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Omaha, NE 68114

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Why did that happen to me? Is God mad at me? Is He paying me back for my sin?

How does your own religious/ spiritual history shape your understanding of God’s goodness? Do we over-interpret events like the Pharisees did? When something bad happens do you think God is punishing you? Well, that’s entirely possible (although scripture says he disciplines us, not punishes). But the solution will be to draw near to Jesus (and perhaps confess if appropriate), and not throwing down hundreds of laws to perfect yourself. And certainly not hold out hundreds of laws to those around us with the hope that once we all obey enough that God will bless us. God has already blessed us in Christ. Look to Him and the acceptance that He provides.

Why did that happen to me? Is God mad at me? Is He paying me back for my sin?


Ignoring the religious context can lead us to inaccurate interpretations and conclusions about our comfort and God’s Kingdom.


To illustrate, let’s look at how the Pharisees viewed Roman conquest in the 1st century.


First a brief review of Israel’s history:


Israel had experienced foreign subjugation or domination by other nations since the Babylonian captivities which began in 605 BC. The Babylonians dominated Israel until 539 BC when Cyrus of Persia conquered the Babylonian empire, but he continued to subjugate Israel until Rome came on the scene. Of course, Rome also continued Israel’s domination which sets the stage for the New Testament scene. But here’s the contextual key: The cause of all of this foreign domination was universally attributed to Israel’s national sin. Based on passages like Deut. 28, Israel understood that God was actively disciplining wayward Israel through the oppression of nearby capable nations.


So, with that historical background, how might the Pharisees view Roman conquest?

They thought Rome was in power and oppressing Israel because of Israel’s national sin. The religious leaders therefore thought that the solution was national obedience. Here’s their challenge: How could the Pharisees get everyone in Israel to obey God’s word? This is the question they sought to answer, and it explains why the Pharisees went about their spiritual lives the way they did…by controlling people and society with numerous (613) laws which were aimed at preventing people from sinning. They thought that God would bless Israel if and when Israel stopped sinning so much.


I admire the Pharisees desire – they really did want God’s blessing. But they went about it in a completely mechanical way. They thought that God blesses obedience, therefore any blessing confirmed your righteousness. They also thought that God punished disobedience, therefore any hardship in someone’s life was a result of sin (not unlike Job’s friends).


There are several questions here.


How does your own religious/ spiritual history shape your understanding of God’s goodness? Do we over-interpret events like the Pharisees did? When something bad happens do you think God is punishing you? Well, that’s entirely possible (although scripture says he disciplines us, not punishes). But the solution will be to draw near to Jesus (and perhaps confess if appropriate), and not throwing down hundreds of laws to perfect yourself. And certainly not hold out hundreds of laws to those around us with the hope that once we all obey enough that God will bless us.


God has already blessed us in Christ. Look to Him and the acceptance that He provides.

Enjoy Walking with the Savior Today,

John

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