Thursday, January 26, 2017

Embracing Enemies - a message written to us 2700 years ago

Today's reading: Isaiah 15-19
Sometimes when we read the Bible, the names and the whole style of speech just throw us off. We’re unable to really connect with what is being said nor are we able to really see God’s heart in these passages.
So when I read about the destruction of Moab (a neighboring country that sat to the east of ancient Israel and whose people were descendants of Abraham’s nephew, Lot) and the destruction of Assyria and Egypt (two of ancient Israel’s worst enemies), I went was quite frankly put off. Didn’t Jesus we had to love our enemies?
But as I pondered this I realized a few things that were amazing. Firstly, Isaiah was an Israelite prophet who would have been glad at these judgments but, instead he was weeping with these visions. Secondly, I saw that he was excited to have seen a great transformation of these enemies of God’s people in becoming one with them, that essentially saw them worshipping Yahowa.
This might have cost Isaiah a lot just to write down. Imagine that today, someone from the Middle East talks about the reconciliation of the Jew, Christian, and Muslim, altogether? Or if you were alive during the cold war, imagine someone who dared suggest that the Russians and Americans should be best buddies and be united by something so profound as faith in Christ.
Isaiah was so ahead of his time in seeing God’s love for every nation and His justice for every nation. There was no such thing as double standards with God. And yet God’s heart was never in the destruction and condemnation but in the reconciliation and blessing of every people as they came to Him.
Today, think on God’s mercy for a second. Yes, this is a message for a time where people are being divided by race, ethnicity, nationality, language and religion more than ever. But look closer to home too. Perhaps there are some who have harmed you. It’s cliché to say you should forgive them. But what if God’s plan for you in His grace was to even go further and bless them?
[I still can’t resist writing the cliché because it is so important: don’t hurt yourself by being unforgiving. Letting go and forgiving always sets the one with mercy free.]

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