Posts Tagged ‘Justice’

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Bleed for Greed © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:25-31 – BLEED FOR GREED (Part 2)

  1. DECEPTION WITHOUT CONSCIENCE

No doubt every male is a little surprised by the requirements of the deal Shechem and Hamor propose, but then again the advantages are lucrative? “… if we do this, all their livestock and possessions will eventually be ours. Come, let’s agree to their terms and let them settle here among us.” 

Their greed gets the better of them and “So all the men in the town council agreed with Hamor and Shechem, and every male in the town was circumcised” (Genesis 34:21-24 NLT). As if circumcision, devoid of meaning, isn’t bad enough,…then comes the horror in the aftermath of their decision …

  1. VENGEANCE WITHOUT COUNSEL

“… three days later, when their wounds were still sore, two of Jacob’s sons, Simeon and Levi, who were Dinah’s full brothers, took their swords and entered the town without opposition. Then they slaughtered every male there, including Hamor and his son Shechem. They killed them with their swords, then took Dinah from Shechem’s house and returned to their camp” (Genesis 34:25-26 NLT). This is not unlike the horrors of ISIS.

The sons of Jacob butcher every male in the town! Circumcision was used as a means for murder. Innocent men are massacred, deceived by promises of riches and by the misuse of a holy Covenant ritual. Blasphemy heaped upon murder and lawlessness. This is not justice, only vengeance!

Dinah has other brothers; Reuben, Judah, Issachar and Zebulun but they do not participate in the massacre. Perhaps Simeon and Levi thought that if they killed only Shechem, who had raped their sister, Dinah, it would bring the whole town upon them in retaliation. And so since Shechem, despite his crime, was somehow still the respected leader of the community, house by house, Levi and Simeon commit their atrocity of murdering every unsuspecting male. Although Simeon and Levi were the main instigators perhaps their servants joined in the bloodbath under their authority.

Did the writer of Proverbs 3:29 (NLT) have these events in mind when he wrote many years later, “Don’t plot harm against your neighbor, for those who live nearby trust you.” 

It seems significant to me that years later, the tribe of Levi would become the priestly tribe of Israel and they would look back at their ancestor as a murderer of innocent people. Perhaps God used this terrible event to remind the priestly tribe of Levi of their need to involve God in matters of justice, not abuse the ritual symbols.

  1. PLUNDER WITHOUT CONSTRAINT

But the train of lawlessness has not run it’s appalling course because…

“Meanwhile, the rest of Jacob’s sons arrived. Finding the men slaughtered, they plundered the town because their sister had been defiled there. 

They seized all the flocks and herds and donkeys—everything they could lay their hands on, both inside the town and outside in the fields. 

They looted all their wealth and plundered their houses. They also took all their little children and wives and led them away as captives” (Genesis 34:27-29 NLT).

Ruthless! All the brothers join in! First murder, now pillage and enslavement! Why? “Because their sister had been defiled there” is their excuse, but there is no measure of justice in Levi and Simeon’s deceptive barbarous revenge, nor is there in the brothers’ additional atrocities of robbery and slavery. And still Jacob is nowhere to be seen!

Paul would one day write in Romans 12:17 (NLT) “Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable.” Brutally murdering all the males in the town, kidnapping women and children as slaves! There is nothing honorable here.

So far in this Chapter of Shame, it seems lawlessness prevails, from rape without consequences, to deception without conscience, to blasphemy without covenant reverence, to vengeance without counsel, to murder without cause, to plunder without constraint, and then to slavery without compassion. A train-wreck of sin upon sin.

  1. INEPTITUDE WITHOUT CONTRITION

It is at this point that Jacob finally speaks up. Where have you been?

“Afterward Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have ruined me! You’ve made me stink among all the people of this land—among all the Canaanites and Perizzites. We are so few that they will join forces and crush us. I will be ruined, and my entire household will be wiped out!” (Genesis 34:30 NLT).

He is not pleased. But notice, Jacob is not repentant for his absolute lack of leadership. He is not remorseful for not seeking to retrieve Dinah when she was raped and kidnapped. He was not apologetic for his silence concerning justice for Shechem’s crime, He is not regretful of not gathering his sons around the altar he had built to seek to find God’s way of dealing with this terrible situation when he first heard of it. And now he’s not even concerned that his sons have just committed a crime against humanity, an atrocious violation of justice. He’s only concerned about his reputation! Unbelievable! He does stink!

