Today’s Bible Reading: Isaiah 25-28:13; Galatians 3:10-22; Psalm 61:1-8; Proverbs 23:17-18
God is good to everyone, even those who do evil things (Isaiah 26:10). Usually when someone does something good for us we want to pay them back in-kind. But those who defy God will never acknowledge His goodness. They will never attribute their success to anything but their own hard-work and deservedness. And they will never seek to do good on this earth in God’s name.
Although God punished Israel for their sins, He did not punish them as severely as He punished the surrounding nations. Most of the other nations were permanently destroyed. Assyria and Babylon were completely defeated and to this day cease to exist. Israel was exiled but not eliminated (Isaiah 27:7-8).
God did this to Israel to purge her from her sin (Isaiah 27:9). That is God’s purpose for every human being – to rid each and every one of us from sin. Sin is a disease that ruins our life, the lives of those around us, and even the entire planet. God hates sin. But He loves the sinner. He loves us so much that He can’t stand to see what sin is doing to us.
Of course, the nation of Israel was reestablished just as God had foretold (Isaiah 27:12-13).
The problem with deciding to earn entry into heaven via behavior is that a person would have to obey each and every command (Galatians 3:10-11). Anyone who tries to live this way is cursed. Not because God’s commands are bad, but because living up to such a standard is an impossible burden. God knew this. Even one screw up would eliminate heaven from that person’s future. That is why He came to earth, as Jesus, to rescue us from such a predicament (Galatians 3:13).
When Jesus hung on the cross He took on the responsibility of the curse that belongs to us. Most Bible translations say that Jesus “redeemed” us. That is, He bought us from our previous owner – sin – and set us free from sin’s penalty. Redemption implies that a price has to be paid. And Jesus paid it by taking on the curse we deserved.
God gave the promise of salvation through faith to Abraham who predated Moses and the law by over 400 years (Galatians 3:17). So what, then, was the purpose of the law? The law was given to show people that we are sinful and we need the promise of salvation through faith (Galatians 3:19). We’ve already seen this in Romans 3:20. All the “do”s and “don’t”s in the Bible are simply to show us what God’s standard is and to show us that we cannot live up to that standard. Without another way to approach God, we are all doomed to hell.
God is our safe place. When life gets tough we can cry to Him for help (Psalm 61:2-3). We all think its admirable to “tough it out” in life. We think that makes us stronger. We think it makes us respected. But that is not how God sees it. God wants to help us. God is a giver. He wants to give us His freedom from the trouble and pain that life brings. Why not accept His help? His solutions are always better than anything we can come up with.
I’ve mentioned a few times on this blog that I struggle with envy of those who have a lot in this life. I find myself wishing I was like other people who live in a house, who have nice cars, who have money and families. But it is passages like Proverbs 23:17-18 that bring me back to reality. All those things are nice. But they are earth-bound. When I die I’d have to give them up. I’d rather have my rewards in heaven, where they will last forever. Not to mention that, since heavenly rewards will be from God, they will be better than anything man could create.
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