“‘You would not listen to me,’ declares Jehovah. ‘Instead you offended me with the work of your hands, to your own calamity.’”
When someone decides to take it upon him or herself to oppose God’s written will, they are doing so to their own detriment.
The day comes when God ‘makes his voice heard,’ and he will personally pass judgment on everyone of us. (Jer. 25:30,31)
But God does not come like a merciless executioner.
Jehovah is now teaching us and guiding us through his written word for our own benefit. (Isa. 48:17,18)
Like Jeremiah, our resolve to obey God may subject us to temporary persecution and suffering, but we faithfully continue to share God’s message knowing he gives even the evildoer a chance to repent. (Jer. 26:3,13,15)
Nevertheless, the day will come when God will realize his vision of justice. (Hab. 2:3,4)
It is not as one religious leader proclaimed- that God’s mercy “never runs out.”
Jehovah is a judge of justice and action; not an indulging authority figure who is only bluffing.
“The windstorm of Jehovah will burst out in fury;
Like a whirling tempest it will whirl down on the head of the wicked.”
In the prophet’s day, the kings and elders were corrupting justice for selfish gain. (Jer. 22:13; 23:1,2,10,11)
We should not let ourselves be consumed by wrathful anger when injustice seems to prevail, because God promises to ultimately bring the wicked to justice.
When God’s justice strikes down, it can be compared to a hurricane.
Can anyone stand in God’s way?
But there is calm in the eye of a hurricane.
If we learn to stand in ‘God’s inner circle’ by repenting and paying attention to his Word, we will be safe and at peace when that day comes. (Jer. 23:5,22)
“Correct me, O Jehovah, with judgment,
But not in your anger, that you may not reduce me to nothing.”
We all need to be corrected from time to time, either by someone at work, or if we are younger, by our parents or teachers, or we may be counseled by a mature, caring friend.
It is human nature to initially be embarrassed and even to resist the correction.
Jehovah corrected his People through his prophets.
We do not have modern-day prophets, but we can read God’s recorded thoughts in his written Word, and find God’s counsel under prayer through Bible reading.
To accept God’s correction, we need to humbly recognize that, despite having freedom of choice, it is not in our best interest to act independently of God. (Jer. 10:23)
It is easier to accept correction as soon as we realize we are doing something wrong, without needing to wait for someone to blatantly point out our mistakes to us.
But if it comes to that, and we are privately or publicly reproved, let us remember that Jehovah takes the time to discipline those whom he loves and wants to keep by his side.
Everyone needs to be refined by God’s love and he expects you to keep trying. (Heb. 12:5,6)
As one brother put it, it is better to accept correction now than to ‘be reduced to nothing’ on God’s Judgment Day.
“Instead of peace, I had great bitterness; But in your fondness for me, You preserved me from the pit of destruction […]”
God’s will for each one of us is that we may have a fundamental understanding of his loving kindness. (1 Ti. 2:3,4)
He is fond of those trying to obey him and does not want anyone to die. (2 Pe. 3:9)
Although Jehovah God does not miraculously extend the life of all his servants, as he did in King Hezekiah’s case, we can all experience the strength infused by our faith in everlasting life. (Ps. 37:29; Is. 38:1-5; Da. 3:17,18; Acts 7:54-60; Ro. 14:7,8)
The real “pit of destruction” all of God’s servants are saved from represents the hopeless and despairing state of ignoring his will.
Said ignorance could ultimately lead to the destruction of our very souls. (John 3:36)
Those who are faithful are spared said despair even during trying times.
We find strength in God’s words, just like Hezekiah did, and know that regardless of what happens, we will ultimately be restored to life (Is. 38:16)
“Jehovah is waiting patiently to show you favor,
And he will rise up to show you mercy. […]”
God’s people had sinned against him time after time, yet he trusted some of them would see the error of their way and return to him. (Is. 31:6,7)
To those who listened, God promised rich blessings.
“The cattle and the donkeys that work the ground will eat fodder seasoned with sorrel, which was winnowed with the shovel and the pitchfork.” (Is. 30:23,24)
Sorrel is a tangy luxury herb used in salads for human consumption.
Grains which are winnowed have been refined and are also for human consumption.
These verses are therefore making reference to the richness of God’s blessings that await anyone who wholeheartedly repents and changes for the better.
Currently we can enjoy a strong relationship with our heavenly father, and in the future, perfect health in a peaceful, just world. (Is. 32:15-18; 33:24)
“I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Search for your servant,
For I have not forgotten your commandments.”
Who wrote Psalm 119?
Though the writer’s name is unknown, we can form a portrait of where he (or she) was in life by some of his expressions.
Although verse one affirms: “Happy are those who are blameless in their way […]” the psalmist is not applying these words to himself, for verses five and six explain: “If only I could remain steadfast so as to observe your regulations! Then I would not be put to shame when I consider all your commandments.”
