Used, Then Disgarded, By Yahweh

Being used by my Master has always been a goal of mine. But I have also run afoul of using this as a measure of my spiritual health. Being used by the Creator of the universe for His purposes isn’t a perfect metric of spiritual health. After all, if my Master can use a donkey and even speak His message through it, then how much of a “badge of honor” is simply being useful to Him? Pretty much anything is useful to Him. Such as fat king Eglon of Moab…

Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the Lord. So the Lord strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the Lord. And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees. The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. (Judges 3:12 — 14 NASB)

Yahweh strengthened Eglon, king of Moab. Yahweh chose Eglon, and used him to correct Yahweh’s people, the sons of Israel. Sure, Eglon was a foreign king, and yes, Eglon used other foreign enemies of the sons of Israel. But it was Yahweh’s strength that enabled him to prevail over the sons of Israel. Perhaps he didn’t know. Maybe Eglon was unwitting pawn in the hand of El Shaddai. But, what if he did?

Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat. (Judges 3:20 NASB)

Why would Eglon rise from his seat when Ehud says he has a message from God? Why show respect if he had no understanding of his divine mission? Did Eglon know God as the sons of Israel? Ehud uses the term, “elohim”, which can mean “gods”, so it’s possible Eglon thought the gods sent him a message through Ehud. But whatever we surmise may have been, we know Eglon knew Ehud came from Israel and, therefore, was of this other God, Yahweh. 

Eglon rises, but the message is one of his own death. This tool in the hand of Yahweh now becomes disgarded by this same God. The One having strengthened him against Israel now destroys him before them. It’s a reversal of divine proportions, and it’s a crucial lesson.

Usefulness to our Master is not a sign of acceptance by Him. Our Master uses whomever He chooses, whenever He chooses, for as long as He chooses, for whatever He chooses. Our usefulness to Him is a sign of His sovereignty, not our quality. In fact, Paul says Jesus uses the foolish things to shame the wise, and the things that are not to nullify the things that are. 

The marks of our spiritual health is our love of Him, our worship of Him, our submission to Him, and our devotion to Him. When others discover the fruit of His Spirit growing on us, we are spiritually healthy. Even in this, it’s not about us.

That’s my view through the fence, what do you see through your knothole?

One-Liners

Some characters in Scripture get books written about them.  Some make it into books, but don’t make up the whole of any of them.  Others get bit parts here and there.  Some are only mentioned once, perhaps in a few verses.  But, there are others, heroes even, who get a single line.  There aren’t many, so, they’re rare, and, therefore, precious.

After him came Shamgar the son of Anath, who struck down six hundred Philistines with an oxgoad; and he also saved Israel. (Judges 3:31 NASB)

Philistines, the iron-wielding, “bad-guys” of Scripture, appear early on in this history of judges.  They’re a bit too early.  On the other hand, why not?  There’s a band of 600, not thousands, as appear later.  They are known to be in the coastal lands of Canaan when Israel rushes across the Jordan.  The iron chariots of the Philistines prove too difficult for Judah and Simeon to defeat (Judges 1), so, they’re already an advanced military power.  So, they can belong to this part of the story.

Shamgar is the real mystery.  We’re given tantalizingly few details.  No mention of tribe, but as he fights Philistines, he must be among the southern coastal tribes (Judah, Simeon, or Dan).  The most likely would be Judah, but only because there is more territory in common with the coastal people.  But we don’t know.  It’s not important to the author or his audience…or they already knew.

Could it be possible that Shamgar was so popular, everyone already knew his story?  What if his story was so popular that only that one line was necessary to draw in the entirety of the meaning and point?  What if his story were like the jokes of our culture where we only need to state the punchline to break up an entire room?  “Rectum?! Dang near killed ’em!”  “A horse walks into a bar, and the bartender asks, ‘Why the long face?'”

We don’t need a lot of detail.  Common lines from movies invoke the emotions of the whole scene.  “Momma always said, ‘Life is like a box of chocolates.'”  “May the force be with you!”  Our culture is full of them.  Why wouldn’t theirs be?  It’s possible that the mere mention of a guy striking down 600 enemies with an oxgoad was enough for for the audience to fill in the missing details in their minds and hearts.  It just sucks to be us.

