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Copr. 1997, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.

PEACE

IT WAS A COOL, CLEAR MORNING.
THE SUN POURED THROUGH THE BIG PLATE GLASS WINDOWS OF THE TRUCK
STOP.
ONE TRUCKER SAT BY HIMSELF IN A BOOTH QUIETLY EATING HIS BREAKFAST.

SUDDENLY, THREE BIKERS PUSHED THROUGH THE FRONT DOOR OF THE
RESTAURANT.
YOU'VE HEARD ABOUT GETTING UP ON THE WRONG SIDE OF THE BED?
THESE GUYS DID NOT REALLY LOOK LIKE THEY HAD SLEPT IN A BED,
BUT WHATEVER THEY SLEPT IN, THEY GOT UP ON THE WRONG SIDE.

THEY TOOK ONE LOOK AT THE LONE TRUCKER AND DECIDED TO HAVE SOME
FUN.

THE ONE BIKER PICKED UP THE TRUCKER'S CUP OF COFFEE,
TOOK A LONG SWIG, RINSED IT AROUND IN HIS TEETH, AND SPIT IT BACK
IN THE CUP.

"GOOD JAVA," HE SAID.

THE SECOND BIKER TIPPED THE TRUCKERS PLATE SO HIS FOOD SLID ON THE
FLOOR.
"KINDA WEAK FOOD," HE SAID. "DOESN'T PASS THE 5 MPH IMPACT TEST."

THE THIRD BIKER TOOK THE NOW EMPTY PLATE AND TOSSED IT LIKE A
FRISBEE ACROSS THE ROOM.

"NOT AS GOOD AS A FRISBEE, BUT A WINNER IN THE CRASH TEST," HE
ADDED.

THE TRUCKER GOT UP WITHOUT A WORD, PAID HIS BILL AND WALKED OUT OF
THE TRUCK STOP.

ANOTHER TRUCKER WALKED IN AND THE BIKERS ASKED HIM, "KNOW THAT GUY
THAT JUST LEFT?"
"NO."
"WELL, HE WASN'T MUCH OF A MAN."
"REALLY?  HE WASN'T MUCH OF A DRIVER EITHER. HE JUST RAN OVER THREE
MOTORCYCLES!"

GREAT STORY, RIGHT!*

WE LOVE TO SEE THE UNDERDOG, THE ABUSED, THE "GOOD GUYS" WIN.

IF YOU THINK BACK TO THE LAST ADVENTURE BOOK THAT YOU READ, 
OR LAST ADVENTURE MOVIE THAT YOU SAW 
THE THEME WAS PROBABLY SOMEBODY GETTING TRAMPLED AND THEN THE GOOD
GUY CAME IN AND BEAT THE BAD GUYS.

THE BIBLE DOES HAVE SOME THUMPING GOOD REVENGE/UNDERDOG STORIES.
DAVID AND GOLIATH IS PROBABLY THE BEST KNOWN.
THE STORY OF ESTHER IS ANOTHER WELL-KNOWN EXAMPLE OF REVENGE.
ONE OF THE LEAST KNOWN IS THE LORD BEZEK STORY.
JUDGES 1 TELLS US THAT THE ISRAELITES DURING THE QUEST OF CANAAN
CAUGHT THIS FELLOW NAMED LORD BEZEK.
WHEN THEY CAUGHT HIM THEY CUT OFF HIS THUMBS AND BIG TOES.
IT WASN'T THAT HIS THUMBS AND TOES WERE TOO UGLY, 
OR TOO LONG,
IT WAS REVENGE.

JUDGES 1:7 RECORDS THAT LORD BEZEK ADMITTED HE DESERVED THIS
BECAUSE HE HAD CUT OF THE THUMBS AND BIG TOES OFF 70 KINGS THAT HE
HAD DEFEATED.

REVENGE.

TURN WITH ME TO MATTHEW 5:9-12, 38-41. READ

WHOA! ONE MINUTE! HOW DO DAVID, ESTHER AND LORD BEZEK FIT INTO
THIS?
JESUS SEEMS TO HAVE A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT MESSAGE.
ONE WHICH IS DIRECTLY CONTRARY TO HUMAN NATURE.

