rebellion

God is speaking.

God is speaking.

2 Chronicles 34

Once again, a king in Judah (Josiah, this time) was trying to reform the spiritual state of the nation. After years of idol worship and evil-doing kings (with little respite in between), here was a king who was determined to seek God and do things His way. And in the process of restoring the temple, the chief priest found the Book of the Law. Apparently, it had been lost—either accidentally or intentionally. Either way, when Josiah heard what was in the Book of the Law, he was quite distraught. He tore his robes and wept.

God humbles us.

God humbles us.

2 Chronicles 33

It’s kind of hard to believe that—after seeing such a wonderful example of a king in his father, Hezekiah—Manasseh could be so wicked. He virtually reversed every good thing his father had done during his reign. However, maybe that’s what happens when a twelve-year-old becomes a king! Can you imagine putting a teenager in charge of a country? Mercy!

God's gifts can be squandered.

2 Chronicles 10

Today’s chapter reminded me somewhat of the story of the Prodigal Son—you know, the foolish boy who squandered the riches of his father’s estate. And since we looked yesterday at what an outrageous giver God is, I thought it might be prudent to add a P.S. today—that all of God’s gifts come with freedom. That means, if we are foolish enough, we can squander them all. What God gives, He doesn’t force us to keep or use wisely. We are free to do with His gifts what we want.

When Rehoboam succeeded his father as king, it didn’t take long to discover that he had inherited none of Solomon’s wisdom. In fact, one commentator (Dilday) observed that "with a dozen rash words, Rehoboam, the bungling dictator, opened the door for four hundred years of strife, weakness, and, eventually, the destruction of the entire nation." It didn’t take very much to totally destroy everything his father had built in Israel. His reign ushered in a phase of rebellion that split the nation, a rebellion from which it never recovered.

Photo © Unsplash/Paco S

Photo © Unsplash/Paco S

With all his wisdom and insight, it seems that Solomon foresaw this possibility, although it’s unknown whether he had his own son in mind when he wrote these words: "I hated all the things I had toiled for under the sun, because I must leave them to the one who comes after me. And who knows whether that person will be wise or foolish? Yet they will have control over all the fruit of my toil into which I have poured my effort and skill under the sun." (Eccl 2:18-19) It seems Solomon accurately foretold the fate of Israel.

Rehoboam took everything his father had built and wasted it. He took all of the gifts God had blessed his family with and squandered them. And, although it may be hard for us to believe, God allowed him to do it, and He also allows us to do it. He does not cease to be generous, even if He knows we will squander what He has given us. He gives because He is a giver, not because He will force us to use those gifts in a way that is pleasing to Him. He doesn’t determine outcomes. He doesn’t dictate our behavior. He only determines His behavior.

Photo © Unsplash/freestocks.org

Photo © Unsplash/freestocks.org

God gives us the freedom to take what He’s given us and abuse it, if we wish. We can destroy His gifts, if we wish. There’s part of me that still doesn’t understand that, just as I don’t understand why the father of the Prodigal Son would finance his journey into the far country. The only thing I can say is that God loves to give, and He loves to give with no strings attached. Accepting His gifts doesn’t turn us into puppets. We are free, as Rehoboam was, to squander it all... if we’re that foolish.

God doesn't brainwash us.

God doesn't brainwash us.

1 Chronicles 6

And now to the genealogy of the Levites—by far, the most respected tribe in all of Israel. The high calling God had placed on the descendants of Levi and the immense privileges they were given in serving in the presence of God at the temple cemented their position as the most distinguished tribe in Israel.

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

 

Good Question {ex5:2}

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Sjo

Photo © Unsplash/Peter Sjo

Ah,
the ineludible question
of every person
wise or foolish

(for the Lord does not refrain
from entering uninvited
the lives of idolaters
to introduce
Himself).

Asking the question
indicates neither
wisdom
nor
folly.

But how one responds
to the answer
reveals
a fool
or
a genius.

Once we know
the sun
the River
the frogs
et al
are frauds,
will we
relent
or
will we
refuse?

