I will give you peace in the land, and you shall lie down, and none shall make you afraid. And I will remove harmful beasts from the land, and the sword shall not go through your land.

Leviticus 26: 6

 

This promise from God is a part of a list of conditional covenants that the Lord made with His people, Israel. They did not keep their side of the deal, and not much has changed since then, either. Humans are not good at keeping our bargains with God or with each other. What God asked them to do was not all that complicated. He wanted them to worship Him fully and totally and follow His statutes absolutely. That was it. There were no silly rituals or oppressive acts of subservience. There was much to gain and nothing to lose. Yet, we always think that we know a better way or that God left something out when He gave out the instructions for living; so, we humans need to interpret and to fill in the missing pieces.

 

Those ideas have never worked very well. That kind of thinking and the actions that it leads to got us removed from the perfection of God’s original creation. It has continued to plague our travels through life ever since. Today we live on a violent planet where life is often considered as a commodity at best and where some people view others as something less than fully human in order to use and discard them. Those harmful beasts have not been eliminated; instead, they lurk in the shadows of many of our streets, and they openly feed on our young in some places where we attempt to dwell. Because of our own disobedient and violent tendencies, weapons are everywhere in our societies, and they are employed under the pretense of bringing about peace.

 

Over the course of human history, all of this has caused God great anguish and grief, and He has responded to it with His righteous judgment. Although this judgment has and does include the removal of blessings and of protections, it also includes a significant outpouring of the Lord’s redemptive mercy and grace. This outpouring reaches its pinnacle when God allowed us to extend our violent natures to His Son on the cross and God’s rightful anger against humanity was placed upon the one being who deserved none of it. Now, in Christ, we can have a peace in our souls that persists over and against the ways of this world. Through Christ and in His power and strength we can and must stand against the violence and the oppression that travel through our streets so that peace can rule our land.

How precious is your steadfast love, O God!

The children of mankind take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 36: 7

 

It often seems as if values and principles, the moral and ethical framework and foundation of our culture, are changing very rapidly. This old-fashioned word, steadfast, is not really a part of the current cultural vocabulary. People do not stick to or with much of anything for very long, either. Although this lack of commitment to people and to values may feel like a modern phenomenon, a look at history shows that it has its roots in that long-ago garden and the desire on the parts of our earliest ancestors to be their own god. Over time people have just continued the progression of our movement away from the God of Creation and into our own self-defined god of personal convenience.

 

Based upon the evidence at hand, this effort to devise a better way to live than the narrowly defined one that God gives to us does not appear to be working so well today. Beliefs and actions that caused separation and death in those earliest of days are still bringing about the same results now. Our world is just better equipped to accomplish both of these ends. We live in a time of angry days. Individuals, groups of people, and nations are saturated in forms of fear and rage that are released in violence toward each other and that have no effectual resolution. It would appear that the only valid response to it all is self-protection and greater violence in return.

 

Yet that is not what God gives to us, and it is certainly not what He calls upon us to do. The Lord God has more right to be angry and upset over our way of living than does anyone else or any other group of people. All of our fear, anger, and violent discord are fundamentally directed at Him and are carried out in violation of His will and His Word. Still, the Lord remains true to His commitment to love all people for all time. The love of Christ stands today as the only valid answer that we have for the world in which we live. We can stand solidly today in the security of that love, and its protection, comfort, and counsel are the legacy that we can provide to our children and to all who follow after us. So, today, O Lord, I stand under the great shadow of your unceasing love and desire to pour Your redemptive truth out upon this wounded world where I live.