Archive for category #evil

Psalm 19 “Finding God’s Story”

heavens

The heavens are telling the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims his handiwork. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard, yet their voice goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In the heavens, he has set a tent for the sun, which comes out like a bridegroom from his wedding canopy, and like a strong man runs its course with joy. Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them; and nothing is hidden from its heat. The law of the LORD is perfect, reviving the soul; the decrees of the LORD are sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is clear, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the LORD is pure, enduring forever; the ordinances of the LORD are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey, and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is a great reward. But who can detect their errors? Clear me from hidden faults. Keep back your servant also from the insolent; do not let them have dominion over me. Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression. Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer. [NRSV]

Begin with the ending:

“Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.”

Some preachers quote this verse as a little insurance policy. “I hope what I say is acceptable to you because I’m standing up here in front of everyone speaking in your name.” At best, we quote this verse as a declaration: that what comes out of our mouths should reflect God that is revealed in the world around us; God who is our foundation and salvation.

This passage is not just for preachers: All who are in Christ speak of God’s work, love, plan, and law, even if we never say a word. We need God to live and share the life that is joyful, full and true.

Seeing God in the Heavens

Look to the heavens to see the presence and power of God.

The heavens are telling the glory of God’s purpose and abilities.

The earth reveals the evidence of God’s work and plans.

  • God is with us, “Day by Day”
  • One image of God is that of an engine who designs a grand machine, starts the motor and sits back to see what the creation will do.
  • The Psalmist is proclaiming that God is with us every day and every night.
  • Speaking without words and sounds: The witness of design and process.
  • The stars, planets, comets, asteroids, light, dark matter, energy, and gravity are evident even though we have no words to create them, nor order them, nor change them.
  • There is beauty in the heavens, as a groom and bride look at one another and see with love and joy.

Seeing God in the Workings of the Earth

The earth is working like a strong laborer that takes no break and strives with joy that is unending.

  • The seasons and calendars to measure and plan,
  • the way seeds and soil work together,
  • the way water and clouds work,
  • the way populations are reproduced, t
  • the way air and nutrients sustain all that is living.

Together All things work together to witness God is present and working with us.

The Sun, stars, and planets are the beginning and the ends, they are interdependently operating in a connected system. The light and heat of the sun is greater than anything we can create

2. The Law of the Lord is perfect [enough for all things, people, and times.]

The purpose of the Law of the Lord is to revive the soul.

  • Decrees are sure, both simple and wise
  • Precepts are right, to give joy to the heart and soul.
  • Commandments are clear, informative, pure, enduring,
  • Ordinances are true and righteous

Together these are of more value that much-refined gold and sweeter than fresh, raw honey from the hive.

3. We See and Know, but so what?

The purpose of the Law is to be a warning.

Our reward is found in keeping the Law…

4. Why bother and Where to Start?

Problem: Who can determine who, when, why, how we have not kept them all truly?

Solution: God clears me from my faults, failures, sins and all evil…

  • Protect me from those who tempt and lure, entice, me from your power and law..
  • Protect me from me. Don’t’ let others have dominion, rule, power or control of my life, purpose, work, and joy.
  • If you protect me,  I will be blameless, if I am left alone will be lost in my transgressions.
  • THEREFORE. Protect me from what I say, think, do and believe.

I need you to save me and be the one who I trust

  • in all things,
  • at all times,
  • in all ways.

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Numbers 21:4b-9 Snake bitten, the reality of evil.

..but the people became impatient on the way. The people spoke against God and against Moses, “Why have you brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? For there is no food and no water, and we detest this miserable food.” Then the LORD sent poisonous serpents among the people, and they bit the people, so that many Israelites died. The people came to Moses and said, “We have sinned by speaking against the LORD and against you; pray to the LORD to take away the serpents from us.” So Moses prayed for the people. And the LORD said to Moses, “Make a poisonous serpent, and set it on a pole; and everyone who is bitten shall look at it and live.” So Moses made a serpent of bronze, and put it upon a pole; and whenever a serpent bit someone, that person would look at the serpent of bronze and live. [NRSV]

The snakes remind us that Moses and the Hebrews were in the wilderness. They were not in their regular place of what now seems like comfort and ease. (Even though the we slaves and had no freedom, they were given food and had regular shelter and a general sense of privacy and home.) In the Wilderness there were no comforts, no food lines, no house, no bed, and snakes. Remembering the scene in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark, he and heroin, Marion, they are lowed into the Well of Souls where there were countless asps, lethal vipers in every direction.

“Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?” *Getty Image

Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford): “Snakes. Why did it have to be snakes?”Indiana Jones: (Passing a torch) “Take this. Wave it at anything that slithers.” Marion: “Thanks. Oh, my God! This whole place is slithering!”

Whether your comfort level is high or low, snakes are the villain from Adam and Eve, to Ka and Mogli, to Harry Potter and Nagini, to the numerous Snakes on an airplane. So it is, they remain a symbol of threat, danger, fear and evil.

One of the most common complaints about God from those who are outside the faith, is that if God is so loving and knowledgable when would God allow evil to harm God’s chosen people? Why do bad things happen to God’s people? Why would a loving God send snakes out to punish grumbling people? Thing how faithfully the Hebrews had done following Moses out of Egypt and traveled in the Wilderness, shouldn’t they at least be allowed some room to complain when the conditions are less than usual and a good bit uncomfortable?

Think about the Wilderness of the world today, don’t we deserve some special protection if not some comforts… The catch is Moses promised them a land of freedom. But that does not mean a freedom from struggle. Even God shows God’s desire and willingness to work six of seven days.

God charges Moses with the task of “Making a poisonous snake” and place it on a pole. I don’t suppose Moses was suppose to make a live poisonous snake? He makes one of bronze and puts it on a pole, and it become a restorative tool of resurrection and resuscitation from those who are bitten by the servants in the wilderness.

God does not stop the snakes from bitting. God does not scare off the snakes and prohibit them from threatening the people. People are still painfully bitten and suffer the affects of poison, but there are offered a remedy… resurrection, as their healing salvation.

Evil is a real power and it causes us pain and suffering. But we have a remedy, we hav a cure, we have Salvation in the Resurrection of Jesus Christ!

The lesson is that we face the painful bite of fear, struggle, pain and death as people of God, but God has a sign that is our salvation: It is found in the resurrection of Christ, raised up on the cross for the world to see, that death no longer is the end. But never everyone is forced to look to God for the salvation.

So what do we do with this passage in our wilderness?

Where is evil biting us?

What is it that threatens our lives?

What brings fear into our sleepless nights?

What worry do we carry to school and work and home each day?

We have a sign::

We have more than a sign, we have a living SAVIOR

not made of bronze, not written in words, not limited to our minds and calculations

Where there is evil in our hearts and the world there will w user and know loss and pain, but there is a hope God will save us, restore us and make us new.

May that day come soon and may we trust God every day until that da comes.

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