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But now the action moves from the living room to the Family Court. Ch. 3 may have appeared to have a happy ending, but itís only a happy ending in preview. The present reality continues for now. The marriage has broken down and in this rare case thereís only one party at fault. So God brings forward his indictment of the people of Israel. Here is his opening statement of what will be a long and painful trial as he lists all the ways theyíve let him down, all the ways theyíve betrayed his love and faithfulness to them. He begins with three crucial character traits that God looks for in his people. What are they? Faithfulness, loyalty (steadfast love or loving kindness), and knowledge of God. Faithfulness speaks of the solid trustworthiness and reliability of the person of integrity. Itís one of those characteristics that used to be so highly prized in our culture. These days unfortunately itís fallen by the wayside to a large degree as weíve become more and more self-centred; as weíve become people of the moment rather than people of the future.
Loyalty, or kindness, is that characteristic of God thatís often translated ísteadfast loveí or íloving kindnessí. Itís the sort of kindness and love that weíve seen from God in this book so far. And it should be found in his followers: a love that seeks the good of the other and that results in good deeds done for the other.
Knowledge of God, of course, is the key. Thereís a cognitive element to godliness that forms the basis for its practical outworking. Itís as we meditate on Godís word day and night that our lives begin to reflect his character. Heís not thinking here about mere head knowledge. This is a personal knowledge of God, the sort we saw last time, that results in and from an intimate relationship with God. And one way we develop that intimate relationship is through our minds being steeped in Godís word. This is a knowledge of God that implies a grasp of just how great God is. If we truly know God, in all his power and glory and awesome wonder, how could we possibly turn away from him to false gods. If we truly know God in his faithfulness and loving kindness, how could we not be like that too? Well weíll hear more about these critical characteristics later on, when we get to ch6.
Whatís the result of this failure of faithfulness and loyalty and knowledge of God? Look at v2: "Swearing, lying, and murder, and stealing and adultery break out; bloodshed follows bloodshed." When people turn away from godliness this is what you get: social breakdown.
You look at that list and you realise that it could be talking about today, donít you? People wonder why our society is in such trouble at the moment. Why is it that relationships are so fragile? Why do people find it hard to trust their current life partner to be faithful? Why do people lie and swear and cheat and kill? Remember Jesus equated murder
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