Friday, April 16, 2010

April 16

OT: Joshua 13:1-14:15

Fun fact: my brain apparently has a selectively permeable membrane that welcomes some things in and shuts other things out entirely. Some things that make the "shut out" list are never-ending details about the borders of territories about which I know absolutely nothing. Seriously, trying to get my brain to focus on what the book of Joshua was saying today was like trying to get my three-year-old to eat green beans: it seemed simple enough, but it was not happening.

However, I do love to hear about people. And so I did notice yet another mention of Balaam today. Joshua 13:22 says, "In addition to hose slain in battle the Israelites had put to the sword Balaam son of Beor, who practiced divination." Now, I'm not going to defend Balaam and say that he was a great guy. I'm not even going to say that he didn't deserve to die. But I think it is interesting how much Balaam has been reduced by this point in Israel's history. Yes, Balaam practiced divination...but does that statement encapsulate Balaam? In a very literal sense, Balaam had a relationship with God. God spoke directly to Balaam. God intervened in Balaam's life and told him great truths about the future. Balaam stood firm under Balak's pressure and delivered God's word. But here, he is just the guy who "practiced divination." There is something profound here that I can't quite articulate. I think that it is the human desire to oversimplify other people and their journeys. It is so easy to think of people as "good" or "bad." It is especially helpful if you have to kill them, as was the case with Balaam. It is probably harder to kill someone if you are conflicted about their goodness. Thus, I think it was because the Israelites did have to kill Balaam (at least, I guess they had to) that they went on to reduce him to one sentence about his sin. Needless to say, I think God's view of the whole situation was a little more complex.

Last little note: So, does Caleb saying that he was 85 tell us that the Israelites have been clearing out Canaan for about five years now? He was 40 when they were told that they had to wander in the desert another 40 years. And so it has been five years since that punishment ended. So, surely that helps us with our timeline, right?

NT: Luke 18:1-17

Man, I could get used to these helpful intros to Jesus' parables. Luke 18:1 sets up the parable by saying, "Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up." And verse 9 says, "To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable." Thanks for that, Luke! Granted, it would have been more helpful to give these explanatory intros to more confusing parables, such as the one about the wineskins. Jesus Himself explains these two pretty clearly. Still though, I appreciate the effort. I am all about clarity!

In fact, these parables are so self-explanatory that I have little to comment. God says that He will bring justice to those who ask Him (and that He'll do it "quickly," which I find a little...confusing, since we don't always see that), and He says that whoever humbles himself will be exalted (and vice versa). Good stuff.

And as a mom of little children, I of course love Jesus' interest in and compassion toward babies and children. I especially love how He makes His interest into a profound teaching tool. He uses the children to reveal a great truth about the kingdom of God. That's cool.

Psalm 85:1-13

I love the hints of the NT that you get in the OT. I love ideas like, "You forgave the iniquity of your people and covered all their sins" (2). Or, "Show us your unfailing love, O Lord, and grant us your salvation" (7). Oh, don't worry, Sons of Korah. He will!

I also love verse 10: "Love an faithfulness meet together; righteousness and peace kiss each other." Not that this is terribly important, but I picture righteousness and peace doing that both-cheek-greeting-kiss (that's the technical name). Like, they are old friends and they are happy to see each other.

Wow, that was deep:). Moving on.

Proverbs 13:7-8

These verses seem almost like statements of fact more than "proverbs." I just read them and was like, "Yup." does that apply to me?:)

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, I wish I could just see a color-coded map of the area instead of reading it all in a list.

    I hate that Balaam is portrayed as a "bad guy" when I really like him as a character, but I guess even the bad guy in a book or movie (you know, like the Danny Devito character) will go along with the good guy's plan as long as it benefits him for the moment. I think the fact that Balaam did have a real relationship with God (at least a, uh, business relationship of sorts) shows that magic/divination/etc. can be legitimate; it can have real power and not be only tricks, BUT it is bad. The witch of Endor really did communicate with the dead, but she shouldn't have been messing with that stuff.

    I wonder about how war really affects the land. the end of verse 14:15 says, "And the land had rest from war." I understand how war affects people, but does the land itself have some kind of consciousness so that it is bothered by a lot of blood on the ground? I mean, how does that work?


    Yes, the explanations are great :)


    The descendants of Korah (there's a band name for you) :) definitely don't use the same kind of imagery as Asaph or David. They seem a lot more straightforward, though I also noticed that line about rightouesness and peace "kissing." I wonder if back then it was a common literary device to personify intangible concepts. Proverbs has the woman "Wisdom," as well as a few others. I don't think we really do that in our Western culture. We might personify an animal in a fable to help exemplify a moral, but we don't put so much emphasis on the root concepts themselves behind the moral.


    Okay... These verses 7-8 are sandwiched between verses 5-6 and 9-10 which talk about "the godly." What do rich and poor people have to do with that (other than the fact that the godly thing would be for rich people to give to the poor)?