A Foreign Land
As I have mentioned before, I’m working my way through the Bible. My plan for the last couple of weeks has been to pick up something from each week’s 30 pages and write about it. It’s one way to keep focused; to pay attention to what I’m reading – kind of like an essay test at the end.
I thought this week I would have to pass. So far, before this morning, the only thought I had about 1 Chronicles is this: If your minister ever calls you and asks you to read an Old Testament selection during the worship service, make sure it is not from 1 Chronicles. One glance at the text should demonstrate my point: 1 Chronicles 8:1-12. It is just one name after the next – a veritable “Choose Your Baby’s Name” guide for those living in B.C. Israel. I couldn’t even pronounce what I was reading in my head, much less in front of anyone.
Reading the Old Testament, I feel like I’ve walked into another world. It’s a world where I don’t know the rules; where God seems different. If you were a king in Israel or Judah after Solomon, you should probably have had your local prophet on speed dial. So many times I’ve read about how the king would want to know the will of God, so he would call in his local prophet (or prophets – some of the kings seemed to have a pool of them) to ask. David, Elijah and Elisha seemed to have had close relationships with God, but it was the exception to the rule (maybe I’m generalizing here – this is only my impression this week). So much death and destruction – war and bloodshed. Check out this story: 2 Kings 6:24-31. I travel through the Old Testament not understanding the language, the customs, or sometimes even God’s work. I can’t even pronounce the names.
And then this morning I read from 1 Chronicles 13:5-14. David is having the Ark moved to Jerusalem from Kiriath Jearim. They place it on a new cart, and Uzzah and Ahio guide the cart. At one point, an ox stumbled, and Uzzah reaches out and takes hold of the ark, to keep it from falling. The Lord becomes angry with him for touching the ark, and kills him. Uzzah's intentions were not evil; he wanted to keep the ark from falling to the ground. He dies.
Now compare that story to one Joe talked about last night at Common Grounds. This one is in Luke 8:41-48. Jesus is on his way to heal the daughter of a Jewish official, when a woman, who has been bleeding for 12 years, reaches out and touches the fringe of his garmet. Joe expained last night that this fringe would have been part of his prayer shawl, and that no one was allowed to touch a man’s prayer shawl except a member of his family. Yet, this woman does. She reaches out and touches God. Jesus heals her, and praises her faith.
I’m glad I live on this side of the cross.
By the way, don’t you love it when things like this fall into your lap? I never would have connected the 1 Chronicles Uzzah story with the Matthew story except that Joe talked about one of them last night and I read the other one this morning. Sometimes, timing is essential.