“If you meet your enemy’s ox or his donkey going astray, you shall bring it back to him. If you see the donkey of one who hates you lying down under its burden, you shall refrain from leaving him with it; you shall rescue it with him.”
My son’s been having trouble understanding why God doesn’t seem to answer his prayers lately, so, over the weekend, we pulled out our Little Book of God’s Promises as a family and read through a few of the Scriptures. Encouraged by Jeremiah 33:3, we decided to memorize it as a family: “Call to me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things that you do not know.” That Scripture came back to mind before opening my Bible just now, and I prayed Jeremiah 33:3 as prayer of dedication over the work ahead: “Lord, show me great and might things today that I don’t yet know!” And the Lord answered mightily!
I’ve misunderstood Christ’s meaning in Matthew 5:43-44 when He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy; but I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” I generally believed that our Lord’s earthly ministry was the paradigm shifter from love-thy-neighbor to love-thy-enemy. Of course, I’ve seen clearly that the Old Testament is full of examples of love for enemies. For instance, when David spares Saul’s life in the cave, and when Esau embraces Jacob with a kiss of forgiveness, and when Joseph weeps over his brothers in Egypt, and when God redeems the wicked Ninevites even to Jonah’s chagrin. But these only illustrate God’s love for enemies; they don’t spell it in law, right? Well, so I thought. Until just now when I read Exodus 23:4-5. Now I know how Josiah must’ve felt on that day when one of the priests uncovered lost manuscripts of the law in the temple and read them aloud for the first time. What a great and mighty thing to discover! Generations before Christ bathed the world in that crimson river of Red Letters, Moses penned the gospel in black and white!
Friend, may we always approach this wondrous truth of our redemption, no matter how many times we hear it, as if for the first time.