Going Deeper 8-15-2019

The Psalm for Pentecost 10...
Psalm 82   God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods he holds judgment:  "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?  Give justice to the weak and the orphan; maintain the right of the lowly and the destitute. Rescue the weak and the needy; deliver them from the hand of the wicked."  They have neither knowledge nor understanding, they walk around in darkness; all the foundations of the earth are shaken.  I say, "You are gods, children of the Most High, all of you; nevertheless, you shall die like mortals, and fall like any prince."  Rise up, O God, judge the earth; for all the nations belong to you!

This is a very unique (you might even say very strange) and important Psalm.  The strangeness comes in the first verse as it speaks of a "divine council" which includes not only the one true God of the Bible, but other gods as well.  This is very similar to the start of the story of Job.  The common understanding is that this is a style of writing that creates a dramatic seen for the purpose of teaching a certain point.  The scene itself is story-telling, not necessarily an actual historical event.

The importance of this text has led one commentator to actually refer to it as "the single most important text in the entire Bible."  I wouldn't go that far, but I do believe the implications of this text are profound and help us understand what went wrong with Israel and what can go wrong with 'religion' in general.  God has consistently called His people to work for justice for their most vulnerable neighbors... "the weak and the orphan... the lowly and the destitute... and the needy."  Too often religion has focused much more on rites and rituals and fulfilling a certain set of expectations.

The mindset of compassion is clearly modeled by Jesus, whose numerous quotes of the Old Testament prophets included: "I desire mercy, and not sacrifice."  Jesus devoted His earthly journey to caring for those in greatest need, and culminated His mission by laying down His life to meet all of humanity's greatest need: forgiveness/grace.  As someone once said, "Jesus lived the perfect life because we cannot, and died our death so that we need not."

What is critically important to all of this is that our motivation to love and serve others is primarily stimulated by the love we have received.  We ideally must not love and serve merely because we are supposed to, but because we want to.  Remember... loved people love people.  Grace received leads to grace extended.

Need motivation to love and serve?  Spend time contemplating the true depth of your sinful brokenness, and then spend even more time contemplating the amazing grace and profound love of your Abba/Father and your brother Jesus, and seek an increasingly profound indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God.  When we do this, justice, mercy, and love are broned as fruits of our faith.

With You in His Grace,

Mark Gabbert, Pastor
Zion Lutheran Church
Wellington, Colorado

"No one cares how much you know until they know how much you care."