Archives for posts with tag: Grace

“Thus says the Lord,
your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
“I am the Lord your God,
who teaches you to profit,
who leads you in the way you should go.
Oh that you had paid attention to my commandments!
Then your peace would have been like a river,
and your righteousness like the waves of the sea; ”
https://ref.ly/Is48.17-18;esv

If we aren’t careful, we might assume that God is the best business partner ever [which in a weird way he is, but not according to this verse].  The Lord himself says: I am the Lord your God who teaches you to profit.  The Complete Word Study Bible says of the word “It is used most often figuratively of spiritual benefits from the Lord.” The profit envisioned here is not of farmland and animals, crops and orchards, but of spiritual benefits which will help us grow in faith towards God himself.

Notice here that what God asks [spiritual growth] he himself provides.  This reminds me of a song lyric by Sandra McCracken:

This grace gives me fear,
and this grace draws me near
And all that it asks it provides

When you sit and ponder this [as I do now with the sound of the Atlantic Ocean rolling ashore in endless waves] it cannot cease to amaze.  God doesn’t just tell us what to do and send us forth on our way in the vague hope that we actually accomplish his will, he gives the tools to do the very things that he wants us to do! We get the help that we need, God gets the glory he deserves.

Soli Deo Gloria

Oh…and for your listening pleasure, here is Derek:

 

 

“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel,
“In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.”
But you were unwilling,”
https://ref.ly/Is30.15;esv

The context for this verse is Isaiah pointing out that, while the Israelites should be trusting in Yahweh for their protection, instead they were trusting in Egypt.  This misplaced trust is condemned in the strongest way possible. Some ways this failure of trust is described:

  • They were a rebellious people
  • Unwilling to hear the law of Yahweh
  • Unwilling to listen to the word of the prophets whom God had sent
  • They trusted in perverseness and oppression

Isaiah points out that their destruction will come swiftly and be so complete that they would be like a ceramic vessel that is shattered so completely it can’t be used for anything at all.  It is now worthless and broken.

Then the alternative that comes in our verse.  Rather than run from Yahweh, they could return to him and rest in his strength and promises.  They could trust in him.  They could live a life that proved that Yahweh really was their God and they his people.  Then the tragic finish to the verse: But you were unwilling!

Notice that ultimate failure was not in their sin of going to worthless Egypt for security and safety, nor was it not trusting in Yahweh.  Ultimate failure was not returning to and trusting in Yahweh after he called them back to himself.

This is a beautiful example of the grace of the Lord.  He could have cut them off when they abandoned him and ran for pagan Egypt.  Instead he offered a way back to fellowship with himself.  What else is this except grace in action?

Notice also that it is a type of the ultimate grace that would be offered at the cross in which God took upon himself the burden of all of our failures and sins and wrote across them: Paid in full. 

All we need to do is be willing.

 

All the people answered, “His blood is on us and on our children!”” (Matthew 27:25, TNIV)

The response of the opponents of Jesus to Pilate’s claim that he was “innocent of this man’s blood.” [he wasn’t]

A hasty vow.  A foolish vow.  A vow which might come back to haunt them if it weren’t for one simple word that destroys all that they say: grace.

J. D. Watson in his excellent devotional defines the biblical concept of grace as: Grace is the unmerited favor of God toward man manifested primarily through the person and work of Jesus Christ, apart from any merit or works of man. [Greek Word of the Day; February 13] He bases his definition on John’s statement:

For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17, TNIV)

The Greek and Roman world had a concept of grace, but it was nothing like how it was used in the New Testament.  Grace to them meant “favor, kindness, or gratitude” concepts like that.  As J.D. Watson points out: Originally, then, the word didn’t carry the idea of something “unmerited” because Greek philosophy (which is at the root of our western culture) believed in human merit and self-sufficiency. [GWOD – February 13]

In this sense, the New Testament brings a new definition of grace and this definition is inextricably linked with the person and work of Jesus Christ.  In other words, you must come to the pages of the Scriptures if you are to understand what grace means.

