Posts Tagged ‘justice’

Genesis 38:

1 At that time, Judah left his brothers and went down to stay with a man of Adullam named Hirah.

 6 Judah got a wife for Er, his firstborn, and her name was Tamar. 7 But Er, Judah’s firstborn, was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death.

 8 Then Judah said to Onan, “Sleep with your brother’s wife and fulfill your duty to her as a brother-in-law to raise up offspring for your brother.” 9 But Onan knew that the child would not be his; so whenever he slept with his brother’s wife, he spilled his semen on the ground to keep from providing offspring for his brother. 10 What he did was wicked in the LORD’s sight; so the LORD put him to death also.

 11 Judah then said to his daughter-in-law Tamar, “Live as a widow in your father’s household until my son Shelah grows up.” For he thought, “He may die too, just like his brothers.” So Tamar went to live in her father’s household.

14 she took off her widow’s clothes, covered herself with a veil to disguise herself, and then sat down at the entrance to Enaim, which is on the road to Timnah. For she saw that, though Shelah had now grown up, she had not been given to him as his wife.

23 Then Judah said, “Let her keep what she has, or we will become a laughingstock. After all, I did send her this young goat, but you didn’t find her.”

 24 About three months later Judah was told, “Your daughter-in-law Tamar is guilty of prostitution, and as a result she is now pregnant.”

   Judah said, “Bring her out and have her burned to death!”

 25 As she was being brought out, she sent a message to her father-in-law. “I am pregnant by the man who owns these,” she said. And she added, “See if you recognize whose seal and cord and staff these are.”

 26 Judah recognized them and said, “She is more righteous than I, since I wouldn’t give her to my son Shelah.” And he did not sleep with her again.

 

According to Hoyle.  Heard that?  I didn’t become familiar with the phrase until I was probably 22 years old.  Here’s another one: SOP.  Learned that one right around the same time; Standard Operating Procedures.  BAU?  Just picked that little gem up in the last year or two, courtesy of my savvy, business pro-wife.  Business As Usual.

Yeah, this story?  Not at all according to Hoyle.  Total disregard for SOPs.  Long, long way from BAU.

This is the first generation of the line of descent that would become the lineage of Jesus Christ.  The first.  Not off to an awesome start.  At least by human standards.

In case you got lost, Judah left his brothers after the ordeal with Joseph being sold off into slavery.

He broke rule #1 by marrying into the Canaanite community.  God had impressed it upon Abram that Isaac should not marry a Canaanite.  He impressed it upon Isaac that Jacob should not marry a Canaanite woman.  And now, here’s Judah.  What does he do?  Marries a Canaanite woman.  Oh well.  All’s fair in love and war, right?  The narrator seems to move on easily enough from the fact.

He has three sons.  Son 1, Son 2, and then what seems to be a distant Son 3.  Son 1 get’s married, but then dies unexpectedly, reportedly for being “wicked in the sight of the Lord.”  Hard to speculate about what happened there.

The cultural norm of the day dictates that Son 2 then takes on the “duty” of husband, caring for the widow.  In that society that means making sure she has children that can take care of her as she gets older.  And if that widow doesn’t happen to have children, well, that means he’s supposed to get her pregnant.

But he takes… measures, shall we say, to take advantage of the “right” to sleep with her, but not to get her pregnant.  Not according to Hoyle.  Breaks from SOPs, and definitely not BAU.  Son 2 is being very naughty.

Suddenly, he’s dead.  Out of the picture.  Seems like not reading the manual gets a body in REAL trouble around these parts.

SO, that brings us to Son 3.  Now he’s obligated to step in and cover for Son 1.  As it were.  But Judah, aka mean, old Dad, steps in and says- he’s not ready now.  Go back home, live with YOUR dad for awhile.

In other words, I’m not going to take care of you anymore.

Tsk, tsk, tsk, Judah!  Maybe you didn’t get the memo, but God wants you to care for the widow, especially in your own family!

So time passes, and for whatever reason, Judah has not sent for Tamar to come and be given as Son 3’s wife.  Maybe he’s got other plans for Son 3- plans that are more suited to prosperity and taking care of an old man than charity and an extra mouth to feed.

So Tamar goes insurance shopping.  And she gets a deal that would make the Geico gecko blush.

