God creates every person with opportunities to earn independent blessing by completing responsibilities as his representative in human interactions; based on conditional promise proclaimed in the Beatitudes and explained through parables. Additionally, a person can receive dependent blessing through prayers by others, inherit blessing from previous family generations, or be blessed in other ways as God chooses. Every blessing accumulates and will be fulfilled at its time. Furthermore, blessing and punishment can coexist as parallel promises of God and do not trade-off against each other.
Every person will have opportunities to receive independent blessing based on God’s conditional promise, dependent blessing that God grants to a person in response to prayers by others, inherited blessing from previous family generations, or other blessing that God grants as he chooses.
Every blessing is a promise to be fulfilled at its time, for the person directly or through offspring generations (e.g., “but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments” [Exodus 20:6]). As we discuss previously under Parallel Promises—in David-Bathsheba Relationship, blessing and punishment can coexist as parallel promises of God. They do not trade-off against each other. Each will be fulfilled separately when God chooses. A person that previously earned blessing could incur punishment. Also, a person can earn blessing even with a promise of punishment hanging on him or her.
For example, the Moabites displeased God by presenting themselves as a source of temptation for alternative worship among descendants of Israel. Furthermore, they presented enmity when their prior relationships with Israel called on them to be friendly (see more under Enduring Blessing—Lessons from Israelite-Moabite Interactions). God frowned on their behavior and prohibited descendants of Israel from intermingling with Moabites. Yet he chose Ruth, a Moabite daughter, as a parental link in the lineage of the Messiah.
We discuss the various opportunities to earn and accumulate blessing. Also, we discuss an example from David to illustrate coexistence and fulfillment of blessing and punishment as parallel promises of God.
The parable of the Sheep and the Goats explains human responsibility in a Call to Compassion and describes God’s judgment regarding performance of the responsibility. He assigns every person to one of two categories based on completing or declining such responsibility. He judges favorably a person that completes and unfavorably those that decline. A person earns blessing for completion or incurs punishment for declining.
In a Call to Compassion, God directs a person’s attention to the need of others and expects the call recipient to recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to providing a solution, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. Christ provides formal teaching in two parables to explain what God expects from us in a Call to Compassion. The parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30–35) uses an example to explain human behavior in a Call to Compassion. Furthermore, the parable of The Sheep and the Goats explains human responsibility in a Call to Compassion and describes God’s judgment regarding performance of the responsibility. God judges a person favorably for completing his or her responsibility in a call to compassion or unfavorably for declining.
We discuss the parable of the Sheep and the Goats in this bible study and the parable of the Good Samaritan in a future study to expand our understanding of human responsibilities in a call to compassion.
In a call to compassion, God directs a person to earn blessing by providing goods or service to benefit others in need. Recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to doing what you can, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. You will earn blessing for completing the responsibilities or incur punishment for declining. The beneficiary also has a responsibility: appreciation.
We begin a bible study series on Compassion—the second module of the Living in the Image of God program. Recall (from Human Responsibilities in Living in the Image of God) that compassion is one of four cardinal human responsibilities of Living in the Image of God. Each study in the series will be presented in a short description, a ten-minute video, and a downloadable discussion guide with notes.
Our understanding of compassion is based on Christ teaching in the Beatitudes and in parables. Also, we find the dictionary definition of compassion quite consistent with Christ teaching. Therefore, we examine the dictionary definition along with the bible information. We describe as call to compassion a situation whereby God alerts a person to a need, thereby inviting the person to provide goods or service to benefit others in need. We see that a call to compassion actually is an invitation to earn blessing. The Parable of the Sheep and the Goats (Matthew 25:31–46) conveys an understanding that God judges a person favorably for completing responsibilities in a call to compassion or unfavorably for declining the call. That is, the call recipient does not have any option for a neutral response (see more in Call to Compassion: Parable of the Sheep and the Goats).
