My Musings – The above verse is a conditional statement. Conditional statements contain a hypothetical (if) and a consequence (then) when the conditions of the hypothetical are met.
If – Something(s) that must happen:
- My people, called by My name – In the context of the above verse, this was Israel. Today, we could apply it to the Church.
- Will humble themselves – Freed from pride and arrogance. An expression of deference or submission.
- Pray – To speak to God especially in order to give thanks or to ask for something.
- Seek My face – To go in search of, to look for, to try to discover.
- Turn – To face an opposite or different direction.
- From Wicked Ways – Morally very bad, evil.
Then – Before something else can happen:
- I will hear – To pay attention to.
- I will forgive – Pardon, cancel a debt.
- I will heal – Correct or put right an undesirable situation.
My Advice – We often attribute the declining state of morality on society in general. Yet the above verse places the responsibility on the people of God. We know what we (the Church) need to do (if) in order for God to hear our appeal for the “land” to be healed. A verse from an old song states “that it only takes a spark to get a fire going, and soon those all around, can warm up in the glowing.” Be a spark in your local Body, then “pass it on.” We have to have a spark before we can have a fire. We have to get it going, before we can expect the glowing.
My Musings – No fine print here. It is a small word, but it begins the sentence – “if.” It is not a trap for the unwary, it merely establishes the sentence as a conditional clause. When the conditions are met, the promise that follows is assured (God cannot lie, He is “faithful and just“). He not only forgives us, but He purifies us, removing the stain of sin altogether.
Until the conditions are met, however, there is no obligation to fulfill the promise. Confession must precede forgiveness. Why would be expect our sins to be forgiven if we do not even admit that we have any?
My Advice – Do not let pride get in the way of forgiveness.
My Musings – A life of keeping the law is like a chain of various size links representing little laws (though shalt not lie) and big laws (thou halt not murder). In terms of the results, it matters little which law is not kept (little or big), the chain (our relationship with God) is still broken.
My Advice – Do not count on keeping the chain (relationship) whole by your own efforts. Rely instead on the effort of Christ.
My Musings – Perhaps the most universally known Bible verse (at least by football fans) of all time.
He loved – before we loved Him. No guarantee we ever would. Him knowing that many never would.
He gave – at the greatest cost imaginable. While we were still sinners. No fine print. No purchase required.
Whoever – no one is disqualified. Not just the elite. No exclusions apply. That means you and me.
Believes – that’s all there is to it. Pure grace. Maybe it’s because the offer is so unbelievable that so many will not believe, will not accept. Maybe it’s because we think that free is actually too costly – we don’t have to pay anything for it. But we must be willing to give some things up (our sinful lifestyle). Yes, that is part of believing, but look what we get in the exchange.
Eternal life – That’s forever. Heaven. With God. Pure bliss.
My Advice – Believe. “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” (Jim Elliot)
My Musings – If God is a just god, . . . [fill in the blanks]? There was a time when this sentence did not start with the word if. It was readily accepted that God is just. Times have changed, but God has not. Actually, the sentence should begin with the word since. Since God is a just God, . . . [fill in the blanks]?
Since God is a just God, He has (Jesus on the cross) and will (the Last Judgment) deal with sin and injustice that has occurred in the world.
For those who have accepted Christ’s atoning death, sin and injustice has already been dealt with, and He will (in the life to come) make up for all the suffering that they have had to endure.
For those who do not accept Christ’s atoning death, sin and injustice will be dealt with at the Last Judgment, and the suffering that they have endured in this life will pale in comparison.
Lest one should dare to say that God is unjust, it need not end that way. Each and every one of us has the opportunity to avoid such a fate, only because God provided a remedy that is open to all. He was not obligated to do so, after all, we were the ones that chose to go our own way in the first place. But He chose to.
But if one still wants to begin the sentence with if, the blanks should be filled in like this: If God is a just God, why would He ever offer us grace? Because justice and mercy intersected at the cross.
My Advice – Think about it. Once we do think about it, it is indeed “unthinkable that God would do wrong, that the Almighty would pervert justice.” God did not do wrong, He became “wrong” in our place in the person of HIs Son Jesus Christ on the cross. God did not pervert justice, He perfected justice.
My Musings – Is it possible for us to cause God to do something against His will? Apparently it is. God “does not willingly bring affliction or grief.” But He does bring it on nonetheless. Why would He do something that He is not willing to do, that He does not have to do? It is motivated by “compassion, so great is His unfailing love.” The Father will discipline the children He loves, in order to bring correction and growth. If there were a gentler, less grief bringing way He would undoubtedly choose that way. But when there is no other way, He is compassionate and loving enough to
permit bring grief our way. When this was not enough, He took it upon Himself, through His only Son. For “it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer (Isaiah 53:10)” on our behalf in order to bring salvation to His creation. He was willing to do what He did not willingly want to do (say what?). Now that is love and compassion!
My Advice – We can rest assured, that in all these grief “things,” God will bring about good to those who also love Him and are called by Him (Romans 8:28). Are you feeling “affliction or grief?” Don’t ask why, as in why me? Ask why as in, what correction (repentance) is needed in my life? What do I need to learn from this? What growth is not otherwise possible without this? Don’t let the thing that God did not willingly want to do be wasted. Use it!
My Musings – The context of this verse is the Babylonian captivity that would last seventy years. A captivity brought on by a rebellious and sinful nation. God has always had plans for His people. Good plans. But somehow, sin always seemed to get in the way.
God never intended for mankind to ever have to leave the garden, but sin got in the way. God never intended to have to wipe out mankind (except Noah and his family) by a flood, but sin got in the way. God never intended to have to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, but sin got in the way. God never intended to need to send His chosen people into exile, but sin got in the way. God never intended for His creation to result in the crucifixion of His Son, but sin got in the way. Yet despite all this, and more, God continues to have plans for us.
The word “prosper” in today’s text is the translation of the Hebrew word šālōm, a term denoting well-being, wholeness, harmony, and peace. (Martens, E. A., 1995. Jeremiah. In Evangelical Commentary on the Bible, Vol. 3, p. 540. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.) It has nothing to do with riches, wealth or treasures. God’s concern goes much deeper (into the soul of mankind – the hope) and much further (into all eternity – the future). It always has.
Before the fall, even before the creation, God knew His plans to prosper those He made in His image would require the ultimate sacrifice on His part. It was not His intention, but it was His plan. His plan not to harm us, resulted in the severest harm to His Son. In the process, He “bankrupted” Heaven in order to prosper us.
My Advice – Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. You’ll not have to seek any further.