July 18, 2019

Seeing is Believing

Judges 9:50-57

The centurion, seeing what had happened, praised God and said, “Surely this was a righteous man.”

—  Luke 23:47

All that Abimelek’s soldiers could see was a dead Abimelek. Ironically, his last command as a self-appointed king had helped him escape an embarrassing death at the hands of a woman—but not really. God set the record straight: with Abimelek’s death “God repaid the wickedness that Abimelek had done to his father by murdering his seventy brothers.”

Corrupt leadership has its consequences. No matter who holds positions of power, God administers justice in line with his perfect will. Though we may not always understand his timing, God’s justice is equal to the crime committed.

Except in one case. When Jesus died on the cross, the centurion “praised God and said, ‘Surely this was a righteous man.’” And the people who had come to watch a spectacle “beat their breasts” (Luke 23:47-48). Why would God allow an innocent man to die so horribly? Could that be just?

We have to admit that we, along with our leaders, cannot pay the true price for all our unrighteous behavior. Instead, an innocent man, the Son of God himself, perfect and without sin, died willingly for all our sins and trespasses. That’s God’s compassionate, merciful justice.

Jesus Christ died, Jesus Christ was buried, Jesus Christ rose from the dead. “Praise God, from whom all blessings flow.”

For your compassionate justice to me, the worst of sinners, I thank you, Lord. Please grant wisdom and righteousness to all who lead your people. For Jesus’ sake, Amen.

About the author — Arie C. Leder

Dr. Arie C. Leder is the Martin J. Wyngaarden Senior Professor of Old Testament Studies at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He previously served as pastor at Ebenezer Christian Reformed Church, Trenton, Ontario, and with Christian Reformed World Missions in Latin America. He teaches courses on the Pentateuch and on historical books of the Old Testament.

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