Judgement

Day 26 » Zechariah 13-14

This post was written by James Kim. James is an intern at Georgetown Chi Alpha. He graduated from Georgetown in 2014 and is serving the ministry that helped him grow spiritually during his undergrad years.

This post was written by James Kim. James is an intern at Georgetown Chi Alpha. He graduated from Georgetown in 2014 and is serving the ministry that helped him grow spiritually during his undergrad years.

We near the end of the reading plan today as we finish Zechariah. After reading the Minor Prophets share over and over again about the sins of God’s people, their destruction, and their restoration, Zechariah was refreshing to me.

This book is a turning point for several reasons. The children of those who have lived through the destruction of their homes are given a warning. They are told to remember the sins of their fathers and head towards righteousness. God shows favor to them by protecting this new generation from its enemies. Then, there are the prophecies that are as terrifying and confusing as the ones from the prophet Daniel. Though they include the first coming of Jesus Christ, the book ends with an apocalyptic image.

I am not a Bible scholar. Nor do I aspire to be one. But, as I make my best attempt to understand what God is saying through every part of the Bible, my goal is to figure out what I can do today for God, the things that I can practice in obedience to His word.

So, here are my thoughts from reading Zechariah.

God is very clear and direct about telling us that there will be a point in time when this will all end. All people judged. His people rescued and others condemned. Answering the how’s and when’s are not really my interest. After all, Jesus says that no one knows of the day or the hour (Matt 24:36). What is important is that it is going to happen. It is coming. As I’ve read multiple times throughout the Bible, and especially in the past few weeks, the end is near.

At a first glance, this seems like a scare tactic by God. But, remember, context. It is clear to me from reading Zechariah alone, and even clearer throughout the books of the Minor Prophets and also the Bible as a whole, that God has been chasing after us to warn us about the danger we are heading towards. Being omniscient and omnipresent God, He is fully aware of what He gave us, what we desire, and the consequence of sin. In all the times I read about the end times or God’s judgment, I am reminded that God is pointing to what I should avoid. He provided a yellow sign so that I will turn back in time.

The people of Israel experienced extreme favor from God. From God’s promise to Abraham to the exodus and to the land flowing with honey and milk, God did the impossible for them. But, they were quick to forget and their selfish hearts made the blind and deaf to the prophets’ warnings. God, on the other hand, is faithful. Although there are just consequences for the blind, God is full of mercy to those who repent.

For me, I’ve experience extreme favor from God. I am very thankful for how He watched over me and guided my steps. I am thankful for the brothers and sisters of His family He surrounded me with. I am thankful for the miracle of God coming down to earth as a baby to die on the cross and rise again for my sin. But, I admit that I am quick to forget and give into my selfish desires. If it weren’t for God’s grace, I would not repent. That’s why I am so thankful that in the moments I don’t cling on to God, He is clinging on to me, not willing to let go of my hand.

 

Day 11 » Hosea 7-9

This blog post was written by Karen Keyser. Karen is the Director of Chi Alpha International at Georgetown University.

This blog post was written by Karen Keyser. Karen is the Director of Chi Alpha International at Georgetown University.

Today's Reading » Hosea 7-9

Hosea continues his prophecy to Northern Israel in Chapters 7-9.  Though Israel had been in an intimate relationship with God, like a marriage, now disloyalty to God was spiritual adultery. (9:1)  Israel had turned away from God and turned to Baal worship, as well as sacrificing at the pagan high places. They were mingling with godless foreigners and flitting around worshiping foreign gods with arrogance (7:8–11) and materialism (8:14).   God’s judgment was inevitable.

This section continues to outline God’s case against Israel (ch.7-8) and then pronounces judgment (ch. 8-9).  Listen to the heart-breaking cry of God’s heart in holy jealousy:

7:13-16
I wanted to redeem them,
but they have told lies about me.
They do not cry out to me with sincere hearts.
Instead, they sit on their couches and wail.
They cut themselves, begging foreign gods for grain and new wine,
and they turn away from me.
I trained them and made them strong,
yet now they plot evil against me.
They look everywhere except to the Most High.

9:1
For you have been unfaithful to your God,
hiring yourselves out like prostitutes,
worshiping other gods on every threshing floor.

God’s judgment is inevitable and rightly severe:  God says that Israel’s harvests will be inadequate. They won’t be able to stay in the land, but must return to Egypt where they will be conquered.  Their sacrifices will not be accepted. Nettles and thistles will take over their ruined homes. They will be childless—or their children will be taken away & slaughtered. They will wander about homeless among the nations.  The worst part of the judgment, it seems, is that God will reject them and leave them alone.

As you read, put yourself in Hosea’s shoes…how would he have felt?  Then think about how the Israelite hearers must have felt.  Finally, consider how God would have felt. 

