Friday, February 24, 2012

Lenten Devotional 03: The Justice of Mercy

Friday, February 24, 2012
Scripture reading: Leviticus19:9-18

In this Lenten season we prepare ourselves for the death and resurrection of Christ, remembering our sinful nature, and repenting of the mindset it creates. At the end of Lent we will experience hope through God’s grace in the cross event. The sin nature is not our focus, but the reality of God’s grace that redeems sinful humanity.

Today, we look at the laws of holiness and how they play a part in our Lenten journey. Personally, I hate talking about sin and the law, but it’s important to know how these things lead us to the grace and mercy of the Lord.

 Prior to today’s pericope, we have a very controversial passage (Lev. 18) about sexual practice (or sexual idolatry theories, but that’s another conversation). The following chapter (Lev. 20) is a similar account. Amidst all this talk about the Canaanite god Molech, idolatry, and more sex than I know what to do with we have our passage concerning neighbors.

The Lord wants the people of God to be just and merciful to the people around us: sharing with the poor (vv. 9-10), honest in our business (vv. 11-14), balanced in our justice (vv. 15-16), reasoning, and loving to our neighbor (17-18). For the Israelites, this meant showing mercy to their persecutors, which may have been different than they were treated. This was true for Israelites dealing with Canaanite idolatry and for those in Babylonian captivity. This is true for us.

As we sacrifice things through temporary fasts, remembering the real sacrifice of Christ, may we recall the scriptures and know that it’sall about God – the work God has done and continues to do – and deception’scurse (that bonded our will to sin) has been met with the mercy of a just Lord.

Lord, God, you sent your son to atone for the fact that we are sinners, but the fact that we are sinners pales in comparison to the just mercy of your grace; you are the Lord our God. May your grace do what the law and our piety fails to do and point our eyes to your cross. May the words of the scriptures be a reminder that you are God and only through your work of the cross are we justified. In the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen.

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