She disguises herself as a prostitute, and Judah, newly widowed himself, gets an itch.  But he forgot his Mastercard.  So he gives her the keys to his Bently (with custom plates: “JezsGrmpa”) as collateral.

But she gets pregnant.  Finally, she’s pregnant.  Somebody to watch over me, she says.    Problem is, she’s not married.  So she’s in trouble with the morality police.  And they come and tell Judah, and he grabs his badge and heads down to the station. (uh, hey, can you give me a lift?  Can’t find my keys…)

As they’re preparing to read Tamar her rights, she shows Judah the key ring.  And he swallows his altoid.  “Call it off!”

As the Bad Boys theme song plays in the distance, Judah admits to his indescretion, gets his Bently back, and gets back to livin the clean life.

Can you be comforted in knowing that the family line of the perfect Son of God has so much soap opera melodrama in it?  It actually makes Jesus more perfect in my mind.  Scripture says he was as we are, in every way.  His family was jacked up.  Starting from the very first generation.  He can understand a bad reputation.  He understands single moms.  He understands dead-beat dads.

He also understands when things just never lay out the way they are supposed to.  When things don’t go according to Hoyle.  When SOPs are a distant fantasy, and life is anything but business as usual.  And His plan is able to accommodate those things.

My life is definitely different than I ever expected it to be.  I’m forever grateful for that, too.  It’s a little saccharine to hear, but sometimes, life going off-schedule, off-message, just plain off-the-rails, sometimes is better than the alternative.  Sometimes.

I still have my fantasies.  But I think I’m holding on with a looser grip than I used to.  I’ve had too many surprises to think that I can go through life without any more.  And as I said yesterday, sometimes bad stuff happens.  Really bad stuff can happen.  Cars crash, planes crash, organs stop working.  Babies are born with unforeseen challenges.  Jobs get lost.  People get sick.  Relationships break down.  These things are not dispensed by God as punishment for being naughty, being wrong, being… something.  But He will make good to come from them.  Because again, God is a maker, and He’s a GOOD maker.  He makes things, and says, “that’s pretty good!”

Even, maybe, if you’re the one doing the naughty stuff?  I mean, it’s one thing to be the recipient of suck.  But what if you’re handing the suck out like candy to everyone going by you on the sidewalk?  Answer, yes.  Judah acknowledges his failure, instead of compounding it by hiding it.  Judah repents- it says he stopped sleeping with Tamar.  There was a life-change.

Maybe that life change wasn’t the cause of God’s blessing.  Maybe it was God’s blessing.  Maybe changing your life is the most tangible blessing God can give you.  He has a way for us to live.  He has a way that we’re designed to live.  Judah was ignoring it, to an extent, ignoring the need to care for the poor and disenfranchised within his family, within his community.  God took to the matter himself though.  And in doing so, lives got whacked back into the right way.  God got the situation back on track, according to Hoyle.  Judah read the manual.  Finally.  Standard Operating Procedures being observed.   Business as usual.  Life.  Good.

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Genesis 26

1 Now there was a famine in the land—besides the previous famine in Abraham’s time—and Isaac went to Abimelek king of the Philistines in Gerar. 2 The LORD appeared to Isaac and said, “Do not go down to Egypt; live in the land where I tell you to live. 3 Stay in this land for a while, and I will be with you and will bless you. For to you and your descendants I will give all these lands and will confirm the oath I swore to your father Abraham. 4 I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and will give them all these lands, and through your offspring[a] all nations on earth will be blessed,[b] 5 because Abraham obeyed me and did everything I required of him, keeping my commands, my decrees and my instructions.” 6 So Isaac stayed in Gerar.

7… he said, “She is my sister,” because he was afraid to say, “She is my wife.” He thought, “The men of this place might kill me on account of Rebekah, because she is beautiful.”

10 Then Abimelek said, “What is this you have done to us? One of the men might well have slept with your wife, and you would have brought guilt upon us.”

12 Isaac planted crops in that land and the same year reaped a hundredfold, because the LORD blessed him.

27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you were hostile to me and sent me away?”
28 They answered, “We saw clearly that the LORD was with you; so we said, ‘There ought to be a sworn agreement between us’—between us and you. Let us make a treaty with you 29 that you will do us no harm, just as we did not harm you but always treated you well and sent you away peacefully. And now you are blessed by the LORD.”
 30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank.