So, what about us?  What do we draw from this?  Keep in mind that we’re supposed to.  Our Master inspired this to be recorded for a reason.  There was a purpose in the time of writing, for that audience.  But there’s a purpose for us today as well.  So, we’ve been left out of the joke, we didn’t see the movie, and we don’t remember the story.  What’s in it for us?

What’s an oxgoad?  It’s a tool used by the guy behind the plow to keep the oxen moving and the plow clear.  With one end, the farmer could poke the oxen to keep moving.  With the other he could knock or scrape the dirt clumps from the plow blade.  So, the setting is a farm, possibly during planting season.  Seed is being sown, and seed is precious.  Perhaps this season, the Philistines are short, or they’re just in a bad mood.  Either way, 600+ show up to this farm, and it’s not to help out.

Cue the music, cut to the squinty-eyed shot of the scruffy-faced bad-guy; it’s a showdown.  Iron-armed thugs (basically farmers from the next county over), have arrived to take seed, because they can.  One man, the plowman, stands in their way, farm implement in his hand.  One against 600, not really a problem for the thugs, or is he.  The sun beats down, heat waves rise from the dirt.  The taunting begins, Shamgar the plowman, stands silent before them, between the thugs and the seed.  One of them approaches to defy him.  In a flash, the thug is struck down, to the shock of the 600.  They glare at the defiant plowman holding the wooden stick, and all charge.  It’s a bloody blur as the weapons trace arcs through the air, with only the goad making connections, and each one is death.  The air is full of the sound of cracks and thuds, and then the cries of the dying.  The dust of the field begins to settle, and one man with a goad stands among the fallen, either dead or dying.  No thugs remain, Shamgar is the last man standing. Cue the credits, and title music.

Not much of a plot, I’ll admit, but there is a point.  One man against ridiculous odds, out numbered, and out “weaponed” is just the sort of thing our Master can use.  Obviously, one man can’t take down 600 in a toe-to-toe fight, that’s just ridiculous.  Yet, our Master can empower people however He likes, to do whatever He wants done.  If we were to see this scene in a movie, we’d have to suspend so much belief that we’d reject the whole outright.  There would have to be an explanation.  He’s a “superhero”.  We’ll much more likely accept super-powers than accept that a regular guy could do such things.  And we’d be right to demand such explanations.

But seriously, what power imaginable can possibly be greater than the power responsible for creating the universe?  Duh!  And yet we fear.  We doubt that our Master will show up, will enable us to do what He’s called us to do.  We fear that we will suffer, we will fail, it’s impossible, no one person can do that.  RIGHT! That’s the POINT!  Such things have to illuminate the power of Yahweh to work through common plowmen.   Our faith fails to materialize right when we need it most.  But our Master will have His deliverer.  If not us, then He’ll find another to use.  But why not us?

Why not be the common plowman with a pointy-ended hoe?  What’s the problem?  Not enough resources?  Is the enemy better equipped?  Are there more of them than there are of you?  So what?  Stars still flare, the sun still shines, the plants still grow, and it still rains.  Did something change to cause you to forget that Yahweh is still on His throne?  Stand up, grab that hoe, and face those enemies.  And remember, it’s not about you.

That’s my view through my knothole this morning.  What do you see of our Master through yours?

Delivered by the Hand of an Assassin

Yahweh inspired a record of His choices He made, in the book of Judges, because these are characteristics about Himself He wanted us to know.  If you struggle believing that, then the rest of this entry will a lot easier to accept, though unexpected.  It’s crazy.  If you do believe that first sentence, then the rest of this entry may challenge your perception of the One you worship.  Both of these are good things, so I encourage you to keep reading.

Now the sons of Israel again did evil in the sight of the LORD. So the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done evil in the sight of the LORD.  And he gathered to himself the sons of Ammon and Amalek; and he went and defeated Israel, and they possessed the city of the palm trees.  The sons of Israel served Eglon the king of Moab eighteen years. (Judges 3:12-14 NASB)

The people of Israel sinned, actually committed iniquity.  And they did so, again.  In response, Yahweh “…strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel,…”  Think about that for a second.  Yahweh caused Eglon to succeed against Israel, His chosen people.  So, Yahweh chose Eglon to punish the people Yahweh chose to adopt.  That’s the first choice that should destabilize our comfortable view of our Master.  But, let’s continue.

