LUKE 4:18 - Berean Lamp Memory Verse - (Dec 18-25)
The Berean Lamp Memory Verse for this week is:
“'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor'" (Luke 4:18)
We're continuing our look at grief this week as we look more at the question, "should we grieve as Christians?"
Grief and anguish are a natural response to the unnatural state of this fallen world - our response to the oppression of the sin nature and the effects of sin upon nature - all owing to satan's efforts in Eden.
As we saw last time, satan is an adversary and accuser - both of mankind to God and of God to mankind. His best tactic is to find us at our weakest, when his oppression has us down - when we are in pain, struggling, discouraged, anguished, etc. It is then, when we are grieving, that satan accuses God to us. Never mind that the devil is responsible for the oppression we face in life, but he twists it around and encourages us to lay the blame at God's feet - to question God's motives, promises, character, and even nature for allowing the grief.
Why does this work? As with Job and Jeremiah, the Psalmists also gives us a window on this struggle through their prayer lives. We see many instances where they feel abandoned by the God who promised to be with them - at times feeling that God does not care the way a loving father should for the pain of his children - if God's character is as a just, righteous, loving, and merciful God, how could he allow it? Is His character truly the may He said it was? Listen to their words: “Why do you hide your face? Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?” (Psalm 44:24). “For you are the God in whom I take refuge; why have you rejected me? Why do I go about mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” (Psalm 43:2)
In modern parlance they might be saying: "God, I am in pain! Help me, for I know You can save me!" ; "Why don't You help me, don't You care?" ; "You told me you love me, how could you allow this?" ; "How could a loving Father allow His child to go through this?" ; "If You are Who You say You are, how does what you are allowing happen to me fit your character as a loving Father?"
This is precisely what satan is trying to accomplish, for he is there in the midst of our struggle tempting us to accuse God in our anguish like Job and Jeremiah were tempted to do in their emotional distress. When we grieve, we should watch for the devil's accusations of God in our heart and mind. We must affirm as Job and Jeremiah did that God is Who He says He is and His character is true to His nature despite our limited and dim understanding of what we are going through.
All this brings us to Jesus Christ. God sent His Son among us - in our flesh - suffering what we suffer - to make a way out of the oppression of sin and its eternal consequences. Jesus is better acquainted with the devil's oppression than any of us, for not only did the devil oppress Him more (knowing Who He was), but Jesus also took upon Himself on the cross the cumulative effect of all the sins of the world - the mighty oppression of the sin nature and the effects of sin all fell on Him to bear the responsibility and guilt of it all before the Father. And it was so unbearable that He cried out to His Father "saying, 'Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?' that is, 'My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?' ...And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit" (Matthew 27:46-50). We see that He was oppressed and afflicted for our sake, for the mandate of His first coming was to proclaim the good news of the end of the devil's oppression and affliction, providing the way of escape through the sacrifice of Himself for our sins by His death in our place of judgement - And while 2,000 years have elapsed for the number of the gentiles to be fulfilled, Jesus will free all nature from the oppression of sin by His future return as King and Lord of all nature for all eternity.
This Christmas season as we celebrate the first coming of God's Son of Light into the world on this darkest, most oppressive time of the year when night comes so early, may we praise God for freeing us for all eternity from satan's power of darkness and oppression as expressed in the Christmas hymn "O Holy Night":
Truly He taught us to love one another
His law is love and His gospel is peace.
Chains shall He break for the slave is our brother
And in His name, all oppression shall cease.
Sweet hymns of joy in grateful chorus raise we
Let all within us praise His holy name!
May we hold fast to the character of God and trust that He is working for our good (as He says He is) even in the midst of the oppression of this present age with which satan is allowed to touch our lives. May we understand that the devil is always actively accusing God to our simple minds and hearts in every difficulty and struggle of the oppression he causes in the world. May we resist the temptation to listen to satan's accusations of our Father when we have the strength to do so by the grace of God - and when it overwhelms us (as it sometimes does), may we affirm and testify of our God's character when we come out of the emotional fog of suffering, just as his servants Job and Jeremiah did also. Even so, Amen.
Other verses to consider:
THE OPPRESSIONS ARE GREAT ON THE EARTH AND WITHOUT GOD THEY ARE OVERWHELMING
"Again I saw all the oppressions that are done under the sun. And behold, the tears of the oppressed, and they had no one to comfort them! On the side of their oppressors there was power, and there was no one to comfort them. And I thought the dead who are already dead more fortunate than the living who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been and has not seen the evil deeds that are done under the sun" (Ecclesiastes 4:1-3).
THE CALL OF THE RIGHTEOUS
"Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; bring justice to the fatherless, plead the widow's cause" (Isaiah 1:17)
JESUS KNOWS THE OPPRESSION WE FACE - HE ENDURED IT ALL - AND HE WILL END IT ALL
"He was oppressed, and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; like a lamb that is led to the slaughter, and like a sheep that before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth. By oppression and judgment He was taken away; and as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off out of the land of the living, stricken for the transgression of my people?" (Isaiah 53:7-8)
"And the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to Him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written, 'The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent Me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor'" (Luke 4:17-19)
THE PROMISE OF THE MILLENNIUM
"The sinners in Zion are afraid; trembling has seized the godless: 'Who among us can dwell with the consuming fire? Who among us can dwell with everlasting burnings?' He who walks righteously and speaks uprightly, who despises the gain of oppressions, who shakes his hands, lest they hold a bribe, who stops his ears from hearing of bloodshed and shuts his eyes from looking on evil" (Isaiah 33:14-15).
