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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Day Two: Judgments

"The Twelve Days of Christ" series looks at Psalm 119's twelve Hebrew words for God’s Word, and a connection to the church for each one.

"Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice."
~ Harrison Ford

Day Two: Judgments

(also Edict, Justice, Ordinances)

mishpat : masc. noun, "judgment, verdict, sentence, formal decree"

My soul breaks with longing
For Your judgments at all times...
My flesh trembles for fear of You,
And I am afraid of Your judgments.
~ Psalms 119:20,120 (NKJV)

But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.
~ 1 Corinthians 11:32 (NKJV)

I worked with legal terminology full-time for fourteen years. Wrote tons in it. Still think it. Sub-consciously, I knew half of the twelve Hebrew words for God's word in Psalm 119 are legal terms, but they're too natural to me to make note of them—until I start writing to my non-legal audience of Christians.

We are no longer at war with God. We have been set free from the law by grace, and likely take little note of law as we try to build our lives on God's Word, which is filled with words of justice. Our eyes pass over legal words, thinking them for only the condemned on some future date. But Paul speaks of the works of Christians being put on trial (1 Corinthians 3:13). He also makes the distinction between the condemnation of the damned who remain at war with their Creator, and the judgment Christians face in being chastened.

Way, way back in the Old Testament, God's will was synonymous with His judgment. The commandment "do not murder" was still 2500+ years in the future when God judged Cain for murdering Abel. He judged Sodom perhaps 550 years before the Law of Moses. Human courts throughout the millennia have rendered judgment based on "natural law," or the inherent morality of mankind which understands it is wrong to do things such as murder, rape, and lie.

The author of Psalm 119 expressed childlike contrast between the soul which longs for justice, and the trembling which faces it. In our hearts, we understand without being told that there is right and wrong, there is chastisement outside written rules, and we desire justice.

In being conformed to the image of Christ, His church needs unity. We still need childlike longing for His judgments, and together ask the Lord for what He has decreed as His will. As the church seeks such judgments, rather than judging for ourselves what is God's will, we will indeed find unity in God's perfect will.

Do you disdain judgment? Consider one of the edicts from the God Who does not change:

Turn to me and show favor,
Your edict
[mishpat] for those who love Your name.
~ Psalm 119:132 (author)

Lord, all Your judgments are good and righteous and filled with blessing. Please help our hearts to desire what You have judged to be Your will, and to find perfect peace and unity in it.

#powerofwords #churchunity
Contrasting points-of-view, questions and feedback are invited. Post to "Comments" or e-mail to Copyright 2009, Anne Lang Bundy, all rights reserved.
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  1. I was just meditating on the fear of God, Anne. When I say Come, Lord Jesus, I say so with full assurance and great anticipation, joy and delight--and with apprehension too. I feel this is right and good, for God is mighty and His judgments are sound. Though I have been made right with God by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, still in my sin nature my deeds, thoughts, and intentions are not always pure. What can we do but tremble in the Presence of the mighty judge and praise Jesus for His Gift?

    Anyway...I think modern Americans easily embrace God's love and mercy, but not as easily His holy and just qualities. That's one reason I'm so grateful for this post, and needed to hear it today. God bless you.

  2. Gwen, I think you'll really like the post for tomorrow (Sunday). I do fear God. And I long for the day when perfect love drives out all fear.

    Denise, thanks for being here on a quiet Saturday in the middle of holiday busyness. It's hard for even me to stop in amid the chaos. :D


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