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The early church seemed to be obsessed with sin and God’s judgment. If you were to read some of their writings, they would seem to picture God as very stern and harsh.
If you listen to sermons today, Jesus is often presented as our “pal” who is ready to excuse our sin and get on with giving us a good life.
Of course, I have exaggerated the present day message, but I have actually minimized the sternness of the early church emphasis on sin and righteous living.
The Bible teaches us that God is loving and we praise him for that wonderful fact. However, the Bible also declares that court is in session and God is the judge.
God Calls Us to the Courtroom
The Temple priest in Psalm 50 put the people on notice that God was in his courtroom judging the behavior of his people.
Our God is coming, but not in silence;
a raging fire is in front of him,
a furious storm around him.
He calls heaven and earth as witnesses
to see him judge his people. (Psalm 50.3-4)
A study of the words, “cry out,” will give us an idea of how people testify to God about wrongdoing and injustice.
God said this to Cain about Abel’s witness: “Listen; your brother’s blood is crying out to me from the ground!” (Genesis 4.10).
There is an entire theme concerning the “shedding of innocent blood” in the Old Testament. Imagine the thousands of people who die in war, ethnic conflicts, and street violence. The blood of innocents cry out to God for justice.
“The Israelites groaned under their slavery, and cried out. Out of the slavery their cry for help rose up to God” (Exodus 2.23).
According to the website, https://www.theworldcounts.com/stories/Modern_Day_Slavery_Statistics, there are 20-30 million people who are in slavery at this moment.
Modern slaves account for billions of dollars of revenue for the powerful, while they receive no benefit for their service. Like the Israelites, their cry is heard in God’s courtroom.
James adds the unjust treatment of laborers to the witnesses in God’s courtroom. He writes, “Listen! The wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out, and the cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord of hosts” (James 5.4).
These three examples are a small sample of ways that other people provide testimony in God’s courtroom. These people depend on the fact that “the Judge of all the earth will do what is just” (Genesis 18.25).
God Calls the Faithful
God calls his faithful to give an accounting of their behavior. Please note, this is not a history lesson. Everyday, God calls each one of us to account for our actions.
He says, “Gather my faithful people to me,
those who made a covenant with me by offering a sacrifice.”
The heavens proclaim that God is righteous,
that he himself is judge. (Psalm 50.5-6)
Faithful people are those who have a personal relationship with God. They are people who seek to live a life that is defined by how Jesus both lived and taught.
The priest in the Temple may have been expected to speak about animal or grain sacrifices that often took place. As God’s spokesman however, the priest declared a different kind of sacrifice that God desires.
Let the giving of thanks be your sacrifice to God,
and give the Almighty all that you promised.
Call to me when trouble comes;
I will save you,
and you will praise me. (Psalm 50.14-15)
The one thing that God most desires from us is a heart that is willing to love him and follow his guidance. There is nothing in the universe that is not his, since he is the Creator of all.
God cannot bring into existence a loving heart. It is our to give to him in return for his gracious love toward us.
The acts of gratitude and prayer reflect a loving relationship with God. We recognize that we are not self-sufficient when we express our thanks to God and dialogue with him about our needs.
Let’s reflect today on the fact that Jesus came to earth, lived among us for over 30 years, died on the cross and rose from the dead to establish a personal relationship with us. Our relationship with God, one of gratitude and prayer, is the end product of his perfect life.
God Calls the Wicked
After God calls people who live in gratitude and prayer, he calls the wicked to give an account of their activities.
Apparently, they know and can repeat God’s commands. Yet, they choose to ignore God’s direction and choose to live self-centered and self-sufficient lives.
But God says to the wicked,
“Why should you recite my commandments?
Why should you talk about my covenant?
You refuse to let me correct you;
you reject my commands. (Psalm 50.16-17)
If the wicked want proof of their bad behavior, God will list what they have done.
— They are friendly with and don’t correct those who cheat others out of their possessions (verse 18).
— They are quite at home with those who are sexually immoral (verse 18).
— Lying words and evil talk come as naturally to them as breathing (verse 19).
— Even though they are quick to lie, they are also prone to finding fault with others (verse 20).
— The worst indictment is that they think God is like them (verse 21).
You have done all this, and I have said nothing,
so you thought that I am like you. (Psalm 50.21)
We Are Called Before God
God calls us into his courtroom through this Psalm. We do well to spend some time in self-examination. Let’s ask some questions.
— How is my relationship with God? Is it vibrant? Do I frequently give him thanks? Do I feel free to ask him for help?
— If the people around me were summoned to provide testimony about my behavior, how would I do? Would my children, friends, co-workers, and spouse see the principles of Jesus evident in my life?
— As I review the list of offenses of the wicked, are there any that apply to me?
— Do I think that God somehow approves of my behavior, even though it goes against his revealed guidance for life?
May We Pray for You?
If you would like prayer, please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. I will pray for you and ask the prayer team at Maywood Baptist Church to pray, too.