My habit has been to observe and study more the lives of the people in Scripture.  Probably nothing really weird about that; I’m a person, and they’re people.  Plenty to relate to.  But I have been convicted that I need to gain more in the way of knowing who God is.  That the bible, for as much as it reveals about who we are, is far more valuable for what it reveals about who God is.  And I’ll be frank- I have been surprised at how pleasing and satisfying it has been for me to really examine and discover how remarkable God’s character is!  It shouldn’t- people have told me.  But now I’m seeing for myself how stunning and kind He is.

Three traits in particular have really stood out to me: He is indeed Holy; He demands justice. He demands payment for sin, and cannot abide with it.  But a flipside of that same demand for justice is that He is himself totally just.  So if He makes a promise, He is absolutely trustworthy to keep that promise.  He is determined to see it done.

He is a LIFE lover; though our communion, our LIFE, together, has been broken and disrupted, His affection for our LIFE together drives Him to repair and restore that communion.  Not enough to overthrow His need for justice and truthfulness.  But it is enough that he chooses MERCY.  He chooses to pay for the penalty at his own great cost, and then gives us the benefit of that payment.

That mercy is manifested in the third major cord.  His love for LIFE and COMMUNION is played out time and time again in the face of corruptible human partners who refuse, blunder, and disobey Him directly and constantly.  But He always subverts our subversion by being a servant-type.  Steadily, Holy God reveals his compulsion to show mercy and love LIFE by serving rather than demanding.  By paying rather than charging.

And that story repeats itself in every single generation.

In Genesis 26, Isaac, son of Abraham is at a cross roads.  There is great famine in the promised land.  The land God promised Abraham is dried and cracked.  People are leaving, looking for relief.  Isaac wanders into the land of the Philistines, perhaps on his way to Egypt when God says to him, “Do not go into Egypt; but stay where I instruct you.  Stay awhile and I will be with you and will bless you.”

Why?  Because he promised Abraham that in this place, the family tree of Abraham would become a family forest-wilderness of trees.  God’s promises are good.  No statute of limitations on that.  No expiration date.  Totally transferable.  Beyond-lifetime guarantee.

But Isaac becomes afraid.  He becomes worried.  He is insecure.  He has the same fears his father did before him, that the beauty of his wife would bring his own life into jeopardy.  So he plays the same card that his father did, and lies.  “She is my sister,” he would say.

But he gets caught.  Just like his dad.  Some lessons don’t come easy, I guess.

Isaac lied for the same reason Abraham did- he did not think God’s power was present where he was.  He probably believed in a geographical-God- a God who was strong at home, but not beyond the walls and doors of that home.  We do that too!  I do that too!  I have all the faith in the world when I’m with my small group, at my church, at that convention.  But where does that faith go when I am driving on the interstate, or shopping at a store in a seedy looking neighborhood?  Where is that faith when I am walking the sidewalks downtown?  Am I confident in God then?  Or do I adjust the rake of my hat a little, to look a little tougher?  Do I make criticisms that aren’t really merciful, so that I can appear witty or sophisticated?  Do I maybe make decisions because I know there are eyes watching me?  Eyes other than God’s?

But what happens?  Does God rebuke Isaac for falling into the same trap his father did?  For his faithlessness?

It says that Isaac planted crops, and reaped 100 times what he planted.  Why?  Because God blessed him.

Why?  Well, I think it’s safe to say that God doesn’t always bless a person because they merited it by good behavior.  Well, that leaves one other possibility: God blessed Isaac because it suited God’s ambitions to do so.  More succinctly, it pleased God to bless Isaac.  Or another way: God was pleased to bless Isaac for God’s own purposes and pleasure.

Later on we begin to see a reason for this: people once hostile to Isaac come to him and say “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you;”

Who is glorified by that?  Isaac?  He certainly gains from it, but I have to say that No, God is glorified by that.

God is glorified when people see Him blessing us.  God gives to us because then other people can see the riches of God in our life.  Apart from our merit, apart from our good decisions or bad decisions.  God blessed Isaac and people saw it.  They didn’t say, “that Isaac guy is a heck of a farmer,” or “that Isaac, boy, he really knows what he’s doing, doesn’t he?”  Nope, they said, “We saw clearly that the Lord was with you;”

Do what you can to hear and obey.  But thank God for His mercy!  And allow His blessing on your life to be visible to others!  Make every good thing that you have be a gift rather than something earned.

