Mercy and Justice in Psalms and Proverbs

Mercy and Justice in Psalms and Proverbs

Scripture: Psalms 82:3-4, Psalms 9:7-9, Proverbs 10:4
Date: 07/27/2019  Lesson: 4
'Psalms and Proverbs depict the experience of living with God in the common things of life, not just in times of worship or in other religious activities.'

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Shawn Brummund: Hello and welcome to another edition of the "Sabbath School Study Hour." We are glad that you have decided to join us here as we come together with our local church family, the Granite Bay Seventh-day Adventist Church here in the greater Sacramento area of California. So, welcome, everybody, and good morning to you. We are thrilled to have our church family come together as we continue to study. We're always thrilled to be able to have those who are watching, the thousands across America, as well as those who are watching from different parts of the world. We also have online members of Granite Bay. We also want to give a special warm welcome to you as well.

So, we are coming together again to be able to study a quarterly that is something that is very practical, yet very spiritual, very important in the eyes of Jesus, and it's concerning ministering to those in need. And so, we have just recently begun a new quarterly, and it is entitled "The Least of These." "The Least of These," of course, reflecting the parable that Jesus had taught us as recorded in the Gospel of Matthew chapter 25. So, we're going to be looking at lesson study number 4, which is entitled "Mercy and Justice as Found in the Psalms and in the Proverbs," two very important topics in the eyes of God, mercy and justice. And so, I'm looking forward to being able to learn and see what God has in store for us from His Word on that important subject.

But before we continue on with our study, before we spend some time in song, I want to invite you to take advantage of something that we like to offer each and every time we come together to study, and that is the free offer of the day. Now, today's free offer is entitled "Saved from Certain Death." Now, that sounds pretty important, "Saved from Certain Death." You want to take advantage of this if you've never studied this particular study guide, and so you just simply need to dial... and ask for free offer number 109. Again, that's free offer number 109. Now, many of us have a cellphone nowadays, and we can take advantage of our free offer by getting a free digital download of this as well. And you can find that simply by texting to the number 40544, that's 40544. In the message box, you want to be able to send the message to that number, "SH060." And once you send that, you'll find almost an instant reply of a free digital download of that free offer for the day. So please take advantage of that as we continue to study.

Now, there's a number of us that may be watching this and have not found themselves with a copy of the quarterly yet. Perhaps you haven't got one for your local church. If you have a local church that you can get one from, we want to encourage you to go to your local Adventist church and ask for a free copy. Now, if that's not feasible, or if you'd rather have a digital copy, you can go to a website, and that website is lesson.aftv.org. That is lesson.aftv.org, and you can get a free digital download of this quarterly so that you can study throughout the week and be prepared as much as possible. So, time is ticking fast. We want to invite our teacher up as soon as we can, but before we do that, we invite you to join us in worship as we invite our singers to sing a song for us even now. ♪♪♪

male: We'll be singing this morning number 515, "The Lord is My Light," and we'll sing the first and the last verses.

♪♪♪ ♪ The Lord is my light

♪ ♪ Then why should I fear

♪ ♪ By day and by night His presence is near

♪ ♪ He is my salvation from sorrow and sin

♪ ♪ This blessed persuasion the Spirit brings in

♪ ♪ The Lord is my light, my joy, and my song

♪ ♪ By day and by night He leads me along

♪ ♪ The Lord is my light, my joy, and my song

♪ ♪ By day and by night He leads me along

♪ ♪ The Lord is my light, my all and in all

♪ ♪ There is in His sight no darkness at all

♪ ♪ He is my Redeemer, my Savior and King

♪ ♪ With saints and with angels His praises I sing

♪ ♪ The Lord is my light, my joy, and my song

♪ ♪ By day and by night He leads me along

♪ ♪ The Lord is my light, my joy, and my song

♪ ♪ By day and by night He leads me along

♪♪ male: Thank you so much for singing.

Shawn: For those of you who have been faithfully watching each and every edition of "The Sabbath School Study Hour," our teacher will not be new to you. This is the second time that one of our-- well, the newest edition, pastoral edition to our team here in Granite Bay. Lucas Rodor is going to be teaching our lesson study again today. So, he is our new youth pastor. We're thrilled to have him, and we're also happy to be able to have him teach our lesson study today. Before he comes up, I wanted to ask you, all of us here as well as those who are watching to join me as we pray.

Father in heaven, we want to thank You for the opportunity to be able to come together to worship You. God, we want to thank You so much for the Sabbath that You have set aside from the beginning of human history that we might be able to glorify You and remember that You are the Maker of all things. And God in heaven, as we study Your Bible today, we are looking at two things that Your Son Jesus made very clear as very important, three of the biggest topics we can find in the Bible, as Jesus had pointed out: faith, and justice, and mercy. Lord, as we'd look at justice and mercy today, we want to pray that You'll be with our teacher. Anoint him with Your Holy Spirit, and guide us and fulfill Your promise as You give us Your Spirit to guide us into all truth. And so we thank You and praise You, in Jesus's name, amen. God bless you, Pastor Lucas.

