Wednesday after the Third Sunday of Advent

Job 33:14–30, Nehemiah 12:31–43, Luke 15:3–7 (read online ⧉)

Elihu (from Job) is probably the most enigmatic person in the Book of Job. He just appears and disappears. It is almost as if there is something more going on than just a tirade. Now, Elihu definitely said things that were wrong, but many of his words are the truth. Just like any of us, we cannot take all of his words and reject or accept, we must take his words wisely. Most of the words we read today are not, ultimately, in line with God’s heart. However, the underlying Truth is that God seeks to keep everyone from eternal separation from God (or Hell). God will sometimes use extreme measures that we can see this, while we often willingly maintain our blindness.

Restoration of our right relationship with God is pictured in Nehemiah. Finally, the Jews get it (even if only for a time). Thanksgiving processions of hearts and tears, plus praise and offerings. The people had rediscovered joy, and their neighbors heard it. God had never given up on the Jews…ever. God just understood that they didn’t understand where real joy was. He had to, as much as it pained him, give them space to learn it.

This is part of Jesus’ constant frustration with many people. They categorized people into the redeemed and unredeemable categories. There wasn’t a “not yet” in their thinking. They forgot that God is in the redemption business, and never stops redeeming. So many stories that the Jews shared (and gifted to Christianity) are about God’s redemptive work in the world, specifically in the Israelite (now Jewish) people. Yet it was forgotten.
We should always be aligning ourselves with the ways of Heaven. Rejoicing in the redemption of others is an essential practice. In fact, even if we are the 99, we should be just as loud as Heaven for the 1, for we, at one point, were the 1, too.

1) How are your redemption categories? Do they need to be realigned with Jesus’?

2) Redemption results in rejoicing. The church, full of humans, often struggles with rejoicing for the redemption of “certain” people. Why do you think that is? How should the church respond to redemption in comparison to the world?

3) Why is it important to realize that to God no one is unredeemable?