I’m not into overt government control, but anarchy doesn’t appeal to me either; I’m much, MUCH too familiar with human nature to rely on our own ability to play nice together. That’s why this statement from the Old Testament book of Judges is really quite chilling—
“In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”
When a someone speaks berating and unbecomingly in your office, in front of others…especially when they’re wrong, since they didn’t properly fill out their paperwork.
When you’ve spent ridiculous amounts of time trying to help expedite a Medicaid mess for a someone, and they walk into your office upset with you…because of a misunderstanding.
When a person treats you with distain and disrespect, then expects you (expects, mind you) to help them when they need it.
(Thankfully, God’s sense of justice does not match my sense of justice.)
Okay, these are First World problems. No, not even problems. These are inconveniences. Irritations. Now for some quality perspective.
Especially when the hunger is exacerbated by government graft, not merely lack of rain…
Here’s another bit of perspective buried pretty deeply in an Old Testament story. Now, the Hebrew culture at the time allowed for polygamy, (which is a whole separate theologically and socially relevant discussion way beyond my early morning brain cells or word count.) The judge Gideon, of the “famous fleeces”, had a bunch of wives and, correspondingly, a tassel of kids.
He also had a concubine, sort of a live-in, not-quite-a-wife, it’s-complicated kind of relationship, but it got really complicated when the one son she had, Abimelech, decided to stir up trouble in a massive power play by getting all of his half-brothers murdered.
All, that is, but one.
Jotham made a summarily bold move, (okay, from a hilltop, but still…), by confronting the men who allowed this to happen.
“For he [Gideon] fought for you and risked his life when he rescued you from the Midianites. But today you have revolted against my father and his descendants, killing his seventy sons on one stone. And you have chosen his slave woman’s son, Abimelech, to be your king just because he is your relative.”
“Jotham continued, ‘Now make sure you have acted honorably and in good faith by making Abimelech your king, and that you have done right by Gideon and all of his descendants. Have you treated him with the honor he deserves for all he accomplished?…’”
Then he went home, wherever that was now, since his previous place of residene had become a blood bath.
“After Abimelech had ruled over Israel for three years, God…”
Jotham had to wait…for three years. (Which is short compared to some.) He did NOT take matters into his own hands. His hands were too small anyway, whereas God’s hands are always big enough. God made good on the situation, as He always does, in His time and in His way.
Still, I empathize with Calvin in the Watterson’s cartoon. But in my more rational, wizened moments, I am thankful for the sure “goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life”—‘cuz I know I need it as much as the next guy. I am called to mercy this side of the Cross, not revenge, not offense.
I am also called to smell pretty:
“Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume.”
Everywhere, every situation, every encounter, every irritating people, perhaps the one in the next pew.
Or even with, (especially with?) my own fallibilities and mistakes.
Thank God for the lightning bolts that haven’t come my way.
Let’s face it, folks, left-handed people bear a burden, although I think it’s gotten better over the decades. According to that impeccable repository of information, (i.e., Wikipedia), approximately 10-percent of our society worldwide are southpaws. Machines ranging from scissors to power saws were generally produced with right-handed people in mind, and in the past, even in education if a child showed a preference to his left hand, he would be “encouraged” to use his right instead. Continue reading “Let’s Hear It for Southpaws!”
The Israelite judge, Jephthah, is generally known for the weird story about his daughter, poor kid.
But I think we generally miss the importance of this guy’s backstory and how God may have used it to his (and His) advantage.
Back in those days, having sons was pretty well tantamount to status (as opposed to having daughters; now where they thought the baby boys came from, gets me…) And although even our secular Western culture has fairly well done away with that mindset, they (and us) still deal with the “world’s oldest profession”.
So while Jephthah’s dad, Gilead, had several socially legitimate sons, little Jephthah was not one of them, and was treated accordingly.
“…and when these half brothers grew up, they chased Jephthah off the land. ‘You will not get any of our father’s inheritance,” they said, ‘for you are the son of a prostitute.’ So Jephthah fled from his brothers and lived in the land of Tob. Soon he had a band of worthless rebels following him.”
Because, back then, with those kinds of credentials, that’s about all the following you’re going to get. I can only imagine what hardship he must have suffered going from the house of his father (probably bullied while he was growing up anyway, but at least provided for) to ousted into the “real world”, possibly as a teenager. Homeless. Despised. Without family or connections. Or money.
As usual, the plot thickens—
“At about this time, the Ammonites began their war against Israel. When the Ammonites attacked, the elders of Gilead sent for Jephthah in the land of Tob. The elders said, ‘Come and be our commander! Help us fight the Ammonites!’ But Jephthah said to them, ‘Aren’t you the ones who hated me and drove me from my father’s house? Why do you come to me now when you’re in trouble?’”
Run off the farm, rather than living in the lap of luxury, Jephthah has been hardened by life’s boot camp, and is now evidently the one most suited for rescuing those same brothers with soft, un-callused hands.
And rescue he does, like the rushing in of the cavalry.
The point is this. People do us injustices. We have to suffer the consequences of others’ stupidity, prejudices, unkindness, or just low-down thoughtlessness. I’m bullied, kicked out of the club, whether physically or emotionally. Bereft. Alone. (At least it feels that way.)
But God has other plans, and this is just part of the Divine Boot Camp. Plans for rescue, not vengeance, for redemption, and restoration, and it may be for the very ones who turned me out.
Jephthah’s hands and muscles may have become just as soft as his brothers had he stay in his dad’s house all that time. Instead, he became the hero.
Which is God’s training for all of us, to be heroes in one way or another.