Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Great "Get-out-of-bed-hit-the-floor-running" Quote

Hey! Need a get-you-fired-up-and-ready quote for the day? It comes from a great little book called Abide in Christ by Andrew Murray:

"The branch does not exist for itself, but to bear fruit that can proclaim the excellence of the vine: it has no reason of existence except to be of service to the vine."

Abide in Christ, p. 30-31

Trying to grow Vine-glorifying fruit today,

The Horror Film Plotline in Exodus

This morning in Bible Study, I was dialoguing with the X-men (eXodus MEN's Bible study) about the plagues. We are currently in the plague of flies. It struck me that this series of events that we affectionately refer to as "the Ten Plagues" is really the stuff of horror films. The plotline is so similar that I can't belive that I didn't see it before:
  • A. Man is minding his own business out in woods at midnight
  • B. Man is confronted with scary creature/villian/terror
  • C. Man runs to place of comfort/security, breathes sigh of relief
  • D. Man is again confronted with terror in the security of his hiding place
  • E. Man grabs at anything to rid himself of terror, deals what appear to be a death blow, breathes sigh of relief
  • F. Man is again confronted with terror after apparently being done with it
  • G. Repeat cycle to absurdium

Pharaoh is a textbook case. He is confronted with Moses and Aaron who give him a word from YHWH -- "Let my people go". His response was "No" and he went down to the river to settle his accounts with the gods (a method/attempt at security).

Mo and Aaron show up again this time with terror (blood water). Pharaoh runs and hides at court with his magicians who comfort him with a "natural explanation" of the "trick". Pharaoh is secure -- or so he thinks.

He is confronted with Mo/Aaron and more terror.

Do you see the pattern? Again, if we really got the graphic nature of the Bible, we might not be so quick to "dumb it down" to flannelgraphs, finger puppets and coloring pictures. This narrative is really "Nightmare on Nile Street".

The only flaw in the plotline is that God is not the boogey man. He is powerful enough to trump the boogeyman and the monsters on TV and He's watching out for his kids. To those who will receive it, He gives mercy; to the rebellious, He gives judgment.

I wish that Pharaoh had not chosen to keep trying to destroy God. I want to scream into my Bible, "Don't fight Him! You'll only make it worse!". This response is somewhat akin to the reaction of the horror film audience that hoarsely whispers, "Don't go back out there, the thing will get you!" as they watch the protagonist cycle through the plotline.

Where are you today? Are you trying to run from God? Eventually that type of avoidance will kill you. (see Ex. 14 and listen to the hit single that it spawned in Ex. 15) You don't have to live in terror. You can know this God personally and enjoy Him forever.

No longer scared,

Friday, June 15, 2007

The Finger of God

In the plague narrative in Exodus, Pharaoh's henchmen make an interesting anthropomorphic conclusion during the third plague (gnats/lice/insects/bugs).

"The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, "This is the finger of God." But Pharaoh' s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had said."
Exodus 8:16-19, NASB

The finger of God. I believe that the magicians intended for this to be a harbinger of things to come, intended to dissuade Pharaoh from further irritation of this Hebrew God, YHWH. THey were saying, in effect: "We're dealing with a seriously higher power here dude!" or "We are so definitely out of our league on this one." This statement highlights the fact that there was a divine influence in this situation. If the magicians were in charge, it would have only taken three plagues instead of the power of ten. They were ready to release the Hebrews on their own recogniscence. This is a God thing, king! Pull out now while we're still standing here.

Yet, the king in all of his own worldy wisdom allows this episode to further bake his heart into a sun-dried brick! He doesn't take even the advice of his own "wisemen". He is up for a showdown with God, YHWH, the Self-Existent One. That is exactly what he gets. The finger of God writes in judgment of sinful, corrupted hearts, "Mene, mene tekel upharsin" [weighed, weighed and found wanting]. Just like Beltashazzar, Pharaoh was in a serious spot of light shone from the finger of God. Like the finger of the prophet Nathan, the plagues from the staff/hand of Moses, pointed out "You are the man". Yet in the face of indictment, Pharoah demands and maintains his innocence or at least his superiority.

The finger of God is only the wake-up call. It is the tip of the iceberg, the first part of the migty hand of God that has been promised to bring God's people out of the land of bondage. Too bad that Pharoah keeps rolling over and hitting snooze.

  1. Is God pointing out an area that needs some confession, repentance and rearranging?
  2. Are you listening or are you hitting the snooze button?
  3. Are you allowing the hardness of today to soften your spiritual sensitivities and draw you closer to God? Are you allowing them to bake your hardened, selfish heart and drive you farther from Him?

Don't wait for the mighty hand of God; choose to hear the finger.

Paying close attention myself,

**for further finger of God things, read Ex. 31:18/Deut 9:10, Luke 11:20, John 8:6