Lucas Rodor: Hello, it's so good to be with you here this morning, as we study this very important lesson. This lesson, it doesn't come alone. That's the first thing I want to share with you all. This lesson, it's part of a package. And as you all know, it's part of a package of "The Least of These," which is our quarterly for this, well, for this quarter, our subject for this quarter. And up to this point, we've been studying about creation. We've studied about how God created a perfect world. We've studied about how that world was corrupted by something, by a disease called sin, and we've been studying progressively about how God is dealing with this problem, and how He uses us to be of assistance and to be of help to those who are in need, to those who are suffering around us. Now, our memory text this week--and just to let you know, Pastor Shawn already touched on this, but the title for this week was "Mercy and Justice in Psalms and Proverbs." And I find that beautiful. The memory text comes from Psalm 82:3 and 4 that says: "Defend the poor and the fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and needy; free them from the hand of the wicked." Now, that being said, I'd like to tell you that, at least for myself-- I don't know about you, but at least for me, these two words, "justice" and "mercy," they present to me a kind of conundrum because if you think about it in a certain way, justice can be seen as the opposite of mercy to many people.

What is just? What is justice? Well, when someone says, "Well, that's just, that's fair," that means that that was warranted. That was something that was expected. Justice is what I have by right, right? It should be, at least. So, I did justice, or someone did justice for me. Someone acted upon what, well, I already deserved. Now, when you go to the other side of this subject, you get to mercy. Mercy is the opposite of that. If someone is being merciful, or someone is receiving mercy, did they deserve that? Was it based on merit? No, mercy isn't based on merit. Mercy is something completely-- it's a God-given trait that, well, someone didn't have to do anything for that. Mercy is given freely. You don't deserve it. You receive it, it's a gift.

So, these two words, they present in a certain aspect, in a certain way, they present opposites, they're opposites. Justice is what someone deserves, and mercy is what people don't deserve, they're opposites. Something that I find interesting is that justice, at least for a lot of people, and everything that has to do with justice, so a judge, for example, or judgment, is something that today is seen with good eyes or with bad eyes. Bad eyes, for many people, they don't want to be judged. Has someone ever told you, you know, "Don't judge me. I don't want to be judged." People today don't like judgment. Bible talks about judgment in a different way. And the reason for this is because, for many people, justice is seen as retributive. It's something that God uses to condemn them. I don't want God to judge me. I don't want to be judged. I'm terrified of biblical judgment or judgment at all because that is a measure used to condemn me.

That's why, for example, that Martin Luther, the great medieval reformer, he tells us that from his ordination in 1507 in Erfurt, and then later on in Wittenberg in Germany, he used to say that he was mortified about this topic, justice, or the judgment of God. He was terrified of it. He would self-flagellate himself. He would fast, and he would punish himself, all of this trying to please a severe, tyrannical God. He was terrified of this concept of justice found in the Bible. Luther went on to say that he would prefer to hear the name of the devil than to hear the name of Christ because he was terrified of God. He used to be scared of God. Later on, he was saved form this agony when he found, through the Bible, including many texts in Psalms, he found that justice in the Bible was the contrary of what he was thinking. It was the opposite of what he believed. Through Psalms such as Psalm 71, verse 2 that says: "Deliver me in Your justice, and cause me to escape; incline Your ear to me, and save me." Through texts such as these, Luther found out that justice was not the measure that God used to condemn him.

You see, justice in the Bible, judgment in the Bible has nothing to do with what God demands from us. It has to do with something that God offers to us. Justice in the Bible isn't demanded, it's offered. It's a gift. Living through God's justice, and living in God's judgment is a gift. And Luther, when he found this out, he went on to become the great reformer that we've found out that we know that he was. You see, that is how justice is presented in the Bible. Even though these two words, "justice" and "mercy," can seem as opposites to us, in the Bible, mercy is one of the arms of God's justice. You see, God is, in essence, just.

There are two supreme qualities that, if we could talk about, you know, God in two--or describe God through two words, it would be justice and love, justice and love. And apparently, these two words, they're contradictions. But when applied to God, they walk hand in hand. God's justice requires love, and God's love requires justice. And one of the greatest aspects of this that we find in this lesson is that it is described through the book of Psalms. Now, who-- We know that many people wrote the book of Psalms. It wasn't just one person. But there was one that wrote many more Psalms than anyone else. Who was this? King David, King David was the main author of the book of Psalms, and we also know that Psalms, it was the hymnal book, right? It was the hymnal book for the Jewish nation, for the Israelites. So, these were songs written to God, praise songs, songs of praise, songs of lamentation, and so on and so forth. So, these songs, most of them written by King David.

