Thursday, April 15, 2010

April 15

OT: Joshua 11:1-12:24

I've realized that as I have been reading the Bible this year, I have been attempting to answer two questions:

Who is God? and

What does He want from me?

Now, you could argue that I already know the answer to these questions, and in a way, I do. However, in a more accurate way, those two questions are kind of beyond me. God's identity, especially, is just so big and complex and deep and infinite. There's just too much there for a finite human to comprehend. And as for what He wants from me, well, I kind of wonder if I am not so distorted by my culture that I cannot fully see what He wants. Maybe Jesus' words to me are so crazy and incomprehensible because I love myself and my comfort too much. Maybe not...but maybe.

Anyway, I thought I'd give that little explanation as a way of apologizing for the fact that I am about to cover the same ground again. But I just keep coming back to the things that I don't understand about God, b/c I am searching for the answer to the question, "Who is God?"

Today's reading was all about slaughter and mayhem. To me, the real stand-out verse was 11:20, which says, "For it was the Lord himself who hardened their hearts to wage war against Israel, so that he might destroy them totally, exterminating them without mercy, as the Lord had commanded Moses." Wow. That verse just about covered all of my questions and "objections" to God. It described everything that bothers me about reading about Him: heart-hardening, mass extermination, lack of mercy. Yep, it's all there.

And don't worry: no intellectual grappling today. I have already done all of that. At length:). The problem is that I read the Bible like an apologist. I think I have an imaginary atheist who sits on my shoulder, and I anticipate his reactions and think about how I would explain God in this passage or that passage to him. And let's just say, my imaginary atheist was not amused by today's reading. He asked me how anyone could believe in such a cruel-sounding God. And I was just too tired to answer with logic and apologetics.

Later, though, as I was driving to pick up Luke from preschool, and I was listening to the song, "We Bow Down," as I pondered this passage. And it occurred to me that if I were in the throne room of God, this issue would totally be a moot point. If I were before God, I would be on my face, fully recognizing that everything He said was right. Because God is God. When people in Bible times got a glimpse of God, they knew enough to be scared. But since Jesus bridged that gap, sometimes I forget how truly awesome it is that I can seek God so fearlessly and intimately. And so sometimes, I might get a little too impertinent with Him. But the bottom line is, He is the God of the universe, and I am not.

And that's all the explanation I need.


NT: Luke 17:11-37

Of course the one man who came back was a Samaritan. Of course. I'm telling you, Luke loves pointing that stuff out. (And in case it came across wrong, I do fully believe that that man was a Samaritan. I just like that Luke is all about that fact.)

And of course, I also love Jesus' pronouncement that "the kingdom of God is within you" (21). Just this afternoon, I had a conversation with my neighbor about how exciting it is to ponder "life to the full." I think that pondering the idea of the kingdom of God within me is equally exciting. See, right now I love my life and the depth of my existence, and I just fell that the Christian life is absolutely glorious. And yet, when I think about the amazing things Jesus says about the kingdom of GOD being within us, or the things He says about mustard seed faith, it thrills my soul. What more is beyond me? What more is just outside of my grasp?

I look forward to finding out.

I'm not going to say too much about 22-37, mainly b/c I think that I'm incapable of saying anything intelligent about the second coming. I just take the "wait and see" approach with that one. I was struck, though, by the reminder that it will come suddenly. It reminds me that all of the "stuff" that make up daily life is an illusion that will be burned away. The only thing that will remain is the stuff we did for God (I Cor. 3:10-15). So...we should probably build our lives around that stuff.

Psalm 84:1-12

"Even the sparrow has found a home, and the swallow a nest for herself..."

My maiden name was Sparrow, and so I was always drawn to the verses about sparrows. The Bible is pretty consistent on the idea that the sparrow is a pretty worthless animal:). It is always given as an example to prove God's love for us. Basically, if God even cares about the sparrow, then of course He would care about you. As a teenager, especially, I found that idea so comforting. I kind of felt like the sparrow sometimes, when I considered myself before God. I was soooo hoping that He would not give up on me (that was one of my most repeated prayers), and it gave me great comfort to know that God even loved the sparrows.

Proverbs 13:5-6

More righteous v. wicked. The righteous love truth and are shielded by their righteousness. The wicked bring shame and disgrace and are overthrown by their wickedness.


  1. I am amazed by the level of violence and destruction of entire races of people. I have been struck with how this image of God..pretty much the entire OT thus far, is so far off from how I have seen God in my own life. He seems to contradict himself, and yet the great lengths to which he is willing to go to bring another entire race of people to himself consistent with himself and the degree of love he has for us.

    And yet, it is like you said an effort on my part to justify it all when it is really beyond me and I have no place to fully understand it.

    Or something like that ..its deep. But I have peace knowing that I know of God what I need right now and as I seek to know him better he will reveal himself a bit at a time in so much as I need to know him to be closer to him.

    My mind is blown by how he worked through the Israelites - it seems so, wrong. Unethical. Violent. Hard-hearted. I dont get it at ALL.

    God is so beyond me. I am thankful for who He is, though I dont understand Him. I am grateful for knowing that my relationship with him is evolving every day and that perhaps someday I will get it ..if not in this life, eventually.

  2. Today's reading: I know that the beginning of wisdom is to fear God and these readings have certainly put fear in my heart! All I can say is "thank you, God, for Jesus"...and God is so awesome.

  3. I am having a hard time focusing lately, but I do like what you said about how being in the presence of God would negate all of our questions. Still, I do have a thought. God killed/caused to be killed all of these people's physical bodies. While I'm sure that was painful for them at the time and highly inconvenient for those they left behind, the physical stuff is not what matters. We have no way of knowing (at least, I don't think we do) what happened to these people's souls after their bodies died. Not that mass death is pleasant or anything, but maybe it's not really as bad, spiritually speaking, as it sounds.

    But, then again, maybe it is, and God is still as confusing as ever.

    Did you notice, in the Psalm, in verse 5 it says, "Happy are those who are strong in the LORD, / who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem." That sounds like the gospel of Luke.

  4. I didn't notice that Becky! That's cool!