OT: Joshua 7:16-9:2
The slow-but-steady weeding-out of Achan had to be absolutely nerve-wracking to him, much like the marches around Jericho must have been nerve-wracking to the inhabitants. I have to hand it to God--He really is the Master of suspense (move over, Hitchcock:)).
It is also eerie to me how calming Joshua is to Achan. I'm sure his kind urging in 7:19 had to give Achan a glimmer of hope that maybe everything would turn out okay. It didn't, of course. Again, God's reaction to Achan provides a stark contrast to His reaction to people once Jesus entered the picture. What is interesting to me is that Jesus' words on earth seemed to indicate a shift in God's M.O., even before He died. I mean, I can see how God would be merciful to us afterward, since Jesus had paid for our sins. But Jesus was merciful to people even before His death. I strongly believe that if Jesus had had this same interchange with someone during His ministry, it would not have ended with that person and his family being stoned. The story of the woman caught in adultery, in fact, provides a good counterpoint to Achan. Again, that contrast is so interesting to me. I'm not quite sure what to make of it.
I do note that God tends to be more forceful on the front end of a covenant. He gave plenty of stark object lessons in the desert about the wages of disobedience, and now that the Israelites are just starting their conquest of Canaan, I guess it was time for another object lesson. You see that same tendency at the start of the new church, with Ananias and Sapphira. It's like, in directly and harshly punishing sin at the beginning of an endeavor, God is trying to help the people get started on the right foot. I don't know.
I do know that even though I'm not one for conquest and carnage, I just love Joshua's strategy with Ai. Despite my distaste for bloodshed per se, I love reading about battle strategies. One of my favorite classes in college was my U.S. Military History class. I don't know why; I guess I'm just admire the intelligence behind well-conceived and well-executed battle plans.
NT: Luke 16:1-18
Have I talked about the shrewd manager before? It seems like I have, but I checked a chart of parables in the Gospels, and the chart said that this story is only told in Luke. Regardless, I know I have talked about it with Greg recently because I have his take on it fresh in my mind. I am always confused by the moral of this parable. With parables like the banquet one, or the one about the unjust judge, you can see that the shrewd/immoral actions in the parable aren't the main point. They are instead intended to illustrate a deeper principle. With this parable, though, it seems that the shrewdness of the manager is the point: "The master commended the dishonest manager because he had acted shrewdly. For the people of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own kind than are the people of the light. I tell you, use worldly wealth to gain friends for yourselves so that when it is gone, you will be welcomed into heavenly dwellings" (8-9). I have never been able to make heads or tails of this parable, but I like Greg's take, even though it is a little "out of the box." In light of all Jesus' teachings on the poor and on the idea that the last will be first, it seems like the "head honchos" in heaven will be the poor, the weak, the helpless, and the oppressed. And so, if you want to be welcomed into heavenly dwellings, it would be shrewd of you to help those people while you are on earth. So...according to Greg, what Jesus is saying here is that it would serve you well to use your wealth to help the poor.
Jesus immediately goes on to talk about the need to be trustworthy with worldly wealth, which I take to mean that we should do things like help the poor. Thus, Greg's interpretation makes sense in light of the surrounding verses. I also love how Jesus contrasts "worldly wealth" with "true riches" (11), and how he refers to our wealth and possessions as "someone else's property" (12). It is interesting to consider what exactly "property of [our] own" would be. These verses are always good to hear, especially since, believe it or not, my conscience is currently clear on that point:).
I honestly don't understand this psalm. My reading comprehension skills just failed me, I guess. I get that it paints a picture of God addressing a great assembly and that the bulk of the psalm consists of His words to that assembly. I get verses 2-4 about the good things the members of the assembly are supposed to be doing, and that they are not doing those things. But who are the assembly? Why does God refer to them as "gods"? Why does He switch person in verse 5, shifting from "you" to "they"? And what on earth does verse 6 mean? Weird, Asaph.
Okay, maybe it is me and not the text, because I also don't have a great understanding of verse 2 here: "From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things, but the unfaithful have a craving for violence." What do part A and part B have to do with each other? Why does it just say a "man" and not a righteous/good/honest man? What does part A even mean, really? Are the fruit of a man's lips his words? It doesn't say that either the man or the words is good or bad, so how do they inevitably lead to good things?
Okay, I give up. Someone explain, please:).