacrifice of Jesus as the offering made for you, and agreeing to come under Him as your savior, you are not held responsible for the broken relationship, no payment is required and the relationship is restored.  Jesus perfectly repairs the broken glass on both sides of the window (God’s side and Man’s side).

Standing firm in resolve to not accept Jesus is to be, as my grandmother would have said, “way too big for your britches” and “your mouth is writing checks you cannot cash”.  If we deny to accept Jesus, then we tell God, we think the mud we flung up in the window is sufficient repair.  It is not only wrong, but it is insulting.  God, in mercy, holds back wrath even on these people, but only for a time.

In the final days, when Jesus comes again, He will come again to set things right.  He will wash the window of our spiritual relationship clean with the full power of God’s wrath.  All the mud and dirt will be removed and the window will once again sparkle as new.  But those who want to be judged by the dirt they produced, will no longer receive mercy and payment for sin will be required.  It is a payment that can never be fulfilled without Jesus, so they agonize forever in the debtor’s prison of Hell.

While this sounds horrible, it is what they want and choose, because the offer to accept Jesus’ payment was never rescinded.  Also, the removal of sin from the world, something that only makes sense to do along with a restriction on new sin entering, is something we who have accepted Jesus’ gift long for.

Don’t you want to see the beauty in the perfectly restored window of the perfectly restored relationship with God?  When John talks about the entire sea of glass before the throne alight with fire, this is what I think of.  No dings, not cracks, no smudges, no blurs, no imperfection of any kind, no dirt, no mud, no dust – a perfect shining brilliantly, like it is on fire, reflection of the perfectly restored relationship.

My Answers:

While we were sinners (i.e., did nothing to earn it), Christ died for us.  We are justified by His blood (found not-guilty) and saved from wrath through Him and reconciled to God.  On our own merits we deserve death but instead we are made alive in Christ, given a new life, a new body, a new spirit for eternity

Christ bore our sins.  He, who was perfect, was not compelled to die – it was not a just sentence for Him since He was free of all transgression.  So, He did not suffer and die for His own sins, but for ours.  The fact that He paid the price is a ticket that He need not use but gives as a gift to each of us if only we accept it.

humility, love, sacrifice, not conforming to the pattern of the world but being transformed to become holy, to be honest with God and ourselves, to confess our sins and truly repent (which includes change)

21.4 Revelation – God’s justice and mercy under the old covenant

God’s justice and mercy under the old covenant

Our lessons for this week on days 4 and 5 demonstrate that God has always been a God of Justice and a God a Mercy.  There is not a “God of the Old Testament” and a “God of the New Testament.”  There is one God, eternal, immutable, consistent.

But that doesn’t mean that something amazing didn’t happen with the dawning of the New Testament.  And, something else amazing awaits us at the final days when Christ returns.

To illustrate this, let’s consider an analogy of a broken window.

Imagine that you broke a window in God’s house.  That is not OK.  Every child knows this.  You can’t just run and hide.  You can’t lie about it.  You have to be responsible.  You have to say your sorry.

But, it can’t stop there.  Being sorry is important, but God still has a busted window.  That’s not right.  But, we have an even bigger problem: we do not have the means to fix the window.  Think of it as an ancient stained glass window.

Under the covenant of the old testament, when the Jews would turn to God and confess their sins, and offer a sacrifice, God would be merciful and not require payment for the broken window.  But, it was still broken.  Sure, there was a temporary patch put in place.  A little duct tape, some boards, but it wasn’t the same – it wasn’t fixed.

Justice existed:  God saw the window, God required confession and repentance, There was no denial about it being broken and who broke it.

Mercy existed: God provided forgiveness and held back collection of payment (a payment that could not be made).

But, there was still a problem – the window remained broken.  Every one of our attempts to fix it on our own, was the same as throwing mud at the window, hoping enough would stick that it would be noticeable or that we would cover up the window enough that we wouldn’t be reminded of it.

In case you haven’t already made the leap, the window represents our perfect relationship with God – the relationship that was crafted by God in the garden of Eden.  We broke it through sin.  Repentance and sacrifice are ways of confessing our sorrow, but our relationship, like the the window is still broken.  Our self-righteousness and continued sin are acts of hurling additional insult onto the broken relationship, like mud on the window.

But, stay tuned, because, while God does not change, He did have a plan.

My Answers:

God knew the character of the Israelites and He was just in his judgment to kill them all and start over, but He also was merciful and responded to Moses’ plea.   But there was also justice because they did not receive the handwritten tablets of God, but instead later received Moses’ scribed replicas.  The calf was destroyed, ground up and all were forced to drink the bile of their sin.  They did not receive the full blessings of God, but they did also not receive what was deserved.

