Saturday, 31 March 2012

God is in it, but really its a bad plan

I love the whole business of Saul being anointed king in 1 Samuel chapters 9 & 10. Particularly I like the prophecy element, with all the details which then just 'work out' simply and straight-forwardly.

For example Samuel is told in advance about Saul (9:15), and seems to know about the donkeys as well! Then there are the prophesied signs in 10:1-11, right down to the detail of the number of loaves of bread. It all just plays out, without a single hitch.

If God is in it, and wants it to happen ... then it will happen.

But of course the strange thing is that the whole episode is a bad deal - Israel should not be having a king in the first place (see 8:1f and 12:12f). So whilst God is in it, revealing through prophecy and having it all play out without setbacks, the whole thing is a big downer compared to what should really be going on.

It seems to me that God may well be in it, but really its a bad plan.

Friday, 2 March 2012

Qualified for Kingdom Preaching

We can all preach the Kingdom of God - I am confident of that.

But is our preaching matched by our own Kingdom living? Is God's rule welcome to whoever we preach to, but still kept at bay within our own lives.

I am struck by the connection between Jesus' testing in the wilderness (Matthew 4) and commencement of his Kingdom preaching in earnest (v17). The whole wilderness + temptation business 'qualifies' Jesus to preach the Kingdom. Not that he wasn't the person to do it anyway - he is the Son of God, the chosen Messiah, after all. Yet God's will in his own life is proven, lived out.

Compare Jesus' wilderness-track-record with the Israelites' version. It took them a while to get used to God's daily provision of manna in the desert, learning to trust God at His word was in fact worth more than the physical food (Dt 8:3). Naturally they got thirsty - they were in a desert duh! - but they turned their thirst into resentment of God's purposes, even wishing they could return to captivity. No wonder Moses saw them as 'testing God' (see Dt 8:3 cf Exodus 17:2). Towards the end of their journey Moses had to spell out to them the need to put God first - since once in the promised land they might just be tempted to think they had got there themselves (see Dt 6:1-5).

It is this Deuteronomy summary that Jesus is quoting in his reactions to the devil. The Israelites were supposed to establish a nation/land where God's rule would be manifest, a pre-cursor to the Kingdom of God maybe, but their lives fell so far short before they even got there.

Jesus, although fully qualified by virtue of who he was, proved his qualification in the realities of un-comfortable life. How do we measure up should our own qualifications ever be tested?