  1. JUDGMENTS WITHOUT THE CROSS

Then a bell tolls loud enough to hurt Jacob’s ears and echoes to him from the very beginning as his sons retort angrily,

“But why should we let him treat our sister like a prostitute?” (Genesis 34:31 NLT).

This question burns on the page at the end of the chapter. Why should we allow this to happen? This is a piercing question which needed asking at the beginning of this chapter immersed in morally flawed judgments.

Shechem does deserve the discipline of justice served upon him for his rape of their sister. But equally, Simeon and Levi deserve justice served upon them for their revenge rampage. Their brothers deserve justice served upon them for their looting and slavery of women and children.

But perhaps most of all Jacob needs justice served upon him for his lack of any kind of spiritual direction. He needs justice served upon him for not seeking to save his daughter after she was so brutally abused. He needs justice served on him for his lack of parenting and leadership guidance to his sons just as much as Hamor does for his lack of discipline of his son, Shechem. Both fathers bear the results of inaction and lack of leadership. The man of faith was no better than the pagan.

I am reminded that despite the atrocities done in His Name, that God is just. But look carefully because His justice was satisfied at the Cross when Jesus was judged and died for my sin. He took my shame and sin and I received His grace. The disgraceful and unjust crucifixion of Christ was used by God to bring me His forgiveness. He died for our sins.

I don’t know the specifics of what happened after this terrible chapter. Did Jacob run to the altar and ask for forgiveness because, more than ever, he and his sons need it now? All I know is that God has the only means of dealing justly with my sin.

This section of Genesis 34 screams of my need to get involved when moral leadership is required long before things spiral out of control and end with unimaginable regrets. It invites me to bring justice to bear on my circumstances but only by seeing my circumstances through the eyes of the Cross, where God’s justice collides with His love. Only through the eyes of the Cross can justice be administered fairly and it is the only justice that gives me an opportunity still to experience God’s mercy and grace.

Lord, despite my propensity to take things into my own hands, help me to do what is right at the right time when I am faced with the moral dilemmas of life. Micah 6:8 says “He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” What an incredible balance that is.

Pastor Ross

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Bleed for Greed © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:18-24 – BLEED FOR GREED (Part 1)

  1. ASCENDANCE OF VENGEANCE

Jacob’s sons make a deal with the Shechem and his father Hamor. “If you and all the males in your city are willing to be circumcised, then we will give you our daughters, and we’ll take your daughters for ourselves,” they say, “We will live among you and become one people.” They have no intention of doing this.But if you don’t agree to be circumcised, we will take her (Dinah, their sister, who has been raped and kidnapped) and be on our way.” (Genesis 34:16 NLT). Concealing their anger deceitfully from Shechem, they are now less concerned about Dinah’s welfare or even with justice, than with vengeance.

Oblivious to the deceit and willing to undergo a little pain to kill three birds with one stone (peaceful relations, trade and intermarriage), “Hamor and his son Shechem agreed to their proposal” (Genesis 34:18 NLT). Would Jacob approve of this plan? Where is he in all this?

Shechem wastes no time in acting on this request, “for he wanted Jacob’s daughter desperately. Shechem was a highly respected member of his family,  and he went with his father, Hamor, to present this proposal to the leaders at the town gate” (Genesis 34:19-20 NLT). 

It is likely that Shechem is an autocratic leader, used to getting his own way, and no-one is likely to go against his desires, nevertheless, the formality is followed. They put forward their proposal in the business center and gathering place – the city gate.

“These men are our friends,” they say. “Let’s invite them to live here among us and trade freely …” (Genesis 34:21 NLT). 

  1. BLEED FOR GREED

Trade. Shechem and Hamor present the terms of the deal they have made with Jacob to the business leaders. What remains unsaid and perhaps is well known is that Shechem is keeping Dinah, Jacob’s young daughter at his house and that this deal came about because he raped her and now wants a child marriage with her.

“… Look, the land is large enough to hold them. We can take their daughters as wives and let them marry ours … they will consider staying here and becoming one people with us only if all of our men are circumcised, just as they are.” No doubt every male is a little surprised by the requirements of the deal but then again the advantages are lucrative? “… if we do this, all their livestock and possessions will eventually be ours. Come, let’s agree to their terms and let them settle here among us.” 

