Links Daily Devotional

‘If the Lord Had Not…’

If the LORD of hosts
had not left us a few survivors,
we should have been like Sodom,
and become like Gomorrah. (Isaiah 1:9, ESV)

One of the more common laments of a golfer who has just completed a round goes like this: “I left some out there.” Whether from the mouth of a tour professional or your buddy at the club, the thinking is the same—oh, the opportunities I missed!

Far less often will you hear the story of a round told like this: “Wow! That could have been so much worse! I’m glad for what I was able to do.”

Maybe it is the worldview of Western culture rearing its head here. We are bent to favoring our own control over the circumstances of our lives.

All we have been given—from our very breath to eternal life in Christ—comes in God’s sovereign mercy.Or maybe it’s the relentless progress of technology and medicine, and their partners litigation and insurance. These four brothers have succeeded in eliminating accidents and mitigating tragedy. We’re not eyewitness to enough bad news. The chances of holding someone in our arms as they die have been pushed to the far end of the chronological spectrum; it’s an occurrence typically reserved for old age.

The ancients had no such interventions. Lifespans were short. Disease could overtake a village in days. If you weren’t a slave, you knew full well what the life of one looked like. Famine, flood, pestilence—all these bided their time on the near horizon.

All the same, certain world events captured the attentions of the people above and beyond others. Jesus spoke of Galileans profaned by Pilate in their death and of eighteen killed in the collapse of a local tower. For Isaiah, the headliners were Sodom and Gomorrah, those two cities wiped out by fire and brimstone for their wickedness in the eyes of God.

Doubling back now, we see that we can view such events in two ways. We might take the course of ruing the tragedy, even shaking our fist at God and laying claims of unfairness. But Isaiah said, “No, it’s not like that. Were it not for God’s mercy, we would have been wiped out, too.”

Paul wrote of this mercy to the Romans, considering the context of salvation. Not all will be saved, he lamented. From the outline of Romans 9, some would have their hearts hardened by God, never to turn to him. From the outline of Romans 10, some would never hear the Good News of Christ and thus have no opportunity to call on him. Much theological debate stems from these two outlines. We won’t go there today. Rather, we will simply note with Isaiah and Paul that all we have been given—from our very breath to eternal life in Christ—comes in God’s sovereign mercy. We must see this, take refuge in it, and hold fast to him in fear and praise.

Jeff Hopper
July 24, 2017
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