NOTICE v. 38 AGAIN. JESUS SAYS, "YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID" AN EYE FOR
AN EYE AND A TOOTH FOR A TOOTH.

WHAT DOES HE MEAN, "YOU HAVE HEARD IT SAID?"
WAS THIS JUST CASUAL CONVERSATION AROUND CAPERNIUM?
MT. OF OLIVES MUMBLING?
LOOSE TALK?
OLD WIVES TALES?

DO YOU KNOW WHO IT WAS WHO SAID AN EYE FOR AN EYE, TOOTH FOR A
TOOTH?
IT WAS GOD!
GOD SAID IT!
AND IT WASN'T CASUAL CONVERSATION EITHER.
IT WAS A DIRECT COMMAND FROM GOD TO MOSES!

IN EXODUS 20 WE HAVE THE PICTURE OF MOSES APPROACHING GOD IN A DARK
CLOUD.  THEN GOD DIRECTS MOSES IN EX. 20:22 TO TELL THE ISRAELITES
A FEW THINGS, INCLUDING HIS LAWS:
WHICH INCLUDE THE FOLLOWING FOUND IN EX. 21:23-25, "BUT IF THERE IS
SERIOUS INJURY, YOU ARE TO TAKE LIFE FOR LIFE, EYE FOR EYE, TOOTH
FOR TOOTH, HAND FOR HAND, FOOT FOR FOOT, BURN FOR BURN, WOUND FOR
WOUND, BRUISE FOR BRUISE."

BUT HE DOESN'T SAY IT JUST ONCE.
WE FIND THIS COMMAND AGAIN IN LEVITICUS 24:13-20. GOD GIVES MOSES
EXPLICIT INSTRUCTIONS WHICH INCLUDED THE "EYE FOR EYE, AND TOOTH
FOR TOOTH" PRINCIPLE.

BUT HE DOESN'T SAY IT JUST ONCE. HE DOESN'T SAY IT JUST TWICE, HE
SAYS IT THREE TIMES!
WE FIND THE THIRD TIME IN DEUTERONOMY 19:21. GOD TELLS MOSES AN EYE
FOR AN EYE IS THE RULE.

YOU MIGHT SAY, "OLD TESTAMENT VERSUS NEW TESTAMENT." 
I SEE THESE KINDS OF THINGS ALL THE TIME. 
CAN'T EXPLAIN IT, BUT I SEE IT.

IF YOU THINK THAT IS THE EXPLANATION, IF YOU TURN JUST A FEW
CHAPTERS FURTHER IN MATTHEW, MATTHEW 10:34 TO BE EXACT, JESUS TELLS
HIS LISTENERS, "DO NOT SUPPOSE THAT I HAVE COME TO BRING PEACE TO
THE EARTH.  I DID NOT COME TO BRING PEACE, BUT A SWORD."

NOW WHAT DO YOU SAY? HOW DO YOU SQUARE THAT WITH JESUS' PREVIOUS
STATEMENT THAT PEACEMAKERS ARE CALLED THE SONS OF GOD?
HE IS THE SON OF GOD AND HE SAYS HE IS BRINGING A SWORD!

OF COURSE, WE DO NOT WANT TO LEAVE THE APOSTLE PAUL OUT OF THIS.

IN ROMANS 12:17-19 PAUL TELLS US NOT TO REPAY EVIL FOR EVIL AND NOT
TO TAKE REVENGE. THIS SOUNDS JUST LIKE JESUS IN MATTHEW 5.

BUT IN 2 TIMOTHY 2:14 FIND PAUL SAYING "ALEXANDER THE METALWORKER
DID ME A GREAT DEAL OF HARM. THE LORD WILL REPAY HIM FOR WHAT HE
HAS DONE." SOUNDS LIKE REVENGE TO ME!

A GODLY FELLOW NAMED VERNON MCGEE HAS A SOLUTION TO THIS APPARENT
CONFLICT.  MCGEE HAD A RADIO PROGRAM CALLED "THRU THE BIBLE." 
IT WAS A RUNNING COMMENTARY ON THE BIBLE.  
MCGEE PASSED AWAY A FEW YEARS AGO, 
BUT HIS THOUGHTS ARE PRESERVED IN A 5 VOLUME COMMENTARY. 
I USE HIS COMMENTARY BECAUSE HE HAS A REAL PRACTICAL APPROACH TO
THE SCRIPTURES. 

