sin

God restrains evil.

God restrains evil.

Job 2

To me, there are two very interesting things regarding evil in the first and second chapters of Job. The first one involves how Satan perceives the spread of evil in the world: he blames God. Did you notice that? Check this out from chapter one: "'Does Job fear God for nothing?' Satan replied. 'Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.'" (vs 9-11)

God is not a destroyer.

God is not a destroyer.

Esther 7

Esther chapter 7 contains a startling example of the self-destructiveness of sin. Haman’s gig is up. When the king asked Esther to present her request, she replied, "If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated." (vs 3-4) That must have been a heart-stopping moment for Haman, as he realized the web he had spun for himself. I’m sure he never imagined that the Queen of Persia was a Jew.

God wants us to surrender.

God wants us to surrender.

Nehemiah 13

For Nehemiah, this must have been a shocking end to his story. He had devoted his life to overseeing the rebuilding of the Jerusalem walls and ushering in a new era of spiritual revival for the Israelites. The dramatic rebuilding of the wall—which had survived numerous attacks and intended detours by political enemies—had been topped off by a spiritual celebration in the temple, culminating in a signed covenant made by the people.

God always has a but.

God always has a but.

Nehemiah 9

Yes, before you get too worked up, observe the spelling of the word "but" in the title. It’s a part of speech, not a part of the body! And it illustrates something wonderful about God—that He is always eager to give us another chance and that He is always willing to forgive, forget, and move on.

In this chapter, as the Israelite exiles recounted the history of God and their nation, there were a lot of buts flying around:

God works with small groups.

God works with small groups.

Ezra 1

The book of Ezra begins with the decree, made by Cyrus king of Persia in 538 B.C., that gave the Jewish exiles the right to finally return home to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of the Lord. (Here’s an interesting side note to that story. Many scholars believe that Daniel was instrumental in stirring the heart of the king by sharing with him the prophecies in Jeremiah 25 and 29 regarding the return of the exiles from Babylon. Incidentally, these prophecies mention King Cyrus of Persia by name—even though they were written 150 years before his birth.)

God dethrones evil.

God dethrones evil.

2 Chronicles 23

The wicked queen Athaliah had ruled over Judah for six years, and I bet it was an awful six years. Just imagine living in a land where the person in charge had arrived at that position by murdering her own family. If she could treat her own relatives with such cold brutality, how do you think she would treat strangers? The fact that "all the people of the land rejoiced" after Athaliah was killed would suggest that they were very happy to be out from under her thumb.

God has three Rs of His own.

God has three Rs of His own.

1 Chronicles 20

In English (especially colloquial English), we have two sets of famous Rs. More specifically, the three Rs. There is one set of Rs to describe the main subjects in school: reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic (math). Of course, these three words don’t all begin with the letter r, but all of them begin with the sound of the letter r. More recently, a second pair of three Rs has been coined and made famous by the environmental movement, as a reminder for what we should do to protect the Earth: reduce, reuse, recycle.

God bears the consequences of our sin.

God bears the consequences of our sin.

2 Kings 25

Ah, so the residents of Judah are finally carried off into Babylon, and Jerusalem is destroyed. How depressing. Reading this chapter, I felt especially bad for Zedekiah, who watched his sons being killed before his eyes were plucked out. That would be an awful image to have to remember for the rest of your life. It’s just another stark reminder of the evil darkness we face when we try to live life without God.

God never overlooks sin.

God never overlooks sin.

2 Kings 24

Since I’m writing this blog with the aim of finding out what every Bible chapter has to say about God, I’m always looking for any specific "God statements" that the Bible writers make. And boy, did I find a doozy of one in this chapter! Did you catch it? Here it is: "The Lord sent Babylonian, Aramean, Moabite and Ammonite raiders against [Jehoiakim] to destroy Judah, in accordance with the word of the Lord proclaimed by his servants the prophets. Surely these things happened to Judah according to the Lord’s command, in order to remove them from his presence because of the sins of Manasseh and all he had done, including the shedding of innocent blood. For he had filled Jerusalem with innocent blood, and the Lord was not willing to forgive." (vs 2-4)

God wants to change our hearts.

God wants to change our hearts.

