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Devotional Thought

Devotional Thought : Hebrews 12:22

July 11, 2007

But you have come to Mount Zion, to the heavenly Jerusalem, the city of the living God. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly. Hebrews 12:22

This verse is in stark contrast to the preceding verses where scenes about God giving Moses the Ten Commandments on Mount Sinai are described in terrifying ways. These types of passages cause some to conclude that God in the Old Testament is harsh and severe while God in the New Testament is full of mercy and compassion.

However, even in ancient times, God was full of mercy and compassion. The law and punishments God outlined to Moses seem severe and harsh because God was seeking to teach his people his holiness and justice. Every sin is worthy of the death penalty (Ezekiel 18:4 & 20). Any time someone didn’t die because of their sin they were being shown mercy. Punishments weren’t generally carried out to their full extent because God kept on showing mercy (eg. David and Bathsheba should have been stoned). God was looking forward to the day when Jesus would take upon himself the entire penalty for sin.

When someone experienced God’s punishment like the sudden deaths of Uzzah, Nadab, Abihu, Ananias and Sapphira, we are surprised because we take God’s mercy for granted. Yet these incidents serve as reminders that every sin is worthy of the death penalty. They are reminders of how much mercy we’ve received. There are many examples of God’s mercy throughout the Old Testament. Countless times God warned his people before he reluctantly sent them into exile, God forgave Nineveh much to Jonah’s displeasure (Jonah 4:2), Ruth was included in God’s people even though she was a Moabite (Deuteronomy 23:3).

God doesn’t change. He is still merciful and compassionate.

by Susan Barnes
4

Susan Barnes

~ writer of insightful posts about God and faith

4 thoughts on “Devotional Thought : Hebrews 12:22”

  1. jON

    this has been quite a topic of discussion lately, hasn’t it?

    i think, for me, i simply have a Job-like dilemma. i have too many questions of “why” that i’ll never have answered. i can’t know why god did what he did with the people back then in times i found his reactions a little harsh.

    yet, i do agree, there is a mercy that always pervades. i think more and more that it is my own preconceived notion of sin that keeps me from understanding more clearly. because we learn in ezekiel that the reason god destroyed sodom. “…she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” not because of all the wild homosexual sex as is commonly understood.

    we also know that this is one of the very same reasons that god would punish israel. he blessed them, and once they were blessed, they became caloused to and indifferent to the world that was dying around them and mistreated the “widows and orphans” and immigrants in their midst.

    yet, i cannot help but wonder if god is not also in the “process of becoming” along with us. because there seems to be a radical shift in the expression of his character towards us. he seems to have mellowed out quite a bit and has a much greater open door policy in light of his son.

    before, you couldn’t touch the ark without getting fried, and now we can “…draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” i guess what i’m really wondering here is: did god learn something new when his word became flesh?

    which makes me wonder many things about the concept of a “divine blueprint.” is everything that is done written from all eternity, or are we free enough and god big enough that he goes through these things with us and adapts along the way?

  2. jON

    this has been quite a topic of discussion lately, hasn’t it?

    i think, for me, i simply have a Job-like dilemma. i have too many questions of “why” that i’ll never have answered. i can’t know why god did what he did with the people back then in times i found his reactions a little harsh.

    yet, i do agree, there is a mercy that always pervades. i think more and more that it is my own preconceived notion of sin that keeps me from understanding more clearly. because we learn in ezekiel that the reason god destroyed sodom. “…she and her daughters had arrogance, abundant food and careless ease, but she did not help the poor and needy.” not because of all the wild homosexual sex as is commonly understood.

    we also know that this is one of the very same reasons that god would punish israel. he blessed them, and once they were blessed, they became caloused to and indifferent to the world that was dying around them and mistreated the “widows and orphans” and immigrants in their midst.

    yet, i cannot help but wonder if god is not also in the “process of becoming” along with us. because there seems to be a radical shift in the expression of his character towards us. he seems to have mellowed out quite a bit and has a much greater open door policy in light of his son.

    before, you couldn’t touch the ark without getting fried, and now we can “…draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” i guess what i’m really wondering here is: did god learn something new when his word became flesh?

    which makes me wonder many things about the concept of a “divine blueprint.” is everything that is done written from all eternity, or are we free enough and god big enough that he goes through these things with us and adapts along the way?

  3. I would be inclined to say that it was always God intention to have a progressive revelation of Himself to us. Meaning God deliberately hid some aspects of Himself from the OT people which He chose to fully reveal through His Son. This tends to create the impression God is mellowing.

    I know my thoughts on this have been greatly influenced by a book I read years ago called, God’s Unfolding Purpose by Suzanne de Dietrich. I think I’ll revisit this book, perhaps then I’ll be able to explain myself more clearly!

  4. I would be inclined to say that it was always God intention to have a progressive revelation of Himself to us. Meaning God deliberately hid some aspects of Himself from the OT people which He chose to fully reveal through His Son. This tends to create the impression God is mellowing.

    I know my thoughts on this have been greatly influenced by a book I read years ago called, God’s Unfolding Purpose by Suzanne de Dietrich. I think I’ll revisit this book, perhaps then I’ll be able to explain myself more clearly!

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