Monday, April 19, 2010

April 19

OT: Joshua 21:1-22:20

Apparently, the author of Joshua is getting as bored as the rest of us are b/c he seriously shortens the descriptions of these last few territories. Instead of graphic depictions of the curves of the borders, we are simply treated to a list of each tribe's major cities. I am totally down with that decision.

I thought it was interesting that Simeon's land "was taken from the share of Judah, because Judah's portion was more than they needed" (9). Okay, so maybe "interesting" isn't the best choice of words to describe that particular fact, but it did spark an interesting line of thought, at least to me. To continue an idea from yesterday, I keep wondering about the balance between God's work/power and the people's work/power. So much of what Moses said in Deuteronomy and what Joshua says in the beginning of Joshua seems to indicate that God is going to work throughout this process of land settling. He is going to do the work of driving the Canaanites out and of giving Israel the land. At least, that is the impression that I got, though I'm too lazy to go back and check right now. And yet, more and more lately, we are seeing evidence that the Israelites are acting on their own power, and not always successfully. In the past few days, they have had trouble dislodging several groups of Canaanites. And today, they apparently fumbled on dividing up the land and had to go back and give Simeon some of Judah's land.

This relationship between God's power and the people's power is interesting to me b/c when I read the NT, I kind of get the impression that I am supposed to be filled with perpetual, divine power that keeps me from sinning. I kind of get the impression that the Spirit of God is supposed to live in me and that I am supposed to have a Romans 8 type of existence, as supposed to a Romans 7 type of existence. And yet...I still relate so much to Romans 7! I still mess up; I still feel weak sometimes; I still struggle. And so, I wonder if there is a corollation b/t what I experience as a Christian and what the Israelites experience in Joshua. God has assured both of us that He is with us and will be working through us, and yet we both still mess up. We both still have weakness.

In both cases, clearly I am missing something. Either I am misinterpreting what God is saying on the front end, or I'm misinterpreting how He is working in both cases. Or perhaps, both the Israelites and I are missing something about how to tap into this power. I don't know. I do know that I have learned more and more about God's Spirit lately, and that I've seen it more at work in my life. I have also been asking for it and pursuing it more, so that probably has something to do with it.

NT: Luke 19: 28-48

Are we already at the triumphal entry again? Time flies.

Okay, random thought: I've always been curious about the owners of the colt who just let some random guys take it away. I have wondered if this is something that Jesus has arranged ahead of time, although it doesn't seem likely. His disciples don't know about it, for one, and He hasn't been to Jerusalem recently. So, it would seem that this is a God moment for Jesus; it would seem that there is some divine knowledge at work here. And at the same time, there is also a good little lesson on faith. Say the owners didn't know the guys who were untying their colt, and all the explanation they get is that, "the Lord needs it" (34). The fact that they are able to take all that on faith leads to their playing a role in the biggest event in history. Their colt gets to carry the Messiah, right before He dies to save them. That's pretty cool.

I also liked it that Jesus wept over Jerusalem. I'm glad that God weeps over the coming (physical) destruction of children and babies. After all the carnage we have witnessed in the OT, it is very reassuring to understand that God doesn't like it either.

Psalms 88: 1-18

The Sons of Korah are not doing well in this psalm.

The highlight to me is in the series of rhetorical questions found in verses 10-12: "Do you show your wonders to the dead? Do those who are dead rise up and praise you? Is your love declared in the grave, your faithfulness in Destruction? Are your wonders known in places of darkness, or your righteous deeds in the land of oblivion?"

According to the Sons of Korah, the answer to all these questions is a resounding, "No." They ask them as a way to coerce God into sparing them from death. They want to see God's wonders, after all, to rise up and praise Him. They want Him to declare His love and faithfulness and to make known His wonders and righteous deeds.

And yet, I would argue that this is where the Sons of Korah, and for that matter, David and all the rest of the Israelites, are mistaken. When they think this way, they are being short-sighted (not that it's their fault. They just don't have the NT.) The NT shows us that God does show His wonders to the dead, like Jairus' daughter, the widow's son, Lazarus, and all those in the OT who were somehow retroactively saved by Jesus' blood. These dead do rise up and praise God. And according to my best interpretation of God's perspective on death, sometimes His love is declared by sending us to the the grave, by destroying our physical lives. And in fact, for every Christian, His love and faithfulness are most obvious in death, b/c that's when we see the full fruit of His love and faithfulness. That's when we see heaven. And lastly, we do often see His wonders in dark places, and His righteous deeds in the land of oblivion. Those types of places are often when God's light shines the brightest.

And so those are some ways where I differ from the Sons of Korah:).

Proverbs 13: 12-14

"Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life" (12). I once quoted this verse in an intro to an analysis of a Lanston Hughes poem. Ten points to whoever guesses the poem:).

I really liked the way the other two verses were worded, though verse 13 was challenging. In my pride, I tend to want to scorn instruction sometimes. It's awful. And I have paid for it from time to time.


  1. My brain is all jumbled and wonky right now, so I will probably end up combining thoughts from today and yesterday (or talking about something else entirely; who knows?).

    Okay, I'm not up on my Langston Hughes, but I know how to use Google. :) Could it be "Dream Deferred"? Sorry I cheated, but it was worth it to read the poem. Very nice.

    Here's what I think: Yes, God does make available to us the power not to sin. However, it is up to us to get and use that power. This would be a perfect system but for two things: 1) In human form, we are limited in our ability to tap in to this resource. If we are cell phones, we only get so good of a signal. There are things we can do to get a better signal, but it will never be 100 percent. Only Jesus was able to get 100 percent. 2) Even if we could get 100 percent, we would get cocky and eventually think that it was our own power that was doing great things. We would forget to tap in to God's power, and then we would be left sinning again. I think that's what happened to the Israelites.

    One thought about Zacchaeus: It didn't take him long to offer to give his money away. I wonder if he already knew in his heart what the right thing was to do, but he had to come face to face with Jesus to articulate it.

    I don't know the specifics of the analogy in the story of the man with the three servants, but I think the point is that, if you are going to call yourself a Christian (or God's servant), don't bother unless you plan to get out there and do something. If you just sit on your comfy pew but are afraid to work in a ministry or do something for someone else or try to lead someone to Jesus (or whatever else is needed) because you are afraid you will screw up, then you might as well give up your spot on the pew for someone else who will do these things.

    It is exciting how Luke writes about Jesus getting closer and closer to Jerusalem. I always thought the triumphal entry was kind of odd, though. How did the people know to praise him right then? Were they really up on the prophecies in the scriptures, or were they just randomly overcome with excitement?

    I also don't quite agree with the Sons of Korah. I know what they mean, but, technically, they are not quite right. They also use too many words to convey very simple concepts. I bet the Pharisees liked them.

    The Proverb makes it kind of a weighty thing when I am the person giving advice. It had better be good, or I will lead them toward death. Yikes!

  2. I always like reading your responses, Becky, even though I don't often have a ton to add them. Today, I especially liked your take on Zaccheus.