Also, as we discuss in a previous study under Created in the Image of God, we understand compassion in the context of a conceptual human interactions network that God establishes for distributing human service to points of need. Every person is potentially a provider of goods and service needed by others and receiver of goods and service provided by others. Both the provider (i.e., call recipient in a call to compassion) and receiver (i.e., beneficiary in a call to compassion) have responsibilities. The provider responsibility is to recognize the need, care about the needy, commit to doing what he or she can, and persevere in seeking to alleviate the need. The receiver responsibility is to receive the provided goods or service with appreciation. We discuss the provider and receiver responsibilities in this and subsequent studies in the series.
Christ’s invitation to earn blessing through human service is open to all irrespective of any past misdeed. We learn from David-Bathsheba relationship that earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. They can coexist, do not offset each other, and are fulfilled at his choosing. David incurred severe punishment from seducing Bathsheba into adultery, murdering her husband to cover up the affair, and overall for covetousness. The punishment was fulfilled but did not interfere with David’s earned blessing: an inheritance from God’s promise to Abraham to father the ancestral lineage of the Messiah and a direct promise to David that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel. Both promises were fulfilled through Solomon, a son to David-Bathsheba marriage.
David’s interactions with Bathsheba resulted in both severe punishment and fulfillment of previously earned blessing for David. As we discuss in a previous bible study under Seduction Covetousness Displeases God, David’s sin in the affair with Bathsheba consists of seduction, adultery, murder, and covetousness. He incurred severe punishment from the sin as Prophet Nathan announced to him: the child of the affair will die, a person close to David will sleep with his wives in broad daylight, and calamity will befall him from his household. All the promises were fulfilled.
However, as events representing fulfillment of the punishment unfolded in his life; other events that represent fulfillment of David’s earned blessing occurred in parallel and unaffected by the punishment. First, he inherited blessing from God’s promise to Abraham that was passed to David through several generations via his grandfather Obed and father Jesse. Second, God promised David directly that his offspring will succeed him as king of Israel: “When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom” [2 Samuel 7:12]. God fulfilled both promises through Solomon, a son of David and Bathsheba conceived after their marriage.
The blessings did not buy him out of the punishment, nor did the punishment diminish his blessing in any way.
This is the second of a two-part bible study on Christ’s teaching on the call to compassion. As we discussed in previous bible studies, God creates every person to be his provider assistant and assigns responsibilities to each of us through a call to compassion. Through the parable of the Good Samaritan (first part of the study at This_Link), Christ illustrates the circumstances of a call to compassion and what is expected from the chosen provider assistant. This bible study focuses on the parable of the Sheep and the Goats, where he provides a more general teaching on God’s call to compassion.
A mutual provider-receiver relationship results from God creating every person as his provider assistant. Through calls to compassion, he provides opportunities for every person to be a provider sometimes and receiver at other times. Christ uses the parable of the Sheep and the Goats to describe the responsibilities of a provider assistant, rewards for accepting a call to compassion by performing the assigned service, and punishment for declining the call by denying a service.
HUMAN SERVICE God’s call to compassion is about human service. He assigns tasks to individuals to provide them opportunities to help others. A person earns blessing by providing the service or incurs punishment by declining. As we discussed previously at This_Link, earned blessing and incurred punishment accumulate and coexist as parallel promises from God, which he fulfills at his time, except that he will forgive a promise of punishment if the sinner repents and asks for forgiveness. Christ uses the parable of the Sheep and the Goats to explain that he will judge each of us based on our performance as his provider assistant. People that accept God’s call to compassion by providing services placed in their path will inherit eternal life. In contrast, people that decline the call by denying services placed in their path will inherit eternal punishment.
This is the second of a two-part study from the genealogy of Jesus, to examine the lives of a number of individuals that would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society. Because God selected each of them to be part of the lineage of Christ, we can draw lessons from their lives regarding his purpose for human interactions and relationships. We select four persons—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives and, potentially, their inclusion in the genealogy. We discussed Perez and Boaz in Part 1. This session looks at Obed and Solomon.