The struggle for me is to accept it.  I want to earn it.  I want to deserve God’s favor.  And I think that’s a good thing.  I think that desire is placed in my heart by God, by His mercy, to drive me to live in the Kingdom of Heaven, in the fullness of the LIFE He made it to be.  The trouble comes though when in my desire to earn his favor, I lose sight of his grace.  You don’t want to do that.  You don’t want to turn God away and say, “no, no.”

The grace that causes that desire to deserve God’s favor is good- it impels me to pull God’s kingdom into my present.  That’s a gift to me because God’s kingdom is what I’m designed for.  And you too.  But when I have to earn it, I lose it.  I can’t earn it.  I must accept it.  And that’s alright with Him.  That’s the only way it works.  Isaac didn’t reap 100 times what he sowed because he knew something the others didn’t.  It was because God desired to be seen through Him.  I’d like to try that.  I’d like to be a prism for God’s light to shine through.  For the beam to refract, and spread, and shine.

 

Genesis 19:

 

—4 Before they had gone to bed, all the men from every part of the city of Sodom—both young and old—surrounded the house. 5 They called to Lot, “Where are the men who came to you tonight? Bring them out to us so that we can have sex with them.”

— 10 But the men inside reached out and pulled Lot back into the house and shut the door. 11 Then they struck the men who were at the door of the house, young and old, with blindness so that they could not find the door.

— 12 The two men said to Lot, “Do you have anyone else here—sons-in-law, sons or daughters, or anyone else in the city who belongs to you? Get them out of here, 13 because we are going to destroy this place. The outcry to the LORD against its people is so great that he has sent us to destroy it.”

— 15 With the coming of dawn, the angels urged Lot, saying, “Hurry!

— 16 When he hesitated, the men grasped his hand and the hands of his wife and of his two daughters and led them safely out of the city, for the LORD was merciful to them. 17 As soon as they had brought them out, one of them said, “Flee for your lives! Don’t look back, and don’t stop anywhere in the plain! Flee to the mountains or you will be swept away!”

—
 21 He said to him, “Very well, I will grant this request too; I will not overthrow the town you speak of.

— 32 Let’s get our father to drink wine and then sleep with him and preserve our family line through our father.”

 

Holy cow. Who says the bible’s boring? Just to summarize, God, in the form of three men, visit’s Abraham and Sarah to tell them two things: after all this time (26 years) it’s finally time, and they are going to have their promised baby, and 2) great oppression of God’s LIFE has been happening in a neighboring metropolis and God is going to verify and eradicate. But Abraham is able to boldly approach and question God (in the form of these three “men”), and God promises to show mercy to the entire city if he finds 10 righteous people there.

So we begin today’s section of Genesis with two angels traveling to Sodom and meeting Lot, Abraham’s nephew. Lot invites, then insists, then cajoles these “travelers” to come and stay in his home, underneath his protection and custody. After supper we begin to see why- a crowd of men, young men and old men, in fact, the scripture says that “all the men” of the city mobbed around Lot’s house, commanding Lot to expel the travelers into the street so that the mob could “have it’s way” (read; gang-rape) them. Lot refuses. In fact, he even offers his virgin daughters to the mob (which is a little off-putting, don’t you think?). But to no avail. The mob will be satiated.

God now steps in, throwing a flash-bang into the mob and pulling Lot back into the house. It’s decision time.

“If you have anything you care about in this town, it’s time to pack it, tell it, drag it or tie it up and posse-outta here. It’s goin down.”

These travelers have seen what they came to see. They came, without presumption, and the spirit of the town, one of rebellion and debauchery has declared itself the sheriff. And so the outcry that had reached God’s ears will be definitively answered.

Boom.

Lot runs out into the middle of the night, searching for anything, anyone that would be valuable to him or his family. When he approaches the men who are betrothed to his two daughters in the middle of the night frantically telling them that they need to come, come now, they laugh him off.

So now it’s Lot, Lot’s wife, and their two daughters. That’s only 4. The deal was for 10. Let’s go. Now.

But the scripture says they hesitated. In fact it says it’s now dawn. Which means the angels had been waiting all night for Lot to wrap up business. So the angels then grabbed their hands and literally hurried them out of the city. But as they’re leaving Lot whimpers a bit about where the travelers have instructed them to go. The travelers concede to Lot, promising not to harm the place where he has chosen to go.

