Bible in a Year – Day 180: Frenemies
If there is, somewhere in the cosmos, a sliding scale which indicates at one end that a person or people are friends of God and at the other end that a person or people are his enemies, Israel is perpetually stuck somewhere in the middle. In fact, the Bible speaks of many individuals who are friends of God and it speaks of many nations who oppose him. But the tone is different for Israel.
The people of Israel (especially the Biblical writers) hold fast to their claim as the people of God. They call for swift justice for those who oppose him, or more accurately, those who oppose them. And yet, they aren’t firmly in God’s corner, either. For many, the jury is still out as to whether or not this “God of Israel” is all he’s cracked up to be.
You can hear it in some of these Psalms – a tone of voice that somehow comes through in the writing. Like this, from Psalm 80:
Let your hand rest on the man at your right hand,
the son of man you have raised up for yourself.
Then we will not turn away from you;
revive us, and we will call on your name.
Restore us, Lord God Almighty;
make your face shine on us,
that we may be saved. (Psalm 80:17-19 – emphasis mine)
You see? A little quid pro quo with the God of the universe – a little deal-making. The psalmist is telling God that if he will rescue his people, then they will not turn away from him. In many ways, this is a foretaste of the mocking that Jesus would endure on the cross as his accusers shouted that if he was the Son of God, he should command his angels to come down and rescue him. Then, surely, everyone would worship him.
But God is not in the quid pro quo business…at least not in the way we tend to want him to be. He doesn’t like to make little bargains, because he has already closed the BIG deal. In a game of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours,” he has stored up an infinite amount of back scratching and we have no room to demand anything more of him.
And yet, throughout history, recorded in the Bible, in history books and even in our recent memory, there are those of us who insist that God somehow owes us something – that if he would just pull his weight around here, we would be happy to pull ours. To me, this is the worst kind of heresy – a show of disrespect – a lowering of God and an elevating of ourselves so that we have the audacity to speak as if we are on the same level.
In our rejection of his authority, his wisdom and his all-encompassing knowledge, we also reject his mercy, compassion, protection, guidance and helping hand. We serve a God who longs to make things right, but who refuses to do so on our terms. And so, we are called to surrender – to give up our so-called “rights” and to declare that whatever God wants, he can have. The really cool thing is that if we will just do that, then we’ll find what he had waiting for us all along – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
- More Friends Who Are Changing the World
- Great Place. Great Friends.
- Leaning In – The Positive Power of Opposition
- Holy Spirit – The Missing Piece of God
- Bible in a Year – Day 362: A Timeless Story
- Bible in a Year – Day 358: Cheaters
- Bible in a Year – Day 353: Ain’t Nothing Like the Real Thing
- Bible in a Year – Day 351: Slave Friends
- Bible in a Year – Day 346: God, Others…
- Bible in a Year – Day 284: Jesus’ Cleaning Service