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Freedom Sunday

Today we had a special guest speaker, Jesse Rudy, from International Justice Mission.  Jesse was a successful lawyer in northern Virginia and attending Gateway when he felt God's call on his life to join International Justice Mission.  He lived in Uganda for several years and then the Philippines.  Now he's back in the DC area still working with IJM.

He talked about God's heart for justice.

And he began with the story of David and Bathsheba.  David was a wildly successful king.  He had everything his heart desired and the explicit favor of the Lord.  And then he took Uriah's wife, and in an effort to cover his sin, murdered Uriah.

The prophet Nathan rebukes David in I Samuel 12, and that rebuke tells us about God's heart.

Justice is not fairness.

Again and again we're shown in the Bible that life is not fair.  Nathan even points out that David had been given gifts beyond what seems "fair."

Justice is not vengeance.

We're told in Scripture, "If your enemy is hungry, feed him." and "Do not repay evil for evil."

Ultimately, justice is about power -- how power is exercised when it's not distributed evenly.

Injustice occurs when someone who has power uses that power to take from the weak.

Notice:  Of all the things God could have rebuked David for -- adultery, murder, etc. -- he rebukes David for the way he used his power.

David used his power to take Uriah's love, dignity, and life.

What God was most angry about was David using his power to take from someone weaker.

God's heart for justice and hatred for injustice is consistent throughout Scripture. 

Matthew 23:3-4 --  What's important is justice, mercy. and faithfulness.

Then we talked about slavery.  There are 40 million slaves on the earth today, which is more than any other time in human history.  This is literally one human owning another.

We talked about a new form of slavery:  Cyber sex trafficking.  This is someone being able to tell the slave what they have to do.  90% of those trafficked are minors.

God, what's the plan?  You say you care!

Exodus 1:11-14 -- "I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt."

In Exodus 3:7, God told Moses, "My plan is you!"

Scripture is full of God telling His people that they are the plan to fight injustice.

IJM.org/sendrescue

This video (a true story) was filmed last year.  Now 350 kids have been saved from cyber sex trafficking in the Philippines.

Justice is about power.

We are some of the most powerful people in the world.

Become a Freedom Partner:   www.ijm.org/fp

Injustice is not our weight to carry.

Fighting injustice is God's weight, but our work.

Jesse closed by reading Isaiah 58:6-12.  We should set the oppressed free.

Nahum - The Unpopular Prophet

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Today Pastor Ed Allen finished his summer book study of Jonah and Nahum by looking at the book of Nahum.

Jonah was a bad prophet, but he's popular.  Nahum was a good prophet, but his book is probably the most unpopular of all the prophets.

He preached around 650 BC, about 100 years after Jonah.  The revival in Jonah was short-lived.

Why is Nahum so unpopular? 

Nahum is about God's wrath, and we don't like that message.  Many think his message is beneath the character of God.

What is the message of Nahum?

God had had enough of the Assyrians.  He would punish them for their history of unimaginable violence.

They practiced ethnic cleansing, conquered people, took them into slavery, and obliterated them.  They were inhumanly cruel.

Nahum was written after the northern kingdom of Israel was obliterated.  50 years later, their atrocities were still unpunished. 

What kind of God allowed Assyria to do these cruelties?  Nahum answered that.

God is concerned with justice.

There's unbridled joy at the fall of the oppressor.  You don't want God talking smack to you, as happens in Nahum 3.

Why is it important for us to hear from Nahum?

It's true.  Within 30 years, Assyria completely collapsed.

We don't appreciate God's justice because we haven't experienced injustice at that level.

We live in a place of profound comfort and safety -- that tends to dull our spiritual senses.

We must not trifle with God, but our lives are designed to do that.  Our actions do have eternal consequences.

We ended with a reminder that Jesus came.  And we need him desperately.