PEREZ, SON OF JUDAH We learned in Part 1 that Perez was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Judah that was passed to him from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, Judah earned blessing by offering to sacrifice himself for his junior brother Benjamin. We noted he may have also incurred punishment later for marrying a Canaanite or going to bed with a woman he thought was a prostitute that turned out to be his daughter-in-law. However, any punishment he incurred had no effect on his blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Perez, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
BOAZ, SON OF SALMON AND RAHAB Also, we learned that Boaz was a fulfillment of God’s blessing for Rahab, the prostitute that harbored two Israeli spies in Jericho. Rahab earned blessing because she feared God and protected people she believed were on a mission for him notwithstanding their mission included spying on her people. Any punishment she incurred for prostitution had no effect on her blessing. The blessing was fulfilled in Boaz, a grandfather along the lineage of Christ.
TWO-PART STUDY From the genealogy of Jesus, we examine the lives of a number of individuals who would have been considered unsuitable based on ordinary standards of current society, yet God granted each of them the special favor of being identified as a grandfather along the lineage of our Lord Jesus. We select four persons for the study—Perez, Boaz, Obed, and Solomon—because the bible provides additional information to enable an understanding of their lives. We discuss Perez and Boaz in this session. Obed and Solomon will be discussed in Part 2 of the study.
EARNED BLESSING AND INCURRED PUNISHMENTWe learn based on the study that one can earn blessings even if he/she has previously incurred punishment. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises from God. An earned blessing remains effective until fulfilled, irrespective of any other occurrence in the person’s life. Similarly, incurred punishment would remain effective until fulfilled, unless forgiven upon true repentance by the sinner. In any case, incurred punishment does not prevent earning blessing; it does offset, and is not offset by, earned blessing.
GOD DOES NOT NEED PERFECTION Therefore, a person does not need to be perfect to find favor with God. One could earn blessings or experience fulfillment of earned blessings even with incurred punishment in his/her past. The examples in this study provide evidence that all are invited to seek opportunities for blessing. Imperfection does not present insurmountable obstacle against earning blessing.
This bible study is focused on understanding the fear of God as referenced through an event in Ephesus during Paul’s ministry. As a result of the event, Jews and Greeks in Ephesus were filled with fear, the name of the Lord Jesus was held in high honor, several people openly confessed their sins, many gave up their practice of sorcery, and the gospel spread widely and grew in power. What is fear and how did it make people turn to God?
Generally, fear arises out of recognizing an extraordinary power to cause or drive events that inflict physical or emotional pain or bodily harm. If one responds by keeping away, hiding, or succumbing to the source of power, then that is negative fear. Christ discourages us from such fear through his teaching in Luke 12:4. If, in contrast, one responds to recognition of such power by seeking to please God, then the fear is positive and is the fear of God. Christ encourages us to fear God through his teaching in Luke 12:5. We discuss the events in Ephesus and several other similar events described in the bible to share an understanding of the fear of God. Also, we make a case that we can learn the nature of fear of parents by understanding fear of God and use the relationship in attempting to understand aspects of parent-child interactions.
Any blessing earned by a person remains effective until fulfilled at its time. Also, any incurred punishment, unless forgiven, remains effective until fulfilled at its time. Earned blessing and incurred punishment are parallel promises. There is no trade-off of one against the other.
We learn this through this week’s bible study on interactions between David and Bathsheba. King David had an affair with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife, while Uriah was at the war front fighting for Israel. She became pregnant from the affair. David tried to cover up the affair, first by attempting to trick Uriah into sleeping with his wife. When he realized Uriah would not fall for the trick, David ordered that he be over-exposed at the war front so he would be killed by the enemy. The plot was successful. Uriah was killed in the battle. David married Bathsheba thereafter and she gave birth to a son from the affair. But God was not deceived.