OT: I Chron. 15:1-16:36
Chronicles definitely seems to focus more directly on things of God. By that, I mean that there seems to be a much bigger focus on the priests, the ark, the temple, as well as on God's will and His direct intervention in the lives of the Israelites. Today, David again attempts to bring the ark back to Jerusalem, and this time, he is successful. The chronicler takes pains to describe exactly what happened and who was involved in this event. We see Asaph again, in 15: 17 and 19, and 16: 5 and 7. Apparently, Asaph's musical forte is cymbals (15:19, 16:5).
Like 2 Samuel, Chronicles notes that Michal did not like seeing David dancing, but it leaves out her comment about David disrobing. That's not terribly important, but it's what I noticed.
Overall, today's reading contained a lot of joy. The ark is brought back to Jerusalem, and the city is jubilant. The reading closes with a lengthy psalm of David, full of praise for God.
NT: Romans 1:18-23
Paul covers some "big ideas" in today's passage. How does God reveal himself to man? Is man ultimately good or evil? And what is good and evil? Paul touches on all of these things.
According to Paul, God reveals Himself through creation. When we look at this world, Paul says, we can clearly see God's "eternal power and divine nature" (20). To Paul, a man who denies God chooses to suppress that knowledge. Ignorance is not an excuse b/c no one who has seen the majesty of God in nature can claim such ignorance. The result of this denial of God is foolishness and depravity. First, man's thinking becomes distorted and "futile." Secondly, his heart is "darkened" (21). Because of that, "God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts" (24). I thought it was interesting how prominently sexual immorality figured in this scenario set forth by Paul. In verse 24, the specific sinful desire mentioned by Paul is "sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another." He follows that with a specific indictment of homosexual sin in verses 26-27.
Now, Paul definitely follows all that with a laundry list of sins, but the sexual immorality part seemed to take front and center stage for him. Elsewhere, he will write of sexual immorality as being unique in that "all other sins, a man commits are outside his own body, but he who sins sexually sins against his own body" (I Cor. 6:18). So clearly, Paul views sex as something sacred. When people sin sexually, it is a big deal. In Romans, he links it directly to a denial of God. Now, that is interesting to me. I'm not one to go on and on about sex in a public forum:), but this idea really resonates with me. My husband is a youth minister, and so even though I've left my teenage years way behind, I am still somewhat aware of popular culture. And let me say, we are in a really sexualized phase of that culture. Such things come and go in waves, but right now, overt sexuality is IN. And when I look at it, it honestly just turns my stomach. Maybe part of it is that I'm just getting older. But I think a deeper reason for my sadness and even revulsion lies right here in this chapter. The world seems to view almost any kind of sex as natural and okay. Sex is a right, a choice, a means of entertainment, etc. But the Bible describes sex as a sacred gift that is only to be used in a narrowly prescribed way (b/t a man and a woman in the covenant of marriage). And to use it any other way is to take something sacred and make it profane. To use it in any other way is honestly somewhat blasphemous. And that idea is soooo counter-cultural. To verbalize that thought in mainstream society is to look like a lunatic or a nutcase.
And yet, that's truly what I believe.
Wow, am I still talking about this? I'll move on. In closing, I will simply note that chapters like these are what give me my low view of humanity. Others within and without the church might wrestle with the question, "Is man ultimately good, or is he evil? Or is he some kind of combination?" To me, mankind is ultimately depraved. Passages like these just don't seem that far off track to me. I can look around me and see exactly what they are talking about.
Wow, this really continues the theme of Romans, doesn't it? It is all about people who turn their back on God and the sinful results of that decision. The psalmist describes such a person, saying, "in all his thoughts there is no room for God" (4). As a result, this man becomes foolish, arrogant, and violent. Now, clearly, I don't think that everyone who denies God becomes a violent person who lies in wait to murder innocent victims. Some people do (you know, like murderers), but if that were the rule, then China would be in serious trouble:). Anywhere that did not have a significant amount of Christians would then be overrun with murder and bloodshed. So again, clearly, this is not the rule in the way that, say, sexual immorality tends to be the rule. (Do any secular people feel the need to limit their sexuality as an expression between two married people of the opposite sex these days? I would guess no. Why would they?) However, I think David is describing like...a prototype. Or maybe a caricature. Or a symbol of mankind. He is describing the idea that God is who gives us moral order, and when you deny God, moral order collapses. At least, any idea of a standard or an absolute moral order collapses. I guess different people can make their own moral orders, but those moral orders might differ drastically from each other, and there would really be no absolute to fall back on.
Two proverbs stating the lot of the poor man.