Friday, September 16, 2011

Friday, September 16 ~ tammi

Today's reading from the Chronological OT/NT Reading Plan is Isaiah 14-16; Ephesians 3.

I'm going to focus on the Old Testament again.  Is it just me, or do I do that a lot here??  I don't know about you, but somehow it feels like all I've really heard all my life is the New Testament, but participating in this blog has given me such a HUGE appreciation and excitement for the Old Testament!  It's like I was seeing a picture of God before ~ albeit a good picture ~ but without ever realizing I was only seeing part of the picture. And that the picture in its entirety would make so much more sense, be so much more complete and infinitely BETTER, than just the small portion I'd been looking at before.  I hope this blog is doing the same for everyone in some way, whether it's similar to my experience or not.  I hope we are excited about learning and loving the Holy Word of God more!

Anyway, movin' right along then...  it really struck me today how God's attitude towards Moab seems to have changed in the years between the Exodus and the Exile.  In the beginning of the story of the Jews, God strictly forbids them to have anything to do with Moab, the nation that resulted from Lot's incestuous relationship with his daughter after the fall of Sodom and Gomorrah.  I couldn't find anywhere where God tells Israel to destroy Moab ~ they aren't included in the lists of nations within the land of Canaan ~ but it's clear from their very first encounter with Moab, that Moab is a bad influence.  In fact, because of their union with the Moabites, the Israelites are first accused of whoring. From what I can tell, all the other uses of this word until this point are warnings to God's people against prostituting themselves to other gods, but this is the first time the Bible says that is exactly what the Israelites were doing.

So God is not a fan of Moab and especially not after Moab came between God and His people.  God's jealous anger continues to burn against Moab, and after several hundred years, roughly 2/3 of the population is decimated after David's victory over them in battle.  But the worst is yet to come, promises God through Isaiah here in chapters 15 and 16.  Moab will be completely destroyed.

But in a twist that likely no one expected, God commands Judah to SHELTER THE REFUGEES, "the very few and feeble" survivors.  WHAT??  I bet no one in Judah saw that one coming!  God gives them the opportunity to extend His hands of mercy and grace to whoever survives and calls on them for help.  Okay, so maybe they would figure that's not so far-fetched, given the countless times God's shown mercy to them and forgiven them, but I bet they never expected God would actually mourn the devastation He promised to Moab!  Yet in 15:5, He says, "My heart cries out over Moab."  In 16:9 He says, "So I weep, as Jazer weeps, for the vines of Sibmah.  O Heshbon, O Eleahleh, I drench you with tears!" and then in v. 11, "My heart laments for Moab like a harp, my inmost being for Kir Hareseth."

You know, something I've been slowly coming to grips with is the possibility that not all of the individual, isolated events in God's plan for human history necessarily bring Him pleasure in their fulfillment.  I think this is fairly well-illustrated here.  He's promising destruction and yet it clearly doesn't bring Him joy.  I know we could parallel this with a parent disciplining a child; it's hard and we hate to do it, but we know it's for the child's good, they must be held accountable for their actions, yaddayaddayadda....  But Moab was never God's child.  God HATED Moab.  Yet here He weeps because He is crushing them.

I don't understand it.  But it supports the belief that everything that happens, the entire roadmap of human history, was laid down the way it was because it displays God's sovereignty, His holiness, His grace, His mercy, His power, His righteousness ~ His GLORY ~  the best possible way.  Because the end result will be greater glory than if He had chosen to do it differently.

I think it's safe to say that when we are grieved because of something painful in our lives, God grieves right along with us.  Our pain does not make Him happy, even though it was part of His design for our lives from before time began. But He has an advantage over us: the vantage point. We see only the present struggles and the lessons learned from the past.

He sees the incredible, awesome end result in the future ~ the ultimate glory of God that one day ALL will see the way He does.

Tomorrow's passages: Isaiah 17-19; Ephesians 4


Technonana said...

Tammi,so understand the whole, New Testiment, Old Testiment thing.. and it is very important to know the history that is displayed in the 'whole' Bible, and especially to understand that God had a plan from the very beginning, and I so totally agree with how God felt about Moab,and discipline, and no, as a parent it is never easy. But God knows we must be held accountable... even though in society that is most often not the case... Life is a series of Lessons and Test...and I praise God that with His help... I can live and learn another day! gonna borrow the picture! Love what it says!!

Tammy said...

Great post Tammi. Love your comment about God's advantage being His vantage point. So true.

It seems that finally we're getting it that the more we learn, the more we realize how much more we have yet to learn!

Miriam said...

Love this post, Tammi. I'm with you on the Old Testament. It's sure taught me a lot about who God is! I also believe that God grieves with us when we are going through something hard. He is a God of deep feeling!