Yesterday (Sunday November 9) was “National Chaos Never Dies Day” – where do they come up with this stuff – but I digress.
“Chaos,” according to the first entry of a Google search means: “disorder, disarray, confusion.”
So, if school is stressful, work is wacky, home is hectic, November 9 is your day.
A day to let it out, admit it, face it.
I’m teaching a series now in which we are facing, admitting the fact that one thing that causes us to experience chaos is – here it is – reading the Bible.
It takes a lot of guts just to admit that doesn’t it? But it’s true. How could we not experience some chaos when we read this from Exodus 21:20-21
If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished. But if the slave recovers within a day or two, then the owner shall not be punished, since the slave is his property.
Who can honestly read that and not think, “What the …?!
“Oh, that must just be a record of what some guy said…” Sorry. According to the Bible, it wasn’t just a guy. It was God.
Here’s another. We’re justifiably horrified and disgusted with the genocidal attitudes and actions that we see from extremist Islamist. Like these words from a member of Isis. “God willing, this generation will fight infidels and apostates, the Americans and their allies, God willing. The right doctrine has been implanted in these children. All of them love to fight for the sake of building the Islamic State and for the sake of God.”
Yep, Isis wants to wipe us out – all in the name of God. “For the sake of God” “God willing.” We instinctively know that’s wrong. We know such a view and vision does not accurately reflect God. But then we read this:
They (Joshua’s army) completely destroyed everything in it (Jericho) with their swords – men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep and donkeys. Joshua 6:21
“Well, that must have been Joshua acting as a rogue commander!” Then we see this:
So the Lord was with Joshua and his reputation spread throughout the land. Joshua 6:27
Hmmm. So God was with Joshua through all of that? Really?
According to Deuteronomy 20:16, Joshua was faithfully following the command given by God through Moses which said, “In those towns that the LORD your God is giving you as a special possession, destroy every living thing.”
Chaos. Confusion. If it’s wrong for Isis to do that now was it right for Joshua and the Israelites to do that then.
How do we clear up the confusion? How do we find some calm in the chaos?
I got some help from one of my seminary professors – Yes, I remember a few things from my education. He said, “If you thought God told you to do something, you would do it. Now, the question is, ‘What is Jesus telling us?'”
He answered his own question by quoting Matthew 5:43-44, “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbors but hate your enemies, but I say, Love your Enemies.”
Wow. RADICAL! Is Jesus saying what it sounds like he’s saying? Is he re-framing or even overturning Scripture? Things like that can put you on a cross.
Hermeneutical principle here?
Jesus takes precedence over Moses and according to Hebrews 1:1-3, every other “revelation”: Long ago God spoke many times and in many ways to our ancestors through the prophets. Now in the final days, he has spoken to us through his Son…The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God.
That is like a dose of Alka-Seltzer: “Plop. Plop. Fizz. Fizz. Oh what a relief it is.”
I feel immediate relief – Jesus is the hermeneutical lens through which we interpret Scripture. He is the standard by which every other word is measured. We’ll unpack that a bit more in the days to come.