Personally, I can sometimes relate to Israel’s shameful practice listed in 7:16 in my own life: “They look everywhere except to the Most High.”  Not good.  How do I turn that around?  It’s something to prayerfully consider.

Day 6 » Habakkuk

This post is written by Karen Keyser. Karen is the Director of XAi (Chi Alpha International) at Georgetown University.

This post is written by Karen Keyser. Karen is the Director of XAi (Chi Alpha International) at Georgetown University.

Today's Reading » Habakkuk 1-3

As you’re scanning the CNN headlines on the internet, doesn’t seeing all the violence and injustice in the world make you mad? Why isn’t God doing something? Why do the bad guys get away with stuff?

Well, that’s not a new feeling. A prophet named Habakkuk felt that way around 620 B.C. and wrote a book about it. God is not upset by his honest complaints and questions as He included this book of Habakkuk in his inspired Word.

Habakkuk lists six problems: sin, wickedness, destruction, violence, no justice in the courts, and the wicked outnumbering the righteous. He thinks God is indifferent and inactive. Habakkuk had evidently been praying for a long time because he says, (v. 2) “How long, O Lord, will I call for help, And you will not hear?”

But God wasn’t inactive. He responded by raising up a foreign nation, the Babylonians, to come and destroy Judah. No doubt that was NOT what Habakkuk wanted. He was amazed that God would use a nation even more wicked than Judah to punish Judah. But God doesn’t always give us the answers to prayers that we want or expect.

God responded to Habakkuk’s complaint letting him know that Babylon would be punished too. In the end, Habakkuk understands that God is in control, and he offers a prayer of trust and praise. Check out Habakkuk 3:17-19 for an encouraging conclusion to the matter.

“I think the message of Habakkuk is very comforting to us because we live in a wicked society. We can look back at what Habakkuk wrote, see that it came true, that God really is in control, that God did protect the righteous even though they went to Babylon (eg. Daniel, Shadrack, Meshack and Abednego) and He eventually brought them back to the land. Therefore, my faith in God can be bolstered by the prophecy and historical events that show God’s word is true.” (Hampton Keathley)

Though the coming judgment in Judea was frightening, Habakkuk committed himself to wait and trust in God. We, too, can surely rely on a God who is just and good. God IS concerned about the condition of the righteous, and we can be sure he WILL punish the wicked in the end.

These thoughts adapted from Hampton Keathley IV’s blog, “Habakkuk,” bible.org, June 18, 2004.

Days 3 & 4 » Micah

This blog post was written by Bonnie Duncan. Bonnie is the Director of Chi Alpha at Georgetown University.

This blog post was written by Bonnie Duncan. Bonnie is the Director of Chi Alpha at Georgetown University.

Editor’s Note: We might be a little late on this, but in our defense we were living up that Winter Retreat life.

With media filled with stories of reports, violence, corruption, war and terrorism occurring around the world, it’s easy to wonder how--or if--faith fits into it all. The book of Micah reveals that even when God seems distant or uninterested, he still deeply cares and offers a message of hope and redemption to those that remain faithful to him.

If you’re keeping up with the plan, you may be wishing scripture didn’t include scenes like these. Since the split of the of the Kingdom after the reign of David, God’s chosen people in both Israel in the north and Judah in the south have turned against their covenant with God. Micah directed much of his prophecy toward the powerful leaders of Samaria and Jerusalem, the capital cities of Israel and Judah, respectively (1:1).

The prophet Micah identified himself by his hometown, called Moresheth Gath, which sat near the border of Philistia and Judah about twenty-five miles southwest of Jerusalem. So basically, Micah lived in the countryside and far from the government centers of power and control. As a result, he witnessed first-hand the mistreatment of the lowly and less fortunate in society--the poor, the lame and the afflicted (Micah 4:6). Because of these experiences, social justice is a major theme in both the book of Micah and some of the other minor prophets.

Much of Micah’s book revolves around two significant predictions: one of judgment on Israel and Judah (Micah 1:1–3:12), the other of the restoration of God’s people in the millennial kingdom (4:1–5:15).

Judgment and restoration inspire fear and hope, two ideas wrapped up in the final sequence of Micah’s prophecy, a courtroom scene in which God’s people stand trial before their Creator for turning away from Him and from others (6:1–7:20). In this sequence, God reminds the people of His good works on their behalf, how He cared for them while they cared only for themselves.

The book of Micah does end on a high note with the prophet’s call on the Lord as his only source of salvation and mercy (7:7), pointing the people toward an everlasting hope in their everlasting God.

In spite of the judgement the people are facing, God still has not abandoned his plan for hope and redemption.