Dec 15: Job 18, 19 | Zeph 1 | 2 Pet 3
Reading 1 - Job 19:25
"I know that my Redeemer lives" (Job 19:25).
Yahweh is the redeemer (Heb "goel") of His people: Exo 6:6; Psa 19:14; 78:35; Isa 41:14; 59:20.
"Goel" is translated "avenger" (Num 35:12), "revenger" (Num 35:19,27), "near-kinsman" (Rth 2:20; 3:9); "deliver" (Psa 119:154); "ransomed" (Isa 51:10); "kinfolk" (1Ki 16:11); "kinsman" (Num 5:8).
The 'near-kinsman" should redeem his brethren if they have fallen into slavery or servitude (Lev 25:47-55; cp Rom 6:17,18).
He may also function as:
1. An avenger of blood: Jos 20:3-6; Num 35:15-28; Deu 19:6-12. Cp Rom 12:19; Rev 6:10.
2. An avenger of violated rights: Rth 4:1,6,8.
3. A redeemer of the fatherless (Pro 23:10).
4. A redeemer from:
death, grave (Hos 13:14),
evil (Gen 48:16),
deceit and violence (Psa 72:14), and
enemies (Psa 106:10; 107:2).
"I know that MY Redeemer lives!"
What good is a Redeemer who does not redeem ME? What benefit is an Avenger who does not stand up for ME? The difference is absolute: it is the difference between gold ore buried in the mine, and gold coins in my pocket!
Reading 2 - Zep 1:4-6
"I will stretch out my hand against Judah and against all who live in Jerusalem. I will cut off from this place every remnant of Baal, the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests -- those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host, those who bow down and swear by the LORD and who also swear by Molech, those who turn back from following the LORD and neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him" (Zep 1:4-6).
"I will sweep away -- or cut off"... four distinct classes of sinners:
The OPEN idolaters: "every remnant of Baal, the names of the pagan and the idolatrous priests -- those who bow down on the roofs to worship the starry host" (vv 4,5).
The SECRET idolaters: "those who bow down and swear by the LORD AND who ALSO swear by Molech" (v 5).
The backsliders: "those who turn back from following the LORD" (v 6).
The indifferent: "those who... neither seek the LORD nor inquire of him" (v 6).
That seems to cover the field rather well! Can we imagine any sort of sinner who does not fall into at least one of these categories? Do we not sometimes find even ourselves perilously entrapped in sins of most of these types?
It all has to do with "caring": the open idolaters CARE, but they care wrongly; they have a zeal but not according to knowledge, and they bow five times a day toward Mecca or burn incense to a smiling stone image, but it profits them nothing.
The secret idolaters CARE too, but only half-heartedly; they serve God at times, but they never quite overthrow the altar of "Mammon" in their lives!
The backsliders CARED for God at one time, but they stopped caring. Perhaps the "cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches" entered their lives and choked the word of God.
And, last, there are the indifferent, who CARE not at all, who cannot be moved even with dynamite from the comfortable ruts of their sad, empty little lives.
What is the lesson for us? God sees and will judge EVERY type of iniquity: the external idolatry of false religion as well as the secret, internal idolatry of covetousness (Col 3:5), which wears a cloak of "righteousness" in order to deceive (both itself and others).
"Search us, Lord, and know our heart.
With every idol bid us part."
These exhortations are lost on us if we think only of "idols" made of wood and stone, and pride ourselves as having nothing to do with such. But the "idols" that should frighten us, from whose bondage we should pray to be delivered, are the modern "gods" of materialism, licentiousness (in books, movies, and television), and pleasure-seeking! For God WILL judge EVERY type of sin: the open indifference of atheism no more than the hidden indifference of a lax Laodicean faith which seeks its own comfort and ignores its "nakedness" in God's sight.
Reading 3 - 2Pe 3:11
"Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?" (2Pe 3:11).
"So it is with all the doctrines of Scripture; they are all intended to have a transforming power, and it is in this way that we should view them. This reflection provokes another: if the Scriptures are designed to have such a vital influence upon us, how regularly and how prayerfully we should be reading them; and what a wise arrangement it has been that in our daily readings we set out to read all of them, and not just a selection according to our taste" (Fred Pearce, "The Christadelphian" 114:169).