MCGEE TALKS ABOUT MATTHEW 5 AND HE SAYS THAT JESUS IS NOT TALKING
ABOUT OUR LIVES HERE AND NOW. 

NO, MCGEE SAYS, WE CANNOT LIVE THAT WAY. HE SAYS JESUS IS TALKING
ABOUT THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN!

LETS YOU OFF THE HOOK! LETS ME OFF THE HOOK! WHAT A RELIEF! RIGHT?

LETS LOOK AT MATTHEW 5 AGAIN.
IF MCGEE IS RIGHT, DO vv. 39-42 TELL US THAT EVIL, ABUSIVE PEOPLE
WILL BE IN HEAVEN? 
WILL PEOPLE BE GETTING SUED IN HEAVEN? HERE I THOUGHT I WAS GOING
TO BE OUT OF A JOB!
WILL PEOPLE BE FORCING PEOPLE IN HEAVEN?
I SURE HOPE NOT!

I AM AFRAID FRIENDS THAT JESUS IS TALKING ABOUT OUR LIVES HERE AND
NOW.
BUT IT IS CONFUSING.

I REMEMBER WHEN WE WERE ON VACATION LAST SUMMER.
I WAS SORT OF LOST.

LADIES, DO YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN IF I SAY YOUR HUSBANDS ARE "SORT OF
LOST?"

HUSBANDS ARE NEVER REALLY LOST.
NO SO MUCH THAT WE WOULD ACTUALLY STOP AT A GAS STATION AND ASK
DIRECTIONS.
INSTEAD, WE ARE JUST SORT OF LOST. 
IF WE ARE NOT COMPLETELY SURE WHERE WE ARE RIGHT NOW,
WE KNOW THAT IN JUST A FEW MILES IT WILL ALL COME CLEAR TO US.
WE HOPE.

SO THAT WAS ME, SORT OF LOST, DRIVING THE MOTORHOME DOWN THE ROAD.
MY WIFE DOES NOT LIKE THE "DRIVE A FEW MILES AND FIND OUT" APPROACH
IN THE MOTORHOME.
THE THING GETS ABOUT 6 MILES TO THE GALLON. 
SHE FIGURES YOU MIGHT AS WELL ROLL DOWN THE WINDOW AND THROW OUT A
DOLLAR AND A QUARTER INSTEAD OF DRIVING 6 MILES TO FIND OUT WHERE
YOU ARE.
I'LL STOP AND READ THE MAP MORE CLOSELY, WHILE SHE JUST ROLLS DOWN
THE WINDOW AND THROWS THE MONEY OUT. 
BOTH ARE EQUALLY EFFECTIVE FOR FINDING OUT WHERE WE ARE, 
BUT SITTING THERE THROWING MONEY SAVES THE ENVIRONMENT. 

WELL, I FINALLY CAME TO THE RIGHT ROAD.
BUT THE ROAD SIGN SAID, AND I AM NOT MAKING THIS UP, US 301 NORTH
AND US 411 SOUTH.

HOW CAN YOU BE GOING NORTH AND SOUTH AT THE SAME TIME?
WELL, APPARENTLY YOU CAN ON THIS ROAD.
SO HOW WAS I SUPPOSED TO KNOW WHICH WAY TO GO IF BOTH NORTH AND
SOUTH ARE IN THE SAME DIRECTION?

DOESN'T THIS FEEL JUST LIKE THESE TEXTS?
GOD TELLS MOSES GO FOR THE JUSTICE.
JESUS TELLS US, "NEW RULE, NO JUSTICE. JUST GRIN AND BEAR IT."

MY FRIENDS, I WANT TO SUGGEST TO YOU THAT GOD IS CONSISTENT IN HIS
DEALINGS WITH US.
HIS DIRECTION TO MOSES DOES NOT CONTRADICT JESUS' DIRECTION IN
MATTHEW 5.