Who was King David? Think about it for a second. We're talking about justice, and we're talking about mercy. When you realize that in the setting of the psalms, it becomes very curious because King David, even though the Bible describes him in the book of Acts as, "A man according to God's own heart," we see that David, he wasn't perfect. One of the greatest defects, or the greatest sins that we find of King David in the Bible was when he saw Bathsheba, became enchanted with her, took her for himself, devised this Machiavellian plan that ended up with Uriah's death. Then Prophet Nathan comes up to him and says, "Look, this what you did was wrong." And we see that David, this is why, perhaps, he was a man after God's own heart, because even though he was caught in his sin, he didn't make up excuses. He had no smart answers for God. No, he admitted freely, "I have sinned."

Now, in the way that God dealt with that sin, was God just? Yes, a severe consequence came about in David's family because of that sin. But at the same time, was God merciful with David? Of course He was. David was one of the recipients of God's mercy. He was one of the greatest examples in the Bible. Do you see how these two subjects, when they're applied to God, they have to walk hand in hand, God's justice and God's mercy, God's justice and God's mercy? As a matter of fact, at least 15 times in the Old Testament we find that someone cries out to the Lord, and God says, "I have heard their cry." Do you remember at least one instance where this happens? The Israelites in bondage in Egypt, and we read in Exodus 3, verse 7: "The Lord said: 'I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I am aware of their sufferings.'" God heard their cry. God heard their lament. At least 15 times in the Old Testament where God acts with mercy because He hears the cry of His people that are suffering. God acts with mercy. These are examples of how God is just and how He applies His mercy upon His children.

Now, the biblical books of wisdom, and we've already touched up on this a little bit, but the biblical books of wisdom, they have a lot to say about this duality, these two words. The biblical books of wisdom-- and here's the amazing fact for the day. You know that the Bible isn't organized in a chronological way? I'm sure that all of you know this. The Bible's organized thematically, by themes. So, for example, we have the first five books of the Bible, which are the books of origin, the origin of the world, everything that happened. God created the world. You have the entrance of sin in the world and how God explained that He would fix this problem. Then you have, from Judges through Esther, you have the books of history. These are the historical books of the canon of the Bible. Then you have the books of wisdom, the sapiential books, or the books of poetry, as they're called, and these go from Job all the way up to Song of Solomon. And then the last books, the prophetic books of the Old Testament, and that's how the Old Testament is organized: the books or origin, the books of history, the books of wisdom, and the prophetic books.

And curiously enough, the New Testament is organized in the exact same way, except there's a shift in subject, in theme. If the Old Testament is talking about the world, the New Testament is talking about the church. So the first four books of the New Testament, the Gospels, they're the books of origin of the church. Acts is the historical book of the New Testament. The epistles are called, "The books of wisdom of the New Testament." And then you have Revelation being the book of prophecy of the New Testament.

Now, the books of wisdom are very interesting because they hold the content, at least in the New Testament, they hold the content for the church. And in the Old Testament, they hold the wisdom of the kings of Israel and the wisdom and the songs and the poetry of the Jewish nation that described the Messiah, that described day-to-day things of life, and this is the beauty of the book of Psalms. You'll find that it goes all the way from the most day-to-day, normal aspects of life all the way up to the most complicated, deep, and profound aspects of our religion of the Messiah and what He was going to come to do and what they waited for. The biblical books of wisdom have much to say about the concept of justice and the concept of mercy. A few of these psalms, a few of these chapters in psalms, a few of these songs, they are called, "The psalms of divine justice." There are a few of them, and I'm sure that you've read them maybe plenty times going through this hymnal book, which is Psalms. The psalms of divine justice, where we often find this plea for God to apply His justice, for God to be merciful upon a given situation, diverse situations of life.

In a very practical, day-to-day sense, justice is something that we often want, right? We want fairness. We want justice. I remember many times when I was a child, you know, maybe three or four years old, sometimes six or seven, and you know how siblings are sometimes, right? They're always fighting and squabbling, you know, and arguing with each other. And many times, when justice was done from the power above, our parents, I would say, "That's not fair." Have you ever said that before, maybe to siblings? Maybe in your office, in your school, or I'm sure you have, "This isn't fair." And you want fairness. You want justice. Now, the problem is that, oftentimes, what is fair to you is unfair to someone else. So that's why it's so good for us to have a Mediator, which is God, Who is unbiased. But even that is something curious. We'll talk about that in a little while.

One thing that I'd like to say is that you'll find in these psalms of divine justice, you'll find this tension between what is justice, or the desire, the plea for justice, and at the same time, the fact that sometimes justice doesn't come the way we expect it, the way we want it, or when we want it. God is always just. God is always fair. We know this. It's one of His divine qualities. But the problem is that God, oftentimes, He postpones His justice, at least in our way of seeing it. And you'll see this, for example, in Psalm chapter 7-- sorry, Psalm chapter 9, you'll see this tension between a plea for justice and the fact that justice hasn't arrived when he asked for it. You'll see this in verse 7 through 9, where it says, "But the Lord shall endure forever; He has prepared His throne for judgment. He shall judge the world in righteousness, and He shall administer judgment for the peoples in uprightness. The Lord also will be a refuge for the oppressed, a refuge in times of trouble."

