“Judgment.” It may stir indignation both in those who believe their practice of it is “righteous,” and for those who would prefer forsaking the concept altogether because of their own “unrighteous” experience with it. These or any number of other reactions cause many to abuse or avoid the reality of God’s judgment. In the story of God recorded in the Bible and reflected in His mission to communities around the world, He carries out judgment with “rescue.” This form of judgment depicted throughout Scripture means “justice.” Such heavenly rescue requires discipline, because love compels it. Remember the words of the writer of Hebrews, who quotes from Proverbs 3:12, “For those whom the LORD loves He disciplines, And He scourges every son whom He receives.” In fact, love that lacks judgment hinders endurance. The writer explains, “It is for discipline that you endure; God deals with you as with sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline?” (Hebrews 12:6-7, NASB). If we find ourselves weary, perhaps we need the loving discipline and rescue that our Father offers us!
How might it be possible that the hope for the nations involves judgment from God? When we think of the Father’s heart for the nations, we might focus on love and mercy rather than judgment. However, the story of God throughout Scripture tells a different tale. Throughout Isaiah, Jeremiah, Amos, Obadiah, Malachi, and the other prophets, the nations hear stern warnings of coming judgment…including the nation of Israel. Throughout the prophets, “Edom” as a nation symbolizes the plight (and hope) of the nations. The Edomites descended from Esau, Jacob’s (Israel’s) brother. Therefore, Edom committed a serious offense by tolerating and perpetrating the persecution of Israel, their brother, at the hands of the nations. This opens the door for God’s messengers to deliver some of the harshest and strongest warnings of the coming wrath of God upon Edom.
Yet through all the dire warnings of total destruction, a redemptive hope bursts forth. God’s judgment unfolds, yet in the midst of it, He acknowledges those on the margins, even in this guilty nation. Recently, right before falling asleep, I (Mark) opened my Bible and found myself jolted by this glimmer of hope in the middle of an overwhelming prophecy about Edom’s destruction. It has driven me to write this post to share it with all of you. After plowing through difficult metaphors expressing the doom and total destruction of God’s coming judgment for Edom in the prophecy of Jeremiah, suddenly the following promise leapt from the page:
“Leave your orphans [or “fatherless”] behind, I will keep them alive; And let your widows trust in Me” (49:11).
As God prepared to discipline an entire nation “deceived” by their own “arrogance” (49:16), hope arises for the humblest, those on the margins of this “great” nation – the widows and orphans. The prophet Amos similarly rehearses the doom that lies ahead for Edom (1:11-12) and Israel and Judah (2:4-8). Then he concludes his prophecy by imagining the impact of the restoration of God’s people, “That they may possess the remnant of Edom and all the nations who are called by My name” (9:12). The restoration of the remnant of God’s people releases His calling to the remnant of the nations!
I clearly remember one of my Old Testament professors encouraging us to investigate the profile for those belonging to “the remnant” throughout Scripture. It includes the afflicted, brokenhearted, captives, prisoners, poor, blind, and oppressed… elsewhere called widows, orphans, and sojourners or aliens (think “refugees”). Though this profile does not appeal to the proud, it does characterize those to whom both Isaiah and Jesus delivered “the good news” (Isaiah 61:1; Luke 4:18).
In the final verses of the Old Testament, Malachi offers the hope that God’s messenger would appear to “restore the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse” (4:6). Jesus identifies this messenger as John the Baptist (Matthew 11:14). John ministered a call to repentance for God’s people in preparation for Jesus’ mission. Jesus fulfills the identity of God’s people as His very own Son. As the Son, He shouldered the ultimate judgment of His Father on the cross in order to usher in eternal newness through His resurrection – all compelled by His Father’s love, carried out as judgment and rescue.
