The theme bursting forth in today’s reading is Grace. It comes in multiple and even surprising ways.
Grace through blessing:
You, LORD, showed favor to your land;
you restored the fortunes of Jacob.
You forgave the iniquity of your people
and covered all their sins.
You set aside all your wrath
and turned from your fierce anger.
Psalm 85 begins by recalling a time when God poured out His grace upon His chosen people, providing them with His favor, restoration, forgiveness, a covering for their sins, and protection from His wrath and anger. All of these were unearned by the Israelites, yet God freely provided them.
Grace through judgment:
‘This is what the Sovereign LORD says: I am against you, Mount Seir, and I will stretch out my hand against you and make you a desolate waste. I will turn your towns into ruins and you will be desolate. Then you will know that I am the LORD. “‘Because you harbored an ancient hostility and delivered the Israelites over to the sword at the time of their calamity, the time their punishment reached its climax, therefore as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I will give you over to bloodshed and it will pursue you. Since you did not hate bloodshed, bloodshed will pursue you. Ezekiel 35:3-6
It isn’t as obvious, but God’s grace toward Edom is revealed here in His promise of impending judgment. The Lord lists multiple transgressions Edom had committed against His chosen people, and reveals how He will respond. I note that all the transgressions are sins which have already been committed. Edom has already earned God’s judgment, and He had every right and reason to deliver it immediately. Yet, He delayed. He gave them time to turn from their hatred of Israel. He warned them of exactly what was coming. Most illuminating of all, God reveals in verse 4 that His judgment will result in them knowing that He is the Lord. That is grace.
Grace through adoption into God’s family:
As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:1-10
What a passage… any comment I add would only detract from it.
Dear Heavenly Father, You pour out grace in every word and every action. Without it I could not exist. With it, we are invited to be nothing less than Children of God. I can never repay Your grace, though help me to pass it on in everything I say and in everything I do to everyone I meet. Amen.