“In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, the governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest:” (CSB – Read the chapter)
A new book and a new theme today. And this is yet another minor prophet book, written some 2,500 years ago to a people entirely different than us on almost every count, yet whose central message is remarkably relevant to our lives today. Perhaps that’s why God preserved it for us. What is this message? It all centers on this question: What comes first in your life?
Have you ever tried to take on a big task all by yourself. In almost every case it is easier to tackle big things with help than it is to go it alone. The same thing applies to our relationship with God. When we try and go it alone in life, we are setting ourselves up for a much harder road than is necessary. But we don’t always believe that’s really the case. Fortunately, there are several great examples from which we can learn this important truth. One of those is the book of Judges…all of it. Starting today and for the next few weeks, we are going to walk through this intriguing and sometimes disturbing little book as we see over and over again that life is better when we walk it with God. Thanks for joining me as we go.
Missing the Mark
How many of you remember where you were on January 28, 1986? Like or comment if you do. I’ll confess that I was four and I really don’t remember much of anything prior to my 5th birthday, but I’ll bet some of you who are not all that much older than I am do. I’ll bet you remember very clearly. And just to prove my point, what happened on that date? Post your response in the comments. Some of you knew immediately. Just before noon local time, a space shuttle called the Challenger was launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida. While that’s always exciting, this launch was special because it was the first of the now-infamous Teacher-in-Space program. Christa McAuliffe, a history and English teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, had been selected from more than 11,000 applicants to the program in 1985 and here, just a few months later, she was making her debut. But the excitement quickly turned to shock and then horror as 73 seconds into the flight the Challenger exploded, killing McAuliffe and the six other crew members on board with her.
“Then the remnant of Jacob will be among many peoples like dew from the Lord, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for anyone or linger for mankind.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
In English classes growing up, every couple of years we did a unit on poetry. Confessedly, I hated those units. Oh, I did fine in them. But I just don’t care for poetry all that much. Now, that’s not universal. I love the poetry of Shel Silverstein, for instance. But he wrote for kids so… I think the real reason I struggled to like it was that I struggled to understand the imagery being used. That same struggle is why many people—including me—stay away from the prophets in the Old Testament. The imagery is hard to understand. Yet if we’ll do the work to get our minds around it, there are riches to be had; riches like we find right here.
“Your arrogant heart has deceived you, you who live in clefts of the rock in your home on the heights, who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’ Though you seem to soar like an eagle and make your nest among the stars, even from there I will bring you down. This is the Lord’s declaration.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
On occasion I’ll help my boys work on something that they’ve never done before. Oftentimes it is something that I have done and know how to do. In these instances it is not uncommon for them to get a little resistant to my help. Parents, give me an, “Amen.” They protest that they don’t need me because they know how to do it. In my more gracious moments (I don’t have those all the time…) I let them go a bit and help them up when they fail. But their pride can be pretty maddening at times. Sometimes it is downright infuriating. Our heavenly Father feels the same way.
In this second-to-last part of our series, Hard to Love, we finally have to come face-to-face with a hard truth. I said last week that the goal of this series is twofold: To help us understand how to love the hard to love people in our lives, and to give us the motivation of the wonder of God’s own love for us to give us some impetus for loving them. We’ve taken care of the first part. In these final two installments we’re going to tackle the second. But, before we can marvel in wonder at the love of God, we have to understand why it’s so wonderful. That’s not so easy. But, it’s absolutely essential. So, take a deep breath, and keep reading. You won’t want to miss this because it’ll make next week even better.
The Hard Truth
Have you ever heard of “face-palming”? It’s typically used as a humorous expression of shock or exasperation at something that strikes you as surprising or, more often, idiotic. Just so we’re all on the same page here, for a proper face-palming you start with your hand open wide. You then bring your hand up and your forehead down simultaneously such that your palm smacks audibly on your forehead. This is followed by slowly moving your hand down the rest of your face as if wiping something off of it. The expression has become commonplace enough in our culture that there is a face-palm emoji, and if you were to do a YouTube search for “face-palming,” you could actually find quite a few entries. I know this because I did it…and found this little gem from the movie Naked Gun 33 1/3.