Sunday, June 7, 2015

the falcon and the falconer – part 1

The Word for today:
Judges 9:1-10:5
And the seasons they go round and round
And the painted ponies go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of time.
We can't return we can only look behind
From where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game. (1)
The Book of Judges has a cyclical structure. Biblical commentators have called it “the Hoop of History,” which goes like this:
1. They turn from God. 2. God judges them. 3. They cry out to God, who rescues them.
4. They turn from God again. 5. God judges them. 6. They cry out to God, who rescues them.
7. Repeat. 8. Repeat. 9. Repeat…
We should not make the mistake of reading Judges objectively, as if it were about somebody else long ago. When we do, we deprive ourselves of the visceral distress that the Hoop of History is supposed to induce in us.
Instead, Judges should be read subjectively. We should feel as if we are riding round and round, down and down, like the dishwater emptying from the sink into the septic tank, accompanied by that giant sucking sound.
Judges chronicles the descent of man. To restate the Hoop in subjective language, it goes like this:
Depravity. Devolution. Defeat. Despair. Deliverance.
Depravity. Devolution. Defeat. Despair. Deliverance.
Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
Judges is a chronicle of Israel’s Age of Darkness, but you can bet there were many who considered it an Age of Enlightenment. They had cast off the constraints of God. They had rejected divine revelation for human reason:
In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (Judges 17:6; 21:25)
Notice that it does not say, ‘Everyone did what was wrong.’ They were not trying to do wrong. They were not overtly rebellious people determined to thwart the will of God in their lives. At this stage of Israel's history these people were determined to do right, but they were trying to do what was right in their own eyes.
There was no objective authority in their lives; there was no king in Israel in those days. The Lord Jehovah was supposedly their King, but they did not take him seriously. And when they did not take him seriously, they ended up taking themselves too seriously. So they did what they thought was right, guided by their own intellects and reasoning--ultimately proving that their ways were not God’s ways.
Judges describes us on many levels. It describes our national pattern and it describes the pattern of our individual lives.
Man’s natural tendency is centrifugal, away from God:
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned. (2)
But the tendencies of those born again through faith in Jesus Christ have been hijacked by the Spirit of God.
So what’s a captive heart to do? Tomorrow, we’ll see the wheel turned back against the tide.
(1) from "The Circle Game," by Joni Mitchell
(2) from “The Second Coming,” by William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)

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