Who is the Lord that i should listen to him?
said pharaoh, the little transient ruler of egypt.

I'm so glad you asked
replied Almighty God, Creator of Heaven and Earth.

 

God isn't defensive.

God isn't defensive.

2 SAMUEL 10

I love it when the Bible surprises me. I know I’ve read this chapter before, but I read it again today as if for the first time. It seems like David was on a roll, looking for ways to show God’s kindness to those who would be considered enemies. That’s why he sent an Israeli delegation to Hanun, king of the Ammonites, to express his sympathy upon the death of his father.

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.

God can't always cure blindness.

God can't always cure blindness.

1 SAMUEL 19

As I read this chapter, I couldn’t help but think about how absolutely blind Saul was—especially as we got down to the very end. David had fled to Ramah (where Samuel was), and Saul sent a group of men to capture him and bring him back for execution. But, the first group of men got to Ramah and got sidetracked by God’s Spirit. So Saul sent a second group of men to capture David, and they also got detoured by the Spirit. Saul sent a third group of men to get David, and they too were held up by the Spirit.

God is the author of reason.

God is the author of reason.

1 SAMUEL 14

It’s a little disheartening to see what happened to Saul the further he traveled from the Lord’s plans. He began his kingship as a virtuous man, one who wouldn’t make a decree to destroy those who had spoken against him. But, not too far down the road, he bound his army under an oath, saying, "Cursed be anyone who eats food before evening comes, before I have avenged myself on my enemies!" (vs 24) He had obviously had a change of heart regarding revenge.

God embodies goodness.

God embodies goodness.

JUDGES 19

I was amused when I heard about a Christmas ad campaign that ran in Washington D.C. a few years ago. It featured signs on buses that said: "Why believe in a god? Just be good for goodness’ sake." I thought that was so odd, because what people don’t understand is that without God, there is no goodness. Without Him, we have absolutely no idea what goodness is. And my own personal belief is that people who practice goodness are manifesting the Spirit’s work in their lives—whether they believe in God or not. Outside of Him, there is no concept of goodness. He is the one who brought the idea of goodness to this world.

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.

On Acceptance {gn38}

genesis-acceptance-on-acceptance-poem.png

Perhaps Jesus said the Kingdom was for children
because children accept their lot in life.
Often, they don't know any different
and even if they did,
what can they do about it?

Children accept
and try to find ways of being content.

Adults, on the other hand,
have learned    better?
and have trouble accepting
what they don't want or can't understand.

Er wouldn't accept a mantle of morality.

Onan wouldn't accept a surrogate's role.

Judah wouldn't accept the position of widower.

Shelah wouldn't accept his brothers' leftovers.

Tamar wouldn't accept childless singlehood.

It's no wonder, then, that
centuries later,
Mary is called "favored of God"
and chosen as the one
to bear the burden of raising the Savior.
For how many people—
even in the very pages of sacred Scripture—
ever responded
to what they didn't want or couldn't understand
by saying
Let it be to me according to your will?

We so idolize those who
won't acquiesce
refuse to bow down
fight back
stick it to the man
get angry

that we are blind
to the holiness that comes with
accepting the lot we wouldn't choose—
if only it were up to us.

 

God chooses the best of the worst.

God chooses the best of the worst.

JOSHUA 11

Choosing the best of the worst. Almost sounds like going to the polls sometimes. However, when it comes to choosing the best of the worst, God wasn’t voting; He was simply trying to maintain contact with the human race. Sometimes, I’m not even sure how He accomplished that. As I continue to read through the Old Testament, I’m awestruck at the large numbers of people who just don’t get it.

God loves His rebellious children.

God loves His rebellious children.

DEUTERONOMY 31

I would like to marry two concepts I find in this chapter. First, that God’s love is active. It is a verb, not a noun. And second, that God loves us even while knowing exactly who and what we are. His intimate knowledge of our wickedness does not change His love for us. In fact, if anything, I think it fires Him up to love us (that is, to fiercely act for our best good) even more.