power

God works with small groups.

God works with small groups.

Ezra 1

The book of Ezra begins with the decree, made by Cyrus king of Persia in 538 B.C., that gave the Jewish exiles the right to finally return home to Jerusalem and rebuild the temple of the Lord. (Here’s an interesting side note to that story. Many scholars believe that Daniel was instrumental in stirring the heart of the king by sharing with him the prophecies in Jeremiah 25 and 29 regarding the return of the exiles from Babylon. Incidentally, these prophecies mention King Cyrus of Persia by name—even though they were written 150 years before his birth.)

God believes in the separation of powers.

God believes in the separation of powers.

2 Chronicles 26

If you were educated as a child in America, one of the first things you learned about our form of government is that it is based on a separation of powers. Divided into three branches—executive, legislative, and judicial—each one has independent powers and areas of responsibility so that (in theory) no one branch has more power than the others. Although many have attempted throughout history to use one branch to usurp the authority of the others, the founders of our country envisioned a system where no person or group of people would hold absolute power.

God dethrones evil.

God dethrones evil.

2 Chronicles 23

The wicked queen Athaliah had ruled over Judah for six years, and I bet it was an awful six years. Just imagine living in a land where the person in charge had arrived at that position by murdering her own family. If she could treat her own relatives with such cold brutality, how do you think she would treat strangers? The fact that "all the people of the land rejoiced" after Athaliah was killed would suggest that they were very happy to be out from under her thumb.

God's power structure is based on submission.

God's power structure is based on submission.

2 Chronicles 21

Over the last several chapters of 2 Chronicles, I’ve noticed an interesting trend. See if you can spot it in this passage from today’s chapter: "Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. He followed the ways of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for he married a daughter of Ahab. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord. In the time of Jehoram, Edom rebelled against Judah and set up its own king. To this day Edom has been in rebellion against Judah. Libnah revolted at the same time, because Jehoram had forsaken the Lord, the God of his ancestors." (vs 5-6, 8, 10)

God exalts others.

God exalts others.

1 Chronicles 29

1 Chronicles 29 recounts the story of David’s "passing the baton" to his son Solomon. In his final speech, he challenged Solomon and the people to remain true to the Lord, and then there was a large celebration with music, feasting, and joy. But tucked away into the description of the festivities was, I thought, a very important lesson about God.

God is strong.

God is strong.

1 Chronicles 16

Do you ever feel weak? Powerless? Insecure? Quite honestly, with the world we live in, I can’t imagine how people don’t feel this way. There seems to be little solid ground to stand on. What can we count on these days? It seems that everywhere you turn, you find unrest, violence, hard times, and despair. The economy may be currently booming in America, but it feels like that could turn around at any time. Is there any true security? What can we really count on?

God rules with service.

God rules with service.

1 Chronicles 11

What is, hires more. Have you ever heard that saying? Basically, it’s one way people comment on their bosses. Sometimes it’s a compliment. If you think you’re a brilliant person, you might say that your boss hired you because he is also brilliant. Or if you’re disappointed with the poor quality of your coworkers, you might say that only a lazy, stupid boss would hire lazy, stupid people. (Of course, you better be careful with that way of thinking if you work there, too.)

God reigns above and beyond the kingdoms of this world.

God reigns above and beyond the kingdoms of this world.

1 Chronicles 9

This was one of those days when I didn’t get much beyond the first verse of the chapter (even though I kept reading until the end). "All Israel was listed in the genealogies recorded in the book of the kings of Israel and Judah. They were taken captive to Babylon because of their unfaithfulness." (vs 1)

When the Heart Becomes a Black Hole {ex11}

Photo © Unsplash/Ed Robertson

Photo © Unsplash/Ed Robertson

by the time
God announced
the plague
on the firstborn
for the /second/ time
didn't Pharaoh know
God could and
would
do exactly
what He said

after the
blood
frogs
gnats
flies
dead livestock
boils
hail
locusts and
darkness
was there anything left
more dark
than Pharaoh's heart

how dark does it have to get
to not understand
that your opponent
controls
the very elements

