David warned me the Book of Galatians would have its challenging passages. I had underlined a lot of what we read today at some point in my life, and verses 20-21 even got a little star by it. This must be important stuff. But then again, all of the Bible is “important stuff” that we should be consuming and using as our “life’s instruction manual.”
What’s up with Peter? And why did Paul put this little vignette in his story right before one of the most impactful of verses? I feel like Peter was really concerned for appearances. It was fine to share a meal with the Gentiles (of all people) when nobody was looking. But then as soon as some Jews show up, he steps away and back into being just Jewish. Didn’t there used to be a delightful British comedy called, “Keeping Up Appearances” following the life of Hyacinth?
Did you picture a movie scene with one car in hot pursuit of another? Screeching tires and dust billowing all over?! There is no question, you see a definite intention to catch up with the other vehicle. It’s not just for fun, it’s serious. Or perhaps you thought of some of your own pursuits, a college degree, a career, wealth, fame.
Solomon has some great wisdom for us in verse 21. He says, “Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.” Have you ever thought about pursuing righteousness or unfailing love? In some translations, unfailing love is referred to as loyalty. As I understand it, the word used for “pursue” here is stronger and more intentional than just a whim or something we’d “like” to have. We are to chase or follow, full of energy and definite intention. We are not to just search for but to conquer and overtake. This is serious business. Why righteousness and unfailing love?
Wow – this could definitely be the wake-up call we all need to get back on track! If we had any doubt why Jesus came to earth, he clears it up for us right here. He didn’t come to abolish the laws of Moses but to “accomplish” them. So what does that mean exactly?
To be clear, these are not Moses’ laws, but the laws God gave to Moses to share with the people. For the years and years before Jesus came, these laws were what guided God’s people. As you can imagine, there were plenty of folks who broke the law or twisted the law, much like people do today. But there were also God-fearing people who followed the law, to the letter.
God has spoken. Judgment for Israel is here. All are being called out. I got the feeling that maybe some were cowering now, hoping that God would pass over them and not bring his wrath. Even some players outside Israel were brought in.
What I liked about today’s reading were the word pictures or descriptions. While it didn’t lessen the intent, it made it easier to understand. The same message only with a different “package”. The descriptors helped me to see parallels to our day.
What struck a chord with you? What questions came to your mind? I welcome your comments at the end.
I would love to have this blog be a safe place where we can enter into conversation. We didn’t bring David’s library of Biblical history and pastoral care to Mexico for nothing. I would love to use those resources to answer your questions. I’ll get the joy of watching David know exactly what book will have your answer if he doesn’t already have a nugget to share.
So please, don’t be shy. Comment below — and go back to any of the other posts and comment.
When I read verse 4, I was hit by the reality that still exists. “They spout empty words and make covenants they don’t intend to keep. So injustice springs up among them like poisonous weeds in a farmer’s field.” Ouch! God’s promises and word never fails. Not so for us all of the time. Can you remember a time when you made a promise but didn’t keep it? Maybe you said something in haste or anger, without thinking it through. Empty. What better way to cause bitterness or distrust with those involved.
Let’s also look at verse 12. “I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts,for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.’” Here it is. The nugget I’m taking away. This is what God wants from us. As we’ve said before, our purpose is to love God and others. This is a great formula to follow to make it happen. Read that verse several times and let it sink in. We have our marching orders, just like the Israelites did.
What are we waiting for?
Let’s pray. Father God, thank you for your instruction today. I love how your Word is always perfect. There is always a message for me. Now it’s up to me to heed your challenge and get to it. Cleanse my heart of things that are keeping me from you. Help me break apart the hardness that has set in so I can be open and ready for your righteousness. Don’t let my eyes be closed to the needs around me. Show me those that are ready to hear from you. Give me the words to say. I trust you will in your time. I love you Lord. In Jesus’ name. Amen.