Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Slaying Giants - Entry 15

Using the historical account recorded in 1 Samuel 17 as a metaphor for the cultural battles raging in the nations we next read, “Then David said to the Philistine, ‘You come to me with a sword, a spear, and a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have taunted. This day the Lord will deliver you up into my hands, and I will strike you down and remove your head from you. And I will give the dead bodies of the army of the Philistines this day to the birds of the sky and the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord does not deliver by sword or by spear; for the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.’ Then it happened when the Philistine rose and came and drew near to meet David, that David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand into his bag and took from it a stone and slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead. And the stone sank into his forehead, so that he fell on his face to the ground. Thus David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone, and he struck the Philistine and killed him; but there was no sword in David’s hand. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him, and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled.”

Let’s consider the goal God had for the nation of Israel as we put this account into perspective. A central passage for this purpose is Genesis 12, in which we read, “Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go forth from your country, and from your relatives and from your father’s house, to the land which I will show you; and I will make you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great; and so you shall be a blessing; and I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse. And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’”

God, through all the obstacles, honoring, as much as possible, human freedom, is working toward the highest good possible. In the process of doing so, certain obstacles must be removed. How and when such removal takes place involves variables and dynamic. Not every situation is the same one-dimensional, cardboard cutout. This is one account, among many, of how God and His people might deal with opposition and obstacles that stand in the way of ultimately providing genuine blessing for all people and all nations. We might consider how the account of Jonah’s visit to Nineveh unfolded (not to be developed here) as a considerably different account. In the Genesis 12 passage (as in Dt.27-28), it is clear that there are two main options, blessing and curse. God clearly states in Jeremiah 18 that He will build up or tear down and that choosing one or the other is a dynamic situation. As people and nations repent of their rebellion and resistance to God’s goal of blessing, He will work to build them up. As people and nations persist in the rebellion and resistance to God’s goal of blessing, He will tear them down, remove the obstacle in some appropriate manner.

It is my observation that people generally want a one-dimensional system in which there is only one easily categorized way of proceeding. Once again, we face the idea of “both/and” and / or “either/or”. We cannot afford to have merely one simplistic approach, always tearing down or always building up. There are times to be merciful and times to be strict, times to be kind and times to be severe.

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven — A time to give birth, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to uproot what is planted. A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to throw stones, and a time to gather stones; a time to embrace, and a time to shun embracing. A time to search, and a time to give up as lost; a time to keep, and a time to throw away. A time to tear apart, and a time to sew together; a time to be silent, and a time to speak. A time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace." (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NASB)

More on this in my next entry.

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