Their greed gets the better of them and “So all the men in the town council agreed with Hamor and Shechem, and every male in the town was circumcised” (Genesis 34:21-24 NLT).

Shechem wants to get this over and done with and circumcision is a small price to pay. Short term pain for long term gain. Bleed for greed. They all agree.

Using this religious veneer, what follows is a shocking example of terrorism which finds expression simply because moral depravity, greed, anger, deception and lawlessness are given free rein in a community, without any reference to God. Nothing has changed (see the next post).

This section of Genesis 34 reminds me that with God’s help I can choose not to allow greed to blind me and divert my attention from real issues of justice and faith. Jesus says, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own” (Luke 12:15 NLT).

Pastor Ross

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Unbelievable! © by Ross Cochrane

Genesis 34:8-13 – UNBELIEVABLE, TOO (Part 2)

Hamor tries to speak with Jacob and his sons. “My son Shechem is truly in love with your daughter,” he said. “Please let him marry her” (Genesis 34:8 NLT).

Shechem, the pedophile, rapist and kidnapper, can see the shocked looks on the faces of Dinah’s brothers. This deal is going south so he steps in and cuts to the chase. He says,

“Please be kind to me, and let me marry her,” he begs. “I will give you whatever you ask. No matter what dowry or gift you demand, I will gladly pay it—just give me the girl as my wife.” (Genesis 34:11-12 NLT)

SHECHEM, if only…

Shechem, the pedophile, has the nerve to come to Jacob and his sons and ask for a child marriage with Dinah, the one he has raped and kidnapped. He doesn’t even use her name! She is just “the girl”. He does not bring Dinah back to the family, humbly bow before them and admit his guilt and willingness to undergo a negotiated discipline for his crime. Be kind to me, he says. Unbelievable! Shechem, if only…

Shechem is willing to buy Dinah for a high price to get what he wants, but not acknowledge the shame and criminality of his actions. He is rich and Dinah is simply a commodity that he wants to keep without any trouble from the family. She is already his child sex slave.

Again the Bible calls Shechem’s act for what it is.

“But since Shechem had defiled their sister, Dinah, Jacob’s sons responded deceitfully to Shechem and his father, Hamor” (Genesis 34:13 NLT).

JACOB, where are you?

Where are you Jacob, when it counts? Still, you are silent and allow your sons to negotiate on your behalf. Don’t you realize that they only want revenge? Don’t you understand that they are willing to use anything to get back at Shechem and the Hivite community as a whole? You may not like the outcome of all this.

Jacob’s sons revert to their father’s tactics when things get out of hand. Deceit is an old standby in this family! They think that given the circumstances it is OK to lie. Still Jacob does nothing and says nothing. His leadership in this situation is manifestly imperceptible, conspicuously absent.

What Jacob’s sons say next will shock everybody… (see next post).

Pastor Ross

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 58

The plan had taken months of preparation and even before his triumphal entry back into David’s presence, Absalom knew the pathway he intended to take. Firstly he had to gain for himself a reputation as one who cared for the people. Easy enough. It may take some time, but it will be worth the effort.

His father, the king, refused to see him face to face. As he had walked home, fuming with revenge, he devised an additional strategy. It was simple but effective, and fetched the faint flicker of a smile to his otherwise dark demeanor.

Absalom went immediately to the Tent of Meeting, his long hair blowing in the breeze and a good size crowd gathered out of curiosity. They had all heard of his return and he was now a celebrity.

As he stood before the priest he asked for the razor and the kings scales to be brought. He was there to complete his Nazirite vow but so much more interested in symbolising his father’s injustice. “My banishment is at an end!” he shouted and the atmosphere was electric with cheering and well wishes.

Some of the women were crying as Absalom presented offerings as if he was presenting them to the Lord: a lamb without defect, a ewe-lamb without blemish and a ram without fault, as the law required. He saw these animals not as sacrifices but as symbols of himself. Flawless. I am the innocent victim of your injustice, father, and you will pay! “Behold, the sacrifice!” he shouted. He was handsome and without guile and the people saw him as a hero returned, and many thought he was despised unjustly by his father the king.

Then at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting, he shaved off his hair and weighed it according to the Royal standard of king David before the people, as a measure of his humiliation. It was then burned in the fire as a sacrifice. It was a very moving event. It worked. It gave him much favour in the eyes of the people. His hair weighed about 200 shekels worth of pity by the kings own scales.