THE SOLUTION IS FOUND IN A BIBLE STORY ABOUT A KING AND A DEBTOR.
TURN WITH ME TO MATTHEW 18:23-24
A MAN OWED THE KING MILLIONS OF DOLLARS.
THE VERY FACT THAT HE OWED SO MUCH MEANT HE WAS IMPORTANT.
I WOULD NEVER OWE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS, 
SIMPLY BECAUSE NO ONE IS DUMB ENOUGH TO LEND ME MILLIONS

SO THIS MAN MUST HAVE BEEN THE "DONALD TRUMP" OF MATTHEW 18.
HE WAS IMPORTANT AND WEALTHY AND HE GOT IN OVER HIS HEAD.

READ v. 25. THIS MAN WAS USED TO BEING SOMEBODY.
HIS FAMILY WAS USED TO BEING "THE SOMEBODY FAMILY."
NOW THEY WERE GOING TO HAVE LESS THAN NOTHING
THEY WERE GOING TO BE SOLD AS SLAVES: THE WHOLE FAMILY.
HE PROBABLY THOUGHT HE MIGHT BETTER BE DEAD.

DO YOU REMEMBER THIS STORY STARTS OUT IN v.23 SAYING, "THE KINGDOM
OF HEAVEN IS LIKE [THIS STORY]?"

FRIENDS, THIS IS US.
"DONALD TRUMP" IS US.

EPHESIANS 2 TELLS US THAT WE OWED A DEBT TO GOD THAT WE COULD NOT
PAY SHORT OF GIVING UP OUR LIVES.
WE "WERE DEAD IN [OUR] TRANSGRESSIONS AND SINS."
THIS IS HOW WE WERE.

WE DESERVED DESTRUCTION.
JUSTICE CALLED FOR DESTRUCTION.

READ MATTHEW 18:26-27.
THAT TOO IS US!

CHRIST CAME AND PAID THAT DEBT FOR US.
HE PAID IT IN HUMILITY
HE PAID IT IN MENTAL DISTRESS
HE PAID IT IN TORTURE
HE PAID IT WITH HIS DEATH.

HE GAVE US, EPHESIANS 2 TELLS US, PEACE WITH THE FATHER.

THAT MAN THAT WAS FORGIVEN MILLIONS,
THIS DONALD TRUMP OF THE NEW TESTAMENT,
WAS GIVEN BACK HIS LIFE,
GIVEN BACK THE LIVES OF HIS FAMILY.
YOU WOULD THINK THAT WOULD TEACH HIM TO FORGIVE.

NOT THIS GUY.

LETS READ ON: MATTHEW 18:28-30.

THE MAN WHO HAD BEEN FORGIVEN MILLIONS, 
CAME ACROSS SOMEONE WHO OWED HIM A FEW DOLLARS.
INSTEAD OF FORGIVING HIM, 
HE CHOKED HIM,
AND THREW HIM INTO JAIL.

IT SEEMS OUTRAGEOUS, DOESN'T IT?

THIS TOO, 
IS US.
UNLESS WE ARE WILLING TO OVERLOOK INSULTS,
OVERLOOK OFFENSES,
OVERLOOK PERSONAL INJUSTICE.

UNLESS WE ARE WILLING TO DO THAT, 
WE DO NOT UNDERSTAND WHAT JESUS HAS DONE FOR US.

HIS FORGIVENESS, GAVE YOU YOUR LIFE.
HIS FORGIVENESS GAVE YOUR HUSBAND, YOUR WIFE, LIFE.
HIS FORGIVENESS, GAVE YOUR CHILDREN THEIR LIVES.
HIS FORGIVENESS, GAVE YOUR PARENTS THEIR LIVES.

IN VIEW OF THAT, CAN YOU FAIL TO FORGIVE AN INSULT?
CAN YOU FAIL TO FORGIVE A SLIGHT?
CAN YOU FAIL TO FORGIVE AN ATTACK ON YOUR PRIDE?

WE ARE TALKING ABOUT A "FEW BUCKS" WHEN THE CREATOR OF THE UNIVERSE
HAS FORGIVEN US MILLIONS!

