Day 9

Trust God to Put Things Right

Wisdom Psalm 7:8–9
New Testament Matthew 7:24–29, Matthew 8:5,8,10,13
Old Testament Genesis 19:23–26,29

Introduction

Pippa and I enjoy doing crosswords together. When we are stuck on one clue we don’t give up, we move on to the next clue. Every time we find an answer it helps us in resolving some of the other clues. In the end, we are sometimes able to solve most of the puzzle.

In a way, reading some of the difficult parts of the Bible is like trying to solve a crossword puzzle. Rather than getting bogged down in a tricky section, you can use the passages you do understand to help you resolve some of the more difficult ones.

Often I find it hard not only to understand some of the difficult passages in the Bible, but also to understand why certain things are happening in our world. There seems to be so much injustice. There are no easy answers.

I love the second great rhetorical question from yesterday’s passage, ‘Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?’ (Genesis 18:25). One thing that you can be sure about is that on the last day, when all is revealed, you will see God’s perfect judgment – and everyone will say, ‘That is absolutely right.’ Each of today’s passages tells us something about the fact that, in the end, God will put things right.

Wisdom

Psalm 7:8–9

        8 Let the Lord judge the peoples.
    Vindicate me, Lord, according to my righteousness,
        according to my integrity, O Most High.
    9 Bring to an end the violence of the wicked
        and make the righteous secure—
    you, the righteous God
        who probes minds and hearts.

Commentary

Trust that there will be a just judgment

Some people might think that belief in a God who judges would lead to more violence in the world today. In fact, it is the opposite. When people stop believing in God’s just judgment, they may be tempted to take it into their own hands and seek revenge against their enemies.

David trusted that there will be a judgment – that God will be the judge and he will judge justly. ‘My accusers have packed the courtroom; it’s judgment time. Take your place on the bench, reach for your gavel, throw out the false charges against me. I’m ready, confident in your verdict’ (vv.7–8, MSG). In other words, David trusted that God would deal with his enemies.

If you believe in a God who is going to execute judgment with perfect justice, then you can leave it in his hands and do what Jesus told you to do: love your enemies (see Matthew 5:43–48; Luke 6:27–36).

In fact, as Miroslav Volf put it, ‘The practice of non-violence requires a belief in divine vengeance.’ So many of the world’s problems today would be solved if people believed in the fact that there is a God who judges justly and that we can trust him to put things right in the end.

Prayer

Lord, I take refuge in you (Psalm 7:1). Thank you that as I can be confident in your perfect judgment, I need never seek revenge but rather love my enemies and pray for those who persecute me (Matthew 5:44).

New Testament

Matthew 7:24–29, Matthew 8:5,8,10,13

7
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

28 When Jesus had finished saying these things, the crowds were amazed at his teaching, 29 because he taught as one who had authority, and not as their teachers of the law.

8
5 When Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to him, asking for help.

8 “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed.

10 When Jesus heard this, he was amazed and said to those following him, “Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith.

13 Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! Let it be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that moment.

Commentary

Trust in Jesus, to whom God has entrusted all judgment

Jesus knew all about building houses. He was a craftsman by trade and had worked as a carpenter. The illustration he uses is down-to-earth and practical: two men who each decide to build a house (7:24–26). No doubt they intended to live in and enjoy them, perhaps with their families. Both were building something of long-lasting significance. Our lives are like these houses, yet their significance is for all eternity.

The most important feature of any house is its foundations. These houses differed little in appearance. But only one had ‘its foundation on the rock’ (v.25). Similarly, two lives can look alike, but the difference in the foundations is evident when, inevitably, the storms of life come.

You will face challenges in life. They will come in many forms: misunderstandings, disappointments, unfulfilled longings, doubts, trials, temptations, setbacks and satanic attacks. Success, too, can be a test. There is also pressure, suffering, sickness, bereavement, sorrow, trauma, tragedy, persecution and failure.

Ultimately, all of us will face death and God’s judgment. The image of ‘rain... torrents... winds’ is used in Ezekiel to refer to God’s judgment (Ezekiel 13:11), but the language of judgment is not confined to the Old Testament. Here, and elsewhere, Jesus warns of the coming judgment, as do the other New Testament writers.

