Archive for » March, 2013 «

March 6, 2013 – Job 35

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mywayElihu, the speaker in today’s reading, is one of the great unfortunately-ignored people in the Bible  If you’re not familiar with his story, let’s summarize:  Job loses everything he has; his three friends (Bildad, Eliphaz, and Zophar) come to “comfort” him and eventually get into a theological debate about suffering, good, and evil; Elihu is apparently somewhat younger than the others, so he holds his tongue until the end of the book when they’re all angry and tired before letting loose with an explanation of why they’re all wrong.  Gotta love a guy that waits till everybody exhausts themselves, then jumps on the wreckage.


With the small caveat that God refutes some of what Elihu says here,  he makes some very interesting points in his speech.  In fact, he hits on some of the key problems in our own relationship with God.  In verse 2, Elihu challenges Job on his very premise:  do we as people have the right to challenge God?  This is one of the most prevalent attitudes in our world today.  We want our relationship with God to be like a semester at Hogwarts; we learn some stuff, and then we learn to say/do/study the right words to get God to do what we want.  You will hear it voiced with statements “God wouldn’t do that…Why doesn’t God do something about…I don’t believe in a God like that.”  Elihu argues that we cannot tell God what is appropriate for Him to do, because , duh, he’s God.  Yet don’t we do this all the time? We tell God what He has to do so we’ll obey/believe/serve Him.  We leave parts out of the Bible that we don’t like, because “My God wouldn’t do that, and if He would, I don’t want that kind of God.” Isn’t it somewhat ridiculous for us to tell God He has to meet our standards before we’ll listen?


Secondly, in verse 14, Elihu argues that when people claim they can’t see God, they are fooling themselves.  This is a corollary (look it up in a dictionary, people) to his first statement.  God can do what he wants, including decide how He reveals himself.  We often hear people argue that God needs to make himself known, and then everybody would believe in Him.  Elihu instead points out the foolishness of this line of thought.  God reveals Himself in nature, the Bible, and ultimately in Jesus, but we say ‘that’s fine, but You also need to reveal yourself by answering my prayer, or healing this person,etc”  We somehow think that God owes us the proof that we demand, in the manner that we demand.  For example, if God is real, he’ll take care of all the poor people.  Or make that person nice to me.  Or help me get a good job.   So, apparently, God not only has to justify his existence to us, but also His actions.  Seems reasonable.  In OppositeLand.

The Bible says that no one who stands before God on Judgement Day will be able to say “i didn’t know,” we are all without excuse when it comes to God’s righteousness.  How much more foolish would it be to blame God because He didn’t act the way we wanted?  Do we really think God is going to say “ok, good point. I should have asked you first about how to run the universe.  Come sit here beside me on the throne, oh wise mortal, and let’s straighten this cosmos out.”  The Bible says that anyone that says “there is no God” is a fool; how much more foolish is it to say “yes, there’s a God, but He needs to get my approval before he acts.”

See what I mean about Elihu being da man?

March 5, 2013 – Exodus 16

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facepunchSometimes I’m amazed there’s not more face-punching in the Bible.

All of us have felt the frustration of knowing what’s going to happen, telling someone what’s going to happen, and then watching as that person appears to be shocked and perplexed when the very thing happens that we happened to mention would happen. What is it about us that we can’t just trust others?

Me: Hey, don’t touch that pot, it’s hot.
Passerby: Really? *touches pot* Ouch! hey, that’s hot.
Me: Ok…”don’t” give me a million dollars.


Things have always been this way, as today’s chapter illustrates so nicely. Let’s summarize: Israelites complain about no food in the desert; God provides Manna. Moses tells people to gather only enough manna for one day; Israelites gather more, which produces maggots and the  stank. Moses tells people to gather twice as much on Saturday, because there will be no manna on Sunday.* People go out on Sunday to look for manna. Moses punches the three Israelites nearest to him. Large brawl ensues. Aaron, recording for the Bible, decides to edit out the brawl for publication.