So, what is this text saying? It's saying that "God is just." It's saying that "God is a refuge," that "God, He will exact justice." But at the same time, in the next part of the chapter, you find that there is wickedness, that bad things do happen, that unfair situations in life, they come about. And you'll see this, for example, in verse 13. It says: "Have mercy on me, O Lord! Consider my trouble from those who hate me, You who lift me up from the gates of death." And you go on reading and you see that David is saying, "Lord, I know that You're a refuge, I know that You are just, and I know that You will bring justice for my cause. But Lord, look at what's happening. I am having troubles. I am surrounded by these pains and afflictions. Lord, please judge me fairly. Please save me from these iniquities.

We live in a world of corruption. We know this, all around us. We don't have to go very far to see that we live in a world of corruption, in a world of injustice, in a world of sin. Not long ago, a few years actually-- I'm from Brazil, and Brazil is going through a very difficult political period right now. And a few years ago, they unearthed, they discovered one of the worst scandals, corruption scandals in history, where more than $1 trillion had been stolen by a political party, had been stolen from the government, $1 trillion. That's a lot of money. We live in a world of corruption, in a world of sin. And it seems, many times, that the better you are, the more you suffer. And it seems that the wicked people, those who will act deceitfully, those who are corrupt, it seems many times that they are the ones who prosper, that they are the ones who have it good. Have you ever thought about this?

Sometimes it seems, "You know, Lord, I am here. I'm trying my best to do the best. I'm trying my best to follow your path and to walk in your footsteps. And Lord, it seems that the more I do that, the more I suffer, the more I lose. And at the same time, Lord, look at what's happening with these people. Look at what they're doing and how, apparently, they're prospering. This is the plea of Psalm chapter 82, Psalm chapter 82, verse 2. You hear David crying out to God and saying, "How long will you judge unjustly and show partiality to the wicked?" This is--apparently, some people would assume that this is David talking about God: "Lord, how long will You judge unjustly?"

Can God judge unjustly? Of course not. So, in this text we find that the call of Psalm 82 isn't only to God, but it's to these leaders who are corrupt. David is saying, "Look, you are being corrupt. Can't you change your ways?" And this is an anthem in the book of Psalms. In Psalms chapter 73, verse 3 and 9, we find a similar request that David makes to God, where he says, Psalm 73, verse 3 through 9, that tells us: "For I was envious of the boastful, when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. For there are no pangs in their death, but their strength is firm. They are not in trouble as other men, nor are they plagued like other men. Therefore pride serves as their necklace; violence covers them like a garment." And David goes on describing these wicked that prosper.

And finally, we arrive in chapter 82, where he just said, "Look, how long will you be like this? How long will you judge unjustly? How long will you be corrupt?" Can you see that this isn't anything new? It's not from our days that people are like this, that the world is like this. It's not from our time. The world is unjust. In the days of David, in the days of the prophets and the kings of Israel, we find that Israel would go deeper and deeper into sin. The kingdom of the north in Israel, when you read the books of Chronicles and Kings, you find that not one of the Israelite kings, not one of them in the kingdom of the north was good. The Bible describes them as, "Continuously doing what was wrong in the eyes of the Lord, and walking in the footsteps of their fathers." Not one good king in the kingdom of the north. In Judah and Benjamin, the kingdom of the south, you find a few good kings, but in the middle of corruption. You'll find one or another that comes along every few generations, and they try to fix the things that have happened, but it's too much to fix in one lifetime.

This is not a new problem. This has been going on for a very, very long time. And because of this, not only were the kings and the leaders corrupt and unjust, not only did they treat their population unfairly, but the population, per their influence, became corrupt. People became corrupt. The nation became corrupt, and there was much suffering around them. Up to the point where, and I don't know if you know this, but from Babylon on, from the exile of Babylon on, with a small pause between the kingdoms of Greece and Rome, Israel was never free again. It always was subject to one power or another. For about 80 years between the rule of Greece and the rule of Rome, Israel was free, but other than that, always in bondage, always answering to someone above them, always. Psalm 82 is a call of desperation, where the psalmist, he is calling out, crying out not only to God for God to act, but also for the corrupt leaders to change, to turn from their ways and to act with justice, for them to act with mercy, for them to acknowledge God in their leadership. Look at what he says in chapter 82, verse 3 and 4: "Please defend," I put in the "please." "Please defend the poor and fatherless; do justice to the afflicted and needy. Deliver the poor and the needy; and free them from the hand of the wicked." Here is David calling out, "Look, you who are corrupt, you are who are unjust, stop it. Defend the cause of the poor. Defend the cause of the needy."