-all of them-

didn't Pharaoh know
that if God said
his son was going to die
he would /in fact/
be planning a funeral
if he didn't
change course

why wouldn't you change course

in ancient egypt
the only person more important
than the firstborn son of the Pharaoh
was Pharaoh himself

why wouldn't you change course

is there anything
in this world
more powerful
than the human heart

is there anything
more capable
of being more implacable
than the heart
bent on rebellion

is there anything
more wild and dangerous
than the freedom to choose
and the power
it imparts

the power to
so harden ourselves
to truth
that /in the end/
we could sacrifice
what is most important
to us

and be ourselves
swallowed up by
allconsuming
darkness

 

All Hail {ex9:23}

Photo © Brian Gary

Photo © Brian Gary

A monstrous storm of hail
fell
such as Egypt had never seen before
and hasn’t seen since.

It smashed trees.
It smashed crops.
It smashed people and flocks.
It smashed everything it touched.

But the one thing it didn’t smash
was Pharaoh's implacable heart,
that dense little rock
beating in his chest.

God could undo Egypt,
but He couldn’t undo the king.

All hail the power
we’ve been given
to fortify or destroy
our own personal dynasties.

 

God exercises true power.

God exercises true power.

2 Samuel 20

There is an interesting parallel between this chapter and 2 Samuel 8. Both contain a list of David’s officials. The list in 2 Samuel 8 comes after David has advanced to the throne, subdued the enemies of Israel, and returned the ark of God to Jerusalem. In other words, he has followed God’s leading all the way to victory for Israel. The second list (in this chapter) comes after the mess David created for himself with Bathsheba, Uriah, and the ensuing family chaos. See if you can spot the difference between the two lists:

God is a mighty man o' war.

God is a mighty man o' war.

JOSHUA 10

I was thinking today about my old college choir days, and one of my favorite pieces that we sang was called Elijah Rock. There was a line in that song that we women sang with a valiant, chesty tone: "My God is a mighty man o’ war." I always loved that part of the song, and reading today’s chapter from Joshua brought it right to my mind. So, I thought I would muse for a few minutes on this mighty man o’ war who is our God.

God wants you strong.

God wants you strong.

JOSHUA 1

Here’s one of my favorite Bible passages (from The Message paraphrase): "God is strong, and he wants you strong. So take everything the Master has set out for you, well-made weapons of the best materials. And put them to use so you will be able to stand up to everything the Devil throws your way. This is no afternoon athletic contest that we’ll walk away from and forget about in a couple of hours. This is for keeps, a life-or-death fight to the finish against the Devil and all his angels." (Eph 6:10-12)

God champions women's rights.

God champions women's rights.

NUMBERS 27

Long before there was the National Organization of Women, there was God. In this chapter, the daughters of a man named Zelophehad came to Moses to plead their case: their father had died, never having had any sons, and under the current rules of ownership in Israel, they would be left without any land inheritance. So they said, "Why should our father’s name disappear from his clan because he had no son? Give us property among our father’s relatives." (vs 4)

An Etheree on Woman Power {gn21:10}

Photo © Unsplash/Geran de Klerk

Photo © Unsplash/Geran de Klerk

Eve
enticed
Adam to
stomach the fruit.
Sarah expertly
bent Abraham to her
will — "Get rid of that woman!"
Hagar summoned (with desert-hot
tears) Jehovah Almighty Himself.

Who says Biblical women were bridled?

 

Etheree: A poem consisting of 10 lines of 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 syllables, respectively.

God cannot be manipulated.

God cannot be manipulated.

EXODUS 10

I know I’ve read the stories of the plagues in detail at least a dozen times in my adult life. But as I write these daily blogs, I am once again struck by Pharaoh’s audacity. Once again, in chapter 10, it’s his officials who are trying to talk some sense into him: "Pharaoh’s officials said to him, 'How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?'" (vs 7)