2 Kings 21

Ah, the old, familiar refrain—another evil king in Judah: "Manasseh was twelve years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem fifty-five years. His mother’s name was Hephzibah. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, following the detestable practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before the Israelites. He rebuilt the high places his father Hezekiah had destroyed; he also erected altars to Baal and made an Asherah pole, as Ahab king of Israel had done." (vs 1-3)

God's mercy doesn't always change hearts.

God's mercy doesn't always change hearts.

2 Kings 6

During all the years of the American-led war on terror, there have often been debates about how best to bring change to the Middle East—particularly about how to change the hearts and minds of those who seem intent on destroying Western culture and peoples. Many think it is wrong for us to use military force to accomplish these goals, and they offer other solutions instead, ranging from outright ignoring the problem to pacifism or targeted kindness.

Blood and Water {ex7:20}

exodus-struggle-blood-and-water-poem.png

I love this river
I have stood on its banks
frolicked in its swell
almost been swept away by its current

But
I won't soon forget
the moment I met You
and I realized
that the mouthful of
—what I thought was—
clear, cold, refreshing water
was nothing more than
coppery, hot, metallic blood

I'd like to say
that since that moment
I've never cupped my hands again
to draw this putrid liquid
up to my mouth
but You know
that personal Niles are hard to abandon

I've been kneeling
at this river
my whole life
and You know just how
deep a canyon
it has carved in my heart

Still You couldn't bear
to leave me here
fervid and thirsty
never having tasted
Water from the Fountain
that will never
run dry

 

God deals with us according to our righteousness.

God deals with us according to our righteousness.

2 SAMUEL 22

In this song of praise from David, there was an interesting little line that jumped out at me: "The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness; according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me." (vs 21) Doesn’t this seem totally contrary to what we always profess? We normally say that God doesn’t treat us according to our unrighteousness. That’s what we understand grace to be.

God loves those who hate Him.

God loves those who hate Him.

You love those who hate you! This was the accusation Joab leveled at David after the big battle where David’s son Absalom was killed. David was absolutely devastated by Absalom’s death, so instead of celebrating the victory of his "enemy," David returned home, weeping over the loss of his child. Apparently, Joab didn’t like that:

God is always trying to get through to us.

God is always trying to get through to us.

1 SAMUEL 22

It is really disheartening to see just how sick and twisted Saul became. How irrational. How unreasonable. And since Ahimelek, the high priest, had helped David (even unwittingly), "the king said, 'You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.'" (vs 16) Wow. This is a far cry from the king who refused to hurt those who spoke against him. This a complete 180—the willingness to destroy not only an innocent man, but his entire family as well.

God is on the move.

God is on the move.

1 SAMUEL 16

I just love it when the Bible hauls off and slaps me upside the head. This was one of those chapters. I read the whole thing, of course, recognizing the most famous verse along the way—"People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart."(vs 7) But, mentally, I never really got past verse one. It hit me right between the eyes the second I read it:

God dissolves sin.

God dissolves sin.

1 SAMUEL 12

Out of this whole chapter, there was one verse that jumped out at me. As Samuel was giving his farewell address to the Israelites, they began to lament over the new evil they had done—asking for a king. In response to their distress, "Samuel answered, 'Don’t be afraid. It’s true that you have sinned, but don’t turn away from the Lord. Serve the Lord with all your heart.'" (vs 20)

God does not overpower us.

God does not overpower us.

JUDGES 18

Judges 18 begins with a mantra that will repeat through the last several chapters of the book: "In those days Israel had no king." As you will discover (if you don’t already know what’s ahead in the next few chapters), this isn’t a good declaration. This isn’t a statement of freedom. Rather, it’s a statement of spiritual slavery. Israel had no king, no spiritual leadership, no direction, no moral compass. Everybody just did whatever they saw fit... and that always makes for a very scary scene.

God lets us get burned.

God lets us get burned.

JUDGES 3

What would happen if you went in your kitchen right now, turned on the stovetop, and put your hand on the burner? You’d burn your hand, of course. And how do you know you’d burn your hand if you touched a hot stove? Probably because you or someone you know has had just such an unpleasant experience in the past. And that’s how we learn that touching a hot stove is dangerous and can harm us.