The psalmist is evidently undergoing some type of affliction as a consequence of past mistakes.
Even though he no longer ‘goes astray,’ he is still an object of “scorn and contempt,” targeted by insensitive, presumptuous liars (Ps. 119:22,67,69,70).
Although the psalmist does suffer sleeplessness and grief, this allows him to find comfort in his knowledge of Jehovah God (Ps. 119:28,52,55).
The psalmist goes so far as to say that his spiritual heritage is the ‘joy of his heart,’ (Ps. 119:111).
What fueled his strength?
Verses 92-95 read:
If I had not been fond of your law,
I would have perished in my affliction. […]
I belong to you; save me […]. The wicked wait to destroy me,
But I give close attention to your reminders.”
Time and again, the psalmist references his bond with God and love for God’s Word as the reasons he can bear his affliction and carry on.
Undefeated, he resolves to fulfill his vows to God and rely on His justice and loyal love (Ps. 119:106,149).
“Will Jehovah cast us off forever? […]
Or has his anger caused his mercy to cease?”
These questions are meant to be rhetorical but God’s word clearly gives us the answer:
Jehovah God is not cold-hearted and wrathful to the point of being unforgiving.
It is normal to be haunted by a guilty conscience and wonder if God will forgive us when we have failed Him.
But He has provided the means to forgiveness through the sacrifice of His son (1 Thess. 1:10).
God promises to not stay resentful toward sinners who return to Him (Jer. 3:12).
He even goes beyond that and offers to comfort us (Is. 12:1).
So if our faith begins to falter because we fear Jehovah has cast us aside, let us remember all that He has done for us in the past and patiently treasure it as evidence of His unrelenting love (Ps. 77:11).
“[…] They sinned against your regulations, by which a man will live if he observes them.”
It is important to participate with zeal in the ministry work, sharing God’s “regulations” with others, for they mean life to those who listen.
Not all will appreciate or understand God’s message, but some will respond to the “sayings of everlasting life,” (John 6:68).
Furthermore, when God’s principles guide our own choices, we can enjoy being alive in a spiritual sense (Lev. 18:5).
A healthy relationship with God can in turn bring us true happiness and is a glimmer of “the real life” Christians anticipate, a future life without pain or injustice of any sort (1 Tim. 6:19).
Jehovah God extended this opportunity to His People, giving them “righteous judgments, laws of truth, good regulations and commandments” that they could fully rely on to find peace and happiness (Neh. 9:13).
However, His people continuously rejected these by sinning, repenting and then returning to their sinful practices (Neh. 9:16-35).
Let us never show such a lack of appreciation for God’s undeserved kindness (2 Cor. 6:1).
Instead, let us live by observing His word.
“Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself on my account? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the calamity during his lifetime. […]”
~1 Kings 21:29
The point I’d like to highlight of last week’s reading is the mercy Jehovah extended toward King Ahab of northern Israel, despite Ahab’s evil ways.
“[…] There has never been anyone like Ahab, who was so determined to do what was bad in the eyes of Jehovah, egged on by his wife Jezebel,” (1 Ki. 21:25).
Jehovah is able to see past a person’s sins and give him a chance to change time after time because he sees his full potential.
If someone humbles himself, Jehovah is always ready to make peace with that person.
In Ahab’s case, he did not fully grasp the privilege of being forgiven, for he continued to endanger true prophets’ lives and ended up going to war against God’s will, where he died (1 Ki. 22:26-28, 34, 35).
Truly Jehovah is “good and ready to forgive,” so long as we follow through with repentance by changing our ways of the past (Ps. 86:5).
King Solomon described Jehovah’s kindness in the context of a deep prayer:
“Whatever prayer, whatever request for favor may be […] (for each one knows the plague of his own heart) […], then may you hear from the heavens, your dwelling place, and may you forgive and take action; and reward each one according to all his ways, for you know his heart (you alone truly know every human heart), so that they may fear you […]” (1 Ki. 8:38-40).
Fearing God in our hearts does not mean we dread God or that we flee from him.
Fear of God implies fear of letting him down, fear of disrespecting him.
Whether or not a person is sincere in their service toward God can only be judged by God himself.
One is assured, however, that regardless of what we do, God pays to each his own.
Imagine someone in a dire situation.
He calls out to God, but God sees that he is insincere.
God does not forgive him.
Not even Jehovah God, the God of all love, kindness and forgiveness, forgives him, because that person is insincere and God can see through his facade.
That would be truly dreadful.
It is different, though, when one serves God.
If you sincerely strive to do what is good because you fear displeasing God, or if you sincerely repent, you can rest assured that Jehovah will listen to your prayer and bless you according to your ways, sooner or later (Ps. 145:16; Rev. 21:3-5).
“O Jehovah the God of Israel, there is no God like you in the heavens above or on the earth beneath, keeping the covenant and showing loyal love to your servants who are walking before you with all their heart,” (1 Ki. 8:23).