pursuit

Justice for the Unjust {ex22:1,4}

Photo © Unsplash/Niko Manuelides

Photo © Unsplash/Niko Manuelides

What does it matter
if the thief
kills your sheep
or it's found alive?

Why should
a sheep that has vanished
be worth
twice as much
as one that's been repoed?

Maybe it's all about
God getting justice—
not so much for the victim
as for the perp.

For to sneakily get rid
of the trace of your crime
suggests a hardness
not known to the
heart with red hands,
one so inexperienced
as to be caught with the goods.

The harder heart
requires the harsher penalty
in order to
once again
fracture the hull.

Justice for the offended
is a foregone conclusion,
but recasting the offender's heart
is much more difficult
than replacing a sheep.

 

God has three Rs of His own.

1 Chronicles 20

In English (especially colloquial English), we have two sets of famous Rs. More specifically, the three Rs. There is one set of Rs to describe the main subjects in school: reading, writing, and ‘rithmetic (math). Of course, these three words don’t all begin with the letter r, but all of them begin with the sound of the letter r. More recently, a second pair of three Rs has been coined and made famous by the environmental movement, as a reminder for what we should do to protect the Earth: reduce, reuse, recycle.

But, did you know that God has His own set of three Rs? His list—when it comes to dealing with His sinful creatures—is reclaim, redeem, restore. 1 Chronicles 20 gives us a glimpse into the restoration part of a story that unfolded in 2 Samuel 12. You might not have realized it, but an awful lot transpired between two of the sentences in the first verse of this chapter. "In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, Joab led out the armed forces. He laid waste the land of the Ammonites and went to Rabbah and besieged it, but David remained in Jerusalem. ** Joab attacked Rabbah and left it in ruins." (vs 1)

Where I marked the text with asterisks was that whole sordid affair with Bathsheba and Uriah that marred David’s career as king. Instead of being out on the battlefield with his army (as he should have been), David remained in Jerusalem... and got into a lot of trouble. It was only after the prophet Nathan confronted him and David repented that he returned to the battlefield as Joab attacked and defeated Rabbah.

Photo © Unsplash/Clark Young

Photo © Unsplash/Clark Young

David had made grievous errors in judgment as king. He had committed adultery and murder, totally straying from the mission God had laid out to him in his role as the shepherd of Israel. He had betrayed Israel’s trust and God’s trust. He had failed. Even after repenting and turning from his sin, should David still have been allowed to be king? Had his sins been too great for redemption?

Apparently not. In a beautiful twist, the very next verse says that the precious-stone-laden crown from the king of Rabbah was taken and put on David’s head. To me, it was as if God was once again anointing David as king. Even though you have screwed up, my child, I can use what was meant for evil and bring good from it. God wanted David to know that He hadn’t abandoned him as king.

When God encounters us in our sin, He reclaims us. He confronts us, relentlessly pursuing us, trying to persuade us to turn around and come back to Him. If we are willing to turn back to Him, He redeems us. No matter where we have been or what we have done, God is able to take all of our mistakes and turn them into something beautiful—even better than we can imagine.

Photo © Unsplash/Dietmar Becker

Photo © Unsplash/Dietmar Becker

And finally, He restores us. If you remember the story of the prodigal son, the father didn’t just accept his son back home. He immediately threw a robe around his shoulders and put the family ring on his hand (or, in other words, gave him the family checkbook). He restored him to his previous position. And that’s what God does with us. Though we have fallen so far, He doesn’t treat us like that. He makes it clear that He doesn’t even see us like that. Just as He wanted David to know that He still thought of him as king, He wants us to know that we are no less precious in His sight because of what we have done. He is just anxious to reclaim us, redeem us, and restore us.

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.

 

God doesn't easily give up.

God doesn't easily give up.

1 Kings 20

Ahab has to be the most wicked king in Israel’s history. So that’s why I found it interesting that, in this chapter, God is still trying to get through to him. I mean, if I didn’t know that God was a total genius, there could be times when I might think that He was a little thick. But I just don’t think He can help Himself. When He sees an opening, He takes it.