He felt like Samson, shaved of his hair and now imprisoned in his own house, blinded to the sight of his father’s favour. And like Samson, he determined to get his revenge. You will pay, father. You will pay.

Another vow was made that day. His hair began to grow again, along with his popularity, but for him, each inch represented the growing resentment he felt towards his father. He endured two full years in Jerusalem, without any contact.

Absalom took great pains to associate himself with the important people of David’s court and spent time building relationships. Ahithophel was a key target, since he was the grandfather of Bathsheba.

Although David had apologised to Ahithophel for the disgrace brought on his family through adultery with his granddaughter, Surely, you want revenge, thought Absalom, to avenge the loss of reputation. What about the murder of your son-in-law? Absalom knew he could work on these areas of hurt.

Rising early each morning, Absalom stood beside the road that led to the city gate. He was here to greet anyone who came to the city with a case to be heard by the king for judgement. Most of them knew who he was, so his attention to them in a time of need made them feel important and cared for.

Those who recognised Absalom immediately came and prostrated themselves on the ground before him. He reached down and lifted them up, hugged and kiss them in the warm greeting of an equal and a friend.

“What city are you from?” he asked, because he was only interested in those who were from Israel. If they were, he questioned them about their case and showed great interest in what they had to say. Then he added, “I can see that your claims are valid. As you are probably aware, I am a man who has been trained through the hard process of justice. If you know anything of me you will know that to be true. But my journey so far has made me well acquainted with the law. You have a very good case but I’m not sure that you will get the justice you deserve. It’s a pity that you have no advocate before the king.”

It worked each time. The man would look to him and say, “My lord, are you not able to defend me before the king?”

Absalom would laugh and then look seriously at the man. He would say, “If only what you are saying could be done. If I were appointed as judge in the land, then every man who has any suit or cause could come to me, and believe me, I would give him the justice he deserves.” And so the scenario had been repeated each day.

I have stolen the hearts of the men of Israel from you, father. He was seen as a man of justice and great wisdom, but also as a friend. Now the deception was almost complete.

Pastor Ross

P.S. Don’t forget to purchase a copy of Above the Storm, my new e-book on the ancient book of Job, full of short stories to help you understand some deep truths. This is a creative exploration which doesn’t avoid the question, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”


 

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 54

Reports began to come to Jerusalem of Absalom’s vow, of how long his hair had grown and of a beautiful daughter named Tamar. Some began to say that the king was wrong in keeping his own son and grandchildren estranged. Rumours and murmurs continued as months became years. David’s sense of justice would not be forced by such reports, however. He would know the right time. Perhaps God would speak to him.

When the time came, it had been Joab, not God, who convinced the king to change his mind. A family from Joab’s district came to Joab demanding that he exercise justice. It was a murder case. The situation had been difficult to determine and so he had sent the woman from Tekoa in the middle of the situation to the king. At the same time, he had seen an opportunity to convince the king to bring Absalom home again.

“If you want justice for your son then do as I say.” said Joab to the woman, “I am going to send you to the king but first you must put on mourning clothes to show that you are still in mourning for your other son. When you arrive you are to say exactly what I tell you to say.”

“I will do whatever you require to save the life of my son.” said the woman. The woman obeyed Joab implicitly and Joab arranged for her to see the king immediately.

David was tired and the woman was emotional and not able to speak for some time. Just as David was ready to dismiss her from the court she said,

“Help me, please my lord and king. My husband is dead and I am in great need.”

David had already seen that the woman was in great need and wanted her to get on with her request, “What is your trouble?”

“I am a widow,” she said, “and I had two sons, but they got into a fight with each other one day while they were out in the field. There was no one to separate them, and one of my sons was killed. But now the whole family is against me. They want to put my remaining son to death for killing his brother. He is the only heir left of my husband. If he dies I will be left completely desolate.”

The king gave his judgement. He said, “Go to your house, and I will give orders concerning your situation. Whoever speaks to you about your son, send him to me. As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.”

The woman was satisfied that her case had been heard and that the king would keep his oath, and so she replied with the words that Joab had instructed her to say,

“With respect to my lord the king, you are so wise in making this decision. Why then have you acted in such a way to your people? By not bringing back your banished son you are guilty of the same thing as my family. Your son has done something wrong, but to keep him away from you is to cut yourself off from someone God intends you and your people to enjoy, as surely as I would be cut off from my inheritance should my son be executed. Surely God does not take life away. He finds ways so that one who has been banished may be returned to Him.