You know, we live in a world today where people try to take matters into their own hands. We see many politicians-- and I don't know how many of you-- I've never been that interested, or I don't know much about politics. It's not my calling in life. But it's very difficult for you to see everything that's happening, not only in the country, but in the world around us. Several politicians promising so many things, promising justice, promising a better life, promising to better the world and better the nation. The problem is, is when you've been lied to so many times, you become skeptical. There are just so many promises out there for health and for finances and for safety, and this is something worldwide. The solution will not come through that. We discover this through the Bible. Media, mainstream media with their movies and their series and their magazines and their shows and their books, also promise many fixes.

This is what you'll find in superhero movies, where, ultimately, mankind is the solution to its own problem. Have you noticed this? In these movies and these series and everything in media, you'll find that the main theme, the main idea that they're trying to convey is that we are the fix. We are the solution to our own problem. We've been around long enough to see and to know that we are not the solution, as the humanist philosophy would like us to believe, that we are the cure. And you'll find this through and through, through literature, through history, through politics. What was Marxism, but an idea where mankind can fix its own problems, the idea of the uberman, Superman? We can fix our own problems.

Many believe that it's through enlightenment, knowledge, the advancement of technology, and this way we will bring, finally, we will bring a better world, a world that is just, a world where everyone can live perfectly in harmony. These are not the solution. These things are not the solution. The solution is a just God, a biblical God.

What's more is that, unfortunately, in many moments of our life-- and this is something very real for us. I don't know who you identify with more. And you don't have to answer this, okay, because it can get quite, you know, embarrassing, or-- but who do you identify with more, those who are suffering, those who are under oppression, or those who are causing oppression? I believe that in many moments of our life, unfortunately, we, you know, humans can be bullies. In many moments, we are not the ones that are oppressed. We are the oppressors. That's why I find it so interesting and so important that David here, he makes a call to those unjust rulers: "Look, defend the cause of the poor. Defend the cause of the needy." And that's a call for me and for you today. "Look, stop being the way you are. Defend the cause of the poor. Defend the cause of the needy." The call of Psalms 82 is for both groups. The oppressors should turn from their ways, and the oppressed should place their hope in who? In politics? In technology? In media and humanist progress? No, in God, in the Lord God.

Have you ever turned your eyes upward in a moment in life, going through a moment of injustice, and turned your eyes up to God and sighed, apparently, saying, "Lord, why don't You come back and fix this whole mess?" Have you ever done that? I do that a lot. I do that a lot. "Lord, please come back and fix this mess. Everything's become so chaotic. It's such a big mess." But here's the beautiful thing of the book of Psalms. It gives me hope that God, He will execute justice. The dreary days that we find in the world around us and in our lifetime, there will be an accounting for them. God is just. God is just. The only answer for this whole problem around us is a sovereign Leader, a sovereign Lord.

Now, on the same note, and this is where we find the progression of the lesson this week. It starts off with Psalm 82 and it goes on to Psalm 101, and on the same note, here's the thing, we all exercise influence over other people. We all have opportunities of acting acts of justice, all of us do. Now, are we sources of justice? As humans, are we the source of justice? No, we're not. We reflect justice. God is the source of all justice, and we reflect that.

You know, I remember when I was small, I saw-- and this is very, you know, I'm sure that you've seen it. But I saw this picture that had three little monkeys, and one of the monkeys had his hands over his mouth. Another one had his hands over his eyes. And another one had his hands over his ears. You've seen this? All right, and in one of the pictures, and it had a-- it was the one with the monkey over his eyes, and this never left my mind, it said, "Monkey see monkey do." Have you ever head this? "Monkey see monkey do." And this is the reality about humans. Humans, we imitate. You know, we imitate people.

I've already told you the story of my little brother, where we caught him one Sabbath morning shaving because he had seen my father shaving that same way. My brother was four years old, and we caught him shaving, you know, with all the apparatus and the shaving, the razor. And he looked at us and said, "You know, children imitate their parents." That's exactly what he said, only he said it in Portuguese. "Children copy parents." Humans are creatures of habit, and we are creatures that imitate. That's what we're good at. "Monkey see monkey do."

Now, for you to be just, if you are not the source of justice in this universe, if it doesn't come from you, you know, when it comes to God, God has two kinds of qualities. God has incommunicable qualities. What are they? What are the incommunicable qualities of God? Omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence. God can't communicate that to us. We cannot be omnipotent. We cannot be omniscient, we can't. These are qualities that we simply don't have. But God has some communicable qualities. For example, justice and mercy. These are things that we can learn from God and we can put into practice in our own life. So, when it comes to justice and when it comes to mercy, we find that for us to be able to practice these qualities, we have to learn them from who? From God. We have to learn them from somewhere, from someone, and we learn them from God. David, he composes this list of Christian virtues, of Christian qualities, and we find them in Psalm chapter 101. We can't read the whole chapter, but we will go through each verse and the lesson learned so that we can be Christians of justice and Christians of mercy.