Now, what does all of this discussion have to do with the ill-conceived words of the opponents of Jesus?  Everything!  The children of these haters were no more bound by their words, then we ourselves are bound by the action, attitudes, and words of our ancestors.  They may influence us, but in Jesus Christ they do not bind us, they do not imprison us.

The Orthodox Study Bible comments here:

St. John Chrysostom teaches that even though these Jews “acted with such madness, so far from confirming a sentence on them or their children, Christ instead received those who repented and counted them worthy of good things beyond number.”

“Christ received those who repented.”  He received their children who repented; he even received the ones who had made this cry if they repented.  This is the nature of grace.

 

And when he was in distress he entreated Yahweh his God and greatly humbled himself before the God of his ancestors and prayed to him. And God responded to him and heard his plea and let him return to Jerusalem to his kingdom. And Manasseh knew that Yahweh was God.” (2 Chronicles 33:12–13, LEB)

Manasseh made a hash of being king.  The Bible says”“And Manasseh seduced Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to do evil more than the nations that Yahweh destroyed before the Israelites.” (2 Chronicles 33:9, LEB)  His guilt was very great because he was the leader of God’s people and he led the people into very great sin.

That, however, is not the end of the story.  He got taken prisoner by the king of Assyria and sent to Babylon, a very long way away.  There he was in great distress and there he was in captivity.  Then vs. 12: And when he was in great distress he entreated Yahweh his God and greatly humbled himself…

And God forgave him, and also restored him.  This is a beautiful picture of undeserved grace which will be shown perfectly at the cross.  In reality we are all Manasseh.  The Bible says that “we have turned every one to his own way and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Is. 53.6)  Fortunately for us, we follow the same God that Manasseh followed and his grace is the same as ever.  When we greatly humble ourselves, when we repent of our sins, his grace is extended in the same manner as Manasseh received it.

When Jesus came to the place, He looked up and said to him, “Zaccheus, hurry and come down, for today I must stay at your house.”” (Luke 19:5, NASB95)

God’s love and grace land in some of the strangest, most unexpected places one can’t imagine. Here in a random meeting along a village path, God’s grace lands in the very last place that any good observant Jew could ever imagine: It lands on a tax-collector.

Tax-collectors were rapacious crooks who were ordered by the authorities to collect money for the Roman Empire.  The collectors in response, collected more than the authorities ordered and so enriched themselves at the expense of their fellow countrymen.  It’s easy to see why no one expected a tax-collector to have eternal life, wasn’t it obvious that they were sinners? God was not interested in thieves.

‘Today I must stay at your house.” With those words a thief will become a saint and we will learn that God’s grace goes far, far beyond anything we could imagine.

 

And I, I will establish my covenant with you, and you will know that I am Yahweh, in order that you will remember, and you will be ashamed, and you will not open your mouth again because of your disgrace when I forgive you for all that you have done!’ ” declares the Lord Yahweh.” (Ezekiel 16:62–63, LEB)

Ezekiel 16 is probably the most painful chapter in all of the Scriptures to read.  It is about Judah’s unfaithfulness to the Lord and it is blunt and it is direct and it is harsh.  Here is one example from The Message [a paraphrase rather than a translation, but you will get the point, dear reader]:

You’re just the opposite of the regular whores who get paid for sex. Instead, you pay men for their favors! You even pervert whoredom!” (Ezekiel 16:34, The Message)

Amazingly and without any warning, at the end of this chapter, God breaks forth with these words which are just stunning:  when I forgive you for all that you have done! Such a beautiful example of grace:  Grace is unexpected; it comes when we assume we will receive punishment; it is given freely, it is given to people who do not deserve it.

The promise here bursts forth unexpectedly like the sun from the dark clouds. With all her forgetfulness of God, God still remembers her; showing that her redemption is altogether of grace.  [Jamieson, Fausset, Brown]

 “God can no more help being gracious than He can cease being God. He is the God of all grace, and He always finds a covenant basis on which He can exercise His grace.” [Feinberg]

May we fall to our knees together, dear reader, and give all praise and glory and honor to our grace-giving God.

 

but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.” (1 Corinthians 1:27–29, NASB95)

“Grace is the glory of God, not the merit of of him who has been freed.” – Prosper of Aquitaine