Today’s Reading: Deuteronomy 19:11-22:30
Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. Deuteronomy 19:21
Reading this today it just seemed so harsh! Have no pity? None? And yet this just proves to me how AWESOME our God is.
Take a look at Deuteronomy 21:18-21 again:
“If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they discipline him, will not listen to them, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives, and they shall say to the elders of his city. ‘This, our son, is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones. So you shall purge the evil from your midst,, and all Israel shall hear, and fear.”
How often are we that rebellious child? I don’t know about you, but I’ve lost count myself! So while that punishment is what we deserve, it’s not what we receive!
Take a look at the very next passage, Deuteronomy 21:22-23:
“And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death (like being a rebellious child) and he is put to death and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night on the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God. You shall not defile your land that the LORD your God is giving you for an inheritance.”
A man hung on a tree is cursed by God eh? Mark 15:34 records that on the cross Jesus cried out, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?” which means, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Did you know that the twenty second Psalm starts with those exact words?
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, from the words of my groaning? O my God, I cry by day, but you do not answer, and by night, but I find no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel. In you our fathers trusted; they trusted, and you delivered them. To you they cried and were rescued; in you they trusted and were not put to shame. But I am a worm and not a man, scorned by mankind and despised by the people. All who see me mock me; they make mouths at me; they wag their heads; He trusts in the LORD; let him deliver him/ let him rescue him, for he delights in him! Yet you are he who took me from the womb; you made me trust you at my mother’s breast. On you was I cast from my birth, and from my mother’s womb you have been my God. Be not far from me, for trouble is near, and there is none to help. Many bulls encompass me; strong bulls of Bashan surround me; they open wide their mouths at me, like a ravening and roaring lion. I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint; my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast; my strength is dried up like a potsherd, and my tongue sticks to my jaws; you law me in the dust of death. For dogs encompass me; a company of evildoers encircles me; they have pierced my hands and feet – I can count all my bones – they stare and gloat over me; they divide my garments among them and for my clothing they cast lots. But you, O LORD, do not be far off! O you my help, come quickly to my aid! Deliver my soul from the sword, my precious life from the power of the dog! Save me from the mouth of the lion! You have rescued me from the horns of the wild oxen! I will tell of your name to my brothers; in the midst of the congregation I will praise you; You who fear the LORD, praise him! All you offspring of Jacob, glorify him, and stand in awe of him, all you offspring of Israel! For he has not despised or abhorred the affliction of the afflicted, and he has not hidden his face from him, but has heard, when he cried to him. From you comes my praise in the great congregation; my vows I will perform before those who fear him. The afflicted shall eat and be satisfied; those who seek him shall praise the LORD! May your hearts live forever! All the ends of the earth shall remember and turn to the LORD, and all the families of the nations shall worship before you. For kingship belongs to the LORD, and he rules over the nations. All the prosperous of the earth eat and worship; before him shall bow all who go down to the dust, even the one who could not keep himself alive. Posterity shall serve him; it shall be told of the Lord to the coming generation; they shall come and proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn, that he has done it.”
In John’s account of the cross he tells us that Jesus’ final words were “It is finished”. He had done it. He had finished the work God had sent him to do. He had been hung on a cross (also known as a tree).
You see, Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians,
“if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. For he says, ‘In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you.’ Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.” (5:17-6:2)
My friends, today is the day of favor, today is the day of salvation! Jesus is alive. He has paid the penalty FOR US! “it shall be a life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” Our lives should have been taken on that tree, but He put His Son there instead. Our eyes were the ones that deserved to be spit in, but He did that for us. Our teeth deserved to be gnashing outside the gates of heaven but because of Him they’ll be singing inside them. Our hands, our feet, they deserved to be nailed to that cross on that day, but He took them instead. For me. For you. For all of us, because that’s how Amazing Love really is.