Monday, September 18, 2006

Seventy-Seven Times

The Fall Quarter (which lasts as long as we want) class is entitled “What Does God Want From Me?” It is a survey of the Bible, but it’s more than that. Rather than a standard survey that looks at the main stories, we are looking at what Scripture tells us about God, about ourselves, and God’s desire for us. It should be a good study.

This past Sunday we surveyed Genesis chapters 1 – 4. One of the things often buried in standard surveys is the decedents of Cain. In particular, Lamech, the last descendent mentioned. Lamech, in the final position, is pictured as the worst son of Cain. He marries two wives and is recorded to have said:

Adah and Zillah, hear my voice; Ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: For I have slain a man for wounding me, And a young man for bruising me: If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, Truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold. (ASV)

Lamech thinks he’s the biggest, baddest dude on the block. “I’ve just killed someone for wounding me. Let me tell you, if you think Cain is going to be avenged seven times, I will be avenged (read: I will avenge myself) seventy-seven times!”

In short: Nobody better mess with me!

Perhaps this brings to mind a passage in Matthew 18:

“I say not unto thee, Until seven times; but, Until seventy times seven.”(ASV)

Jesus here is teaching about forgiveness; that we should be ready to forgive others as many times as it takes. As many times as they ask. As many times as we are hurt, whether they ask or not.

Do you see the contrast? Lamech’s pride leads him to an arrogant and boastful claim that he doesn’t take any guff from anybody. And you don’t want to test it.

Jesus on the other hand, turns Lamech’s seventy-seven times on its head. Rather than seeking to avenge ourselves, we learn to humble ourselves. We replace our pride and arrogance with care and love for others. We forgive seventy-seven times because that is the kind of people we are.

It has always been so. Lamech was the epitome of Man when we nurture our pride. Jesus’ admonition pictures God-like Man as he was made to be.

That is our calling. That is our being.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Communion Meditation

Ezekiel 2.8f – 3.2
And now, Ezekiel, open your mouth and eat what I am going to give you. Just then, I saw a hand stretched out toward me. And in it was a scroll. The hand opened the scroll, and both sides of it were filled with words of sadness, mourning, and grief. The LORD said, "Ezekiel, son of man, after you eat this scroll, go speak to the people of Israel." He handed me the scroll and said, "Eat this and fill up on it." So I ate the scroll, and it tasted sweet as honey. (ASV)

Revelation 10.8-11
Once again the voice from heaven spoke to me. It said, "Go and take the open scroll from the hand of the angel standing on the sea and the land." When I went over to ask the angel for the little scroll, the angel said, "Take the scroll and eat it! Your stomach will turn sour, but the taste in your mouth will be as sweet as honey." I took the little scroll from the hand of the angel and ate it. The taste was as sweet as honey, but my stomach turned sour. Then some voices said, "Keep on telling what will happen to the people of many nations, races, and languages, and also to kings." (ASV)

Ezekiel and John are both given a scroll and told to eat it. John is told it will taste sweet in his mouth, but turn his stomach bitter. Ezekiel tasted a scroll that was sweet. These are not the only people told to eat a scroll. Jeremiah is also told to eat the word of God.

After they eat the scroll, on which is written what God wants announced, both John and Ezekiel prophesy the word of God. The word, because they have eaten it, is readily on their lips; they need not read the scrolls. The word of God has become them; they have become it in the eating.

Just like God provided His word for the prophets to eat, He has given us His Word. Not on a scroll, but lived and evidenced in the life and death of our Savior. This is a Word of submission, of sacrifice, of death. Death to self for the glory of God. Sweet and bitter.

As we eat this remembrance of that Word, we take it in us, it becomes part of us; we become it. As we do, we proclaim, and we claim for ourselves that same submission, that same life of sacrifice of ourselves for others. We commit ourselves to that same sacrificial existence as we become God’s people in this world, moving among men to bless and minister to them.

Given at Sierra Vista, Arizona, September 3d, 2006

Welcome and legal mumbojumbo

Welcome to my corner of cyberspace! Make yourself at home and enjoy a few minutes of reading. Everything here (text and pictures), unless otherwise indicated, is original and enjoys copyright protection. For re-use information, please contact me directly.

Information provided here is simply the creation of the author and is not intended as life advice, counseling, or therapy for anyone else. The use of any information found on this site is entirely at the discretion of the reader as they see fit for themselves. The author makes no claims to any particular expertise, experience, or training appropriate to justify basing any life, career, or any other type of decision on any of it.