But when the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for them, Ehud the son of Gera, the Benjamite, a left-handed man. And the sons of Israel sent tribute by him to Eglon the king of Moab.  Ehud made himself a sword which had two edges, a cubit in length, and he bound it on his right thigh under his cloak. (Judges 3:15-16 NASB)

Ehud is “raised up” by Yahweh as a “deliverer”.  Whatever commentators want to make of the difference between “deliverer” and “judge”, from the context of this chapter, they clearly mean the same thing in this book.  And, this man, chosen by Yahweh, makes a very different sword.  It’s not a curved, single-edged sword, it’s a straight, double-edged sword.  And Ehud conceals this special weapon as he goes to deliver the tribute of Israel to the king.

The chosen deliverer of Yahweh, with his concealed weapon, delivers the tribute, and leaves…sort of.  He didn’t get very far.

It came about when he had finished presenting the tribute, that he sent away the people who had carried the tribute.  But he himself turned back from the idols which were at Gilgal, and said, “I have a secret message for you, O king.” And he said, “Keep silence.” And all who attended him left him.  Ehud came to him while he was sitting alone in his cool roof chamber. And Ehud said, “I have a message from God for you.” And he arose from his seat.  Ehud stretched out his left hand, took the sword from his right thigh and thrust it into his belly.  The handle also went in after the blade, and the fat closed over the blade, for he did not draw the sword out of his belly; and the refuse came out. (Judges 3:18-22 NASB)

First, consider that this record is inspired, it’s what Yahweh wants us to know about what happened, how He delivers Israel.  Second, keep in mind, as you read, this is far more detail than the author normally includes about armed conflict.  In fact, it’s shockingly detailed, perhaps disgustingly so.  This is, perhaps, the most detailed assassination in all of Scripture, and there are several.  So, you have to ask yourself, “why would my Master want me to know this about His choice of Ehud?”  You need to explore that question.  It’s part of the point of the author, and the inspired point of Yahweh.  Remember the first sentence.

Before anyone begins to impugn the courage of Ehud, considering such behavior to be cowardly, keep reading.

Now Ehud escaped while they were delaying, and he passed by the idols and escaped to Seirah.  It came about when he had arrived, that he blew the trumpet in the hill country of Ephraim; and the sons of Israel went down with him from the hill country, and he was in front of them.  He said to them, “Pursue them, for the LORD has given your enemies the Moabites into your hands.” So they went down after him and seized the fords of the Jordan opposite Moab, and did not allow anyone to cross.  They struck down at that time about ten thousand Moabites, all robust and valiant men; and no one escaped.  So Moab was subdued that day under the hand of Israel. And the land was undisturbed for eighty years. (Judges 3:26-30 NASB)

Ehud escapes the scene of his assassination of the king, but then leads the people from in front.  This is another detail not often included by this author.  He wants his readers to understand that Ehud was no coward, just as we are to infer the same.  Yahweh didn’t choose a coward.  He raised up a man who didn’t ask for back up as he defeats this king with his left hand.  He was a leader, and a man who did what needed to be done, but did so on his own.  Yahweh raised him up.  Yahweh delivered His people by the hand of an assassin, someone we might call a “commando” in these days, a “militant spy”.

Before we cast judgement on Ehud, remember he was the chosen of Yahweh.  If you don’t like Ehud, then you’re questioning the choice of Yahweh, your Master.  Think that through.  This Sunday, you will be worshiping One forming stars, making you and I holy, and inspiring assassins.  Jesus loves you, and He is not above using people our culture fears and denigrates in His service.  If what Ehud did seems “morally wrong” to you, then who’s morals are you using to judge?  If Jesus tells Peter, “What God has cleansed, no longer consider unholy” (Acts 10:15), then, perhaps, we need a greater flexibility in regard to the work and choices of our Master.