For example, in verse 1, we find that we need to live a life of praise and recognition of Who and of what God does for us. Verse 2 tells us the importance of seeking wisdom to walk before God. Verse 3 tells us the importance of protecting the outlets and the inlets of our soul, everything that we see and hear. Again, you can remember the picture of the three little monkeys. You have to protect the inlets of your soul, the things that you see, the people that you walk with, the places that you go, the things that you hear. You have to protect the inlets and the outlets of your soul, of your mind, the importance of distancing ourselves from things that are harmful to us. This is done proactively and actively. The way we live, the places we go, the people we talk to, in a very active way, and sometimes even proactively there will be a judge and there will be an influence in how we live. We have the importance of being real, verse 5, of being humble, no slandering or being haughty. Verse 6 tells us and teaches us not only the importance of keeping away and removing ourselves from things that are evil, things that are bad, but proactively associating ourselves with what is good, with those who are faithful. And in verse 7, we find the importance of being truthful and of upholding integrity.

Now, I went through a whole list, and we could preach a whole sermon about this chapter, but unfortunately, we don't have the time for that. So when you're interested and you want a list of qualities of how a Christian should live under justice and under mercy, you'll find them in Psalm chapter 101. All of these qualities are meant for those in positions of leadership. This is a kingly psalm. This is what we learn. But here's the thing, Christians are a holy priesthood, a holy nation. And wherever you go, you will exercise leadership. As a Christian, as someone who lives for God, you will exercise leadership, be that in your office, be that in school, be that with friends or with family. People should look to you as a leader, as having the quality of someone who has these virtues in their life, someone who is true, someone who is just, someone who is merciful, someone who associates with what is good. And that's why the king here, he gives this quality for leaders, but they apply for all of us.

Now, a problem with this is that, on this side of eternity, we're not born with these qualities, are we? We're not born with all these virtues. We're not born with justice. We're not born being merciful. These are things, again, monkey see monkey do. We imitate what we see. These are God-given qualities, and the question is, how do we acquire them? How do we become these things? How do we practice them?

There's a story that's told of this man called Jean-Harvey Dunant. Sorry, Jean-Henri Dunant. And Jean-Henri Dunant, Jean, he was a young, brilliant Swiss banker. And in the year 1859, he was sent by his bank to the Austrian Alps, where Napoleon the Second was waging war against Austria, and Dunant went there with the objective of asking Napoleon for permission to start a new business venture in the country of Algeria. But when he got there, he saw the cannons blazing, he heard the muskets firing, he saw the wails of men being wounded and dying. That day, 15,000 men died, and that changed him. That changed this man. The scene broke his heart. He spent the entire night caring for the wounded along with the other volunteers, caring for the wounded, taking care of them. And he was never the same. Money simply didn't matter that much anymore to him. He went back to Europe and he went from country to country, meeting with state governors and with country presidents, and he was eloquently, very eloquently making the cause for peace.

This man, Jean Dunant, went on to found what we know today as the Red Cross International, and he received the first-ever Nobel Peace Prize. The fact is that when he was confronted with the reality that the world wasn't what he thought it was, when he was confronted with the reality of those who were suffering, he couldn't remain the same. God gave him a purpose. Now, if he hadn't gone to the Austrian Alps to the middle of that war, would anything have happened? I doubt it. He hadn't been confronted with that reality, with the need.

You know, Jesus, there is this song that says that we have to go out of our comfort zone to see Jesus. We have to go out of our comfort zone because Jesus isn't in the comfort zone. Jesus is not in the comfort zone. That's hard for us. We like living with these shades over our eyes. Apparently, everything is fine. No one is need of mercy. There is no injustice around us, everything's okay. That's our comfort zone. But just as Jean Dunant, sometimes we need to leave that comfort zone and be confronted with the reality that there are harsh realities in this world, there are horrible situations. You know, sometimes we have this idea, this crazy idea that "God will use me--" And bear with me, okay? Don't take out of context what I'm saying.

Sometimes we have this crazy idea that "God needs me to go to bless someone else. He needs me." The fact of the matter is, is that God is already exercising justice. God is already being merciful. He is already out there, out of the comfort zone, and He is acting. He doesn't need me. It's my privilege to work with Him. It's a privilege. He doesn't need me. Before I have the brilliant idea of helping God, He was already helping this world. He was already serving this world. As we find in the book of Acts, where it tells us about Jesus, Jesus's greatest, well, His ministry, what He did, this is in Acts 10, chapter 10, verse 38. Here we find Jesus's mission, what He did. It says, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power, Who went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil." That is Christ's mission statement. He went about doing what was good, acting for those who were being oppressed by the devil. You see, we need to be near God. We need to be close to Him. We have to learn from Him because when we see what He does, when we learn from the true Source of justice, when we learn what mercy truly is, we will want to act.

