The Irony of God

Irony often pertains to a sense of humor, but often it’s deadly serious. So it is with God. Read on.

When the spies returned and gave their cowardly report to Israel about the strength of their enemies, everyone cried out against Moses and God. They said they would all die if they invaded the promised land, and their children would become “plunder” (Num.14:1-3). God was listening!

They forgot God’s constant care over their 40-year desert journey and convinced themselves that all was lost. They let their human hearts deceive them. We’re told in Jeremiah 17:9-10 that “The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; who can understand it?” God warned in Proverbs 4:23 that each of us needs to “Watch over your heart with all diligence, for out of it flow the springs of life.” The human heart can be a wonderful thing, but we can let it become sour and corrupt.

This is where God’s irony comes in. When our hearts lead us away, God may well deal with us in surprising ways. Israel cried out that their children would become plunder in the promised land. God replied, “Your little ones who you said would become a prey…shall enter there, and I will give it to them, and they shall possess it” (Deut.1:39). God always judges righteously, and with surprising effects.

Back in Jeremiah’s passage, God continued, “I, the Lord, search the heart, I test the mind, even to give to each man according to his ways, according to the results of his deeds.”

Guard your heart and keep it pure, for God searches what’s inside and deals with us appropriately. Israel didn’t, and suffered His precise and ironic judgment. Let that never happen to you.

– Tim Johnson

No Need to Fear

It is hard for us to imagine the minds of those who have recently killed and injured innocent people in Europe. We wonder where they will strike next, and how we can protect ourselves and our country. Their actions have caused fear and disgust in people everywhere.

It’s interesting that the Bible speaks about similar ancient Middle Eastern powers that once terrorized nations all around them. The Assyrians, Babylonians and Syrians were particularly guilty of atrocities. Isaiah spoke against Assyria in Is.10, predicting their destruction in verses 15-19. In chapter 17 he says the powers in Damascus would be destroyed overnight; “Such will be the portion of those who plunder us, and the lot of those who pillage us.” (v14) Judgment on the Babylonians is featured in chapter 21, and by other prophets like Jeremiah and Daniel.

God clearly pointed out that He is in control of the destiny of nations, and He will judge them when their time is up. Nothing escapes Him, and for that reason we do not need to fear. I have no doubt He will judge the current terrorists when He feels the right time has come; He may use other nations to do it. We can trust His wisdom in these complicated matters.

Our work in the world is to “observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually” (Hosea 12:6). Our business is to save the souls of men, and to teach them how to follow Christ. Let’s keep busy with these things and not fear the ravings of violent men and women. God comforted His people in difficult times of the past, and we can rest in His care today.

– Tim Johnson

Mercy is Tough

Half the books in the library seem to be about tough people who solve crimes. They’re always good-looking, muscular, and have interesting personalities; but most of the time they don’t care about people. Jesus taught us to do something that’s even tougher to do: “Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36).

Why is it tough to be merciful? Because it goes against everything we normally want to do. The easy thing is to take revenge, gossip about somebody, or refuse to forgive. It’s much harder to show some mercy to someone you don’t like, or who has done something against you. We want to react in kind. Jesus commands us not to. That’s the tough part. Continue reading