consequences

God is not a destroyer.

God is not a destroyer.

Esther 7

Esther chapter 7 contains a startling example of the self-destructiveness of sin. Haman’s gig is up. When the king asked Esther to present her request, she replied, "If I have found favor with you, Your Majesty, and if it pleases you, grant me my life—this is my petition. And spare my people—this is my request. For I and my people have been sold to be destroyed, killed and annihilated." (vs 3-4) That must have been a heart-stopping moment for Haman, as he realized the web he had spun for himself. I’m sure he never imagined that the Queen of Persia was a Jew.

God's protection isn't universal.

God's protection isn't universal.

Ezra 9

In this chapter of Ezra, we encounter an idea that weaves its way throughout the Old Testament: "Blessings" for those who obey the Lord, and "punishment" for those who do not. In this case, Ezra is lamenting the discovery of further disobedience by the exiles. "I am too ashamed and disgraced, my God, to lift up my face to you, because our sins are higher than our heads and our guilt has reached to the heavens. From the days of our ancestors until now, our guilt has been great. Because of our sins, we and our kings and our priests have been subjected to the sword and captivity, to pillage and humiliation at the hand of foreign kings, as it is today." (vs 6-7)

God is the best choice.

God is the best choice.

1 Chronicles 21

Even after David repented of his sin involving Bathsheba and Uriah, he was still struggling with the issue of being in control as king. Thus, though he knew he shouldn’t do it, he asked Joab to take a census of the army. Joab was disgusted by the request, but did it anyway. For some reason, David apparently wasn’t ready to place his full trust back in the Lord, and he wanted to make sure he could "walk softly and carry a big army" ...just in case.

God lets go.

God lets go.

1 Chronicles 10

Well, we made it through the genealogies. Now on to something a bit easier—or so I thought. As someone who is educated in the principles of journalism, I have to say that I encountered a bit of a problem in chapter 10 regarding the death of Saul. There are two seemingly-different accounts of his death within a few paragraphs of each other!

God bears the consequences of our sin.

God bears the consequences of our sin.

2 Kings 25

Ah, so the residents of Judah are finally carried off into Babylon, and Jerusalem is destroyed. How depressing. Reading this chapter, I felt especially bad for Zedekiah, who watched his sons being killed before his eyes were plucked out. That would be an awful image to have to remember for the rest of your life. It’s just another stark reminder of the evil darkness we face when we try to live life without God.

God doesn't make junk.

God doesn't make junk.

2 Kings 17

Evil, evil, and more evil. Where does it all lead? To the ruin of God’s creation! Did you notice this verse? "But [the Israelites] would not listen and were as stiff-necked as their ancestors, who did not trust in the Lord their God. They rejected his decrees and the covenant he had made with their ancestors and the statutes he had warned them to keep. They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless." (vs 14-15)

The Confrontational Creator {ex14:16-17}

Photo © shutterstock.com/Melnik

Photo © shutterstock.com/Melnik

The problem with sin is that we
want to have our cake
and eat it too,
just like Pharaoh,
who wanted to have his slaves
and free them too.

But not to decide
is to decide,
and not to give in
is to remain stubborn

and that has an effect.

We all think
/or want to believe/
that no matter
what we choose
we automatically
revert back to
this neutral default place
after each decision,
that our choices
don't have any lasting
consequences.

But that's ridiculous.

If you've lived in darkness
your entire life
and someone suddenly
turns on a light
you are no longer a person
who has only known darkness.

You cannot return
to saying that you do not know
what light looks like.
You may say it still,
all right,
but in your heart
you know it's not true

and that has an effect.

God is the Light of the World,
that Great Confronter who
scouts out
runs down
and passionately pursues
His darkness-dwelling
children.

He would not dream
of letting you remain
forever in your darkness.
He knows nothing of
live and let live,
has no hands-off policy,
and is generally unaccommodating.

He does not prefer to avoid confrontation.

As surely as He lives,
you live,
and as surely as He lives,
you will experience Him.

And when you do,
you cannot return
to saying that you have never
experienced Him.
You may say it still,
all right,
but in your heart
you will know it's not true

and that will have an effect.

And if you persist
in ignoring or avoiding reality
for long enough
you may just find yourself
in a chariot
at the edge of the sea,
unable to bat an eyelash
at the rising walls of water,
unable to wonder how or why the briny deep
is drawing back to reveal dry ground,
unable to think twice
before rushing headlong
into the foregone destruction
of a hardened heart.

 

A Rondel on Boys Who Weren't Necessarily Bad {ex12:13}

exodus-judging-a-rondel-on-boys-poem.png

For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.
Those oldest boys may have been perfectly upright;
no wickedness in them had been diagnosed,

no judgment that they were, to evil, a host,
but doomed even if they were kind and polite.
For where there was no blood on the post,
the Angel brought heartbreak deep in the night.