I don’t advocate assassination to further the Kingdom of God.  But I do advocate an honest view of our Master.  We’re not securing “territory” any longer.  The battles we fight are against spiritual forces of darkness, found in heavenly realms.  So, don’t make the mistake of believing we’re not at war, or considering the absence of strife to be achievement in the fight.  This is guerrilla warfare, against giants, against the powers and authorities of this dark world.  Our Master may call you, and all your weaknesses, fears, and clumsiness.  Don’t think He won’t.  But don’t be surprised when He calls that annoying brother or sister in the faith either.  Such are the choices of Yahweh, our Master.

That’s my view through the fence this morning.  What do you see of our Master and His work through your knothole?

Is Timing Really Everything?

When the dust settles, the wounds have been bandaged, and the clean up begins, it often becomes the time to wonder, “what went wrong in the first place?”.  The author of Judges looks back over 400 years to examine the early history of his people and their God, and he chronicles the answer to that question.  In the introduction, the “prelude” to Judges, several answers are offered, and they all tend to center around Israel’s faithlessness to Yahweh.  And yet, at times, this answer seems at odds with the setting.

The sons of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.  Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, so that He sold them into the hands of Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia; and the sons of Israel served Cushan-rishathaim eight years. (Judges 3:7-8 NASB)

The account of the judges finally begins, the prelude is over.  One of the elements we were expecting from the notes of the prelude is time.  A generation should have passed of those who were familiar with how Yahweh led the people in war (Judges 3:1-2).  A generation should have risen who did not know Yahweh (Judges 2:10).  For instance, we expect a people who would know nothing of Caleb (Judges 1:11-15).  That’s what we expect from the prelude.  But here’s what we find:

When the sons of Israel cried to the LORD, the LORD raised up a deliverer for the sons of Israel to deliver them, Othniel the son of Kenaz, Caleb’s younger brother.  The Spirit of the LORD came upon him, and he judged Israel. When he went out to war, the LORD gave Cushan-rishathaim king of Mesopotamia into his hand, so that he prevailed over Cushan-rishathaim.  Then the land had rest forty years. And Othniel the son of Kenaz died. (Judges 3:9-11 NASB)

If that bothers you, then at least you’re thinking about what you read.  If you only get that far, you’ve moved beyond simply reading to complete a task.  If it doesn’t bother you, and you’re already bored with this entry, then either you’ve already found someone’s explanation, or you don’t care.  In either case, you’re free to move on to another blog.  There’s plenty to entertain out there.

This is a challenge around the setting of Judges.  The prelude was supposed to give us a sense of what to expect throughout the book.  Yet, right at the outset of the account of these judges, the timing alluded to in the prelude seems off.  We didn’t get what we expected. But think through the explanation again.  Think through the pattern.  Think through those elements in the prelude about the people, about their failure, and repentance.  How could they repent if they never knew Yahweh in the first place?

The problem for us is a misunderstanding of some of the details in the prelude. We’re missing something about the succeeding generations after Joshua and those elders.  We assume they didn’t know as in knowledge.  But what we discover as we read further is that they didn’t know, as in experience.  Each generation seems destined to repeat the same lesson, that they can’t get along mixing Yahweh worship with any other god.  And that can happen as generations overlap.

When the young and vigorous refuse to listen to, and believe, their elders, this is what we get. We get it today.  We see that the younger generations “know better” than their elders, because the world is so much different now than when they were young and vigorous.  The reasons the young gave then were probably explained differently, but we can see the results repeatedly in Scripture.

Generations in Scripture flip-flopped in their devotion to Yahweh.  And not just in Judges.  Look at the sons of Samuel, neither of them could judge rightly.  The sons of David had only one “good egg” who eventually went bad, and had to recant.  Then his son splits the kingdom.  The succession of kings in Judah went back and forth to the point it becomes difficult to follow.  Look at the sons of Jacob, they didn’t really get their act together until after selling their brother, Joseph, into slavery.  And even then we see hints they weren’t really devoted to Yahweh (Genesis 38).

We point fingers at the people depicted in Judges, but they’re just like the rest.  That’s really the author’s point.  These people are just like his audience.  And, in many ways, they’re just like us.  We point at a generation around us that wanders from Jesus.  But, let’s be honest, they’re simply wandering further than we do.  And we do wander from Jesus.

