Compassion for our enemies?
Sometimes when I’m reading through my Bible there are verses that just seem utterly random. (Or sometimes whole chapters!*) What I’ve finally learned is that there’s nothing in the Bible that doesn’t have a lesson to teach. It may not always be explicit, but it’s there. So I try, when I find those “why is this in here?” verses to contemplate them for a while and ask God, “Hey, why is this in your Word?”
One of my recent discoveries is stuck into the middle of all of the many plagues God smote the Egyptians with in order to rescue the Israelites from the Egyptians in Exodus. In between the hail and the locusts, verse 31-32 says: “The flax was in bloom, and the barley had ripened, so these crops were destroyed. But both wheat crops ripen later, so they were not destroyed.” Why on earth do we need to know about the crops that weren’t destroyed when the whole point of these chapters is that God was wreaking on all sorts of havoc on the Egyptians?
But then I realized, after some contemplation, that those two seemingly innocuous verses are a lesson in compassion. Even in the midst of his anger, even in the midst of disciplining the Egyptins, God still had compassion for them. As we know, the story ends with the Israelites eventually leaving Egypt. And the Egyptians are left maimed, emotionally battered, and grieving dead children plus all the soldiers that die in the Red Sea. But at least they have food to eat. God could have cursed them to another famine, but he didn’t. While I’m sure the Egyptians didn’t feel it at the time, even in the midst of his punishment God acted with grace.
Which I think is a great lesson to learn: to temper our anger and/or those times when we need to discipline others with grace and with compassion.