Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Send In The Clowns

Frankly, God has been so impressed with the theme of raising up the lowly, that he has never stopped using it.  God has always taken the ones in the position of powerlessness, and placed them in the position of strength.  In that, he displayed his strength all the greater. We could come up with our own “hall of faith” and discover that salvation history is just filled with losers.

Her mistress told her to have sex with her master—so she did.  So why did her mistress beat her when she got pregnant?  When she ran away, an angel (first person spoken to by an angel in the Bible!) told her to return and live under her mistress’ abuse—so she did.  When her mistress had a son of her own, years later, she was told to pack up and leave—so she did.  Because of her stubborn obedience, God made her descendants into a populous desert nation.3

Of course he took the best land when it was offered—who wouldn’t?  How was he to know that Sodom was slated for destruction by God’s immorality wrecking crew?  Now here he is in the middle of the desert, destruction all around him, his wife fit only for a saltshaker, his daughters thinking incest is the best thing since sliced bread….  Well, God made it up to him by allowing him to be the father of two great nations.4

So he boasted a little bit and humiliated his brothers.  Is that any reason for him to be thrown, starving, into a pit, sold into slavery, falsely accused of sexual misconduct, and cast into jail?  For years? Apparently God thought he’d been through enough, so he made Joseph Prime Minister of the most powerful country in the world.5

She married one brother.  He died.  He left her no kid.  She was given to the second brother.  He died.  No kid.  Although law says she should be married to the youngest son, daddy wasn’t taking chances. What’s a woman to do?  So she put a veil on, loosened the top buttons on her blouse, donned a garter, and targeted daddy, and he didn’t know who she was.  Daddy was pretty fertile for an old guy. After her pregnancy was obvious, daddy was ready to kill her.  Until she proved to him that daddy was the daddy.  God makes her the matriarch of the kings of Jerusalem.6

The Children of Israel
They were enslaved in Egypt for generations.  All of a sudden, they remember God and cry out to him.  Ten plagues.  Dead men everywhere.  Crossing the Red Sea without needing to change into bathing suits.  Voila!  Instant deliverance.  Then he makes them his select nation for all time.7

Jericho sex-worker, destined for destruction with the rest of her city, who was more scared of Israel’s God than her own.  Backed the right horse, and was given asylum.  Oh, yeah, and God made her an ancestor of the Messiah.8

A coward hiding in a hole until an angel proclaims him “mighty warrior!”  Three hundred men against thousands, a few lanterns against swords and chariots— God would only pull him out if he faced overwhelming odds against him.9

Important father, but his mother was a prostitute.  Dang, bad luck—he was kicked out of the family.  He became leader of a band of outlaws.  But when an army attacked his community, he was the only one who could save them.  He would do so only if he gained the respect of the community.10

Devoted to God before he was born, he was made strong by God’s power (no steroids necessary), as long as he didn’t touch wine or cut his hair.  Unfortunately, there was no requirement to keep his zipper shut.  After playing with the wrong woman once too often, he was weakened, enslaved and tortured.  Finally, God allowed him one last shot to destroy his enemies—so long as he died in the process.11

A family from Israel goes to Moab and the sons marry the wrong wives—Moabites (Terrorists to the early Israelis).  When father and sons die, the mother goes back home, and her one ex-daughter-in-law (dirty terrorist, trying to make right with God) insists on coming with. She adapts to the new culture and the new God like a fish to water.  Her new husband is rich, and they become the ancestors of the kings of Judea.12

Her co-wife thinks she is just soooo important, just because she’s got lots of kids and Hannah doesn’t.  Hannah is so forsaken, she goes to the temple to pray and is rebuked for being drunk.  But God hears her prayer anyway, and her son becomes ruler and priest of all Israel.13

The important priest names little David king, but no one knows it (frankly, no one would believe it).  Yeah, he kills a giant, and slays some thousands of enemies, but the king still isn’t impressed.  He tries to kill David and David runs away for a few years.  In nowhereland, David leads a rag-tag band of nowheremen, making nowhere plans (except to keep running from the king).  Finally, the king dies and David is made king.14

Who are these people?  Why does the Bible tell story after story about these nobodies, these ne’er do wells?  What makes them so significant? Of themselves, nothing.  These are the insignificant, the ones who would never amount to anything, the ones whose only luck was bad.  But they are significant because God chose them.  God’s eyes search throughout the world, looking for the lowlifes, the outcasts, the ones who story ended before it began.  He looks for those who have no hope in this world.  No chance for success, no opportunity to make the grade, no one to give them a hand out, let alone a hand up.  And then God allows them to draw on his strength.

  1. Hagar’s story is found in Genesis 16:1-16; 21:9-21.
  2. Lot also suffered when Sodom and other nations were captured by a group of “kings”.  Abram saved his butt that time, too.  Read about Lot in Genesis 13:1-13 and Genesis 18:20-19:38.
  3. Joseph’s story is one of the best written epics in the Bible.  Genesis 37:1-36; 39:1-48:20.
  4. Tamar’s story is the hidden gems of Genesis.  Genesis 38.  One of the sexually adventurous women in the ancestry of the Messiah, Matthew 1:3.  Whoo—moral sex for God!
  5. The full story is found in Exodus 1-20.  It’s pretty familiar, but if the only way you know this story is by one of the versions of The Ten Commandments, please read it for yourself.  You can also find a summary of this story in Psalm 78.
  6. Rahab is another one of the sexually adventurous women in the line of the Messiah. Joshua 2; 6:22-23. She’s mentioned as an example of Christian virtue in Matthew 1:5, Hebrews 11:31 and James 2:25.  Talk about a popular prostitute!
  7. Gideon is found in Judges 6-8.
  8. Jephthah’s story is pretty much told in Judges 11.  It also includes his stupid vow and the results on his daughter.
  9. If I were writing the Bible, Samson wouldn’t appear.  What an awful saint!  However, the writer of Hebrews disagrees with me—Judges 13-16 and Hebrews 11:32.
  10.  Ruth… Ruth?  Where is her story found?  Somewhere after Judges—heck, you can find it.
  11. Hannah’s story is found in I Samuel 1-2.  I like her so much, you get another taste of her ideals in a section in this chapter.  Look, if the Bible gives you the name of some woman, you should really get to know her.  The women in the Bible just crush the men in their faith.
  12. David’s got a really long story, so it’d be quite a read.  But Robert Altar rightly says that David is the first psychologically full character in the Bible.  Just read his story for the joy of it—I Samuel 16-30 is the part of his life I’m emphasizing here.  But keep reading through all of II Samuel to I Kings 2 to get to the proper conclusion of David’s life.  Amazing!  Full of surprises!  

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