Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Zechariah 14

I have been trying to get through the books of the minor prophets. I have been trying to understand the bible as one of God's tools for revealing himself. I have been trying to get beyond seeing the bible as my "little answer book." "God show me your character" has been my prayer as I spend time reading the bible.

Then there is the 14th chapter of Zechariah. I have always been taught by spiritual leaders and mentors that God will not, even more, cannot compel someone to worship him. My studying of Jesus reveals to me that he loved, cared and healed people into a worshipping relationship. Yet in the 14th chapter of Zechariah there is this:

Zech 14:16-19

16 Then the survivors from all the nations that have attacked Jerusalem will go up year after year to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, and to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 17 If any of the peoples of the earth do not go up to Jerusalem to worship the King, the LORD Almighty, they will have no rain. 18 If the Egyptian people do not go up and take part, they will have no rain. The LORD will bring on them the plague he inflicts on the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles. 19 This will be the punishment of Egypt and the punishment of all the nations that do not go up to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles.

Most scholars believe Zechariah is speaking of the days after armagedon. This sounds like compulsion to me, withholding sustenance? Will God have had all He can stand by that point? And say "It's my way or the highway!" It actually sounds worse than that. It sounds like, "It's my way or no way."

From a worldly standpoint, it would be totally understandable if God were to use this tactic. He set the world in motion, gave us some loose parameters and let us have at it. We then decide to go our own way; over and over and over again. Finally, God get's to the point where He can't take it anymore. "I'm tired of watching you people screw this thing up. Do it my way or else." But God is not of this world. Therefore, a worldly standpoint is irrelevant.

What part of God's character is this? Does this go into the God's ways are higher than mine and I'm not supposed to get it? Will I get it when all things come to completion? How do I explain a passage like this to a friend far from God? To high school student trying to make sense of the world?

Lord give me wisdom.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Incapable of a significant answer

A comment I added to Tim Bednar's post on e-church.com
To answer the original question, why the silence Tsunamis?
For me personally, I think it is because I lack the capability. I lack the mental and emotional capability of dealing with something so horrific. I sit in my toasty little home and begin to think of orphans bewildered, searching for their parents and I shut down.
I think of parents weeping and wailing at the loss of their of children. I think of my own children fighting to survive in the torrents of water that wreaked so much havoc and I become paralyzed with fear and sadness.
We were staggered, as a nation at the loss of 3300+ on 9/11, I can't begin to comprehend 155,000+.
Spiritually, I don't think there is an answer of any significance that we, as mere humans can offer. Not only does a signifcant answer not exist, I think we diminish the magnitude and tragedy of what happened when we try to offer one.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Why does church have to be this way?

I just got off the phone with dear friends who called to say they were leaving our church. They have been partners in mininstry, supporters and encouragers. Their daughters are very involved in our student ministries. Their eldest daughter is our boy's favorite babysitter. We have invested much in them and they have invested much in us. They have given countless hours of their time and energy, given selflessly of their resources. To say they will be missed is an understatement.
Were they without faults? No. But they love God and they Love other people. And I love them.

They told me they have felt God calling them elsewhere for some time now. Their season with us is over. I don't want to stand in the way of anyone following God's call. With that said though, I don't get it! I don't like it. And I don't understand it! Why does church have to be this way?

When I was in the marketplace people came and went all the time. It never felt personal like this. It never hurt like this.