Wednesday, October 26, 2016

no, not one

The Word for today:
2 Chronicles 15, 16
mark this: 2 Chronicles 15:16
Even Maacah, his grandmother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah.  Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron.
The actions of some Bible characters can seem extreme to us.
But what is "extreme," after all? Extreme is a relative measure of the distance from any given point. The further away from wherever we stand, the more extreme things seem.
So when Asa leads a spiritual reformation, we--in our sophistication and moderation--might think it extreme that he removed Maacah, his own grandmother, from office! But the Bible lauds his "extremism" and sees him as one of just a few kings who are classified as "good"--
Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the LORD his God. He took away the foreign altars and the high places and broke down the pillars and cut down the Asherim and commanded Judah to seek the LORD, the God of their fathers, and to keep the law and the commandment. He also took out of all the cities of Judah the high places and the incense altars. And the kingdom had rest under him. (2 Chronicles 14:2-5)
Even Maacah, his grandmother, King Asa removed from being queen mother because she had made a detestable image for Asherah.  Asa cut down her image, crushed it, and burned it at the brook Kidron. (2 Chronicles 15:16)
And Asa's "extreme" measures pale when we compare them to measures taken by God. For example, it bothers our sensibilities when we read that God tells Saul to wipe out every Amalekite--and then removes Saul from the throne for leaving a few Amalekites alive. (1 Samuel 15)
And if Old Testament terms and conditions sound harsh, I refer you to the take-no-prisoners outlook of one Jesus Christ. Known as the Prince of Peace because he will enforce the peace (1), Jesus Christ is going to eradicate all sin from his kingdom. That's what hell is for, and Jesus spoke about it in terrifyingly graphic terms--terms that sound so extreme to our culture's desensitized ears that some even deem them evil.
But if we were to slide our point of reference further towards God's point of view, these measures would not seem extreme at all. So I invite us to re-calibrate our ears. Because rest assured (or rest uneasily, depending on your faith) the Bible is not going to re-calibrate itself. It will endure forever as the law of the eternal Kingdom. Jesus Christ said so:
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. (Matthew 24:35)
The disconnect lies in the difference between our culture's view of sin and God's view of sin. To God, sin is a murderer in our midst. It is a threat to the life of your children and to my children and to Asa's children. It is so much a threat that Grandma has to be booted from the house because of her wicked influence. From God's point of view, it would be extreme to let the murderer stay on as nanny to the kids.
From God's point of view, the sin of the Amalekites is a deadly cancer, a leprosy (the Bible's picture of the effects of sin) that has to be cut out or Israel will die as well. It would be extreme, from his perspective, to leave a spot of the deadly carcinogen in the body.
From God's point of view, the murderer and the cancer will be incarcerated and quarantined in a place where they will never, ever be allowed to slip back into the Garden, amongst the kids.
God's own son was murdered at the hands of sin. He is determined that your children won't die of the same disease.
Thus, there will be no Grandma Maacah in His house. There will be no Amalekite in His Kingdom. No, not one.
Some call that extreme.  The Bible calls it "salvation."
(1) see Isaiah 9:6-7

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