Even a Hebrew who thought smeared blood the most
distasteful and gruesome of any known sight,
who neglected to paint the jambs crimson-bright
would suddenly find his own firstborn a ghost,
for where there was no blood on the post…

 

Rondel: a French form consisting of 13 lines—two quatrains and a quintet—with a rhyme scheme of ABba abAB abbaA (the capital letters are the refrains, or repeats).

God disciplines because He loves.

God disciplines because He loves.

1 Kings 9

This is, I’m sure, a recurring theme we will encounter as we continue our journey through the Old Testament: God disciplines the ones He loves. And His discipline always carries a redemptive component (otherwise there’s no point to it). But often, I find that it’s God’s discipline that garners Him the most criticism. People tend to look at His "threats" of discipline in the Old Testament as something punitive, harsh, and retributive. And that’s how God gets a bad rap.

God is not a legalist.

God is not a legalist.

1 SAMUEL 4

I found something in this chapter very interesting. It opens with the Israelites going to war against the Philistines. It didn’t go well. Thousands of Israelites were killed in the battle, and when they got back home, they wondered why they had met with such defeat. As a result, they decided that they would carry the Ark of the Covenant into battle with them the next time.

God lets us get burned.

God lets us get burned.

JUDGES 3

What would happen if you went in your kitchen right now, turned on the stovetop, and put your hand on the burner? You’d burn your hand, of course. And how do you know you’d burn your hand if you touched a hot stove? Probably because you or someone you know has had just such an unpleasant experience in the past. And that’s how we learn that touching a hot stove is dangerous and can harm us.

God lets us call the shots.

God lets us call the shots.

JOSHUA 9

I’m continually surprised by God as we comb our way through the Old Testament. I mean, who’s calling the shots, here? Didn’t God specifically say that the Israelites were not to make treaties with the people of Canaan? (Yes, He did, in Deuteronomy 7:2.) He told them not to have anything to do with them so they wouldn’t be in danger of picking up their idolatrous practices.

A Nove Otto on Jealousy {gn30}

Photo © Unsplash/Will O

Photo © Unsplash/Will O

Jacob wanted Rachel to wed.
Laban gave him Leah instead—
Makings of a Gordian Knot.

Of the two, Leah's working womb
Had Rachel spending days in gloom,
Though she had the love Leah sought.

We don't esteem our position,
Chained, as we are, by ambition:
We always want what we ain't got.

 

*Nove Otto: A poem with nine lines, eight syllables per line, and a rhyming scheme of aacbbcddc.

God wants us to obey.

God wants us to obey.

DEUTERONOMY 5

Before the Israelites went in to take possession of the Promised Land, Moses was determined to reiterate the law the Lord had given them. In fact, the very name of this book means a "second" (deutero) giving of the "law" (nomy). Remember, this was 40 years after God had originally given the law to the Israelites at Mount Sinai, and those who were now in Moses’s audience were either babies at that time or not yet born.

God means what He says.

God means what He says.

NUMBERS 26

Just before entering the Promised Land, God had Moses take another census of the Israelites — men over the age of one month. And the census ends with this declaration: "These are the ones counted by Moses and Eleazar the priest when they counted the Israelites on the plains of Moab by the Jordan across from Jericho. Not one of them was among those counted by Moses and Aaron the priest when they counted the Israelites in the Desert of Sinai. For the Lord had told those Israelites they would surely die in the wilderness, and not one of them was left except Caleb son of Jephunneh and Joshua son of Nun." (vs 63-65)

God is fair.

God is fair.

NUMBERS 25

If you’ve already read the chapter for today, you might be wondering how you can find the "fairness" element in it. It’s a pretty gruesome chapter. The men of Israel went off whoring with some Moabite women — who subsequently took them to church in order to offer sacrifices to their god, Baal. What happened next wasn’t pretty: the ringleaders of this little jaunt were killed and publicly exposed, an Israelite man and Moabite woman were both run through with a sword and killed after acting in open defiance against the Lord’s command, and then a subsequent plague killed thousands of people.

God is not a manipulator.

God is not a manipulator.

NUMBERS 22

Here’s what I love about this chapter: it proves that God is not a manipulator. He’s not a control freak. He doesn’t stack His own deck. How do I know that? The story of Balaam shows just how few options God really had for "prophets." Prophets are the people who are supposed to be in tune with God, the ones who will listen to  Him. And what do we find in Numbers 22? A donkey was more attuned to God’s presence than Balaam: "When the donkey saw the angel of the Lord standing in the road with a drawn sword in his hand, it turned off the road into a field. Balaam beat it to get it back on the road." (vs 23)