Sunday, January 17, 2010

Divine Patience

In the last few weeks I have had to read through the books of Joshua and Judges for my Hebrew Prophets class. I must say that there are some crazy things that happen in theses books. To be honest, if I didn't know any better I would not think this stuff would be found in the Bible. Have you read these books lately? War, genocide, scandals, apostasy, etc... It is phenomenal just how raw and uncut the Bible really is.

The difficulty that I wrestle with is that some of what I read seems to contradict the words and teachings of Jesus. It is hard to make sense of the stories we read and the journey that God has the early Israelites on. In the end I guess we just have to realize that God's ways are beyond our understanding.

Another thing that just completely baffles me is how unfaithful the Israelites are. Time after time God gives them second chance after second chance, yet they still turn aside and worship "Baal" and "Asherah" who were gods of the Canaanites. Why? Why does God remain so faithful despite Israel's prostitution?

For class I am also reading a book called Deuteronomic History by Terence Fretheim. In it he shares some great insights into God's judgment of Israel and what Fretheim calls the divine patience of God. Here are some quotes:

"It becomes apparent quickly in this text [Judges] that God's purposes are not annihilation, but that on the far side of the experience of judgment there might be restoration of relationship which God intended."

"...what comes through is the divine patience: God continues to save them from the hands of their enemies in spite of continued apostasy."

"This makes it very clear that the divine judgment is not considered to be an end in itself, as if God had no concerns beyond judgment. Judgment there must be; evil must not be allowed to go unchecked in the world. But judgment is not the end of things for God. Once that judgment has been experienced, and indeed in the midst of the very experience of judgment, God is working graciously for deliverance. Deliverance is what God truly desires for the people. But, finally, it is only in and through the experience of oppression and death, that the experience of deliverance is possible. There can be no direct move from apostasy to deliverance, except through judgment. And so the judging activity og God is finally motivated by gracious purposes. And the degree to which one discerns repetition in these texts with regard to the sin-judgment-deliverance cycle is finally a witness to the incredible mercy of God in desiring life, and not death, for the people."

"God's people, again and again, exhibit patterns of life which threaten their existence. God's response is remarkable in its variety and flexibility, in order to accomplish salutary purposes. A highly personal divine response is revealed, which values mercy above retribution; we see a God who chooses to experience suffering rather than visit the people with the finality of death; we are surprised by a God who finds ways of working in, with, and under very compromising situations in which people have placed themselves in order to bring about good. In the midst of unfaithfulness, the faithfulness of God is revealed, a God who never breaks covenant. Only in such a God is hope to be found."

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Long Time No Blog

Well, I have been a bit of a slacker on my blog lately. I could blame it on the holidays and being crazy busy, but I'm not going to do that. The thing I am going to do is blog more in 2010 -- hopefully :-)

Life has been pretty busy the last few months. I recently received a new position in my job that has brought about a whole new level of responsibility. Nevertheless, it has stretched me and forced me to grow in my leadership. As if that was not enough, I also embarked on the next stage of my academic education. That's right, I began the long and strenuous journey towards a Master of Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary. I must say that it has been HARD work! Reading 200 pages a week and writing 15 page papers isn't quite what I want to do be doing in my free time, but it has proven to be great learning experience thus far. Can I endure 4 years of it? We'll see!!!

So why haven't I blogged? Because all my writing energies have gone to writing research papers! :-) But I am hoping that as I discipline myself more and more, I will establish a better routine. That way my blog doesn't get neglected. My hope is that I will be able to share all the things I am learning in my classes. That is, if I have enough energy.

So stay tuned...more to come!

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