by David Sisler

Joel was assigned to develop a prototype for a new project. When the engineers looked at the model on which production would later be based, one of them commented, "Well, it is way over budget, probably will not meet the deadline and may not even work." He paused for a moment and then added, "But I think they'll like it!"

At first that story is humorous, but suspecting that much of what happens in business happens that way, we become just a little outraged.

Writing for Scripps Howard News Service, Paul Roberts said, "When it comes to approving a new drug, or a new pesticide, or a new nuclear power plant, no public risk whatsoever is acceptable to politicians, editorialists, environmental groups and so forth. Yet when it comes to crime, authorities routinely release known agents of pain, suffering and death on an innocent population.

"Justice Department figures show that almost two-thirds of the criminals released from state prisons are arrested for a serious crime within three years. The slightest hint of any escape of radiation, and we go berserk. But criminals can be dropped in our midst and we don't bat an eye."

Even if Mr. Roberts is slightly cynical, the truth of his statements is cause for outrage. But we seem to be able to accept too much misconduct before we become outraged.

Israel was outraged. A Levite, his wife and his servant were travelling to Jerusalem. They stopped for the night in Gibeah. That night, men from Gibeah, in the fashion of the men of Sodom, demanded that the Levite come outside, so they could have sex with him. When he would not consent to them, they took his wife and raped her until she died.

When Israel's leaders heard the story, they were outraged. An army of 400,000 soldiers was raised. They demanded that the guilty men be handed over for punishment. The rulers of the tribe of Benjamin, in whose city the offense took place, refused.

Gibeah had only 26,000 defenders, but although outnumbered 20 to one, the soldiers of Benjamin killed 22,000 Israelites and turned the attackers away. The next day they killed 18,000.

But so great was the outrage of Israel against the tribe of Benjamin and the city of Gibeah that they attacked again. On the third day the battle changed and only 600 Benjamites survived.

Would you believe there was no victory celebration? Israel had lost almost 50,000 soldiers in two days but they did not celebrate. Instead of rejoicing, they cried out, "O God, why has this happened between brothers? Why is there one missing tribe in Israel?" They had moved beyond outrage to compassion.

Compassion? Compassion for a city that protected men who deliberately violated and flaunted God's laws? Compassion for a people who started a war in which almost 100,000 people died? Yes, compassion. It is a theme which runs throughout the Bible.

When Israel built a golden calf and worshipped it, Moses was outraged, but with compassion he prayed, "God, if you wipe them out, erase my name from your Book of Life."

Jesus looked out over Jerusalem and was outraged as He said, "You have killed the prophets and stained the streets with their blood." But then with compassion He said, "How many times would I have gathered you to me as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would not."

The father of the prodigal son must have felt outrage as his son left home, but when he looked every night at the empty place at the table, compassion would have ruled his heart.

There is a time to be outraged. There is also a time for compassion. Look at the Cross of Jesus. There you will see both--God's outrage against sin, and His compassion for sinners. Where are you? Are you, like the tribe of Benjamin among the missing? Are you living under the outrage of God or the compassion of God? If you are not where you wish to be, isn't it time you moved?


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 1/22/94

Copyright 1994 by David Sisler

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