Friday, March 25, 2016

Which thief are you?

The Word for today:
Jeremiah 21, 22
Israel was under the impression that God was on their side. They thought that God would help them against the forces of Babylon, who had begun to surround the city:
"Please ask the LORD to help us. King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon has begun his attack on Judah. Perhaps the LORD will be gracious and do a mighty miracle as he has done in the past. Perhaps he will force Nebuchadnezzar to withdraw his armies." (Jeremiah 21:2)
God responded in blunt terms that he was against them, because they were against him:
"I myself will fight against them with an outstretched hand and a mighty arm...
because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD their God and have worshiped and served other gods." 
(Jeremiah 21:5, 22:9)
Many of us are under the same deluded impression--that we are a "Christian nation," so God must be on our side. I mean, with a church on every corner and an average of 6.8 Bibles (1) in every American home, God will certainly defend us.
That's what Israel thought. Why, the Temple--and the Ark of the Covenant!--were within Jerusalem's walls.  Surely, God would continue to shield them from foreign forces.
But that's not what God thought:
This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I will make your weapons useless against the king of Babylon and the Babylonians who are attacking you. Yes, I will bring your enemies right into the heart of this city." (Jeremiah 21:4)
God is no respector of persons (2), or nations. He offers to Israel just what he offers to every person--life or death:
Then the Lord told me to say to the people, "Listen! I, the Lord, am giving you a choice between the way that leads to life and the way that leads to death." (Jeremiah 21:8/GNT)
The life and death he offers is wholly dependent on his Son:
He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life.  (1 John 5:12)
He offered his Son on a cross. He died there, between two thieves. One thief asked to be with Jesus: "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And He said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." (Luke 23:42-43)
Heaven will consist of a bunch of thieves with Jesus.  Hell will consist of a bunch of thieves without Jesus.
The question is not whether God is on your side. The question is, Which thief are you?
(1) Nicky Gumbel, "The Alpha Course" (2) Acts 10:34

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