Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18

OT: Joshua 16:1-18:28

Three things today, from least important to most important:

1. As boring as it is to read about places that are completely foreign to me, I do kind of like hearing about the order and geographical structure of Canaan. I am a person who loves the idea of civilization, and so I can handle reading all these random names for the same reason that I enjoy details of daily life in 18th century British novels and that I love drinking coffee in my clean, white china: because I love order and the trappings of civilization. Boundaries are a part of that. So while it is still boring as all get-out to read about, it does make the Israelite society seem a little more "real" to me.

2. We are still keeping tabs on Zelophehad's daughters, are we? I wonder why that is. Is it just that it was incredibly revolutionary to give women land? Or does this decision have an effect on the future? I don't know. I just think it is interesting that scripture follows through with their story. One thing I have noticed is that scripture does tend to see its narratives through to the end. You saw that with Balaam. You see it with Caleb coming and getting his promised land from Joshua. There aren't really a lot of narrative threads left hanging. I like that.

3. It is so interesting to me how God was completely "with" the Israelites in the beginning, and they were kicking all kinds of booty. And yet, in both today's and yesterday's reading, there is mention of inhabitants whom the people were unable to dislodge. One example is found in 17:12-13, which says, "Yet the Manassites were not able to occupy these towns, for the Canaanites were determined to live in that region. However, when the Israelites grew stronger, they subjected the Canaanites to forced labor but did not drive them out completely." seems like the Israelites tried at first, but they were too weak. But...weren't they always "too weak"? Wasn't it God who conquered the land through them? So what happened there? (Then, when the people grew stronger, they opted not to drive out the Canaanites, which will come back to bite them.) Along those lines, it is interesting what Joshua tells the Ephraimites when they express doubts about their abilityto drive out the Perizzites and Rephaites (15-18). Joshua doesn't tell them that God will be with them; instead, he essentially says, "You can do it. You're strong!" When did it shift from God's power to the people's power? That's what I want to know.

NT: Luke 19:1-27

No new thoughts about Zaccheus today, but I was intrigued by the parable Jesus told to those who "thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once" (thanks, Luke!). Like with many of Jesus' other parables, I don't think that there is a 1:1 correlation between the king of the story and God/Jesus, though the king is clearly supposed to represent one or both of them. While, like the king, Jesus was hated (14), He is not "a hard man, taking out what I did not put in and reaping what I did not sow" (22). Unless that description of Him is an example of man's misconception of God (which it could be, since the king does not actually claim that it is true), I don't see how it applies. Often, when I read these type of parables, it makes me a little frightened of God. However, today it kind of made sense to me why a king would be mad at someone who didn't use what He gave him. I can understand why God would be angry at us for squandering our talents and resources. They are precious gifts, after all, that God gave us to further His Kingdom. When we waste them, we are probably guilty of "withholding good from those who deserve it," because we aren't blessing people the way God intended for us to (Prov. 3:27).

As for Jesus' proclamation that "to everyone who has, more will be gien, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away," I don't know what to make of that exactly (26). I've heard that Jesus is referring to faith. And "faith" makes sense in that sentence, but I don't really see how it is talking about faith here. It seems like it is talking more about talents and abilities. And if it is talking about faith instead, then it still doesn't seem fair b/c in the parable, it was God who gave the people their faith. If God didn't give someone much faith, why is that the person's fault? I think I am stumbling here into the idea of God and predestination, which is always completely confusing to me, so I'm going to stop for now.

Psalms 87:1-7

Today's entry was a short little tune about how everyone will eventually come to recognize the blessed status of Zion.

Proverbs 13:11

This was a good one, and good inspiration for steady, frugal budgeting: "Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow." I can definitely see how that is true on a practical level. After all, if someone doesn't have the self-discipline to work hard and gain money honestly, they will probably not have the self-discipline to manage it well. However, when you do work for your money, you tend to appreciate it more and to use it wisely.

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