So the travelers warn them: “Flee! Do not look back! and don’t stop anywhere on the plain!” As they run, Lot’s wife’s fortune is sealed as she looks back, and is then turned to a pillar of salt. Lot and his daughters continue on.

Time passes. Lot now has gone to the place he’d feared. His daughters, seeing no hope to carry on the family (in the absence of other men) seduce their own father, one at a time, getting him drunk enough that they each can have sex with him.

This is the Bible. These are the people God has saved.

Gnarly.

A few observations. First. Wow. We have angels mixing with men. We have gang-rape. We have a frantic scramble to warn people. But they laugh it off. There’s drama and urgency. There’s tragedy on the plain. There’s sorrow, heavy drinking, and then a shadowy and incestuous seduction. Desperate Housewives? Boring. Bible? Cuh-raaaaaaaaazy!  And we have God, coming to see.

Maybe there’s a spot in your life that you wish someone could see. That someone would just recognize and rescue you from. God longs for justice. When we long for justice that is God’s image in us. Sin in the world does not obliterate our likeness! It infects it. It acts as a corroding impurity in something that is absolutely beautiful. When you long for justice- when you feel mercy or compassion, that is God’s image shining through you!

Sometimes it seems like justice is a long time coming. I wonder if maybe in those times when it seems like it will never come, if maybe God is showing somebody else mercy to get their poop together? You know? God is standing there, fist of justice ready to come in and save you from your awful thing- but somebody who shouldn’t be under that fist just needs to get out of the way. or somebody who’s important to somebody shouldn’t be under that fist- maybe that time, that waiting, is God literally saving somebody else, showing somebody else that same mercy.

Here’s another thought- the angels tell Lot that the “outcry to the Lord against [Sodom’s] people” is so great that He must answer. The outcry to the Lord- from whom? Maybe it’s not a “whom” but a “what?” Justice is for more than people. Justice is for God. A wrong committed against another person is a wrong committed against God. A wrong committed against the earth is a wrong committed against the Creator.

It’s my son, thumbing his nose at me, as he punches his brother. It’s me, snapping at my wife for something that I’m upset about. It’s the guy on the road giving me the bird because I made a bad decision, carelessly. Maybe it’s me making a decision carelessly, and driving too close to the dividing lines between the lanes. My point is this: we don’t harm each other when we harm each other, we show malice to the Creator. Likewise, when we show kindness, when we give someone a cup of water, we show love to our Father.

Don’t wait. God is patient. He has had the injustice and corruption of Sodom and Gomorrah on his to-do list for a long time. But Abraham held him back- said, wait, wait. Mercy? If you find 10 people? Show mercy? And God relented. He went to find his 10, and when he couldn’t find them, put his finger on the button. But first- Lot, do you have anything you need. before I root out the corruption here? So more waiting. When Lot comes back empty handed the travelers say, “Okay, let’s get it goin!” and Lot. Hesitates. Seriously?! So the travelers take his hands and hurry them out. God is patient. But not with injustice. And not forever. When God says boogie, it’s time.

Finally (and only because this post is twice as long as usual), Lot’s daughters? Woah. Settle down girls. There are more fish in the sea. But again we see the sort of people that God mixes up with. We see that God can work with weird folks. We see that God can make amazing things happen with truly “amazing” people.

It says that one of the daughters becomes the mother of Moab. Do you know what that means? Moab is the father of the people from whom Ruth, the storied daughter of Naomi and to-be wife of Boaz. Who was the father of Obed, who was the father of Jesse, father of David, King of Israel, lineage of Jesus, born from the Spirit of God and the child-woman, Mary.

Jesus’ great-great-great-great was born in scandal. Conceived incestuously in a cave.

Such are the people God runs with. And people think Christians are goody’s. So, so messed up. We should not be so quick to disassociate from the train-wreck of our lives. This is the fabric. God doesn’t run from the fight. He goes into it. And when he gets in it, it can get a little messy, a little sideways. But when he’s done, He’s in the center, and all will be right. Till then, know His mercy for us. Hurry towards him without looking back. Flee what is unjust, because it is a snub at God. And don’t be afraid to get a little messy on your way. Ask around, tell people what you’ve seen and where you’re headed. And if they laugh you off, don’t spend too much time arguing.

 

 

 

Genesis 18

20 Then the LORD said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great and their sin so grievous 21 that I will go down and see if what they have done is as bad as the outcry that has reached me. If not, I will know.”

