Befitting Rewards: A Theodicy (Part 3)

This 3rd part of the “Befitting Rewards” series will continue to defend the character of God as good and loving, caring and–yes–accurately rewarding. God specially rewards the suffering faithful, especially those who are born with deficiencies, as one can read in Part 2 of the same title. But, there is a depth and a wideness to what God can do. His rewards stagger the imagination, leaving the student mesmerized by his kind of good. “Taste and see that the Lord is good” (Ps. 34:8). A purpose and reward for our lives is the only combination that can redeem our sense of justice, and God does just that. God’s rewards extend to the disillusioned and the displaced.

The Eunuch and the Proselyte’s Son – Isaiah 56:1-7

The Eunuch: In ancient times eunuchs were prevalent. The ancient kingdom of Israel was no exception. Why was this kind of radical devotion necessary? An eunuch literally cut off his ability for a family line in order to advance the successive line of the one he served. The ruler could safely trust that the eunuch would not bed his wife or one of his harem. You get the picture.

Now, some were Eunuchs from birth, some were forced to become eunuchs, and some made themselves eunuchs (Matt. 19:12). Imagine then, that you were any one of these–a natural, forced or willing eunuch. Whatever the case, you were serving another. In the case of a willing eunuch, which seems to be the one addressed by Isaiah, what would it be like to make yourself a eunuch out of devotion to the Kingdom of Heaven, only to find yourself serving a king who does more to break the laws of the kingdom than to establish them? What if the king is an evil king who is ruling on a throne which is meant to forward the name of God in all the earth? What then?

One might be tempted to say things like, “Behold, I am a dry tree.” … Ok, ok… so maybe you wouldn’t say those words, but the meaning would be the same. You would think that your life had no real purpose and was to no useful effect. You, like a dry tree, would feel no “cool, refreshing water” running through your being. You would, being dry, not be able to reproduce (fruit). And, you really wouldn’t be able to bear leaves to catch a breeze. Desolate. Talk about disillusionment. “What a waste! And to think I did this willingly!”

God answers the disillusioned eunuch, and the answer bears application to modern day, in case you were wondering. He writes,

To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,

To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial,
And a name better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.

Three very fitting rewards are given to the disillusioned eunuch, and the implication is that the reward will be obtained in the future Kingdom, established upon Messiah’s return. First, to address the eunuch’s feeling of “purposeless” and “waste,” God promises a memorial dedicated to them in His very own House (the New Temple in New Jerusalem). Think of it, everyone from all over the world will go to that Temple in that Day, and they will see a grand mural memorial to these eunuchs. Secondly, to address the eunuch’s regrets for having no ability to have family, God promises him an everlasting name which cannot be cut off. The implication is that though an evil king’s line can be cut off, only God can give a “family” name and line that cannot be severed or eradicated.

Application to modern day: those who wonder if their life has any meaning or worth, especially when they’ve dedicated themselves to the Lord only to be abused and disillusioned, should take heart. In truth, the Bible teaches that anything a believer does to the glory of God is rewarded. So, imagine that you put all your life savings into a partnership. You even go into debt, only to find that your long-time friend and “partner” has swindled you. Does God notice that? Yes, he not only notices; he will reward you for it. If God planned and promised special rewards that exactly fit the disillusioned eunuch’s despair, then he has tailor-made rewards for you as well… if you will but trust him on that and remain full of faith.

Clearly, God’s reward system is fair, quid pro quo, and entirely empathetic. But, He is even better than this! Let’s go on:

The Proselyte’s Son

As stated above, ancient Israel was selected by God to represent him nationally. They were to bless all nations, by being a people different from all of the other ethnicities. God was with them and among them. For example, the “light” and reason and might of the Theocratic nation spread to Jericho even before the Hebrews arrived; and some believed (Joshua 2). Those who joined themselves to Israel were known as proselytes. According to Hebrew law, the proselyte could become an Israelite by a kind of naturalization. However, he would never be able to own land, seeing all of the country’s land had been divided for inheritance to genetic Hebrews.

So, imagine that you are the son of said proselyte. You did not choose this God. Your dad did. And, what’s more, you feel like you will never really be Israelite. Or, imagine that you are that foreign guy himself (not even his son necessarily) who became a part of Israel. After a few years, you being to doubt the decision was really a benefit. For all practical purposes, you’re still an outsider with no permanent home to call his own. One might be tempted to say things like,

The Lord will surely separate me from his people

The statement communicates the raw feelings of displacement and a lack of belonging. One is tempted to doubt God’s care… that in the end, when it’s all said and done, God won’t accept him; … “because he doesn’t allow me any land now. What can I expect of him later–condemnation?” God’s response is warming.

these I will bring to my holy mountain,
and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house shall be called a house of prayer
for all peoples.

Again, the timing (gathered from the context of God’s response to the eunuch) of these rewards is the future setting of the Millennial Kingdom–the 1,000 year reign of Christ on earth when all rewards earned on earth will be granted on earth. In that day, the foreigner will have very special privilege indeed. Besides resurrection, they will be brought to the New Jerusalem itself for their dwelling place. The will live on the very mountain of God on earth! According to other studies I’ve done, no other Old Testament saint will enjoy this privilege. All of the genetic Hebrew Old Testament believers will be placed within the rest of the land and world, for their allotted rulership. But, these foreigners will reside in Zion. They will have joys that few know, because they will be allowed to go into the temple to see their offerings accepted gladly by God. These proselytes will be the ones to prove that God always has been and always will be welcoming toward all people into his house—a house of prayer for all ethnicities.

Application to modern day: God’s rewards are fair, quid pro quo, and empathetic enough to evoke satisfactory agreement from the toughest critic. If God can empathize with and create a plan of rewards which exactly fits the foreigner proselyte, don’t you think he has tailor-made rewards planned for you, if you will trust him and continue with him faithfully? God knows you. He knows your situation of life, your struggles, the hardships you’ve faced…even the most horrific kind and/or the things which were not your fault… or that were some fault of yours (Lamentations 3); and he has been writing them down as it were. He sees, he knows, he is good, he is relieves the suffering (mercy)…. Trust in Jesus Christ to account for all things, to reconcile you to God, and to bring you into those rewards at a future time.

BUT, His goodness and rewards do not end there. His kind of good makes one marvel. …To be continued…

 

 

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