Take a litmus test of your devotion to Jesus.  Are you what He would describe as a “disciple”?  Keep in mind that the purpose of His church is to make disciples, not “followers”. There’s no valid excuse for not being a disciple.  And as we read the gospels of Luke, Matthew, Mark, and John, we discover a disciple is a radical.  Our culture isn’t friendly to radicals, of any sort.  “Right-wing nut jobs” and “Leftist Guerillas” get the same treatment, suppression.  They’re disruptive – intentionally and dangerously.  And Jesus suffered the same treatment.

We look at the timing of Judges, and we don’t understand.  But, if we look deeper, see the experience from which they learned, the timing stops being the problem.  So, the first judge overlaps with the elders following Joshua, and is, in fact one of them.  That doesn’t take away from the truth that those around Othniel had wandered from Yahweh.  The generation having forgotten Yahweh was right there, rising up among the elders.  Finally, they stopped to listen to Othniel and his account of what Yahweh had done for His people.  Having finally listened, they believed. Only then was Othniel empowered to act as judge and deliverer.

Our elders, examples of disciples devoted to Jesus, may have passed.  Perhaps you have discovered that you are not like them, not the devoted disciple they were.  And once you’re fed up with that life, do as the people of Judges did, and cry out to Jesus.  Cry out for His deliverance.  But, be ready to change, be ready to experience the effects of devotion.  Be ready to loose everything of this “life” to gain everything of His life.  Pray, but brace yourself.

That’s my view through the knothole this morning.  What’s your view of our Master through yours?

Knowing God Through Combat

The life of a believer, follower, or disciple of Jesus can be summarized as spent getting to know Jesus better.  The process of knowing Him more has the added affect of changing the disciple into the likeness of their Master.  The typical methods used today are prayer, Bible study, worship, perhaps service to others, or ministry within a church.  But what about combat?  What about the biblical method of learning about our God through learning combat?  You haven’t heard about that particular method?  Ah, then this entry is for you!

Now these are the nations which the LORD left, to test Israel by them (that is, all who had not experienced any of the wars of Canaan; only in order that the generations of the sons of Israel might be taught war, those who had not experienced it formerly).  These nations are: the five lords of the Philistines and all the Canaanites and the Sidonians and the Hivites who lived in Mount Lebanon, from Mount Baal-hermon as far as Lebo-hamath. (Judges 3:1-3 NASB)

From the passage above, you can clearly see that Yahweh used the Canaanites in the land to teach His people about Himself through combat.  Does that seem a lot to derive from the word “test”?  Fair enough, then consider the next few verses:

They were for testing Israel, to find out if they would obey the commandments of the LORD, which He had commanded their fathers through Moses.  The sons of Israel lived among the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; and they took their daughters for themselves as wives, and gave their own daughters to their sons, and served their gods. (Judges 3:4-6 NASB)

Does the testing seem more clear now?  And, not only the testing, but the people’s struggle to pass the test, becomes clear.  The people of Yahweh seemed content to live among the people, as Canaanites themselves!  Combat was the method Yahweh used with His people to distinguish them from their Canaanite neighbors, to demonstrate they were different than the Canaanites.  Through combat, His people became holy, it was a test to sanctify His people.  Instead, His people married among those they were supposed to oppose.

Do you see where this is headed yet?  We, as disciples of Jesus, are to be obviously different than our “neighbors”.  We are supposed to be holy.  We’re not supposed to look or act like “everyone else”.  Our priorities and goals are supposed to be different.  We’re supposed to be distinguishable from those around whom we live and work.  But, most of the time, we seem content to be different at church.  That we go to church at all seems to be difference enough for many of us.  While going to church is great, and necessary, it’s not “holiness”, or not nearly enough of it.

For a disciple of Jesus, the struggle to be different, for holiness, is not about being an individual.  It is personal combat against the pressure to be unlike Jesus.  This can be difficult, even in church.  But, the struggle for holiness can be easily forgotten in the rest of life.  It’s easy to forgive ourselves for not being different “out there”, after all, who wants to be “offensive”?  Well, to be clear, Jesus did.  John 6 is a great view into Jesus’ “Church Growth Strategy” – drive off inauthentic followers.  To be His disciple means we will be fearlessly offensive as well.

