Clever Literary Bio’s

Ever wonder why some things were even included in Scripture?  Sometimes it can be baffling.  And 2,000+ years removed from the writing, it’s impossible to know the author’s intent for sure.  So, often we’re left with a mystery.

After Abimelech there arose to save Israel Tola the son of Puah, son of Dodo, a man of Issachar, and he lived at Shamir in the hill country of Ephraim.  And he judged Israel twenty-three years. Then he died and was buried at Shamir. After him arose Jair the Gileadite, who judged Israel twenty-two years.  And he had thirty sons who rode on thirty donkeys, and they had thirty cities, called Havvoth-jair to this day, which are in the land of Gilead.  And Jair died and was buried in Kamon. (Judges 10:1 — Judg 10:5 ESV)

What did these guys do that warranted lines of Scripture? I get they judged Israel, but there are no battles, no acts of faith, no turning of the people, no feats of leadership. What did they do as judges that gets them on the list?

To heighten the mystery, why does a man of Isachar judge in Ephraim, and then have himself buried there?  Where is “his father’s tomb”?  Why not be buried there?  Is it that this man of Isachar belongs more to the “sons of Israel” than to any one tribe or family?  

What about the Gileadite? We miss the literary device of the author in translation. His thirty son ride thirty jackasses and have thirty cities.  In Hebrew, the word for jackass and the word for city are essentially the same.  It’s a Hebrew pun. The spelling of “city” is odd to make it work, but it works. But what’s the point? This can’t be simply an opprtunity to pun?

That ordinary judges, whose claim to fame is that they judged, are included without drama means that undramatic people are acceptable!  We can be what we’re called to be without fear we’re too boring. We can live out the design and plan of our Master without the need for some crisis to make the plan and design meaningful.

That’s kind of a relief. I thought there was something missing, like I wasn’t doing enough. But I’m called to be a disciple, not a drama king. His plans don’t require “management-by-crisis”. What my Master wants is a daily walk with me in the cool of the day. That’s when I live out my divine purpose, when I spend time with Him.

So, be the pun, be the man-of-the-people, be whatever our Maker has designed you to be. And rest in the walk with your Master in the cool of the day. That’s what garden’s are for.

What’s your view through the fence this morning?


Empty Warnings Undeterring

Just at that time some Pharisees approached, saying to Him, “Go away, leave here, for Herod wants to kill You.”  And He said to them, “Go and tell that fox, ‘Behold, I cast out demons and perform cures today and tomorrow, and the third day I reach My goal.’  Nevertheless I must journey on today and tomorrow and the next day; for it cannot be that a prophet would perish outside of Jerusalem.  O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones those sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, just as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not have it!  “Behold, your house is left to you desolate; and I say to you, you will not see Me until the time comes when you say, ‘BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD!'” (Luke 13:31-35 NASB)

When I was a kid and my family would be going on a long vacation, occasionally I was allowed to pack my own bag my way.  It was only when it didn’t matter whether I brought enough socks and underwear though.  My bag inevitably ended up with lots of stuff that made no sense and served little to no purpose.  But I had an explanation for everything that was in there.  It made sense to me.  In a way, Luke’s preservation of this dialogue of Jesus is like my child-travel bag.

Luke is clearer here than in other places about the timing connecting back to what came before.  More than one Pharisee comes to Jesus with the warning, and the warning sounds like they care about Jesus.  Jesus’ response is to call Herod a fox (and not in a cute sense), and then proceed to delineate His itinerary of healing and exorcisms over the next three days until He reaches His goal.  And I have to ask whether Jesus is giving a clue to the “3-Days-In-The-Grave” thing coming up quickly; where He is in the grave today, the next day, and the following day rises from the dead.

But then Jesus goes on to lament over Jerusalem even though He’s not there yet.  He will do it again once He arrives, but here laments about how unreceptive the city has been to her God and His prophets and messengers.  How long has Jesus desired to gather her children as a hen gathers her chicks?  It’s possible Jesus is describing much more than His earthly life time, though the ones hearing Him wouldn’t have understood that.  “But you would not have it” is a sad commentary on a city whose claim to fame is as the “Place where God placed His Name.”  The commentary is to become an epitaph, as is clear in Jesus’ prophesy over the city when He arrives.