Blood and Water {ex7:20}

exodus-struggle-blood-and-water-poem.png

I love this river
I have stood on its banks
frolicked in its swell
almost been swept away by its current

But
I won't soon forget
the moment I met You
and I realized
that the mouthful of
—what I thought was—
clear, cold, refreshing water
was nothing more than
coppery, hot, metallic blood

I'd like to say
that since that moment
I've never cupped my hands again
to draw this putrid liquid
up to my mouth
but You know
that personal Niles are hard to abandon

I've been kneeling
at this river
my whole life
and You know just how
deep a canyon
it has carved in my heart

Still You couldn't bear
to leave me here
fervid and thirsty
never having tasted
Water from the Fountain
that will never
run dry

 

God makes friends out of enemies.

God makes friends out of enemies.

1 Kings 5

It must have been quite a privilege to work on building the temple of God. Many tens of thousands of Israelites were involved in the process, as well as some foreigners. This was the little tidbit that caught my eye: "So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we [Israelites] have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians." (vs 6)

God wants us to have it all.

God wants us to have it all.

1 Kings 3

Wow! This chapter started out with God coming to Solomon like a genie in a bottle: "At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, 'Ask for whatever you want me to give you.'" (vs 5) I had to wonder what I would say if God ever approached me like that. If you believed you were talking to someone who could give you anything, what would you really want?

God is always trying to get through to us.

God is always trying to get through to us.

1 SAMUEL 22

It is really disheartening to see just how sick and twisted Saul became. How irrational. How unreasonable. And since Ahimelek, the high priest, had helped David (even unwittingly), "the king said, 'You will surely die, Ahimelek, you and your whole family.'" (vs 16) Wow. This is a far cry from the king who refused to hurt those who spoke against him. This a complete 180—the willingness to destroy not only an innocent man, but his entire family as well.

Jailbreak {gn41:38-39}

Photo © Unsplash/Carles Rabada

Photo © Unsplash/Carles Rabada

The heathen king of Egypt
was entertained
in the night
by dreams from a divine intruder.

Shocking!

Doesn't God know
you need pastors
and theologians
and a Committee on Missional Vision
to reach the heathen?

We may have God locked up 
in the prison of our ideas
about the most proper way/s
to share the gospel,
but He won’t stay there very long.

For where may we go
to flee from His Spirit?

Not even our dreams.

 

Perchance to Dream {gn40}

Photo © Unsplash/Johannes Plenio

Photo © Unsplash/Johannes Plenio

If Potiphar
had believed his wife
Joseph would have been put
in the ground

not in the prison
    /which was Potiphar's prison/
    /probably below his house/

which he was then put in charge of
    /because Potiphar wasn't going to let/
    /a false rape allegation/
    /deprive him of his best help/

Potiphar knew Joseph was innocent
but was content to let him languish
    /God knew Potiphar was spineless/
    /but wasn't content to let him starve/

Sometimes
the concessions of weak men
may be all the justice
we can procure
but the God of our fathers
keeps sending dreams

 

God plays offense.

God plays offense.

DEUTERONOMY 4

I totally loved this part: "Ask now about the former days, long before your time, from the day God created human beings on the earth; ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything so great as this ever happened, or has anything like it ever been heard of? Has any other people heard the voice of God speaking out of fire, as you have, and lived? Has any god ever tried to take for himself one nation out of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, by a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, or by great and awesome deeds, like all the things the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? You were shown these things so that you might know that the Lord is God; besides him there is no other." (vs 32-35)

God is not an elitist.

God is not an elitist.

NUMBERS 24

Sometimes, I get these tiny glimpses of God and see, once again, just how far removed He is from our human nature. I find Him acting in ways that are totally contrary to how I would act, and I’m in awe all over again! There was another such wonderful glimpse for me in this chapter. Balaam is still blessing Israel. By the time this chapter is over, he will have handed out seven blessings — ah, such a Biblical number!

God knows what He's doing.

God knows what He's doing.

GENESIS 41

Well, it was only a matter of time before this was the blog title! It’s difficult to read Genesis 41 and not just see God in charge all over the place! He’s sending dreams to Pharaoh. He’s got His ready-made interpreter (Joseph) in place. He’s gearing up to save the whole world from a terrible famine, and He knows just how to do it.

God is a stalker.

God is a stalker.

GENESIS 9

I know, I know. Stalker has such a negative connotation these days, but if you read the book of Genesis, you might see it in a different light by the end! If you want to try something interesting, read it for yourself, as much as you can in one sitting. There's one thing that keeps happening over and over—God, running around, making covenants with people. By the time you get to the end, God sort of looks like a stalker, but a good stalker—one who's just interested in blessing people.