So yesterday a friend posted on Facebook a quote from Miroslav Volf about the book of Job, which said: “We either love God ‘for nothing,’ or we don’t love God at all.”
The Bible has many of examples of God appearing capricious, uncaring or downright murderous. Job is one of them; the genocide in Joshua another. I’ve noticed four usual reactions to this: Read more about God's ethical landmines
OK, so on Monday I’m about to preach a sermon for a bunch of doctors. The theme of their conference is “reconciliation”, and I’ve managed to add in a bunch of a fairly standard (for me) missio dei references as mission motivation. But now I’m having second thoughts about an element of it. Read more about Are we God's co-workers?
So I sent messengers to them saying, “I am engaged in an important work, and I am unable to come down. Why should the work come to a halt when I leave it to come down to you?”
In the first year of the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia, to fulfill the word of the LORD spoken through Jeremiah, the LORD stirred up the soul of Cyrus, king of Persia, and he sent a proclamation throughout his kingdom by messenger and also in writing. The message said:
“Thus says Cyrus, king of Persia: All kingdoms of the earth have been given to me by the LORD God of heaven, and He has appointed me to build for Himself a temple in Jerusalem. (which is in Judah)
The LORD God of their fathers sent messenger after messenger to try to warn them, because He felt pity for them and for His house,
But they mocked God’s messengers, despised His message and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the LORD rose up against the people until there was no way out.
And so He arranged for the king of the Babylonians to attack them, who stabbed the young men of Israel in the Sanctuary itself. He had no pity on the young men or the young women, or the old and infirm. God handed everyone over to him.
But who am I, and who are my people, that we would hold the strength to make an offering like this? All things are from you, and from your own hand we give you.
Foreigners are we before your face, and sojourners as all our fathers; our days upon the earth like a shadow without hope.
O LORD our God, all this multitude which we have established to build a house for your holy name, is all from your own hand. Everything is yours.
Elisha sent out a messenger to him to tell him, “Go and bathe in the Jordan seven times, and your skin will get better and you will be ritually pure.”
Naaman was angry and walked away, saying “I thought he was definitely going to come out and stand here and call on the name of the LORD his god and wave his hands over me and gather up the disease.
Aren’t the rivers of Damascus, the Abana and the Pharpar, better than all the waters of Israel? Can’t I just bathe in them and be cleaned?” And he stormed off angry again.
This a long passage and I’m already way behind, so here’s someone else’s translation instead:
“The time will come when your people Israel are defeated by an enemy because they sinned against you. If they come back to you, renew their allegiance to you, and pray for your help in this temple,
then listen from heaven, forgive the sin of your people Israel, and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.
I am woefully behind in my Lent Challenge posts, but let’s keep going:
“So you are great, my LORD, because there is none like you, and there is no god except you - this is what we have heard!
And who is like your people Israel? - the only nation of its kind on the earth - because God went out and redeemed (for Himself) a people to establish his name (for Himself).
You did (for yourself) great and awesome things for the land in the sight of your people which you redeemed (for yourself) from out of the Egyptian nation and its gods.
What they said seemed wrong to Samuel; they’d said “Give us a king to call the shots for us.”
So the LORD said to Samuel, “Take in what the people are saying and give them what they want - it isn’t you that they’ve rejected, they have rejected me as king over them.
Just like every single thing that they have done, from the moment that I brought them out of Egypt until this very day, they have forsaken me and served other gods - just like they’re now doing to you.