Reconcile While There is Time Matthew 5:25-26
May 16th, 2021

 25Come to good terms with your accuser quickly, while you are with him on the way to court, so that your accuser will not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will not be thrown into prison. 26 Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last quadrans.

 25Come to good terms with your accuser quickly

Now, for Jesus to urge us to come to good terms with someone, what must the relationship be like in the first place between us?  It must be on bad terms.  And Jesus is telling us that it is up to us to repair the relationship.  Jesus says to do this quickly.  Being angry isn’t sin, it’s a feeling.  It’s our actions, because we are angry (and even our evil thoughts and words toward those who have angered us) that are the problem.  Jesus urges us to resolve our anger quickly, rather than let it become resentment

Sin often harms another person, but, ultimately, all sin is against God. David said something similar after he had sinned with Bathsheba in 2 Samuel 11. When confronted with his sin, David repented in great sorrow, saying to God, “Against You and You only have I sinned” in Psalm 51:4. He had clearly sinned against Bathsheba and her husband, too, but it was the violation of God’s law that grieved David the most. Sinning against someone incurs a debt to God that we have no way to repay.  Of course Jesus paid for our sins, past, present and future on the cross, but since sin so often hurts others around us, Jesus commands us to make things right with them.  We do not want people to have a just cause against us in order to cry out against us to our just God! 

while you are with him on the way to court,

And so Jesus says that if someone accuses us, and wants to take us to court, we should find a way to reconcile, to come back to good terms with them.  The type of injury isn’t the point—the broken relationship that hasn’t been reconciled is the point.  Today’s verses are about what happens when we refuse to obey God, and reconcile.  And the first, is that we may get sued, and brought before the court.  The walk to court presented a “window of opportunity” to make friends and resolve differences.  Jesus is emphasizing that settling the matter then, will be less costly than letting the matter go to court. 

Jesus considers the reconciliation so important, and the opportunity to show a difference between Christians and the world so important that He tells us later in Mathew 5:40  40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  It’s your witness and your ministry of reconciliation that are important, not the tunic or cloak.  Paul shames the Corinthians for not being able to resolve conflicts between Christians within the church in 1 Cor 6:1-8.  Basically, Paul is saying that when believers air their dirty laundry in public, and display differences and conflict within the church publicly, they give the church and Jesus Christ a bad name.  If Christians fail to resolve problems on the individual level, or with the help of the church, they have already lost before they even bring it to court.  The loss in terms of their witness and the witness of Christ to the world is far more costly than anything that they may gain by the lawsuit

When we’re the ones who have wronged someone

Paul urges us to make sure that we’re not the ones doing the wronging or defrauding!  If we have done this, it is our responsibility to repay.  We serve a Just God a Righteous God.   When Zaccheus, the rich tax collector was called by Jesus, he knew that his past sinful life of extortion and defrauding people was standing in the way of a closer relationship with God.  So we read in Luke 19:8 But Zaccheus stopped and said to the Lord, “Behold, Lord, half of my possessions I am giving to the poor, and if I have extorted anything from anyone, I am giving back four times as much.” And what was Jesus’ reaction?  9 And Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because he, too, is a son of Abraham.  Jesus forgave his sins.  True conversion should be accompanied by the desire to make things right with those we have wronged, and especially with our brothers and sisters in Christ whom we have injured. 

And so, we see a principal that is found throughout the Bible:  True understanding and repentance of our sin against God, and His forgiveness of us made possible accepting Jesus’ atoning death on the cross both reconciles us to Him and results in the desire and ability to both forgive those who have wronged us, and to reconcile our relationship with those we have wronged.

But what if we refuse to do all of this, refuse to repent of our sin, refuse to reconcile with our brother or sister, or make things right?

so that your accuser will not hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the officer, and you will not be thrown into prison. 

Once the legal system is involved, and the wheels of our legal system begin moving, there is no telling where it will lead, and there can be some severe consequences. 

26 Truly I say to you, you will not come out of there until you have paid up the last quadrans.

A quadrans was 1/64th of a standard minimum daily wages (a denarius), and that and the mite were the smallest coin in first-century currency.  And the stakes are much higher than having to pay back a debt, whether emotional or monetary.  The emphasis is on us making the decision to obey God, and the horrible consequences of disobedience.  Don’t fear that someone might reject your apology when you attempt to reconcile.  Don’t fear that they may slam the door in your face, or hang up on you.  Instead, fear the One that your going to have to stand before and explain your actions, or your failure to obey and reconcile.  

But what happens when a believer chooses to disobey.  Where in the Bible can we look for an example?  Just what happened when David sinned and instead of reconciling, chose to try to cover it up?  David’s sin was compounded by deception, manipulation, dragging other people into the plot, and in the end, murdering Uriah.  And God made sure that David did not get away with it. (2 Samuel 11:9-14).  David was forgiven, but we still see horrible consequences of his trying to cover up his sin.  David was at war from that day on until he died.  He was at war with his own son Absalom, whom he loved.  God caused David’s sin to be known throughout the whole kingdom and the consequences to affect the entire nation of Israel for many years.  And it ended up costing David 2 sons—the baby and Absalom. Do not let your refusal to reconcile get to this point.  Repent and reconcile today.  We must take action immediately to make amends, to take the initiative to apologize for the grievance that we have caused through our unkind deed, word, look, or thought by which we have hurt someone.  And, as Paul reminds us in Romans 12:17-18 17 Never repay evil for evil to anyone. Respect what is right in the sight of all people. 18 If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all people.

