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Posts Tagged ‘sovereignty’

We have been gathering on Wednesdays to read the Old Testament book of Daniel. Together, we are asking questions of the text, engaging the text, and trying to discern what the text means for a church in the twenty-first century. Surprisingly, Daniel does not encourage a particular diet or give tips on dream interpretation. Here are some things that Daniel does seem interested in;

1, the state wants us to become good citizens of the state, the state is uninterested in making disciples for Jesus.

2, it is not only a Babylonian notion to acknowledge God as a prop for the state.

3, exile continues to be a good metaphor for where we live and how we are to live today.

4, catering to a culture of power, control, and unrealistic perspectives of self can drive one to insanity.

5, it is possible to live in a pagan culture without becoming tainted by it.

6, we should care about rulers and pray for them. We should appeal to their humanness, not their sinfulness.

7, rulers and governments will continue to come and go – only God remains eternal.

8, God is ruler over kings, nations, and history.

9, the wisdom of God is superior to human wisdom, even the best Babylon has to offer.

10, God has always been a delivering, saving God.

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Our official position during a summer that has given us;

  • Controversial rulings by the Supreme Court. We may be reminded that our official response is to love both lawmakers and protestors.
  • Shootings with racial and religious implications. We are reminded that our official position remains grace and forgiveness.
  • A changing relationship with Cuba and a new agreement with Iran. And our official response is to pray for and minister to those who are unlike us.
  • Twenty one candidates vying to become the next leader of the free world. And our official position remains that whichever Pharaoh is elected – God will still be in control.

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The loudest voices are trying to convince us that we need something else, something more, something we do not yet have.  This is exhausting, all this chasing after things that have no real value.  We are running with a herd that wants more, uses more, eats and drinks more.  Sabbath speaks to those of us caught in this, invites us to break the cycle, and be reminded that we are not in control.  Of that, we are not even capable.  Sabbath is counter cultural – An act of rebellion.

The command to remember the Sabbath comes to us as part of the Ten Commandments in both Exodus and Deuteronomy.  In Exodus it comes in response to creation where God rested.  Sabbath is woven into the fabric of creation since the very beginning.  In Deuteronomy it comes to us in response to Passover.  A time when we did not rescue ourselves, we were not delivered by our own hand.  We are reminded in both instances that we are not in control here and do not need to be.  There is a danger of believing in the lie of self-sovereignty.

Sabbath speaks into the disorder of our lives.  We think restlessness is normal.  It is not – even God rests.  Rest is initiated by God, indeed He participates in it.  Walter Brueggemann says that “God’s sovereignty is so sure that even God can ease off daily management of creation and the world will not fall apart.”

Exodus 16 offers us a narrative commentary on Sabbath.  The people have convinced themselves that serving as slaves in Egypt is better than what God has done for them.  But God rains bread from heaven and tells them to gather the bread each morning.  On the seventh morning there is no need to gather bread.  So what do we find?  “It came about on the seventh day that some of the people went out to gather…”  The people thought they would die if they did not gather on the Sabbath.  Or they thought that their efforts would get them ahead.  Or any number of lies they were telling themselves.  But God had provided enough.

We may not be singing that we want to go back to Egypt or about lack of food in the wilderness, but we do grumble about not being satisfied with what we have.  We grumble about wanting something more, or at least something different from what we already have.  Sabbath suggests that our restlessness, our desire for more, our insecurity, and our lack of faith in the claims of God are ridiculous.  Why do we continue to think that God’s gifts will come to an end?

Sabbath is evidence of God’s reliability.  We are given a Sabbath because for six days we convince ourselves that we are the brains behind the operation.  We convince ourselves that we are surviving by our own efforts.  We are given a Sabbath because for six days we convince ourselves that we are capable of delivering ourselves from the things that enslave us.

Sovereignty is a daily battle.  When we rely on ourselves, like the Hebrews looking for manna on the seventh day, we challenge the sovereignty of God.  Sabbath gives opportunity to re-assign the energy we use to control situations.  Sabbath invites us instead to delight in God and to serve others.

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