Daily Devotion: God vs. Chaos

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Bible Readings for Wednesday January 12th, 2011 – The Week of The Baptism of Our Lord

*Click on each bible passage to expand the text.

Psalm 51:5-37

Isaiah 51:1-16

Matthew 12:15-21

“God pierced / defeated Rahab”, a reference in both passages today from Psalms and Isaiah. The name “Rahab” was representative of many things to ancient Hebrew listeners, from a great sea dragon, to the Leviathan, to a form of Tiamat, the Babyonian goddess of destruction and chaos. At times, “Rahab” is even used as a name for Egypt during the time of the Exodus. Regardless of which form the listener knew it as, the name “Rahab” carried one over-arching meaning that was clear to everyone: “Rahab” represented everything opposite of God. Where God brought safety and unity, Rahab brought chaos and fear. Where God brought confidence, justice and salvation, Rahab brought uncertainty, injustice and death. For the Psalmist and Isaiah to reveal that God has finally conquered over Rahab in our hearts is a tremendous claim. Why then, do we not see evidence of God’s victory today?

Perhaps, it is due to our tendency to focus on God’s language of “crushing enemies” and punishing with “rod and scourges”. This is confusing because, it honestly doesn’t sound much different from Rahab, and it promotes within our own hearts a sense of righteous scouging and crushing. Like that classic anti-drug PSA line, “I learned from watching you, Dad! I learned from watching you!”

“Oh, great!” you think, “we traded one evil for another, and this one we call ‘good’???”

However, the key to understanding the figurative difference between a divisive and chaotic Rahab and a loving, compassionate and salvific God is found in today’s Gospel reading. While God, like any good parent, is not going to let a child’s transgressions pass without consequence (I would not use a “rod”, personally), God is never going to turn away from us, no matter how many times we turn from God. And most importantly, as an active promise of God’s covenant, God is going to be conscious not to let his discipline of mankind “bend an already bruised reed” (a literal image of something explicitly fragile and weakened) or “quench a smoldering wick” (something in a uncertain but tantalizing state of potential to give off light, which is a constant metaphor for living in Christ). In other words, until God has brought the final victory of the Kingdom, where justice and righteousness are final and all crooked paths made straight, God’s actions in this world will never endanger those most vulnerable. And in that promise, that certainty, chaos and fear are pierced through and cut apart.

And now we see the loving character of God. He will always give us what we need, whether blessing or correction, but God’s actions will never endanger us. Don’t let lost pastors tell you that God wants to hurt you, that God is some perverted form of Rahab 2.0. That’s a true heresy against God, and a disservice to the covenant of Abraham, fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

“… And in his name the Gentiles will hope.”

Trig Bundgaard About Trig Bundgaard

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Romans 5
"18. Therefore just as one man's trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man's act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all.
19. For just as by the one man's disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man's obedience the many will be made righteous."

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