22 The men turned away and went toward Sodom, but Abraham remained standing before the LORD.[d] 23 Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[e] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it?

He answered, “For the sake of ten, I will not destroy it.”

 

If Tyre and Sidon were still here today… Had Sodom and Gomorrah heard this today…

Las Vegas.  Atlantic City.  Bangkok.  Amsterdam.  Rio De Janeiro.  Hollywood, LA.  All cities where people have gone looking for fulfillment.  Places where the depravity and dreamscape of man is allowed to ferment and root, and then to grow.  Places where the very best and the very worst of the human spirit and character are allowed to flourish.  Truthfully, anyplace people live together you’ll find small Hollywoods, two lane, one light  Sunset Strips, and quieter boardwalks, more diminutive red-light districts…  It’s not an exclusive property of the “big cities.”  It’s exclusive property of the entirety of the human race.  We all have these places in our hearts.

In places like this, the weeds and the wheat grow together.  In our hearts, the weeds and the wheat grow together too.  Why does God permit the weeds to survive?

Jesus is recorded as telling a story about this- he tells of a farmer who’s enemy goes and sows weeds among his fields.  When the seeds begin to grow the farmer’s workers come back and tell him that weeds are growing amongst the wheat, and choking it.  They volunteer to go through and pull the weeds from the field but the farmer says “no, no, NO!”  I can imagine the stillness that followed that as the workers all stopped to stare.  “You will pull the wheat up with the weeds and harm the wheat crop!  Wait until the harvest.”

In this chapter the famous wrath of God is the apparent main character.  God picks up a reputation for hellfire and destruction, for unconcerned judgement and gleeful destruction.  The legacy of Sodom and Gomorrah have been fueled the rejection of God.  But that notion is a weed amongst the wheat.

God does not relish the muting of his creation’s flourishing.  He does not gleefully or arbitrarily rain fury on a people.  And please- this is not about homosexuality.  In the name of all that is holy- do not confuse God’s judgement on Sodom and Gomorrah as a special dispensation of holy fury on homosexuality or homosexuals.

<Missing. the. point.>

There has been an “outcry”  against Sodom and Gomorrah.  Justice has been broken.  God’s cherished LIFE has been, or is being, trampled.  There has been a crying out by an oppressed or crushed population, and God hears that kind of crying.  He is not a knee-jerk God though.  He says “I must go down and see if it is as bad as I hear.”  He will go advocating for no one.  It’s practically going to act as the defendant’s lawyer!

He will go and make sure for himself this oppressor is not be unjustly accused!

I don’t think I ever really read that before this morning.  There is an outcry.  Somebody is saying “God CAN’T YOU HEAR US?!”  “We are being choked to DEATH by this city!”

And God says, “If that is true, I will fix it.  But I must give your oppressor their mercy too.  I must see and weigh it for myself.”  This is a second chance special if ever there was one.  This is a God who is fairness defined.  He is a passionately dispassionate judge.  We can ALWAYS count on God’s holiness.  Never bribed, never swayed, always and only truly objective.  Justice is a sure result of God’s judgement.

God, in a moment of introspection revealed, desires intimacy and connection with us.  He reveals his desire to commune with Abraham, and He shares that desire with me.  And with you.  Really, the whole bible is evidence of that desire, and not just evidence, but His first step towards that communion.  He tells Abraham what He is about to do, and why.

In Sodom, in Gomorrah, the strength of the weeds has become overbearing.  The light of the sun is daily being choked out, the fertility of the soil is nightly being stolen and sucked up by the weeds.  The cloud of brokenness is thick and obfuscating.  The people of Sodom and of Gomorrah simply can’t LIVE within that cloud of human depravity.  There is no spirit of LIFE there.  But up to this point, God has spared the weeds for the sake of the wheat.  But now, it appears that the wheat is dead.  So he comes with the fire to burn the field, to burn the seeds, to begin again.

But Abraham, experiencing the boldness of community with God, asks him- God?  If you find 50 strands of wheat, will you spare the field?  For 50 measly strands of wheat?

Yes.  I would show mercy to the whole field of weeds to allow the 50 strands of wheat to grow and produce grain.

Well- what if you only find 45 stands?  Would you burn the field?  With 45 stands of wheat?

No.  I will not burn the field if I find 45 stands.