Blame it on original sin, the devil, too many Twinkies, or space radiation if you wish, but it’s pretty obvious that most of us react pretty strongly to people telling us what to do. We must find out for ourselves. In some ways, that’s not a bad thing; it’s that tendency to find out that has helped us to advance past leeches in the medical field. In other ways, such as bucking the bible, it usually turns out fairly negatively.


We sometimes get the idea that the directions in the Bible are there to “test” us, to see if we’re really faithful enough to God to warrant a trip to heaven. Instead, we need to try to look at the Bible as an “owner’s manual” for life. Example: Thou shalt not commit adultery. The point is not to take away our freedom, but rather God saying “I made you this way; if you go against this intention, your life will not go well.”

It’s like an car manual saying “change the oil every 3000 miles.” If you don’t change the oil, and the car break down, is that cause the manufacturer is coming to your house and smashing your engine to teach you a lesson? No, it because you didn’t follow the directions of the person who knows how it should run.

Today, the challenge for us is to strive to change our perception. Learn to see the Bible as an owner’s manual, rather than a test, and I think we will get closer to the heart of God.

And hopefully, there’ll be less face-punching all around.

*Please refrain from standard “Is sunday the sabbath debate?” We get it; you’re very smart.  Shut up.

March 1, 2013 – Exodus 12

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dogsOne of the difficulties of living the Christian life is that often people outside the Christian family have a partial understanding of what the Bible says, and then they judge the whole Bible (and Christ) from that fragment of knowledge.

Passerby: So I hear one of Jesus’ disciples hung himself.
PewPotato: Yep.
Passerby: So the bible teaches that all Christian should kill themselves?
PewPotato: Of course no…
Passerby: I knew it. Just a cult.  You’re crazy.  When’s your Suicide Day?
PewPotato: Umm…

One of our primary responsibilities as ambassadors of Christ is to hopefully present a more complete picture of His Word. Exodus 12 highlights one of these often misunderstood principles.

The bible is often seen as racist to many (both within and without of the Church) with a passing acquaintance with it. They point to the genocide’s of Joshua and Judges, and to the emphasis on the Jewish people over the Gentiles, particularly in the Old Testament. There are several places wherein Jews are forbidden to marry those outside the nation, and even some executions for breaking these commands. Hence, some have come to the conclusion that the Bible is against minorities and particularly against Gentiles of any stripe.


However, this is a fairly simplistic view and misses the point of these measures in the ancient world. The emphasis of these regulations is not racial purity, but rather religious holiness. Consistently throughout the Bible, if a foreigner was willing to follow God’s direction, they were welcomed into God’s family, either Judaism in the Old Testament or the church family in the New. For example, see the stories of Ruth and Rahab, both of whom were not only foreigners, but despised for their national religious apostasy. Yet both were accepted into the Jewish community,and ultimately were ancestors of Jesus, showing not only God’s acceptance but his glorification of foreigners.

Today’s passage deals with the event and celebration of Passover. This is the quintessential Jewish holiday, wherein God officially “created” the Israelite nation. There are several regulations and limitations about who can participate, both in this chapter and through the rest of the Old Testament.

Yet look at verse 49: “The same law applies both to the native-born and to the foreigner residing among you.” Yes, foreigners were restricted from observing the Passover, but if they were willing to submit to God’s requirements for the Jews (in this case, circumcision , they were welcomed into God’s family. The restrictions had nothing to do with race or ethnicity, and everything to do with spirituality.


Racism has no place in God’s Kingdom; even nationalism should be held very lightly in a Christian’s life. We are citizens of God’s Kingdom, not of any particular country. It seems that we sometimes confuse our patriotism (or political party affiliation) for religious zeal, and they are not synonymous  Throughout the Bible, God repeatedly stresses that in his kingdom (and hence the Church), there is no hierarchy of race or nationality. We need to be careful that we apply the same love and acceptance “both to the native-born and to the foreigner.”

Anything else comes from our desire to put ourselves above our fellow sinners, and that kind of pride should make all of us tremble before the True King.