Exodus 2:1-10 A Few Good Women
May 9th, 2021

What began as fear of the large population of Israelites in the land of Goshen, within the Egyptian’s borders had turned to panic.  God was fulfilling His promise to Abraham to make his descendants “as numerous as the stars or the sands of the sea”.  God’s fulfillment is the very rationale that the enemy of God’s people seizes on to destroy them. 

Exodus 1:15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.”  Pharaoh gave this cruel order for the midwives to murder all of the Hebrew baby boys.  These mid-wives had a choice.  They could either murder their own people out of fear of Pharaoh, or do the right thing and let the boys live. 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.   They chose to fear God.  The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7).  The fear of God is the most truth-orienting wisdom available in the world.      

 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?”  19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.”

Now, there is deception going on here, at some level or another.  The midwives likely went to their clan elders about what they’d been asked to do, and likely the entire community agreed that these two mid-wives would be purposefully slow in getting to any births from then on. 

20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.

So God rewards the midwives for doing their part in the plan of God to see the nation of Israel increase and multiply—they were given families of their own by God.  We see that all of the actions of Pharaoh, meant to decrease the Israelite population, have instead functioned to increase it.  Nothing could prevent God from fulfilling His promise to Abraham.  God’s plan will not be thwarted. 

Since his plan to quietly kill the Hebrew baby boys had failed, Pharaoh is now forced to bring this plan out into the open.  Exodus 1:22 tells us: Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”

All Egyptians were expected to join in killing all Israelite newborn boys.  Notice that this started out as fear, because the Hebrews were so numerous, has turned to persecution and now genocide with the full participation of the entire non-Jewish population. 

Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. And the woman conceived and gave birth to a son;

Now, we learn that both of Moses’ parents, Amram and Jochebed, were from the tribe of Levi.  Since Aaron was 3 years older than Moses, Aaron was likely one of the boys saved by those faithful midwives. 

A second thing to notice is that Moses was a chosen child from the only tribe called to the spiritual leadership of Israel—the Levites.  Moses was pre-ordained for the leadership role that God would have for him later in his life, even before God revealed that the Levites were to be the priests. 

and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months.

Moses was beautiful.  This word Towb is the same word that God uses over and over in Genesis chapter 1, starting in Genesis 1:4 when God saw that the light was good, and ending in Genesis 1:31, when God saw all that He had made, and it was very good.  Like His creation of the world, the birth of Moses was a part of His plan to deliver Israel, to fulfill His promises to Abraham, and to someday bring forth His Messiah.  It was fear on the part of the most powerful person on earth, Pharaoh, that had caused this problem of the enslavement and murder of the Hebrews, and it was a lack of fear among lowly Israelite slaves that God was going to use to solve the problem. 

But when she could no longer hide him, she got him a papyrus [d]basket and covered it with tar and pitch.

The word for what Moses’ mother put him in is tebah, or ark.  This word is only used one other place in the Old Testament: Noah’s Ark.  Both Noah and Moses were deliverers, called to lead people and animals to a new location where they could be fruitful and multiply, and play their part in God’s redemptive plan for the world. 

Then she put the child in it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. 

So Jochebed did the best that she could and put the ark of reeds, this little basket among the other papyrus reeds by the bank of the Nile.  Jochebed demonstrated faith in putting baby Moses in God’s hands.  How hard it must have been for her to trust God with her little one, not knowing what was going to become of baby Moses.  She demonstrated great trust in God.

And his sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.

His sister Miriam (ex. 15:20) protects him by watching over him.  The whole family is involved in protecting Moses.  Now the daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her female attendants walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her slave woman, and she brought it to her.The Israelites lived in Goshen, so Pharaoh’s daughter would have had to have been in the region in order to find Moses.  It was God that brought them together, and caused Mariam to witness the event.

 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 

When the Egyptian princess opened the ark, and knew immediately that this was one of the Hebrew children.  She could not be unaware of her fathers cruel program of population control.  The sight of little Moses touched her heart.  She probably hated what her father was doing, and decided immediately to rescue this little baby. 

Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a woman for you who is nursing from the Hebrew women, so that she may nurse the child for you?”

Clearly, according to all evidence, the Hebrew women were having a lot of children, and it’s at least implied that the Egyptian women weren’t, since the Hebrews were becoming so much more numerous compared to the Egyptians.  And, of course Miriam knew the perfect Hebrew woman to find. 