THIS IS WHY JESUS TELLS US TO FORGIVE. THIS IS WHY JESUS HAD THE
MORAL AUTHORITY TO TELL US TO FORGIVE.

BUT FRIENDS, THE STORY ISN'T OVER YET AND IT TAKES ME TO THE SECOND
PART OF THE SOLUTION TO THE APPARENT CONFLICT BETWEEN JUSTICE AND
TURNING THE OTHER CHEEK.

LETS READ ON: MATTHEW 18:31-35

THE OTHER SERVANTS WERE DISTRESSED.
AS FAR AS WE KNOW, THEY DID NOT HAVE A PERSONAL STAKE IN THIS
DISPUTE,
THEY DID NOT OWE ANY MONEY TO THE KING OR "DONALD TRUMP" HERE.
THEY DID NOT, AS THE SAYING GOES, "HAVE A DOG IN THIS FIGHT."

BUT THEY WERE INTERESTED IN JUSTICE.
THEY WERE DISTRESSED AT THE INJUSTICE OF THE SITUATION.
SO THEY REPORTED THIS TO THE KING.

DOES THE KING REBUKE THEM FOR TURNING IN THE UNFORGIVING MAN WHO
OWED MILLIONS?
JESUS TOLD THIS STORY. HE COULD HAVE SAID, "FORGIVE "DONALD"
AGAIN."
NO! THE KING AGREES WITH THE OTHER SERVANTS AND EXECUTES JUSTICE!

MY FRIENDS, THIS DRAWS THE LINE. 
THE SERVANTS ARE NOT SEEKING VENGEANCE FOR PERSONAL SLIGHTS, 
BUT THEY USE THE TOOLS OF GOVERNMENT TO PRESERVE JUSTICE.

I THINK THIS RECONCILES GOD'S WORDS TO MOSES AND JESUS' WORDS TO
US.

GOD'S WORDS TO MOSES REFERRED TO THE FRAMEWORK OF THE SOCIETY.
MOSES (SPEAKING FOR GOD) WAS THE LAWGIVER FOR THE NATION.

PAUL SAYS IN ROMANS 13 GOD SETS UP THE GOVERNING AUTHORITIES TO
CREATE JUSTICE. 
OUR COUNTRY NEEDS A SYSTEM OF LAWS THAT ARE JUST.
OUR CHURCH NEEDS A SYSTEM OF LAWS THAT ARE JUST.

THE BIG PICTURE, THE FRAMEWORK IN WHICH WE LIVE DEMANDS JUSTICE.
BUT THE SMALL PICTURE, THE PICTURE BETWEEN YOU AND ME,
THE PICTURE BETWEEN YOU AND YOUR CO-WORKERS,
YOU AND YOUR SPOUSE,
YOU AND YOUR CHILDREN,
YOU AND YOUR NEIGHBORS,
THESE INTERPERSONAL RELATIONS DEMAND FORGIVENESS!

FRIENDS, I'LL BET WHEN YOU THINK BACK OVER YOUR LIFE YOU KNOW WHAT
I MEAN. 
HAVE YOU EVER TRIED TO PERSONALLY PUNISH SOMEONE WHO HURT YOU? 
IT DOESN'T WORK. 
THEY HAVE WAYS TO GET BACK, 
IT KEEPS YOU IN TURMOIL 
AND THE EVIL NEVER ENDS.

ANYTIME THAT YOU ARE INVOLVED IN EVIL, YOU LACK PEACE.

BUT WHEN WE SUBMIT TO THE LORD,
WHEN OUR GRATITUDE FOR WHAT HE HAS FORGIVEN US AND DONE FOR US,
IS REFLECTED IN OUR PERSONAL RELATIONSHIPS WITH OTHERS, THEN WE
HAVE PEACE.

THE PSALMIST SAYS IN PSALMS 85:10 "RIGHTEOUSNESS AND PEACE  KISS
EACH OTHER." IF YOU ARE RIGHTEOUS, YOU WILL HAVE PEACE!




_________________________
* The general idea and the punch-line of the trucker and the
motorcyclists story are not original.  I am not certain where I saw
it first, but believe that credit is due to Pastor J. David Hoke. 
If someone can assist me in giving proper credit, I will appreciate
this information. BNC