“Worthy to suffer dishonour”
We continue reading the laws which Moses set out in great detail for the people who would become a functioning nation in the promised land they were about to enter. These laws challenge our thinking, seeing they are divinely ordained laws – with the purpose of directing the actions of the rich and protecting the poor, thus promoting harmony between them.
Our minds ‘strayed’ from this to ponder how life will function when we, by the grace of our Lord, enter and start living in our promised land! At present, “we see,” to quote Paul, “in a mirror dimly, but then face to face … then I shall know fully” (1 Corinthians 13:12). What wondrous ‘seeing’ and ‘knowing’ that will be!
Ecclesiastes 7 is a challenging study of Solomon’s mind and its many perceptions. Verse 12 attracted my eye, “… the advantage of knowledge is that wisdom preserves the life of him who has it”. Surely this is knowledge of the ways and purpose of God. The next verse invites us to “Consider the work of God: who can make straight what he has made crooked?”
Our world is full of crookedness – this too must be, in a sense, “the work of God” – what he allows, such as the destruction of Jerusalem’s Temple after Jesus ascended to heaven. It was “the work of God” that oversaw the spread of the gospel, as Acts 5,6 tell us. It spreads despite the opposite of the leaders who put Jesus to death. These leaders are now perplexed by events and struggle unsuccessfully to contain the preaching of the Apostles; they had brought them before the council.
The Apostles refuse to obey the Council. They are “strictly charged … not to teach in this name” and told, “you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching, and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us” (5:28). They had blotted out of their minds, the cry they made before Pilate in seeking his approval of his crucifixion, “His blood be on us and on our children!” (Matthew 27:25). Human nature only remembers what it wants to remember, we see this today in courts of law!
The disciples were now really following in the footsteps of their Master and “they left the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer dishonour for the name” (verse 41). And so it has often happened down through the centuries – to those who have proclaimed the original and true message. The Bible alone reveals this original and true message of salvation – but how few today read and really digest it? Let us make sure we do – and then let it motivate us to live truly Christ-like lives, overcoming whatever opposition may arise.