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Insight #4 July 23, 2016
Third Quarter 2016 Adult Sabbath School Lessons
Justice and Mercy in the Old Testament- Part 2
July 23, 2016

     The second of the lessons on Justice and Mercy in the Old Testament places great emphasis on the practicality of true Christianity and Agape Love, in revealing in the life the mercy of Christ in practical ministry and concern for people, the community, etc.  In essence, where there is Christ there is life.  A life lived as Christ did.  Acts 10:37 tells us that Christ "went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil, for God was with Him."  We should all, as Seventh Day Adventist Christians, be thinking and planning to do what the family did in the illustration under Sabbath Afternoon, and that is to live our lives in ministry to people, bringing life to dead people, spiritually, and dead communities, on every level.  The OT, and the whole Bible, calls upon God's people to reveal Christ's character of kindness, love, mercy, sacrifice to the world.
       The Bible is clear that there is life, only in Christ.  Ezekiel 37 graphically illustrates that those who are spiritually dead can find life, revival, reformation, renewal, and purpose through Christ.  The famous illustration of "dry bones" living again reminds us continually of the power of love.  Ezekiel 37 also shows that such a renewal of spiritual life will lead to a "vast army", meaning, we will find unity, strength, purpose, motivation, and courage in a corporate way, not merely individually.  The fruits of true faith are mercy, love, unselfish giving, Revival for itself is not enough.  We need revival for a renewal of our sense of mission, our love for fallen humanity, our care for meeting human need even in those who reject Christ, and in our revealing, in our characters, the ultimate goal and purpose of the Gospel and the Three Angels Messages, a people prepared to meet Christ in peace, revealing the love of Heaven itself.
        The waters of Christ are for the "healing" of the nations.  They bring life to all who drink of it.  The river of Ezekiel 37, as the story of the woman at the well, or the point of many texts calling for us to "drink" of the living waters, spiritually, illustrates that Christianity should "flood" the world with God's truth.  The additional point is that life can exist where there is no life, that there is no hopeless situation, that faith is greater than what we presently see or experience.  We can give hope to those who are discouraged, spiritually dry, depressed, lifeless, and without hope. 
         We all need to spend our lives in the pursuit of God's mission, to reveal love to a world, and hopefully, in the process, to win souls for Christ.  Jesus healed the lepers, however, regardless of how many thanked Him or followed Him.  Christ's life was a life of disinterested benevolence.  His giving was not conditional on a response, and we need to learn the same unselfish choices with our lives.  God wants His churches to be a source of life physically, mentally, and spiritually, which is the Adventist message, one of holistic healing, one of caring for the whole man.
         Isaiah 61:1-11 speaks of the Messiah preaching good news to those who desperately need it, whether poor, sick, distressed, brokenhearted, captive, etc.  The Jubilee year was an outworking of these principles. offering hope to the needy and hope for the cessation of oppressive conditions and situations.  God provides something better than what we have, or even aspire to.  I saw a sign on a church the other day.  "Aspire to Inspire before you Expire."  I thought that was very revealing and truthful.  Those with blessings should share them.  The same transforming influence of the prophecy of Is. 61 should be revealed today.  Missionaries are those sent with a mission, and we have one, namely, to "seek and to save the lost." 
         Matthew 25 tells parables which, in part, illustrates that in the judgment God is going to look for evidence that our faith "worked by love" and cared for the poor and needy, for our concern for them reflects our attitude towards God.  Micah 6 reveals that God cares about love, justice, mercy, and walking humbly with God.  If the church is not a change agent, if it exists only for its own continual survival, it will die, and others will also perish, partly, because of the church's lack of real life flowing through it.  The rites and ceremonies are a part of church life, but the real life, obviously, is spent outside those walls.  Our communities are bursting with need, hurt, fear, but also possibility for ministry.
         He who gives to the poor, lends to the Lord.  A truism of the Bible, and certainly reflective of our dual relationship with God, and thus, with man.  As Christ's character is one that gave everything for all, let us give all for Christ, and to all that He died for.  May God bless you. 

~Pastor Tom Cusack