Guests: Darold Bigger and Brant Berglin
Related Verses: Ex 22:21-23; 23:2-9; Amos 8:4-7; Isa 1:13-17; 58:1-14; Acts 20:35
In the biblical story, the ideal and pristine situation of Adam and Eve was lost when sin came in. Subsequent to that unhappy day, God initiated a process designed to bring about restoration of what was lost. In the Bible, this process plays out throughout the whole biblical story particularly along the themes of mercy and justice, two characteristics that are highly prized by God. Today we look at some examples of these two elements of restoration as they were on display in the Old Testament.
- Notice the provisions made in Exodus 22:21-27, 23:2-9, Lev. 19:10.
- Notice the provisions in the Sabbath commandment and in the Year of Jubilee instructions. Exo. 20:8-10, Lev. 25:8-55
Reading these verses quickly reveals that God has some particular concerns particularly about those who happen to be disadvantaged for some reason or other. This concern extended beyond humans to include also the animals.
- What is God’s particular concern mentioned having to do with strangers and sojourners?
- What happens when those in power pervert justice?
- What happens when people accept bribes?
- What do you think the effects of the Jubilee Year were on the value of things? And how do you think this idea of a Jubilee year affected the cycle of poverty that so often traps people from generation to generation?
- Why do you think wives are not specifically mentioned in the Sabbath Commandment?
- How do you think an observance of the Sabbath would help in the grand restoration God is working on?
Another place in which we sense God’s concern for justice and mercy is in the words, sometimes cutting words, of the prophets.
- A general statement can be found in Proverbs 31:8, 9. How would you apply the principles there today?
- Read Isaiah 1:13-17 and reflect on how corruption affects even worship, how God would rather have justice and mercy present than people going through worship rituals.
- Notice how strong the language used in these verses is, particularly as they describe God’s feelings and potential actions.
- Read Isa. 58:1-14 and reflect on what you read there.
It almost goes without saying that simply being aware of God’s ideas and desires amounts to very little, perhaps even nothing, unless it results in action. Justice and mercy are only vague ideas if they are not real.
- When last did you act in behalf of some poor or disadvantaged person?
- When last did you speak out in favor of the down-trodden or powerless?
- What do you think your church can do to help affect good change in your neighborhood?