It’s not easy being a disciple of Jesus.  It takes whole-hearted determination, perseverance, and pig-headed stick-to-it-tiveness.  It takes study to get to know Jesus’ priorities, His point of view, and His goals.  It takes study of both Testaments.  The people of Yahweh, the sons of Israel, struggled with Yahweh.  That’s what their name means.  They earned it.  And it’s time for us, as disciples of Jesus, to enter into this struggle as well.

Suit up!  Grab your gear!  Let’s get out there, and fight!

That’s my view through the knothole this morning.  What do you see of our Master through yours?

X Marks the Spot

There is a structure in Hebrew poetry referred to as “chiastic parallelism“.  It was used to emphasize whatever was put in the center, the “crux” of the structure.  It might be that this structure was used in these verses.  Sort of, any way.  There’s a piece in the center that seems to be missing, the “parallel” part.

Then the sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals, and they forsook the LORD, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt, and followed other gods from among the gods of the peoples who  ere around them, and bowed themselves down to them; thus they provoked the LORD to anger.  So they forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtaroth. (Judges 2:11-13 NASB)

English translation, as a process, can obscure literary structures and devices.  It’s mostly unavoidable.  Puns and rhymes simply don’t translate very well.  Other things might translate somewhat more easily.  Some English translations of these verses do well, others, not so much.  The New American Standard has all the elements, and they’re even grouped by punctuation somewhat.  The ESV preserves the elements, but the NIV obscures them.  The NLT makes it difficult by not repeating the elements very closely, but the NKJV does a good job of preserving terms.

So, here are the elements:

The sons of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD:
A.   They served the Baals
B.   They abandoned (forsook) the LORD
C.   They followed other gods
X.   They bowed themselves down to them
C’.  They provoked the LORD to anger
B’.  They abandoned (forsook) the LORD
A’.  They served Baal and Ashtaroth

The X. element would be the focus of this structure.  On the other hand, the C. and C’. elements aren’t exactly “parallel”, and there’s no parallel present for the X. element in the structure.  So, it’s not a perfect “poetic” chiastic parallel structure.  But I believe it’s a good literary chiasm.

If you want a repetition of the X. element, then look at verses 17 and 19.  The author has repeated this indictment twice more.  Clearly though, the repeated theme of the chapter (and, indeed, this two-chapter prelude) is the failure to take the land from the Canaanites.  Yet, within this smaller element, verses 11 through 23, the repetition of the worship of other gods is unmistakable.

Notice that this section is, itself, bracketed by indictments about the people not taking the land, and that God will no longer drive out the people.  It is, in itself, somewhat chiastic in placement, if not in parallel structure.  It’s as if the author wants his audience to know that the point of the book is about taking the land, but the point of our lives is the worship of God.  That may be a lot to draw from a single passage, and maybe saying the “point of our lives” is overstating the intent of the author.  But, maybe not.  This important literary element is clearer here than elsewhere in this “prelude”, so, perhaps, it’s exactly what the author is saying.

The failure to drive out the Canaanites does set the stage for the rest of the conflict in Judges.  But the worship of their gods by the children of Israel is the constant problem that eventually results in the destruction of Jerusalem and the captivity in Babylon.  Even after the conquest is complete under David and Solomon, the problem of worship of other gods persists.  It makes sense, then, that this prophet, penning the history of Yahweh and His people, would make worship of other gods a central issue for his audience.  It’s the common element between his audience, and the people in the time of the judges.

But it’s our common element as well.  The point for us remains the same as the point for the people who first read and heard these words.  What do we “bow ourselves down” to?  What’s most important to us?  Is obedience to our Savior?  Is He truly our “Lord”?  Or, are we content to be “saved”, living in His grace and mercy, forsaking the change of our minds and paradigm.  Yahweh told His people to be different than the peoples in the land, and to drive them off.  We have been called to be different as well.  Will we, instead, adopt the “gods” of the people of the land?  Or will we be obedient? Will we adopt the paradigm of our Savior, the whole paradigm, not just the parts culturally acceptable?

Challenge accepted?

What’s your view through your knothole this morning?