Please listen to your maidservant. I know that my lord the king is like an angel, able to discern good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.”

The king looked across at Joab who stood with a satisfied look on his face. He then asked the woman, “I suppose Joab is behind your words?”

The woman looked embarrassed and Joab became uneasy as she answered, “No-one can hide anything from you. Yes, your servant Joab commanded me, and told me what I should say in order to change your mind about Absalom.”

David glared at Joab for a moment and then began to laugh and as he did it seemed that joy filled the room. The tense moment was broken and they all began to laugh.

David simply said, “Make sure this woman’s son remains unharmed … and bring back my son Absalom.” Joab was so relieved that he fell to the ground, prostrating himself before the king and blessed him. Joab wasn’t normally a man who would get enthusiastic about anything except those things that related to war, never-the-less this was very important to him and he immediately went to Geshur to bring Absalom back to Jerusalem.

He had an affinity with this young man called Absalom, guilty only of avenging his sister’s rape. As he went, his mind had replayed the events concerning a man that he also had killed in revenge. His name had been Abner and he, like Amnon, had felt the same cold, hard iron of a dagger. The same Canaanite dagger, with a beautifully carved hilt.

 

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 49

Absalom immediately went to his father, the king, expecting justice. He was almost shouting with rage as he said, “He raped her! Tamar told me she struggled to get away, but there was nothing that she could do! This is outrageous!” 

“Calm down Absalom,” said David.

Calm down? He ordered her out of his house! He shouted at her and told her to ‘Get up, go away!’ as if she was one of his slaves to do his bidding. She felt so bereft and violated she refused. She no longer had any place to go. She could not bring herself to return to the palace as if nothing had happened.

He had an opportunity to show integrity and compassion! All he showed her was contempt. He just called his servant and ordered him to throw her out and to lock the door behind her! To abuse her and throw her out like that is pure wickedness! He wouldn’t listen to her.

She made it known publically that she had been violated by putting ashes on her head, and she tore the long-sleeved garment that she wore. You should have seen her. She was so distressed and she was crying out loudly for help. Everyone around her saw how distressed and shocked she was. That’s the state in which I found her.”

David said, “Where is she now?”

I took her to my house so she’ll be safe.”

He did not mention to David that when Tamar had explained all that happened, he had said, “I want you to keep silent about this, Tamar.”

But that doesn’t mean that I will not seek retribution.

“If I know Amnon, he’ll try to blame her and she will be the one who’ll end up being punished. But the facts are clear.” I intend to get justice.

David was very angry, and Absalom expected that Amnon would be taken before the elders of the city for judgement.

The elders will probably force him to take her into his household as his wife to avoid royal disgrace. That’s not enough. Charges must be laid. Rape carries a death sentence. Absalom was not sure that they would allow a prince to be charged with rape? Surely he will not escape the consequences of breaking the law simply because he is a prince. 

But David did nothing. He was unwilling to act in terms of justice and discipline. Perhaps as David thought about his own sin with Bathsheba and how he had escaped with his life, he thought that Amnon deserved to live also. But nothing at all was done.

Absalom resented David for not acting and hated Amnon all the more for raping his sister and getting away with it. He wouldn’t speak to Amnon or anyone else about the matter in any way.

You will pay! Absalom would find a way to give vent to the hate that festered within him both for his father and for Amnon. After two years it became white hot, hammered and tempered with iron teeth into the shape of revenge.

Pastor Ross

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WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 35

The servants are afraid that their words might somehow get back to David. Absalom has a good relationship with all in the court. He has a way with people. They tell him things. Their grievances. Their dreams. Absalom is on their side. Still, the servants quieten down as Absalom walks past the gate.

Absalom stays awhile as usual to talk with the men and notices Uriah. Why is he here? Why didn’t he go home? He begins asking questions of the servants furthest away from him, but he can see that there is a reluctance to answer. The atmosphere is awkward for a time but Absalom diverts the conversation to other things – weather, war, politics and matters of law and justice, until they open up. He is known as one who investigates cases worthy of justice for the people. One of the more forthright and foolish servants is curious since they are talking of the law.

“I know of a man whose wife has been unfaithful? What will he do?” Other servants begin to withdraw from the conversation.