The closing of the New Testament chapter of God’s story pictures the Son alongside His Father enthroned in Their kingdom, with the tree of life on either side of the river of life flowing from this throne, “and the leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” The curse of the nations would cease: “There will no longer be any curse; and the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and His bond-servants will serve Him” (Revelation 22:1-3). Remember, “Edom” particularly epitomizes “the nations” that reject God and face His discipline. If such judgment yields hope for possession in God’s kingdom of the marginalized remnant of Edom, then this same hope extends to such remnants of all nations.
How shall we respond to this message? Might I suggest a “prophetic” posture? The prophetic expression that I refer to consists of a life that focuses on God’s justice – rescue for the remnant as hope dawns on the horizon. This longing is lodged into the heart of the nations, including the United States of America as evidenced in the end of Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “In Memoriam” (pictured here), which we noticed in the gallery of the Rotunda of the Library of Congress during our visit this past spring.
Consider how such a “prophetic” posture confirms our partnership with God’s mission of justice to the remnants of the nations. Rejoice in the ways that Kids Alive International embodies Jeremiah’s promise to the nations through “Edom,” namely that God will keep the children and widows alive and invite them to trust in Him! God’s kingdom supports the humble and marginalized. Citizens of the kingdom care for “the least of these” as an expression of gratitude to the King and as a testimony of His power to change lives. They care because of their compelling hope for a kingdom that fills a new heaven and new earth, with a transformed citizenship that formerly belonged to the “Edoms” of the fallen earth. In Jesus’ new creation, now all things are new…
With this fresh understanding of the eternal nature of our hope, watch this newly released video of the Kids Alive Peru Orchard Children’s Home as a testimony of a remnant experiencing resurrection…kids who are truly alive!
This month we also plan to begin construction on the next house at The Orchard, with a new redemptive family beginning to move in by the end of the year. We also give thanks that there is a new well on the property. Please pray for houseparents and staffing for this growing ministry.
Our family lives on the campus of Kids Alive Peru’s Mission TEC Care Center, just a few minutes from The Orchard Children’s Home. Here at the Care Center, several hundred children spend time each week building relationships with teachers, learning about the story of God, increasing academic achievement, developing practical skills, learning about good health and diet, all as part of their growth in relationship with God and their surrounding community. In recent months, we have explored the potential structure for sustaining and increasing the ministry of the Care Center in the jungle region. Please stay alert in prayer and look for updates in the coming months as some of these plans take shape along the lines of Kids Alive’s core commitments as outlined by KAI President Matt Parker at the 100th Anniversary Celebration held in Lancaster, PA:
- To keep Christ at the heart of all that we do
- To pursue excellence in our ministry
- To be an organization that grows and thrives
Be encouraged at how your involvement through our family as missionaries with Kids Alive Peru carries our eternal hope forward into the next generation!
Kristin’s relationships with children from the community continue to deepen (an answer to a prayer request from recent months) through her responsibilities that include teaching recorder lessons, leading an AWANA group, and helping with the ministry to the teen moms.
Caleb (6th grade), Jacob (4th grade), and Rachel (2nd grade) began the 2016-2017 school year at South American Mission (SAM) Academy on August 17. Each day they enjoy
Mark keeps seeing in special ways how being present in our ongoing relationships leads to timely opportunities to serve in a pastoral way and support leadership and program development. This also extends to our local church, Torre Fuerte (Strong Tower), where Mark will teach a Sunday School series on “How to Study the Story of God” during the month of September. He also began teaching the high school Bible class at SAM Academy, which meets twice a week.
Recently the children at The Orchard also enjoyed a visit from Shadow.
Finally, it is never too early to celebrate Christmas. During a recent “frio” when morning temperatures dropped into the 70’s, the Care Center teachers came over for a spontaneous Navidad celebration with hot chocolate, sweets, Christmas music, and fellowship!
From our recent visit to the States to our return to Peru, our family never tires of the warm welcome and rejoicing that characterizes our relationships and shared hope.
Together in His justice,
Mark, Kristin, Caleb, Jacob, and Rachel Coté
Missionaries of Discipleship and Development based in Pucallpa, Peru
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