OT: Deut. 32:28-52
Well. The readings today had a generally negative vibe that centered around the consequences of man not living up to God's expectations. In the OT, Moses is continuing his cheerful tune in which he calls the Israelites a bunch of idiots (28). I can't quite tell if he is rehashing their past failures or predicting future ones, but the bottom line is clear: these people are screw-ups, and they have no discernment. Because of their inability to recognize the work of God in their lives, things are not going to go well for them. As always, the Israelites are so indicative of humanity in general to me.
I was also struck by God's wrath in this passage. When I see what appears to be blood lust in God (42), it always concerns me. However, two passages in Ezekiel really help me to understand God in these situations. One says, "Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?" (Ezek. 18:23). The other says, "Say to them, 'As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. Turn! Turn from your evil ways! Why will you die, O house of Israel?'" Granted, He seems to be talking about Israel in those passages, but I would hope the idea of God not taking pleasure in the deaths of the wicked is universal.
NT: Luke 12:35-59
Though Jesus is a little less pessimistic than Moses, He, too, spends today warning against a lack of discernment. Moses says the people are "without sense." Jesus chides the crowd for being able to predict the weather but unable to discern the arrival of the kingdom of God (56). Moses predicts that God will punish the people until "their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free" (36). Jesus predicts that God will "cut [the person unprepared for his arrival] into pieces and assign him a place with the unbelievers" (46). In the next couple of verses, He further reveals that the person who does not do God's will will be beaten with blows (the amount will be determined by their level of awareness of their sin).
So yeah, this is not the cheeriest reading ever, especially when you also factor in Jesus' predictions of family strife and his desire to "bring fire on the earth" (49-53). What I take away from it all is a sober reminder to live my life fully for God. I also wondered if there is more that God is expecting of me that I am not doing.
Wow--this psalm just keeps going! Apparently, when you get on the subject of Israel's failures throughout history, you find that you have a lot to sing about! Asaph puts Moses' little ditty to shame, though I guess he also had more material to work with, being later in history. What is interesting to me about Moses and Asaph's renditions of history is that they are undoubtedly considered to be extremely primitive expressions, since they view every happening as orchestrated by God and as a reward or punishment based on the people's conformity to His will. That idea is quite out of vogue, needless to say. It is definitely out of vogue among unbelievers and is even so among believers. After all, how many of us would tell a grieving friend (or even think to ourselves) that their suffering was the result of their own sin? How many of us would think that God was punishing them? I certainly wouldn't. And when disasters like Katrina or the earthquake in Haiti happen, we don't think that those are an outpouring of God's wrath (and if we do, we know not to say it, unless we are Pat Robertson). But as anathema as those thoughts are to us, that is how Moses and Asaph interpret history. I even have some of that in me, I must say. As a child, for example, I secretly thought that if it rained on Easter, it meant that God was judging the church, and if it rained on the 4th of July, it meant that God was judging our country. True story:). (Now I know that God would be more likely to rain fire if He really wanted to get people's attention:)). But I do see how my childish impulses were probably rooted in my young interpretation of scripture!
I don't really know what I'm trying to say. I guess it is just an interesting line of thought to me. To what degree are the events of our world a result of God's intervention due to our actions, and to what degree do things "just happen"? I can only imagine the wide variety of opinions on THAT one...
How ironic that laziness ends in slave labor. This whole verse reminds me of Gal. 6:7 ("Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.").