Thursday, April 1, 2010

April 1

OT: Deut. 18:1-20:20

Reading about the Levites today in 18:1-8, it strikes me how these people of God are so dependent on the goodness of others. They have no inheritance of their own, and so they depend on the faithful sacrifices of Israel for their livelihood. In the exact words of the text, the are to "live on the offerings." It is interesting how the priests are given special authority and a special connection to God, but limited resources. I see a few correlations between them and us as Christians. I fully believe that Christians dwelling in the kingdom of God have special authority, or power (I Cor. 4:20). With the Spirit, we have power to overcome sin, to change the world, and to share the amazing love of God with other people. I also believe that, like the priests, we enjoy a special connection to God, that we get to commune with the Most High. And yet, for whatever reason, God chooses to limit our resources.

Specifically, God gives us one weapon: love. II Corinthians 10:3-4 tells us that "though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds." Love is an extremely powerful tool. One of the main objections, however, to using love as our only recourse, to literally following Jesus' instructions on the Sermon on the Mount, is that it theoretically puts us at the complete mercy of other people. Other people can harness the world's arsenal of destructive weapons; we cannot. So...what if those people choose not to respond to love? What if they choose to be bad? To hurt us? Then what?

I wonder if the Levites wondered the same thing. What if the Israelites don't make good choices? What if they don't fear God and follow Him? Then what? How will we eat? How will we live? Why does God give us no recourse, no inheritance of our own?

Those are interesting questions to me. Why did God choose to do that to the Levites? And why might He ask us to live by similarly limited resources?

NT: Luke 9:28-50

Luke's version of the transfiguration had many fun details: It happened about eight days after Peter's confession of Christ! Jesus talked to Moses and Elijah about his upcoming departure! Peter and his companions were very sleepy and were evidently dozing off! Since I love nailing down timelines and am all about random details, I liked the inclusion of new facts about the event. And poor Peter--he comes off looking so dopey here. I have this image of him just having woken up, trying to get his bearings, and trying to find something intelligible to say (I can so relate to him in this situation.) Unfortunately, he spouts something completely random about building some tents for Moses and Elijah. It's like he is trying to be nonchalant about the situation: "Oh, Moses and Elijah! Good to see you. I'm glad we have this opportunity to catch up. Here, let me fix you up a place to stay." I love how the text feels the need to note that "he did not know what he was saying" (33). You think? And if that wasn't bad enough, immediately after he speaks, a cloud envelops them. That is never a good sign, in my book. And then a booming voice kind of puts Peter in his place: "This is my Son, whom I have chosen: listen to him." The message here seems to be, "Quit talking and start listening."

Other interesting things about today's reading:
--Jesus' response to the man with the suffering child ("O unbelieving and perverse generation..." A little harsh, don'tcha think?)
--Jesus' timing of telling the disciples that he was going to be betrayed (while everyone was marveling at his miracle).
--How the disciples are able to argue about who is the greatest after all the amazing things they have seen Jesus do these last few weeks. Um, guys...does it matter? None of you are anything compared to Him.

Psalm 73: 1-28

What a great psalm. And a non-David one, too! I can totally relate to Asaph's feelings here, just not really to the reason for his feelings. While I have envied the rich and famous from time to time, it is a fleeting type envy. It is nothing that really weighs me down. But the reason for my feelings is related. I am not so concerned about why wicked people don't suffer, as about why innocent people do. And I know, I know that I should just read Lewis' The Problem of Pain and get over it. And you all know by now that I do have my own arsenal of cognitive responses to the concept of suffering. But the bottom line is, "When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me." That is, it is oppressive until I view life in light of eternity. That is what helps Asaph, too: "it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God; then I understood their final destiny" (16-17). Okay, so I don't understand people's final destiny, but I do understand that there is a loving, all-powerful God who is in control of everything, and that it is all going to make sense and be right in the end. And that is what helps life to not be oppressive to me.

And I love verse 25: "Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you." I first saw that verse cross-stitched in someone's bathroom while in college. I was shocked--shocked!--that I had never heard it before. I mentally noted the reference and then went home and highlighted it in my Bible!

Proverbs 12: 10

I like how righteous people care for animals. And I am still pondering the idea of the "kindest acts of the wicked" being "cruel." I wonder if that is hyperbole, or if there is an element of literal truth there.

1 comment:

  1. OT:

    It makes sense that those who are supposed to be the most connected to God are the ones who have to rely on Him the most. I am starting to suspect, as I try to get closer to God, that He is putting me in more situations where I have to rely on Him more.

    I like how the Israelites get to offer peace to nations (just not the nations amoung them) before attacking. That seems more fair (fairer?) to me.


    I never noticed before what Moses and Elijah were talking to Jesus about. That's pretty cool, reading about Moses in the OT and then seeing him getting to be "in" on God's master plan later.

    I wonder if the connection between the "faithless people" comment and Jesus talking about his betrayal is that Jesus first asks how long he must put up with these people and then he answers his own question. (Sorry, that's worded kinda funny.)


    I related to this one very much, not (like you said) necessarily for the specifics of the psalm but the overall feeling. This should be the Psalm of every American Christian, just about.


    Yeah, animals are cool. :) I think maybe the cruelty of wicked people's kindness in that it is a self-serving kindness. Wicked people will be nice to you only as far as it benefits them.