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Part of the FBCS 2010 Read Through the Bible Project: Enter the Story. Join the Song.

Loyalty and Justice . . .

Revelation 6   Nehemiah 8:13-9:38   Psalm 101

“I will sing of loyalty and justice” (Psalm 101:1). Today’s readings include a prayer offered by Ezra on behalf of God’s people, a psalm sung by a king as he pledges to rule justly, and a prayer uttered by the martyrs in heaven. As we read these texts, we come face-to-face with images of God’s loyal love and exacting justice. Side-by-side and together. So Ezra speaks of God, who is “gracious and merciful” (Nehemiah 9:17) both sustaining the people (v.21) and giving them “into the hands of their enemies” (v.27) . . . Steadfast love and accountable justice . . . the words “did not forsake” (v.17) and “you abandoned them” (v.28) all in one prayer . . . In the words of  C. S. Lewis as he describes the great lion, Aslan, though it may be difficult to imagine, a thing can be “good and terrible at the same time.”  Loyalty and justice . . .

“Nevertheless, in your great mercies you did not make an end to them or forsake them” (Nehemiah 9:31). The story is consistent: Nevertheless. That is, though people repeatedly rebel against God and must live with the consequences, when they cry out to God, God rescues them “many times” according to God’s mercies (v.28). Loyal love and accountable justice . . . on full display in Revelation 6, as the prayers of the martyrs are heard and “the great day of their wrath has come” (v.17). God is love. And God is just. God is, indeed, good and terrible at the same time. And those who are wise are keenly aware of the balance . . .

“Great and mighty and awesome God, keeping covenant and steadfast love” (Nehemiah 9:32). This is the God we worship and serve. This is the God to whom we pray. This is the God on whom we depend. And we do well, therefore, to “study the way that is blameless” and walk in that way (Psalm 101:2), trusting God to walk with us through all circumstances with the perfect balance of loyal love and holy justice. As the child’s prayer reminds us, “God is Great; God is Good.” Let us thank God, walk in his ways, and sing of loyalty and justice together. Amen.

“You are the Lord, you alone;
you have made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host,
the earth and all that is on it,
the seas and all than is in them.
To all you give life, and the host of heaven worships you.”

— Nehemiah 9:6

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