“He should bring charges and demand justice. She must be stoned as the law demands. The man must be found and stoned as well,” he replies.

“And what if the man responsible were powerful and there was no proof, except a pregnancy, and he was trying to cover it up?”

A hushed silence ensued as Absalom sought to find a context for the question.

“How can you cover up a pregnancy?” he asks.

“The husband will sleep with his wife and it will look as if the child is his.” The servant has said too much.

Absalom considers what he is being told and replies slowly,

“No man should get away with adultery because of his position.” He pauses, thinking of the rumours of the beautiful woman in court some time ago and adds,

“I would not give the man opportunity to cover up his sin if I could help it at all. That’s all the advice that I am willing to give you. Perhaps it would be wiser of you hold your peace until this man you know is willing to lay charges.”

“Yes sir.” The servant backs away, knowing that he has overstepped the limit of discussion.

Absalom leaves, but in the ensuing conversation it is agreed that Uriah is right to stay at the king’s gate where there are plenty of witnesses, and he is wise not even to speak with his wife.

Absalom came to the king that day. He spoke of trivial things and David was not at all interested in the conversation until he happened to mention, in passing, that Uriah had slept in the guard’s and servant’s quarters at the king’s gate. David’s face paled as Absalom continued. David was not hearing him. Why didn’t Uriah go home? What was happening to his plan? He came out of his daze as Absalom said,

“Why didn’t you allow Uriah to go home? He lives next door after all?”

“Don’t be ridiculous, Absalom, I didn’t force him to stay at court! I encouraged him to go home. Bring him to me at once.”

There seemed to be some tension in the king’s voice as he spoke with Uriah, “Uriah, you have come a long way to get here, yet I hear that you did not go home last night. Why?”

Uriah had had all night to reflect on his answer. He looked to the floor and then briefly glanced over at Absalom, but he too was obviously interested in his answer. Uriah the Hittite looked into the eyes of David as he replied,

“The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my master Joab and my lords men are camped in the open fields. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and lie with my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!”

The answer cut deeply into David’s soul. As long as I live? He fleetingly thought of the penalties of adultery in the law as he gazed at Uriah, not knowing what to say.

WHEN THE WOLF HOWLS

Dagger for When the Wolf Howls

© by Ross Cochrane

Chapter 24

Both David and Absalom were furious when Uzzah was struck dead after touching the Ark. David, because God had struck down his nephew and Absalom because he regarded his father as responsible.

He was my cousin, advisor and best friend! Grief expressed itself in anger and in questions about the fairness of God. A root of bitterness had already begun to entangle fingers around his heart and grow; bitterness not only towards God but to those who represented God; to his father who was anointed of God to be king of Israel.

Absalom went over and over it all in his mind. First of all, it was, “Why did God allow this to happen?” Then it became, “It’s all my father’s fault!” This is all his doing and it has ended in the death of my closest friend, my cousin of cousins. If he didn’t move the Ark in the first place this whole thing would not have happened. It was a crazy/stupid idea in the first place wanting the Ark to come to Jerusalem! How could he do this!

Absalom thought of Zadok. When his anger was under control he made his way to Zadok to find some comfort and perhaps some answers to why his cousin had been slain. His heart was still breaking and he was near to tears at what he saw as God’s injustice. As he rounded the corner he could hear voices and knew that Zadok was speaking with someone. He could overhear the old priest saying,

“We can’t try to accomplish the things of God by ignoring the principles of His holy writings, and trying to deal with grief in inappropriate ways can soon become sin.”

“You’re right, Zadok,” said David, “I have come to confess that I have sinned. You tried to warn me and now my nephew is dead.” His voice was almost breaking with emotion. David was asking in his shock and grief, “Why did He strike down Uzzah?”

“My son, you know why. God’s justice was exercised on Uzzah,” said Zadok.

Justice and Righteousness! thought Absalom, It was those angels that killed Uzzah!

“But how can I bring the Ark to me now?” said David, “It would have been better if it had stayed with the Philistines!” David declared in a moment of rage and heartache.

Absalom was sickened. Your only concern is for the Ark. You still want to bring that curse-giving cause of all my grief to Jerusalem. He left unseen with anger unspoken but burning deep within his chest. Though he spoke with no-one, his grief and bitterness against his father and God remained for many years to come.

