In this passage God is doing away with this well-known proverb and giving His people a new one. For in the next verse He exclaims, “As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, you will no longer quote this proverb in Israel. For every living soul belongs to Me, the father as well as the son – both alike belong to Me. The soul who sins is the one who will die.” Here God gives us a declaration of individual responsibility for our sins…for only us are accountable for our sins…and some day, we will be the only person that will answer for them.
You can ask my husband, I intentionally engage checkout clerks, wait staff and anyone else who may be helping me. I am polite and courteous, asking how their day is going and allowing them to talk. I ask thoughtful questions and encourage them with kind-hearted words. The other day I was speaking to a sleepy looking cashier at a large retail store…come to find out he had worked until 1am and was back again at 4am for his next shift. Sadly, we become so focused on our own agenda…our own needs…our own impatience – that we totally forget that it’s another human being standing in front of us, with their own story. I challenge you this holiday season to give a kind word to all those assisting you…for you don’t know how it may cheer them up.
Earlier in the day, Paul and Silas had been stripped, severely flogged and then thrown into prison. So we now find them hours later holding their own praise and worship service to a rather captive audience of fellow prisoners and guards. They could have wallowed in their sorrow and pain, but instead chose to worship God. When we praise God in the midst of impossible situations, the atmosphere changes and with it, our attitude. Our eyes are taken off the incurable, the grief-stricken, the hopeless dilemma…and allows God to work in miraculous ways. It says here that the earthquake caused all the prison doors to open…not just the one to Paul and Silas’s cell, and that everybody’s chains came off…not just theirs. When our focus is on praise rather than on self-pity, everyone around us will be blessed.
It tells us here, if you love God – you hate sin. There’s no middle ground or compromise for this statement either. If Jesus is living inside of you, sin and wickedness should evoke within you a strong aversion and loathing. If sin of any type is still enticing, tempting, and luring you…even if you don’t act on it…I pray that you confess this captivation and ask for forgiveness. For our God is not only able to rescue you from the hand of the oppressor, but give you peace.
As a Believer, you have been given the Spirit of adoption and strength. No longer are you an orphan, fearful of tomorrow. No longer are you a slave to anxiety or dread, for you have been embraced by your Heavenly Father…taken in as family and becoming a joint heir with Jesus.
Rebellion is not a learned behavior…we are hard-wired to be defiant. Just ask any mom contending with her toddler! With independence and autonomy comes rebellion and disobedience. Fast forward to adulthood and we see people resisting and defying authority everyday…refusing to accept what they perceive as control over themselves. For many, this extends into their view of who God is and the refusal to accept Him, His laws, and His correction. Rebellion against God is futile vanity that will only lead to judgment someday.
The OT prophet Isaiah spoke of this illuminating glory to come in Isaiah 60:19, ” The sun will no more be your light by day, nor will the brightness of the moon shine on you, for the Lord will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.” There is coming a day when God’s Kingdom will be set up here on earth…His truth and glory will pierce through all darkness, bringing into the light all sin and deception. On that day, the Lord Himself will become our light, and all evil will have to flee.
A plaque I saw the other day took me back and really had me thinking…it read, “What if you woke up tomorrow with only the things you had thanked God for the day before?” Pretty sobering, right? I know we try to thank the Lord for what we have (especially around the table on Thanksgiving)…but what about thanking Him for things you no longer have. This could mean thanking God for delivering you from feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and depression that had once ruled your life. Or this could mean thanking Him for complete recovery from illness, injury, or surgery that had plagued you this year. As the Scripture says, let’s be overflowing with thankfulness in all things…the things we have, and the things we don’t.
For many, life has been hard. Years have been lost to bad choices, addictions, and the consequences caused by other people’s decisions. We can’t but feel that our life has been robbed of time. But the Lord is telling us in this Scripture that He will completely fulfill those lost years…allowing us to reclaim the happiness and contentment…the peace and security that we thought we’d never have again. For He is the God of redemption – accomplishing the impossible, and bringing to pass the unimaginable in our lives.