15 July 2011

"Yet you say, 'The way of the Lord is not just.' O house of Israel, I will judge all of you according to your ways!" (v. 20)


"If this is how God behaves, then I don't want anything to do with religion."

How often have we heard words like that when something goes wrong and people strike out and blame God? And so often, when the situation has calmed down and people are thinking more rationally, it becomes evident that it was human behaviour that caused the problems, not God. Of course, it's easier to accuse God of being unjust than it is to take responsibility for the actions that have caused the situation.

Disobedience, judgement and destruction are the themes in today's passage. God's promise was that the people would have a new life, but in return they had promised to obey God's law and to live in peace and harmony with each other and their neighbours. That had not happened.

There were people who had led good lives, although the warning to them was that they would be in danger if they started to misbehave. Those who had disobeyed the law were told that they could be forgiven if they sincerely changed their behaviour and mended their ways. That was a fair and just fulfilment of God's promise.

Did they see it that way? Of course not. Their accusation was that God was being unfair and far too demanding and it wasn't their fault at all. Why should good people be punished for doing one wrong thing, while others got away with being evil for most of their lives then were forgiven in the end anyway?

The answer is in verse 20. The people of Israel tended to think of themselves as a privileged nation under the special protection of God. But they couldn't take that for granted and then behave exactly as they liked. Each one had an individual responsibility of behaviour. God would judge each of them separately. So there was to be no hiding behind their special place in God's affections. God knew the hearts of the people and would be just in judgment and mercy.

It would have been wise to think first, before accusing God of injustice.

To Ponder

Are there any situations that might cause you to ask, 'Where is God in this?' And what is your answer to your question?

How far do you feel responsible for your own behaviour, or do other circumstances influence it?

How do you feel about God in the role of judge? Why?

Bible notes author: Marjorie Dobson

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