When ‘the rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house’ (Matthew 7:25,27), the house built on the rock ‘did not fall’ (v.25), but the one built on the sand ‘fell with a great crash’ (v.27). These are solemn words of warning. The trial may be during this life or it may come on the day of judgment. What is certain, according to Jesus, is that it will come.

However, you need not live in fear. It is not easy, but there is a way to be sure that, when the foundations of your house are tested, they stand firm. It is possible to know that your future is secure.

Jesus tells us that the key difference is that the wise man not only hears the words of Jesus, but he also ‘puts them into practice’ (v.24). The foolish man, on the other hand, although he hears Jesus’ words ‘does not put them into practice’ (v.26).

Knowledge must lead to action – our theology must affect our lives or else we are building our lives on sand.

The words of Jesus are, first of all, a call to believe in him (John 6:28–29). Our salvation is by faith in Jesus, lived out in obedience.

You can have absolute confidence in Jesus’ judgment, because he has the authority of God himself. Jesus was amazed at the centurion’s faith in him. He said, ‘Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with such great faith’ (Matthew 8:10).

The evidence for this faith came because the centurion believed that Jesus’ word alone was sufficient to heal his servant (v.8). His rationale for believing this is profound. The centurion recognised that, as in the army, authority comes from being under authority – so Jesus’ authority comes from being under the authority of his Father. The centurion saw that when Jesus spoke, God spoke.

Furthermore, this perfect Judge is not aloof from human suffering. We know Jesus experienced injustice, imprisonment, torture and crucifixion. But, in this passage, we see that he also experienced homelessness (v.20) and bore the weight of our sickness and suffering on the cross (v.17).

Prayer

Father, thank you that not only is Jesus able to sympathise with my weaknesses, but he also died for my sins bearing the judgment for me so that I need not be afraid.

Old Testament

Genesis 19:23–26,29

23 By the time Lot reached Zoar, the sun had risen over the land. 24 Then the Lord rained down burning sulfur on Sodom and Gomorrah —from the Lord out of the heavens. 25 Thus he overthrew those cities and the entire plain, destroying all those living in the cities—and also the vegetation in the land. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she became a pillar of salt.

29 So when God destroyed the cities of the plain, he remembered Abraham, and he brought Lot out of the catastrophe that overthrew the cities where Lot had lived.

Commentary

Trust that, in the end, the Judge of all the earth will do right

God was going to destroy the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah. We do not know exactly what their sin was, but, ‘the Lord said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous”’ (18:20).

It appears from today’s passage that their sin included a horrific culture of group rape (19:3,5). We read in Ezekiel 16 that their sins also included being ‘arrogant, overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy’ (Ezekiel 16:49). This could be a description of our own society in the West.

God says that if there had been ten righteous people in Sodom and Gomorrah he would have spared it for their sake: ‘For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it’ (Genesis 18:32). He gave every opportunity for the only ‘righteous’ people to leave. When Lot hesitated, the angels ‘grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the Lord was merciful to them’ (19:16).

The judgment on Lot’s wife seems very severe (v.26). Whatever the reasons for it (and I am not confident I know the answer) it certainly stands as an example. Jesus said, ‘Remember Lot’s wife!’ (Luke 17:32). We are not to look back. If we have left a life of sin, then we must not turn back to it. They were told, ‘Flee for your lives!’ (Genesis 19:17). In the same way, we are told to flee from evil desires (2 Timothy 2:22).

Even Abraham was not without sin. Indeed, he repeated the same sin over again – trying to pass off Sarah as his sister and almost causing her to commit adultery. The message of the Bible is that not only does God save sinners, he also uses sinners. He blessed Abraham and answered his prayer (Genesis 20:7). God uses us despite our sin because he is merciful and God, in Jesus, has taken the judgment upon himself.

Prayer

Lord, thank you so much for the difference the cross of Christ makes to the day of judgment. Thank you that I can be confident that, in the end, the Judge of all the earth will do right.

Pippa adds

Matthew 8:6

‘“Lord,” he said, “my servant lies at home paralysed, suffering terribly.”’

The centurion cared not just for his family and friends, but also for someone who worked for him. Even though the centurion was an outsider and not part of the ‘religious’ community, he went looking for Jesus. Faith can be found in all sorts of unusual places.

Verse of the Day

Psalm 7:1

Lord my God, I take refuge in you.

Thought for the Day

In the end, God will put things right.
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, (Abingdon Press, 1994) pp.303–304

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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