Saturday, June 26, 2010

June 26

OT: 2 Kings 9:14-10:31

Good lands! The wrath of God sure is bloody!

Yep, Jehu's carnage is definitely the fulfillment of God's words to Ahab in response to the Naboth incident. Jehu makes that much explicitly clear, as does the author of 2 Kings. So let's see. Here is who died during God's punishment of Ahab:

--Joram, king of Israel, and Ahaziah, king of Judah (Jehu's nephew and brother, respectively. I think. I'm having a hard time keeping the family tree in my mind.)

--Jezebel, thrown from a window by a eunuch

--70 sons of Ahab, slaughtered by their guardians

--"everyone in Jezreel who remained of the house of Ahab, as well as all his chief men, his close friends, and his priests" (10:11)

--42 men who had unwittingly come to visit Joram and Jezebel (? or is it a different queen)

--everyone in Samaria from Ahab's family

--all the prophets of Baal in the land

Wow. That is...humbling. A bit frightening, even. When He chose Jehu, God definitely chose the right attack dog. Jehu seemed to be impetuous, reckless ("he drives like a madman," 9:20), and motivated by desires other than honoring the Lord. After all, he was quite handy at mass murder, and yet not so keen on actually keeping God's laws after it was all over. That shows me that he probably enjoyed killing for its own sake a little too much.

All in all, this was quite a "shock and awe-" inspiring passage. It makes me not look forward to Judgment day.

NT: Acts 17:1-34

Today, Paul tackles philosophy as he continues his journey! Here are his stops:

---Thessalonica: In the synagogue, Paul proves that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. His proof is apparently pretty convincing, as many are converted. Ultimately, however, he is driven out of town.

--Berea: Same deal as Thessalonica, only these guys were ravenous for God's word and "examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true" (11). In other words, the Bereans are our heroes in the church of Christ.

--Athens! When I first read this passage as a teenager, it was like my school life and my church life imploded on each other. Athens? I knew Athens! I knew all the Greek gods. I knew their mythology. I had studied Greek philosophy. And now, here was Paul interacting with material from my social studies class! It was amazing to me, and quite eye-opening. For one thing, Paul is dismayed by the Greek gods. He calls them "idols" (16). And, um, they are. I always knew that, of course, but I was always taught Greek mythology as if it were something valuable. I mean, we had to learn it, so surely it was worthwhile, right? And it is, from a historical and even a literary viewpoint. But Paul was looking at it from a realistic viewpoint, and realistically, the Greek gods were a bunch of idols keeping people from the truth.

Similarly, I have always been taught to value and appreciate Greek philosophy. And I do very much like Greek philosophy. I have always admired the Greek interest in thought and learning. Luke, on the other hand, is kind of dismissive of the culture. The way he sums it up is this: "All the Athenians and the foreigners who lived there spent their time doing nothing but talking about and listening to the latest ideas" (21). Well. What losers.

Now, let me say that I am a HUGE fan of education. Truly, the importance of a thorough and wide-ranging education cannot be understated in my mind. It is one of my deepest passions. That said, I do see how highly educated people often scoff at what they don't understand, and they tend to value their own reasoning and logic more than the average person. Thus, their interest in learning can tragically keep them from God. And that's exactly what happens in today's passage. Paul gives a beautiful sermon--truly, one of my favorites. I love how he approaches the topic of the "unknown god," and verses 26-28 are some of my favorite of all of Scripture. In short, I think this sermon was great, and as I read it for the first time, I was eager to see the effect it had. Sadly, only "a few men became followers of Paul and believed" (34).

Psalm 144:1-15

In light of our OT reading, I thought verse 1 was interesting: "Praise to the Lord my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle." Sigh. I truly don't get that God, and I truly do not understand how Jesus is that God. It is simply beyond me.

Proverbs 17:27-28

Today's proverbs are great, so I will simply quote them:

"A man of knowledge uses words with restraint,
and a man of understanding is even-tempered."

"Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
and discerning if he holds his tongue."

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