August 9

2 Chronicles 19:1-3 (NIV) 1When Jehoshaphat king of Judah returned safely to his palace in Jerusalem, 2Jehu the seer, the son of Hanani, went out to meet him and said to the king, "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD? Because of this, the wrath of the LORD is upon you. 3There is, however, some good in you, for you have rid the land of the Asherah poles and have set your heart on seeking God."

In yesterday's devotion, Jehoshaphat had narrowly escaped death when he went out to battle in league with wicked Ahab. As he returned to Jerusalem, he was met by Jehu the seer. Jehu gave him a word from the LORD. "Should you help the wicked and love those who hate the LORD?" Most Christians today would quickly answer, "Yes!" He had almost given his life for wicked Ahab. It was not as though he did not know how wicked he was. Jehoshaphat had cleansed his country of idolatry and knew Ahab promoted it in his own land. Surely he had heard of Elijah's victory on Mt. Carmel and of Ahab and Jezebel's response. He must have known how evil he was, and yet, he joined forces with him.

"Don't be unequally yoked with unbelievers," the Apostle Paul tells us. This surely was an unequal yoke. We know that God loves the world. Yet, here in this prophetic word, the wrath of God is upon Jehoshaphat because he helped the wicked and loved the man who hated the LORD.

Ahab had crossed the line so many times, and in spite of all the chances God had given him, he set his heart against the LORD and against His prophets. We must have a discerning spirit to know when we are assisting those who have set themselves against the Kingdom of God. We are not to help them or even love them. I can hear the gasp as you read that line. Hate the sin and love the sinner? Yes, unless they have come to the place where they know the truth and yet hate the LORD. (see 2 John 10,11; Psalm 139:21)

August 9

Romans 5:6-8 (NIV) 6You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. 7Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. 8But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Without Jesus, we were all destined for the wrath of God. Most people do not realize the desperate condition man is in when he is without Jesus. "The soul that sins shall die" not just a physical death, but a second-death of judgment also. Rebellion of the creature against his holy and perfect Creator demands nothing less than eternal punishment. That was the justice waiting for us, and there was nothing we could do about it. Only one person could help, and He did.

Why should He have died for us? He is the Creator and we are the rebellious creation. If He was anything like us, He wouldn't even have considered it. We might consider sacrificing our lives for a very good man. It's not likely, but we might. But for a derelict that constantly rebuffed our kindness, mocked our concern, and doubted our intentions after abundant generosity on our part, we'd probably be glad to see him get his just deserts. Isn't that what makes a great movie conclusion, when the bad guy gets what is coming to him? Thank God, Jesus isn't like us.

God made a public demonstration of His love for us with the cross. When man was at his worst, torturing and murdering the very One that gave them life, He was showing the extent of His love for them. The contrast so extreme! The hatred and selfishness we each have was manifested in those people, and yet He willingly laid down His life for them, for us. That is love that goes beyond what we can imagine possible in the very best man, and yet it was seen in the man Christ Jesus. That love was demonstrated for us to have life. It was demonstrated so that we would know we can never be too bad for Jesus. It was demonstrated to assure our hearts of the depths of the love and grace that God has for us.

Consider: How will you respond to such love?