10 strands of wheat.  For 10 strands of weak, unhealthy wheat, God preserves an entire field of weeds.

In real life, wheat never turns a weed into wheat.  But what if the weed was actually a mold that damaged the wheat?  And what if the mold was cureable by exposure to healthy wheat?

Really, I think that’s more the picture of God’s kingdom: that God planted a field of beautiful, thick and strong wheat.  And then the enemy came and spread a disease, a mold that consumed the stalk and the grain.  All of it.  But by introducing the perfect, healthy strand, in Jesus, the health actually became invasive.  Reclaiming the molded grain, reclaiming the molded stalks.  And it spread, just as the mold did, from stalk to stalk, from head to head.

And for the sake of the few recovered stalks, the field of weeds is preserved.  For the healthy grains?  Maybe.  Maybe for the sake of the weeds right next to the healthy grains?  Or the ones next to those, or those, or those.

He who has ears to listen….

This is a God who repairs what is broken.  This is a God who tolerates what is disgusting because among all of that is His beauty.  This is a God who desires communion.  This is a 2nd chance God.

Names

Posted: August 29, 2011 in Uncategorized
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I’ve been thinking about names recently.  Now, don’t jump to conclusions, we’re not having a baby.

I’ve been thinking a lot about names because it seems to be that people who claim to follow Jesus as Lord seem pretty hung up on his name.  And for good cause.  I mean how many big time evils have been committed by people who claimed to speak for God?  For Jesus?  But absolutely did NOT represent who God and Jesus evidenced themselves to be?

So we want specifics.  Do you believe in God?  Which God?  What’s His name?  Can you point out evidence that you and I believe in the same God?  Maybe if you would tell me your political views?  Or perhaps if I could just peek at your bank statements, and see how you spend your money?  Or look at your web-browsers history folder?  How do I know you and me are talking about the same thing?

There’s a guy on the internet that I used to follow.  He is a very prolific writer, and the way he seems to universalize Buddhism and Christianity and Islam mystifies me.  It’s perplexing to me, because when I read his posts it seems like he talks about Jesus so much, but when he talks about things Jesus said or did as recorded in a particular passage of scripture he seems to lift it straight up out of the story and allegorize it to the point that it wouldn’t drop back into the same spot and make sense anymore with his translation.  So who is he talking about?  How can I tell if he’s talking about the Jesus I know?

It occurred to me the other day- I was reading over the story of Hagar.  When Sarah and Abraham couldn’t have any children, Sarah invited her husband to sleep with her servant, Hagar, and have a child by her.  But then when Hagar conceived and gave birth to a son, Sarah grew spiteful, and sent her away.

Hagar wandered in the desert 3 days, but when she could go no further, set the baby under a bush and walked a short distance off.  And God came to her.  Rescued her.  Sent her back.  Hagar named her newfound God “The God who Sees Me.”

Abraham plants a tamarisk tree to mark an agreement with his nephew Lot.  It serves as a memorial and a witness- a physical reminder of the divine witness that God plays- a crucial part of in any oath between men, and Abraham and Lot agree and part ways, witnessed by “Everlasting God.”

God is referred to by many, many names.  “God who provides,” “God who heals us”.

So who exactly are we talking about?  Hagar comes up to Abraham and says, “Hey- my God is the “God who sees Me.”  And Abraham says, “Oh yeah?!  Well MY God is “Everlasting God.”

You and I know they are the same.  But how do Hagar and Abraham get to that?

God’s Names are always attached to an action.  There is physical evidence of who God is.  That is how I’ll know.  Where the spirit of God is, there is Freedom.  The fruit of the Spirit of God is known by action.  If these things are present, Jesus is also there.  Maybe, Jesus is waiting for someone to recognize him and name him.

Can I bring Jesus somewhere?  Can I put him someplace he has never been?

I see now that I cannot.  Jesus is shown in scripture to be the Word that was with God, and is himself God, from before eternity.  He is the end of all things- all things are made by him, and for him, and indeed held together by him.  If there is someplace where he hasn’t been- well, it’s not a place.  It’s not there.  He holds all things.

So if I identify truth, or justice, mercy, sacrifice, if I find people who value and uphold justice, humility, and self-lessness, I see the Spirit of Jesus present and at work.  I need only identify him.  And identify with him.  I suppose that’s how they’ll who I am, and who I am talking about.