Drought, Famine, Sword
7. Although our sins testify against us, do something, Lord, for the sake of your name. For we have often rebelled; we have sinned against you.
8. You who are the hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress, why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night?
9. Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save? You are among us, Lord, and we bear your name; do not forsake us!
10. This is what the Lord says about this people: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; he will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins.”
11. Then the Lord said to me, “Do not pray for the well-being of this people. 12. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”
13. But I said, “Alas, Sovereign Lord! The prophets keep telling them, ‘You will not see the sword or suffer famine. Indeed, I will give you lasting peace in this place.’ ”
14. Then the Lord said to me, “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I have not sent them or appointed them or spoken to them. They are prophesying to you false visions, divinations, idolatries and the delusions of their own minds. 15. Therefore this is what the Lord says about the prophets who are prophesying in my name: I did not send them, yet they are saying, ‘No sword or famine will touch this land.’ Those same prophets will perish by sword and famine. 16. And the people they are prophesying to will be thrown out into the streets of Jerusalem because of the famine and sword. There will be no one to bury them, their wives, their sons and their daughters. I will pour out on them the calamity they deserve.
17. “Speak this word to them: “ ‘Let my eyes overflow with tears night and day without ceasing; for the Virgin Daughter, my people, has suffered a grievous wound, a crushing blow.
18. If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword; if I go into the city, I see the ravages of famine. Both prophet and priest have gone to a land they know not.’ ”
19. Have you rejected Judah completely? Do you despise Zion? Why have you afflicted us so that we cannot be healed? We hoped for peace but no good has come, for a time of healing but there is only terror.
20. We acknowledge our wickedness, Lord, and the guilt of our ancestors; we have indeed sinned against you.
21. For the sake of your name do not despise us; do not dishonor your glorious throne. Remember your covenant with us and do not break it.
22. Do any of the worthless idols of the nations bring rain? Do the skies themselves send down showers? No, it is you, Lord our God. Therefore our hope is in you, for you are the one who does all this.
The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector
9. To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: 10. “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. 12. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’
13. “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’
14. “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
“Oh, what a good boy am I!”
Will we ever get it?
God does not want pride. God does not desire burnt offerings, beautiful prayers, or promises. And God clearly doesn’t want to bargain… (I’ll give you another fellow’s number, he loves a good bargain…)
God wants us to wake up.
Wake up to what you really are: a sinner deserving punishment. No better than anyone else. Yet a beloved child of God, and equally cherished and adored in God’s sight as all others. And equally guilty of injustice.
No one who is proud can pray. The gate of heaven is so low that none can enter it save upon their knees.
No one who despises others can pray. In prayer we do not lift ourselves above others. We remember that we are one of a great army of sinning, suffering, sorrowing humanity, all kneeling before the throne of God’s mercy.
BARCLAY, William (2012-06-25). The Gospel of Luke (New Daily Study Bible) (Kindle Locations 3998-3999, 4002-4003). Westminster John Knox Press. Kindle Edition.
If you say your prayers, regularly attend your place of worship, offer your offerings and tithes out of your abundance…
…but do not notice the wars we are embroiled in as a country (“If I go into the country, I see those slain by the sword.”),
…see the poor and hungry outside your church’s door (“If I go into the city, I see the ravages of famine.”),
…or hear the rampant injustices being taught throughout the world by the church’s wayward pastors and priests (“Both prophet and priest have gone to a land they know not.”)
…then you might as well not be a “believer”. There is no point or purpose to your wasted “faith”.
Your “faith” and your worship are completely wasted if it revolves around you. If that offering, that prayer, and that faith are only for your personal salvation, that attainment of your own “get-out-of-Hell-free-card”, then you are like a whitewashed tomb. The life and passion of God are absent from within you.
Little Jack Horner
Sat in the corner,
Eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thumb,
And pulled out a plum,
And said ‘What a good boy am I!’
That is all we have become. A selfish little boy raiding the Christmas pie (Grace) all for himself, pulling out a plum (personal salvation), that then praising himself for his “good fortune” (public piety and pride). The problem is that pie was meant to be shared. The problem is his “good fortune” was Grace from God for all of us.
God does not desire salvation and healing for you. God desires salvation and healing for all of us; the whole of humanity. Don’t love only yourself, or those who love you in return, but love those who hate you and despise you! And when we forget that fact, we have not only become useless to God’s calling, but we have even become enemies to God’s Kingdom, and it is like we become forgotten:
“12. Although they fast, I will not listen to their cry; though they offer burnt offerings and grain offerings, I will not accept them. Instead, I will destroy them with the sword, famine and plague.”
- When we only look for our own safety, we bring the sword against each other. (The Global War on Terror and NSA spy programs)
- When we only look to feed ourselves, we bring famine upon each other. (The world’s fields stripped of nutrients by use of artificial petroleum fertilizers).
- When we only look to heal ourselves, we bring plague upon each other. (The creation of antibiotic-resistant strains of super-bugs through our over-use/abuse of medicines).
“God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Lord, I am a sinner. I have hurt others through violence, apathy, and greed. Have mercy on me.
Lord, have mercy on all of us, as we bring about the sword, famine and plague upon ourselves. For we know that it is not your hand that brings such judgements, but our own misguided hands and hearts bringing them upon each other.
Lord, have mercy on me. I offer up my pretty things, words of praise and worship, and put forward a facade of piety for the world to see. Yet I sneer at the addict, begrudge the needy, and judge the criminal. The widow and the orphan have no place in my home or heart.
Lord, have mercy on those that have sinned against me. Although we hurt each other, and cannot see past ourselves in the fog of life, your hope of the Kingdom on Earth as it is in Heaven is still alive and burning within our hearts.
Lord, have mercy on me. I am Little Jack Horner, looking only for my own plum of salvation.
I do not deserve it.