by TJ Bates
We have heard with our ears, O God; our fathers have told us what you did in their days, in days long ago. With your hand you drove out the nations and planted our fathers; you crushed the peoples and made our fathers flourish. It was not by their sword that they won the land, nor did their arm bring them victory; it was your right hand, your arm, and the light of your face, for you loved them.
God blessed the Hebrews and watched over them even though they rebelled against him every chance they got. As Dr. Snyder describes how they responded to God, “they flaunted his law in his face time after time and did so with great gusto and often very minimal (if any) guilt afterwards.” So why would God continue to bless them? Dr. Snyder tells us why.
“Yet (yet!–this is the great word hanging over all Hebrew history) God still loved them, subdued their enemies, and led them repeatedly to health and safety. Certainly it was not because they were so good or behaved so honorably, but because he loved them with an everlasting love. It was a love that was grounded in his mercy and grace, not in any way in their worthiness to receive it.
So it is with us. Are you having trouble right now asking God for something because you think you don’t deserve it or haven’t lived the kind of life that would lend itself to his blessing? You’re right! You (we) never will. But that’s the good news. That’s the Gospel. God wants to bless and keep us as he did his people of old. Yes, he wants us to be sorry for it all, to repent and turn from all that offends him, and all of that. Absolutely. But what he wants and waits for most of all is to pour out his mercy and favor upon us. Just ask.
TODAY’S PRAYER: Ask the Lord to remove finally and forever the wrong-headed idea that he bases his grace upon our goodness. This idea will trip you up every time you pray. Now thank him once more for the way he is.
Photo by Felix Weizman via Flickr