This last statement about the city though, I think, is a foreshadowing of the Triumphal Entry, and not some end-time reference.  This prophecy is really about the city receiving Him, but at the same time, foreshadows His eventual rejection.  It only takes a few days to come to be, so it’s not a prophecy of some future yet to be.  And the quote within it is from Psalm 118, which also sounds like a hodge-podge of praise about God and to God.  Psalm 118 is where we find “The stone which the builders rejected has become the corner stone.”  It’s where we find “This is the day the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it.”  And then, “Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.”

It’s a weird statement from a weird Psalm.  The context doesn’t really illuminate why Jesus would use it here.  What did it mean to the Pharisees?  What did it mean to the disciples?  Does this Psalm refer to some event in the minds of first-century Jews?  Not that I’m aware, which means little really.  I am more inclined to believe Jesus is simply foreshadowing the day He arrives in Jerusalem.  Perhaps these same Pharisees who have lied about Herod will be there, see the entry, and remember this statement.  Who knows.  And yes, they lied about Herod.

So what is my lesson, my take-away from this?  Jesus doesn’t subscribe to my illusions.  He isn’t fooled by those things I use to fool myself and others.  Jesus sees through them, through their distractions and focus’ on His purpose, His plan and goal.  He will not be deterred from Jerusalem, and the cross, the grave, and the empty tomb.  So, I also need to be honest about my illusions.  I need to learn what the Pharisees did not.  Why not learn from Jesus?  Unlike them, I know He’s God, shouldn’t I listen to God?  Why not share Jesus’ focus, purpose, plan, and goal?   Do I have better ones?  Not letting the distractions of warnings, fears, empty and hollow fears, is the necessary approach to life with Jesus.  But like Peter, the wind and wave distract me from walking on water.  The hollow warnings of those seeking my destruction draw my attention.  The ridiculous and the easy distract from the beautiful and difficult.  Jesus was undeterred in His pursuit of the cross.  I can be undeterred in my pursuit of His goal for my life.

What do you learn from this passage?

Using The Power of The Lord?

 One day He was teaching; and there were some Pharisees and teachers of the law sitting there, who had come from every village of Galilee and Judea and from Jerusalem; and the power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.    And some men were carrying on a bed a man who was paralyzed; and they were trying to bring him in and to set him down in front of Him.    But not finding any way to bring him in because of the crowd, they went up on the roof and let him down through the tiles with his stretcher, into the middle of the crowd, in front of Jesus.    Seeing their faith, He said, “Friend, your sins are forgiven you.” (Luke 5:17-20 NASB)

The power of the Lord was present for Him to perform healing.  This is a difficult thing to render in English from Greek because of some Greek grammatical constructions that make little sense in English.  Greek can use infinitives in much more creative ways than we can.  We have to create the sense of what they mean in English without the grammatical constructions.  So the meaning isn’t lost in English, it just sounds really weird.

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Should We Let Jesus Go?

 When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them.    But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.”  So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Luke 4:42-44 NASB)

Can we ever have so much of Jesus that we need to ‘let Him go’?  Is there any point in our lives where we are supposed to let Him move on to someone else?  I believe the answers are yes, and no.

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The Man With The Dangerously Big Head

Now Absalom happened to meet the servants of David. For Absalom was riding on his mule, and the mule went under the thick branches of a great oak. And his head caught fast in the oak, so he was left hanging between heaven and earth, while the mule that was under him kept going (2 Samuel 18:9 NASB)

I had a friend ask me where I come up with these titles.  I’m not sure.  I suppose when I imagine a guy riding a mule going under a tree, getting his head stuck in the tree, and the mule continuing on, leaving the man hanging from the tree; I’m likely to suspect his head was too big.  The irony of the term applied to Absalom also makes it very attractive, almost as attractive as he thought he was.  See, it just works so well on too many levels.

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