He accepted the plea of Moses and restrained His wrath.  Moses advocated for them, not for their merits but for God’s glory

No, they lived

He judged them rightly, justly, correctly.  but He held back the execution of the judgment through His mercy

21.3 Revelation – You are not the boss of me

You are not the boss of me

I think all kids go through the phase of trying to understand control and who is in charge.  All rebel.  All at some point say the words “you are not the boss of me” to a friend, sibling, or sometimes to a parent.

One of our questions today asked why people reject the concept of sin and judgment.  I think it stems from this exact same mindset.

What was the original temptation in the garden?  To be “like God.”

There are two ways we go about this today.  The first is denial of God.  We start with the premise that there is no God and then manufacture explanations for things that are clear evidence of God.  We deny creation itself.  We replace God with self will, accident, chance, or even more ridiculous things like “the universe.”  Science becomes a god.  We explain away and ridicule things we see of God such as the beauty and majesty of creation, while at the same time, worshiping the created instead of the creator.  All of this stems from the simple statement that we want to make to God, “you are not the boss of me.”

The second way we go about this same statement is to attempt to elevate ourselves (or sometimes something else) to the level of God.  If we are on the same plain as God, then He is not the boss.  We deny the uniqueness of ourselves as being made in God’s image, while simultaneously elevating ourselves to the same level as God.  We attempt to lower God to our level with statements such as, “how could a loving God…?”  We attempt to put ourselves as judge over God, “I could never believe in a God who…”  We attempt to lower God to our level by attempting to make promises and “deals” with Him, “God, I’ll do this, if you’ll just…”

But, here is the cold hard truth: God is the boss of you and me.  He did create us and everything else and He is in charge.  We would be far better off and far happier in life if, instead of rebelling and fighting this fact or living in denial of it, we embraced this fact and then thanked and worshiped God for being such a wonderful, caring, exceptional boss.  Frankly, we work for the best boss in the universe!

My Answers:

Man’s nature is sin and deceit, filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy, all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God

Judgment of God and then Death, (also Romans 6:23)

All prompt it.  Even in our attempt to do good we are arrogant and self-righteous.  It is only in prayerful obedience that we receive our future holy selves for a very brief period of time.  Every one of my sins, both those through commission and omission deserve God’s full sin.

They first are in denial of their own sin.  Secondly they desire to be their own god and own judge which was the original sin in the garden

21.2 Revelation – Saved not Spoiled

Saved not Spoiled

Have you been around a spoiled child?  The one who is at the grocery store with mom or dad and throwing a total temper tantrum over the most minor thing and mom or dad immediately bend to their wishes?

Most of us understand that love does not mean always getting what you want.  Sometimes the things we want are bad for us.  Sometimes we need to go through difficulty and challenges to build our muscles (physical and spiritual).  Sometimes the answer is yes, sometimes the answer is no.  Sometimes the answer would be yes, but the way we go about asking the question prompts a no.

When God adopts us as his children, that doesn’t mean we get whatever we want.  Even though God’s resources are unlimited, He understands that we need limits and boundaries.  Not a lot of them, but a few to define the path and keep us safe.

While God’s mercy has no limitations, He elects to deploy it in ways that also embody the most grace for us.  Grace as a parent who bends down to the child and firmly emphasizes, I know you want it, but the answer is still no, now let’s go on and do the other wonderful things that I have planned for your day instead of wallowing on this dirty ground.

While God is also just, we need to not fool ourselves into believing we do anything to earn God’s favor.  Like a newborn infant, we cry, we throw up, we soil our diapers and that is about it.  Our greatest talent is cooing.  God’s provision is not a reward – we are incapable of providing God with anything He does not already have – it is again like a parent of that child.

My Answers:

Justice, dispensing just payment for actions and states both positive and negative, fair, equitable, honest, doing what is right
In our world today, justice is what is right in the eyes of man and, in particular, those in power.  It is delivered cloaked and unevenly.  Those demanding tolerance are normally the least tolerant of views unlike their own.

Mercy, compassionate, lenient, forgiving, dispensing grace, charity, safe quarter
Mercy is becoming an expectation or entitlement.  “I made bad decisions so you should not hold that against me” Mortgage crisis, student debt. – But the church still responds to those in need, including widows and orphans.

God is slow to anger, abounding in love, forgiving wickedness, but also just and does not leave any sin unpunished

Countless times of mercy, every day I’m alive is a day wrapped in mercy
Justice in the repercussions of choices, such as arthritis and obesity