Isaiah, chapters 29-33

“Jehovah is waiting patiently to show you favor,
And he will rise up to show you mercy. […]”
~Isaiah 30:18

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)

Psalm 119

“I have strayed like a lost sheep.
Search for your servant,
For I have not forgotten your commandments.”
~Psalm 119:176

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).

Psalms 74-78

“Will Jehovah cast us off forever? […]
Or has his anger caused his mercy to cease?”

~Psalm 77:7,9

These questions are meant to be rhetorical but God’s word clearly gives us the answer:
No.
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).

Nehemiah, chapters 9-11

“[…] They sinned against your regulations, by which a man will live if he observes them.”
~Nehemiah 9:29

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.

1 Kings, chapters 21 & 22

“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).

1 Kings, chapters 7 & 8

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).

Joshua, chapters 9-11

“It was Jehovah who allowed their hearts to become stubborn so that they waged war against Israel, in order for him to devote them to destruction without any favorable consideration.”
~Joshua 11:20

Jehovah did not decide the fate of the Canaanites for them.

The previous verse clearly states: There was no city that made peace with the Israelites except the Hivites inhabiting Gibeon. They conquered all the others by war,” (Joshua 11:19).

Despite Jehovah’s instructions ‘not to make a covenant with them,’ the Israelites had unintentionally established a treaty between themselves and the people of Gibeon (Ex. 34:12; Jos. 9:6-15).

Then, when the other cities attacked Gibeon, the Israelites rightly felt a moral obligation to defend them (Jos. 10:6-8).

Gibeon was spared the peril that the rest of the country suffered because, in their own words, they were ‘plainly told that Jehovah […] commanded Moses his servant to give Israel all the land and to annihilate all its inhabitants,’ (Jos. 9:24).

Thus, instead of arrogantly waging war against God himself, they laid themselves at the mercy of Israel and were indefinitely assigned the role of temple servants (Jos. 9:25-27).

The fact that Jehovah did extend considerable mercy toward the people of Gibeon, even allowing them the privilege of performing duties directly related to sacred worship, highlights his willingness to set aside the execution of his own judgment in order to favor those who seek him out sincerely (Ps. 86:15).

It is different, though, in the case of those who ‘allow their hearts to become stubborn.’

We do not need to be Canaanites or God’s sworn enemies to fall into this trap of obstinate arrogance.

Whether or not we witness God’s saving hand does not depend on who we are or where we come from.

It depends on whether or not we individually heed his words to ‘cleanse our hearts and stop being so stubborn,’ (De. 10:16).