The problem with the Law was the human ability to think out the payment schedule, particularly the wealthy. What the wealthy did, it seems, was to commit the sin, then pay the penalty. In other words, the payment for the sin was considered as part of the “cost of doing business.” Part of the point of the law was to show the cost of sin in a way that was significant. However, in the midst of great wealth, everything became distorted.
While we could draw some parallels to the modern day when it comes to extreme wealth, it is the other aspects of this which should give us pause. As we read the passage from Isaiah, it is not just the rich who are at fault. While they may have led the vanguard, the rest followed. There appears to be a universal condemnation of the population of Israel.
It would seem, on the outset, that the Psalm is a little different. Yet, God seems to disregard the offerings as pointless. That’s really not much better. The reality is, as the Psalm continues, the Israelites are truly lost, wandering away from God. They are not living in community with one another. The reality is that sometimes we all do not live well in community. Yet, we try…mostly.
One of the deepest truths is that we all fail to live perfectly in community. Sometimes we disguise it behind pithy statements such as, “a church is a hospital; we’re all wounded.” There is truth in the words, but there is also a strong tendency to categorize the wounds we have inflicted as, “just a sad reality.” This is not the way to live!
Yes, absolutely, we will wound people and will be wounded by people. We are not, however, supposed to leave it like that. Yes! Grace abounds. We are supposed to give it to one another! Yes! God heals. God often heals through others. Being dead to sin is not doing “the right” sacrifice, it is living to give life, love, healing, and grace.
1) Who have you wounded recently? How will you respond when someone comes to you saying that you wounded them?
2) Who has wounded you recently? How will you approach them? How will you show them grace?*
3) What is the difference between grace and forgiveness?
*In certain situations regarding physical, emotional, or spiritual abuse, this is not being blind to the others’ behavior. Never put yourself in harm’s way.