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(Part 31)


March 16, 2016
Today’s reading: Daniel 3:14-95

God is a God of mercy and justice. It might seem that mercy and justice are opposites, but they actually are complementary. They are two sides of the same coin.

Justice is punishment for sin. The God who calls us to do good and to be good will punish us if we do evil. He does this for our own good. Such is the justice of God. “For you are just in all you have done; .... By a proper judgment you have done all this because of our sins” (v.27-28). How have we sinned? “For we have sinned and transgressed by departing from you, and we have done every kind of evil.” (v.29). We are meant to be with God and to be like God, and whenever we act otherwise we depart from Him. Such action, in rejecting God who is love, oftentimes leads us to do evil, those things that are totally opposed to the ways of a pure God.

How specifically do we reject God? “Your commandments we have not heeded or observed, nor have we done as you ordered us for our good.” (v.30). We depart from God and reject Him when we do not obey His commands, and when we veer away from the path He has designated for us, such path intended for our own good.

But God loves us and continues to have a great plan for us. How does God bring us back? Well, if we already reject Him and His ways, then God uses other means. He allows the world to become His instrument of punishment. One of the most potent is an oppressive government. Such was the case with King Nebuchadnezzar who had Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego cast into the fiery furnace, because they refused to worship his god (v.14-23). Today oppressive governments such as that of Obama in the USA are assaulting faith, family and life, and using unjust laws to beat people into submission. “You have handed us over to our enemies, lawless and hateful rebels; to an unjust king, the worst in all the world.” (v.32). Innocent people become victims of such oppression.

But such injustice can still be an instrument of God’s justice. Being powerless and desperate in such situations, such justice is a way by which we look to the mercy of God. We are made to realize that we suffer such injustice because we have strayed away from the protective embrace of God. We have fallen short of His mark; we have sinned. “For we are reduced, O Lord, beyond any other nation, brought low everywhere in the world this day because of our sins.” (v.37). If not for what we suffer, we would not recognize the error of our ways.

People turn away from God because they want to chart their own path. And they look to their own strength and capabilities. Especially in today’s highly technological world, many begin to think they are gods (or at least no longer need God). Such pride leads to destruction. God’s justice, as a companion of mercy, brings us down to reality. Without God we are nothing. Being humbled, the way is now open to repentance, a turning back to God. “But with contrite heart and humble spirit let us be received” (v.39a). With such metanoia, the way is now open to living according to God’s design, as He intended from the very start. “And now we follow you with our whole heart, we fear you and we seek your face.” (v.41a). We obey God’s commands, we stand in awe of Him, and we enter more deeply into an intimate relationship with Him.

So as we experience the justice of God (perhaps via injustice from the world), let us look to His mercy. We know our God is loving and faithful. We ask God: “deal with us in your kindness and great mercy.” (v.42). We trust in Him and in His great plan for our lives, knowing with great confidence that “those who trust in you cannot be put to shame.” (v.40b). And so we need not say it, but let us say it anyway: “Do not take away your mercy from us” (v.35a).

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