JUSTICE AND GRACE

JUSTICE AND GRACE

“Matthew and his friends were sliding down a Mammoth Mountain ski run on a foam pad at 3am, when he crashed into a lift tower and died. His makeshift sledge of yellow foam had been stolen from the legs of a lift tower on Stump Alley. The cushion is meant to protect skiers who hit the tower, and the tower Matthew ran into was the one from which he had created his sledge.” (The “Darwin Awards” 1998). In Genesis 27 each family member takes their own infamous ski run which causes untold damage to themselves.

There is a rhyme and rhythm to poetic justice. Job 4:8 (NLT) says “My experience shows that those who plant trouble and cultivate evil will harvest the same.” We reap what we sow. Deception’s voice has an echo. The dissonant chords of sin are often resolved by Poetic Justice. In Genesis 27, amazingly, the tangled web of deceptive words and actions serves to highlight God’s Prophetic Grace.

ISAAC targeted Jacob. The operation sought to take territory rightly belonging to Jacob and put it in control of Esau. His efforts to bypass God’s purposes brought about great damage in his own life, a form of Poetic Justice. He lost the respect of both his sons (Genesis 28:1-5). He lost the trust of his wife. His desire to bless Esau instead of Jacob led to Esau being hurt deeply by his unfulfilled promise.

REBEKAH targeted Isaac and Esau. Her covert operation was enacted with military precision but caused untold collateral damage to herself. She suffered the loss of her favourite son and the trust of her other son (Genesis 27:43-45). Intelligence reports alerted Rebekah on Esau’s intentions to kill Jacob. Her deception had put her boy in harm’s way, and she was forced to make contingency plans on the run. Jacob was now trapped behind enemy lines, and had to be evacuated (Genesis 27:46 – Genesis 28:1-5). She paid the price for all her deceptive tactics in Poetic Justice – she never saw him again. She died before he returned. No doubt she spent a lot of time in a foxhole seeking to avoid the bullets flying around her from her husband Isaac and son Esau who no doubt had lost all confidence and trust in her as an ally.

ESAU targeted Jacob. His covert plans with his father tried to change God’s purposes and it left him in conflict with his brother and severely wounded by his father and mother. The unintended rejection by his father wounded Esau (Genesis 28:6-9) and left him bitter and insecure. Instead of a blessing he received a curse. Esau’s only option was to live the rest of his life in survival mode amidst constant conflict as a mercenary in many unstable military situations. He would be captured (Genesis 27:39-40) and subjected to hardship but eventually escape.

JACOB targeted his father Isaac and brother Jacob. He impersonated his brother to gain his objective (Genesis 27:6-29) but this led to devastating damage to himself. He obtained only the hate of his brother, Esau. (Genesis 27:41). In this climate of instability Jacob would have lived in constant fear of being murdered by his own brother.

Fearing civil war in the family Isaac makes the decision to extract Jacob from danger, and move him to a more friendly environment with his uncle (Genesis 27:42 – Genesis 28:1-5). He suffered the separation from his family, living as a fugitive (Genesis 27:42). He never saw his mother again. Although his uncle gave him refuge Jacob was tricked into serving him for about twenty years. The damage was ongoing (Genesis 29:15-30; 37:1-35), years of reaping what he had sown. Poetic Justice. 

Despite all this, God’s purposes were achieved and the promise of Abraham (Prophetic Grace) was passed down through Jacob as God had originally intended. Deception always reaps a harvest of unexpected, unintentional suffering and pain, but God still has the desire and power to turn cursing to blessing. Romans 6:23 (NLT) says “For the wages of sin is death, (Poetic Justice) but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord (Prophetic Grace).

Romans 5:8-10 (NLT) says “But God showed His great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” It seems our sin killed the One sent to save us from sin. The consequences of Poetic Justice are resolved by the covenant of Prophetic Grace when we believe in Christ. The choice is ours. 

Pastor Ross

Part 6 – Matthew 12:17-21 – GRAND FINAL VICTORY! CHOOSE ME!

Choose Me!

Australia is in the middle of GRAND FINAL FEVER with the NRL – THE DRAGONS VS THE ROOSTERS. What are the characteristics needed for those chosen to be the warriors of this battle? What is it that will win the game and bring victory? What will provide the competitive edge that guarantees success in the end? A BONE CRUSHING, COMPETITIVE MOMENTUM, A WIN-AT-ALL-COSTS, FAN PLEASING POWER that SHOWS-NO-MERCY, and that’s just for starters!