One of the greatest problems that we face today is that Christians, they want to be activists. They want to give a lot of social help and go out and help, but the problem is that many times we forget the reason for this. What is the reason for all this activism? Is it because we are good? No, and that is the main difference between Christians and anyone else who does anything good, but not for the right reason. You remember the parable of the Good Samaritan? One of the most well-known parables in the Bible. And Jesus is asked a question. The Pharisee asked Jesus, after a series of sentences and a conversation that goes on with them, the Pharisee asked Jesus, "Well, who is my neighbor?" Remember that question? Do you know why he was asking this question? "Who is my neighbor?" automatically draws a line because if someone is my neighbor, what does that mean? That someone isn't. So, basically, what the Pharisee was asking is, "Well, okay, Lord, well, then who is my neighbor? Who will I treat with justice? Who will I have mercy on? And who can I forget? Who can I ignore?" That's the nature of the question.

And then Jesus, He goes on. He doesn't answer him outright. He gives him a parable, the parable of the Good Samaritan, that we all know. And at the end, Jesus asks him the same question, but with a little change. What does Jesus ask him? "Whose neighbor was he?" Do you see the difference? On the first question, on the Pharisee's question, the question is, "Who is my neighbor?" And then Jesus's question is, "Well, whose neighbor was he, was the Samaritan?" And the answer that is invoked by the text is, "Everyone, anyone, all are my-- I am the neighbor to all."

The question isn't, "Who is your neighbor?" The question is, "To whom are you the neighbor?" That is the beauty of this message. When God talks about justice and of mercy, it is to everyone. When we read the book of Proverbs, when we read the book of Proverbs, and this only appears on Thursday in the lesson, only one day for the book of Proverbs, but we'll find that, through the text presented, we see that sometimes people, they--people make bad decisions. And if it were up to them deserving our mercy, they would never deserve it. There are some people that simply make many bad decisions. There are people that dig their own graves. You understand, right? There are some people that dig their own graves. Now, if you were to ask, "Well, you know, do they deserve my mercy?" the answer would be no, because mercy is something that many times we assume to be by merit. You know, "They were bad. I won't be merciful upon them." But if I am to take the Bible seriously, if I am to take the parable of the Good Samaritan seriously, everyone deserves mercy because mercy has nothing to do with merit. Mercy has to do with me understanding how just and merciful God was to me, and I will pass that on. It is about reflecting His character.

So, when I read these texts in the Bible about mercy, about love, about the justice of God, I have to understand them biblically. Not through the encyclopedia, not through the dictionary, because then I'll have missed the whole lesson. In the Bible, mercy is the right arm of God's justice because without it, there would be no salvation for us. If it were purely through justice, there would be no salvation for us. But praise God, because He is merciful. He is abounding in mercy, and He gives us the privilege of acting out His mercy through our life.

Who is your neighbor? Everyone. To whom are you a neighbor? Everyone. May God bless you, everyone here at the Granite Bay Church, and also those who are watching far away from us, perhaps in another country. May God bless you and give you the ability, the strong desire to reflect His justice and His mercy to all of the people around you. May He use you. May He bless you. We are going to be turning off now, signing off from our Bible study hour. May God bless you.

Announcer: Don't forget to request today's life-changing free resource. Not only can you receive this free gift in the mail, you can download a digital copy straight to your computer or mobile device. To get your digital copy of today's free gift, simply text the key word on your screen to... or visit the web address shown on your screen. And be sure to select the digital download option on the request page. It's now easier than every for you to study God's Word with "Amazing Facts" wherever and whenever you want, and most important, to share it with others.

Announcer: "Amazing Facts: Changed Lives."

Charlie Green: My life was in turmoil. My wife and I were fighting all the time, and I got away from everything and everybody. I don't know, I just, I always had this emptiness in my heart I wanted filled. I just felt like I went my whole life, you know, just searching for something, and my father died, and that ruined me a lot. My father didn't believe in suicide, and I didn't want to live, but rather than disrespect him, I decided I would just become so mean that someone else would do it to me, and I wouldn't have to. So I joined the Army, thinking, "What better place to get killed than in the Army?" And while I was in the Army, my daughter got injured. She was in an accident, and she was blind and paraplegic, and it's just like I felt the whole world was coming down on me.

And one morning, I just really got mad, and I gave God a cussing like you wouldn't believe. I said, "I'm not Moses. I'm not Abraham, you know? I don't--but I put my sandals on just like they do, and I'm a man. I don't want to know why this is happening to me. I just want to know that it's happening for a reason. If You tell me right now that this is all for a reason, then You can stack it on me from here to the end of time, and I will never complain again." And that little TV came on. It had been sitting there, just static all night long, and there was this minister. Well, he pops up, and he says, "Today's lesson's from the book of Job. God only lets those suffer that He loves the most." And I said, "Well, that's all You had to say, Lord." I appreciated Him.

From that day forward, I knew that He was there and He was in my life, and that He would help me. I went to prison just almost immediately after that. I was in prison for aggravated assault. I was in one of the worst prisons in the state of Tennessee. It was full of gang activity. I got my throat cut, 52 stitches. I mean, I could take both fingers, and stick them all the way through, out my mouth. I'd gone to the library that day because it was really about the only thing to do. And I ran across this little book called "The Richest Caveman." This book, it's hilarious, but it is great. I'm sitting there with this big beard. I'm thinking, "Hey, I know what it's like to look like a caveman, but--" [laughing] I'm not an educated person, I guess you'd say, but I'm a simple guy. I'm just really a simple guy, and that's what I loved about Doug Batchelor because this guy is just straight out as you can get.