“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse, And a branch from his roots will bear fruit. The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him, The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and strength, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. And He will delight in the fear of the Lord, And He will not judge by what His eyes see, Nor make a decision by what His ears hear; But with righteousness He will judge the poor, And decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth; And He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, And with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked. Also righteousness will be the belt about His loins, And faithfulness the belt about His waist. And the wolf will dwell with the lamb, And the leopard will lie down with the young goat, And the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; And a little boy will lead them. Also the cow and the bear will graze, Their young will lie down together, And the lion will eat straw like the ox. The nursing child will play by the hole of the cobra, And the weaned child will put his hand on the viper’s den. They will not hurt or destroy in all My holy mountain, For the earth will be full of the knowledge of the Lord As the waters cover the sea. Then in that day The nations will resort to the root of Jesse, Who will stand as a signal for the peoples; And His resting place will be glorious” (Isaiah 11:1-10 NASB).
THE PROMISE OF ETERNITY
"And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away'" (Revelation 21:3-4).
THE EMOTIONAL TURMOIL OF SUFFERING IN THIS FALLEN WORLD
“For the arrows of the Almighty are within me, their poison my spirit drinks; The terrors of God are arrayed against me” (Job 6:4).
“Know then that God has wronged me and has closed His net around me. Behold, I cry, ‘Violence!’ but I get no answer; I shout for help, but there is no justice. He has walled up my way so that I cannot pass, and He has put darkness on my paths. He has stripped my honor from me and removed the crown from my head. He breaks me down on every side, and I am gone; And He has uprooted my hope like a tree. He has also kindled His anger against me and considered me as His enemy. His troops come together, and build up their way against me and camp around my tent.” (Job 19:6-12)
“Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Am I the sea, or the sea monster, that You set a guard over me? If I say, ‘My bed will comfort me, My couch will ease my complaint,’ then You frighten me with dreams and terrify me by visions; So that my soul would choose suffocation, death rather than my pains. I waste away; I will not live forever. Leave me alone, for my days are but a breath.” (Job 7:11-16)
“I am the man who has seen affliction because of the rod of His wrath. He has driven me and made me walk in darkness and not in light. Surely against me He has turned His hand repeatedly all the day. He has caused my flesh and my skin to waste away, He has broken my bones. He has besieged and encompassed me with bitterness and hardship. In dark places He has made me dwell, like those who have long been dead. He has walled me in so that I cannot go out; He has made my chain heavy. Even when I cry out and call for help, He shuts out my prayer. He has blocked my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked. He is to me like a bear lying in wait, like a lion in secret places. He has turned aside my ways and torn me to pieces; He has made me desolate. He bent His bow and set me as a target for the arrow. He made the arrows of His quiver to enter into my inward parts. I have become a laughingstock to all my people, their mocking song all the day. He has filled me with bitterness, He has made me drunk with wormwood. He has broken my teeth with gravel; He has made me cower in the dust. My soul has been rejected from peace; I have forgotten happiness. So I say, ‘My strength has perished, and so has my hope from the Lord.’" (Lamentations 3:1-18)
ONCE GOD'S FAITHFULNESS IS RECALLED TO MIND
"Remember my affliction and my wandering, the wormwood and bitterness. Surely my soul remembers and is bowed down within me. This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope. The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him.’ The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the person who seeks Him. It is good that he waits silently for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone and be silent since He has laid it on him. Let him put his mouth in the dust, perhaps there is hope. Let him give his cheek to the smiter, let him be filled with reproach. For the Lord will not reject forever, for if He causes grief, then He will have compassion according to His abundant lovingkindness. For He does not afflict willingly or grieve the sons of men.” (Lamentations 3:19-33)
“I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’ Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand, things too wonderful for me, which I did not know. ‘Hear, now, and I will speak; I will ask You, and You instruct me.’ I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear; But now my eye sees You; Therefore I retract, and I repent in dust and ashes.” (Job 42:2-6)
MORE VERSES ON GRIEF
“The Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart” (Genesis 6:6).
“So Jacob tore his clothes, and put sackcloth on his loins and mourned for his son many days. Then all his sons and all his daughters arose to comfort him, but he refused to be comforted. And he said, ‘Surely I will go down to Sheol in mourning for my son.’ So his father wept for him” (Genesis 37:24-25).
“How long shall I take counsel in my soul, Having sorrow in my heart all the day? How long will my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:2)
“My sorrow is beyond healing, My heart is faint within me!” (Jeremiah 8:18)
“And He took with Him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be grieved and distressed. Then He said to them, ‘My soul is deeply grieved, to the point of death; remain here and keep watch with Me’” (Matthew 26:37-38).
“After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’ And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored” (Mark 3:5).
“Truly, truly, I say to you, that you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will grieve, but your grief will be turned into joy” (John 16:20).
“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope” (1 Thessalonians 4:13).
“Because in much wisdom there is much grief, and increasing knowledge results in increasing pain” (Ecclesiastes 1:18).
“I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me in the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing grief in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed, separated from Christ for the sake of my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh” (Romans 9:1-3).
“Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep” (Romans 12:15).
“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven...A time to weep and a time to laugh; A time to mourn and a time to dance” (Ecclesiastes 3:4).
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth” (Matthews 5:4).
“And I heard a loud voice from the throne, saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is among men, and He will dwell among them, and they shall be His people, and God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away’” (Revelation 21:3-4).
"Do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption" (Ephesians 4:30).
"Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul. And the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel" (1 Samuel 15:35).
"How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness And grieved Him in the desert!" (Psalm 78:40)
"For I said, 'May they not rejoice over me, Who, when my foot slips, would magnify themselves against me.' For I am ready to fall, And my sorrow is continually before me. For I confess my iniquity; I am full of anxiety because of my sin" (Psalm 38:16-18).