 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go ahead.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 

And so, we can only imagine the excitement with which Miriam ran back to Jochebed with this amazing news of God’s provision.  Moses’ protection was assured by his adoption by the Pharaoh’s daughter.  And so, by trusting God, Jochebed not only made sure that Moses was safe, but also received back what she had given into God’s hands.  God had turned horrible circumstances into hope, and ultimately salvation, because of the trust that this young Levite woman placed in Him.  The only things that we truly get to keep are the things that we dedicate to God.  If we give God our lives, our time, our resources, our love, our children, then God does not forget.  God wants us to know that we can trust Him with what is most precious to us.

10 And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him [i]Moses, and said, “Because I drew him out of the water.”

Moses was given this Egyptian name, which means “son” or “to beget a son”.  But, this word sounds a lot like Moseh, from Mashah, which means “to draw out”, which fits the circumstances of Moses being drawn out of the water.  The Princess both honors his Hebrew family by giving him a name associated with the Hebrew language, and also makes him legitimately Egyptian by giving him an Egyptian name, emphasizing her adoption of Moses.   And so, it was through the courage of these women, doing the right thing even though it could cost them to accomplish His plan of deliverance for the Israelites.

Ministry of Reconciliation Matthew 5:23-24
May 2nd, 2021

23 Therefore, if you are presenting your [n]offering at the altar, and there you remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your [o]offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your [p]offering.

23 Therefore,

Last week, we were told about the angry, hateful, murderous attitude that we should not have, and this week we learn that part of our expression of gratitude and love toward God is our willingness to take action and extend the same grace that we have been shown by God in saving us by working to reconcile our relationships with each other.

if you are presenting your offering at the altar,

Since it’s an offering to God at the altar, this can only mean that is a voluntary or freewill offering expressing thankfulness and a desire to draw near to God.  It begins with the same kind of attitude of humility before God, recognizing that we are spiritually bankrupt, that attitude of those who are blessed for being poor in spirit, in Mathew 5:3.

and there you remember that your brother has something against you,

So often, God chooses to speak to us while we are serving Him, worshiping Him, thanking Him.  God wants a closer relationship with you, and it’s during these times when you are willing.

How does God bring something up?  When God brings something to my heart, it’s usually through His Word.  God will suddenly bring a scripture to mind that maybe we haven’t thought of in a long time.  God can cause us to remember (John 14:26). We are encouraged to read, meditate on, and memorize the scripture (e.g. Psalm 119:11).  God uses the Word that we have stored up in our hearts to bring just the exact scripture that we need in a particular situation, or to help with a problem that we are dealing with.  But God can’t bring scriptures to our remembrance that we have never read or heard! 

24 leave your offering there before the altar

God would rather you go and make things right with your brother or sister in Christ, than to stay and offer gifts and thanksgiving to Him.  God cares about our relationships with others, and it’s by allowing God to work in our own hearts, healing the hurt, that we can draw closer to Him.  You can’t make them want to be reconciled to you, but you can do your best to be reconciled to them.

In other words, if you want to draw close to God, the way is not through making more sacrifices, but letting God transform your relationship with Him and with others.  Don’t make sacrifices, instead be Godly and righteous.  Peter came to the same conclusion regarding Godly Living in 1 Peter 3:8-9:  8 To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, loving, compassionate, and humble; 9 not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you would inherit a blessing.

Go; first be reconciled to your brother

It’s not easy.  We are to be in one spirit with one mind striving together for the faith ( Philippians 1:27).  Since we know the comfort and salvation of God in Christ, and have experienced the consolation of Christ’s love that has brought them through many trials and dangers, since we have participated in fellowship with the Holy Spirit, and know the affection and compassion of God toward them by saving them and by in his continued mercy,our joy is made complete in unity (Philippians 2:2).  We must “make up their our mind to strive, to exert our will to be in unity with Jesus and with our brothers and sisters.  It takes effort to ignore the slight, the rudeness, the insult, the inconsideration because we’re Christians.  We must choose to turn the other cheek, because THAT’S what Jesus commands us to do. 

It seems like it’s such a big “ask” from God, but when we think of what Christ has already done for us, how we’ve offended God by sinning in so many ways, so many times against Him, and yet God was willing to send His only Son Jesus to die on the cross for our sins, and for the sins of the person who has offended us, then maybe it’s not so much to ask that we forgive and be reconciled with our brother or sister.  God loved us when we were unlovable.  God had compassion on us, and pity on us as sinners long before we asked forgiveness, so maybe we should be the ones who reach out to those who haven’t yet asked for our forgiveness, or maybe those to whom we owe an apology. 

We are challenged, not so much to stir this love up toward those who have hurt us, but to let the love of God that we experience within us flow out of us into service to one another in love, affection and compassion. 

We live for Jesus now, we are a new creation in Him.  And as 2 Corinthians 5 reminds us in verse 19 And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.

The primary reason we are to leave our gift at the altar, and go and be reconciled to our brother before we offer our gift, is so that we can be effective as Christ’s ambassadors and so Jesus’ priority is that you be reconciled to our brother or sister first,

and then come and present your offering.

God accepts offerings from hearts that are right with Him.  So, the priorities here are clear—first be reconciled with our brother or sister, then come and present our offering from a heart that is right with God and with your brothers and sisters.  Then God will accept your offering and bless you.