And my wife and I, we've kept contact through all these years, and so much has gone on. And I told her, I said, "Listen, this is the center of my world right now." And I said, "I really want you to be involved in it with me. I need it." And I said, "And you will too if you ever just take hold of it." I told my wife, I said, "Listen, they've got this 'Amazing Facts' Bible study on here, and this is the best way for you to get this information, I think." I said, "Because it's broken down, and they give you questions to make you look for these things, you know?" I says, "It's not anyone telling you. You find it on your own, and they teach you to actually use the Bible." She was there faithfully every Wednesday until we decided, you know, she wanted to be baptized also. She saw it coming around. The choice was made. And October the 4th, 2014, my wife and I, we were baptized in the water at the same time, and we started our walk together.

I guess you'd say. I went through everything that a man could possibly go through, I guess, from marital trouble, loss of family members, death in my family. My children were harmed, and my daughter was handicapped for life. I went to prison. But still, I kept my word to God that He could stack it on me as much as He wanted, and I'd never question Him again, and I didn't. But I can say this much, He never put nothing on me that I couldn't handle, and He walked with me through it all. And I'd like to say to anyone who is in prison not to give up. Don't lose hope. Put your faith in the Lord, and study, and seek Him, and He will seek you. And my name is Charlie Green, and I want you to know that you and "Amazing Facts" have changed my life.

Announcer: Let's face it. It's not always easy to understand everything you read in the Bible. With over 700,000 words contained in 66 books, the Bible can generate a lot of questions. To get biblical, straightforward answers, call in to Bible Answers Live, a live nationwide call-in radio program where you can talk to Pastor Doug Batchelor and ask him your most difficult Bible questions. For times and stations in your area, or to listen to "Answers" online, visit bal.amazingfacts.org.

Doug Batchelor: For over 60 years, Jeepneys have been the virtual king of the road here in the Philippines. These unique vehicles that are festooned with colorful stickers, lights, and chrome have grown into the chief source of transportation in the country. Let's go.

These iconic 4-wheel-drive military vehicles made by the Willys company were known as "Jeeps" because it stood for "general purpose." But it also came from a character in a "Popeye" cartoon that was known as Eugene the Jeep. He was an imaginary dog that could crawl across the ceilings and the walls, and these Jeeps could go anywhere. When the Americans left the Philippines following World War II, it was just cheaper for them to leave these thousands of military vehicles behind rather than to transport them back to the States. The creative Filipino people modified these military vehicles by extending the frame about 6 feet. They added a couple of opposing benches that are designed to carry about 18 people. They put a cab over it to prevent the water from coming in. Well, I've seen what looks like 20 to 25 people hanging on every possible edge and ledge of a Jeepney, and jumping off, jumping on as it goes through congested Manila traffic.

Every Jeepney is a little bit different. Some are just held together with patches of baling wire and bubblegum, a little but of duct tape. Some are a little more ornate and modern. They've got chrome and stainless steel. Now, there's good reason that the ceilings are padded. When one of the local Filipinos wants a ride on a Jeepney, they just flag them down. They shout, they tap on the hood, and then they jump onboard. They may not even slow down when they do this. Then they pay about 8 pesos, which is the equivalent of 16 cents for us. It's by far the most economical way to get around in the country. Some Jeepneys are even equipped with their own emergency privy. One little downside to the Jeepneys is because the cabs are open like this, they're not air conditioned. It gets pretty hot in the summertime, and all the fumes from the street come in, which can make it an exhausting experience, whew.

Part of the downside of a Jeepney is they don't have all of the modern safety features, no seatbelts. You have to take advantage of the padding if you hit a hard bump, and if you're in a serious accident, there's no airbags other than the friends that might be sitting around you. And that's the upside of the Jeepney. Because you're up close and personal with everybody, you make some new friends. Riding on a Jeepney requires teamwork. If you buy something from one of the vendors, you all sort of pass it back to each other. And when passengers get on board, just pass your money up front. Thanks a lot.

Friends, it's safe to say there are no two Jeepneys that are exactly the same. They're all unique and distinct, and so are you. Have you ever felt that you get lost in a mass of humanity and God doesn't notice you? The Bible tells us that He knows your name, the very hairs of your head are numbered, and He hears your prayers. More than that, the Lord wants to take you to His kingdom. You just have to get on board.

♪♪♪ Doug: Jesus was baptized, that the Heavens were parted for Him. The Holy Spirit came down. This is what God wants you to experience. You come to Christ. Your sins are washed away. You become a new creature. It's a land of beginning again, and how many of you wish you could get a new start?

Announcer: "For I was hungry, and you gave Me something to eat. Inasmuch as you do it to one of the least of these My brethren, you did it to Me."

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