You would think that when God chose the BEST MAN to lead His team to VICTORY He would choose someone well QUALIFIED? When God is the SELECTOR, you would think He would choose someone who would GUARANTEE such success that you could engrave His Name on the VICTORY TROPHY long before He even arrived on the planet. His JERSEY could be hung in the HERO’S HALL OF FAME way ahead of time!

Matthew 12:17-18 (NLT) says “This fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah concerning Him: “Look at My Servant, whom I have CHOSEN. He is My BELOVED, who PLEASES Me. I will put MY SPIRIT upon Him, and He will proclaim JUSTICE to the nations. He will NOT FIGHT OR SHOUT or raise His voice in public. He will NOT CRUSH the weakest reed or put out a flickering candle. Finally He will cause justice to be VICTORIOUS. And His name will be the HOPE of all the world.”

1. So what qualities does God look for in the One He chooses to lead the grand final of grand finals? Is it the BONE CRUNCHING INTENSITY of a charging bull? NO! He chooses someone TO BRING HEALING AND RESTORATION TO OTHERS (Matthew 12:15). Instead of pounding the opposing team into the ground, He runs onto the field like an AMBULANCE MAN to pick up the players that are INJURED, and expects me to do the same. What is this?

Many people wanted Jesus to CRUSH the Roman occupiers, and for that matter the Pharisees. To TACKLE them with such RAGING POWER that they would be wiped off the face of the earth – a player like Elijah who would call down FIRE from heaven and CONSUME them (2 Kings 1:10,12)! GAME OVER except for the cheering! The fans left happy! JUSTICE with a FREE KICK! NO! He came to HEAL AND RESTORE me when I am BRUISED AND BROKEN and He calls me to do the same.

2. I would have chosen someone with at least a COMPETITIVE EDGE, shouting out TAUNTS with fire in His eyes like a rabid fan, but God chose Someone TO SERVE – Jesus wasn’t even on the FRONT ROW! He’s the guy that brings the water at half time and He calls me to do the same. Matthew 23:11-12 (NLT) says “The greatest among you must be a SERVANT. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” 

Philippians 2:6-8 (NLT) “Though He was God, He did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, He gave up His divine privileges; He took the humble position of a slave (or SERVANT) and was born as a human being. …” In Galatians 5:13 (NLT) God says through Paul “…use your freedom to SERVE one another in love.”

3. But serving one another is not catering to our whims. God doesn’t choose Him because He has an overwhelming desire to PLEASE THE FANS. Instead He chooses someone who has the desire TO PLEASE GOD, not cater to us, because fans are so fickle (Matthew 12:18). And make no mistake, God is pleased with Jesus even if the Pharisees are not! 1 Peter 2:4 (NLT) says “…He was REJECTED by people, but He was CHOSEN by God for great honour.” God has already said in Matthew 3:17 (NIV) “This is my Son, whom I LOVE; with Him I am WELL PLEASED.”

And once again Jesus is my example. Ephesians 5:2 and Romans 12:1-3 (NLT) says “Live a life filled with LOVE, following the example of Christ…” “…know God’s will for you, which is good and PLEASING and perfect.” 

4. I would have chosen someone with the POWER AND MOMENTUM of a DEMOLITION BALL in full swing but God chooses Jesus who has the SPIRIT OF GOD upon Him (Matthew 12:18), and the POWER OF GOD behind Him, giving me the example of how to live my Christian life. That’s why Ephesians 5:18 says that I am to be “filled with the Holy Spirit” and to exercise the GIFTS of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11).

5. On the football field selectors choose those who will SHOW-NO-MERCY but God chooses Someone TO PROCLAIM JUSTICE TO ALL PEOPLE. Justice is doing what is right before God and man (see Matthew 5:6). Jesus Christ shows me how to live and behave toward God and toward others, not just play the game. Micah 6:8 (NIV) says “He has showed you, O man, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act JUSTLY and to love MERCY and to walk HUMBLY with your God.”  

God bless you Church. Jesus was chosen TO BRING HOPE TO A BRUISED AND BROKEN WORLD, as He died for me on the Cross and paid the PENALTY for my sins. The game is still AT HALF TIME and there is still time to be selected for the TEAM. I don’t have to sit on the bench. CHOOSE ME! The final trumpet is yet to sound and Christ will be proclaimed VICTORIOUS. WE WIN!

Pastor Ross