A Daily Dose of Good News
Tuesday, August 25, 2020
Good morning! It’s August 25 and it’s time for our Daily Dose of Good News. The Good News for you, is this is my second take on this, this morning. Because I thought the first time was way too long and intense (laughs). And I wanted to keep this a little bit lighter and a little bit easier to digest. So, you’re lucky you’re not getting the first version! Woo-hoo!
It’s a complicated text today, I’m reading from Deuteronomy 32:18-20 and 28-39. When I read it, I’m going to add in verses 26-27, to give some context, because otherwise, it’s super confusing. But as a quick overview before I read it, basically God is describing God’s feelings and reactions to God’s people. In that, you might hear components of: motherhood or parenthood. So, listen for those. As the text progresses, like a parent, God is debating, what should God do? How should God give the consequences to God’s people? Just like parents often look at that- should I ground them, should I take their phone, should I take their car, should I put them in time-out- what should I do? As God considers the consequences, God is thinking how that might be perceived by others- by the enemies of God’s people. The last portion of the text is God focusing on how detrimental the things are which we tend to elevate to God status. The enemies of God’s people do that all the time, as they worship other gods and focus on things that aren’t in their best interests. But even God’s people, even ourselves, we can get distracted and idolize things that aren’t helpful to us. So, that’s the overview. Here’s the text:
You were unmindful of the Rock that bore you;
you forgot the God who gave you birth.
The Lord saw it, and was jealous;
he spurned his sons and daughters.
He said: I will hide my face from them,
I will see what their end will be;
for they are a perverse generation,
children in whom there is no faithfulness.
I thought to scatter them
and blot out the memory of them from humankind;
but I feared provocation by the enemy,
for their adversaries might misunderstand
and say, “Our hand is triumphant;
it was not the Lord who did all this.”
They are a nation void of sense;
there is no understanding in them.
If they were wise, they would understand this;
they would discern what the end would be.
How could one have routed a thousand,
and two put a myriad to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
the Lord had given them up?
Indeed their rock is not like our Rock;
our enemies are fools.
Their vine comes from the vinestock of Sodom,
from the vineyards of Gomorrah;
their grapes are grapes of poison,
their clusters are bitter;
their wine is the poison of serpents,
the cruel venom of asps.
Is not this laid up in store with me,
sealed up in my treasuries?
Vengeance is mine, and recompense,
for the time when their foot shall slip;
because the day of their calamity is at hand,
their doom comes swiftly.
Indeed the Lord will vindicate his people,
have compassion on his servants,
when he sees that their power is gone,
neither bond nor free remaining.
Then he will say: Where are their gods,
the rock in which they took refuge,
who ate the fat of their sacrifices,
and drank the wine of their libations?
Let them rise up and help you,
let them be your protection!
See now that I, even I, am he;
there is no god besides me.
I kill and I make alive;
I wound and I heal;
and no one can deliver from my hand.
Here ends the reading.
In all of that, as you reflect on that overview, I wonder, what does it do for your sense of God, to think of God as female? Or to think of God as having some internal female characteristics, or tendencies, or personality traits? How does that make you think of God differently? Or perceive God in a new way? Think of what women symbolize, or how women are sometimes stereotyped, or how women sometimes are, in their essence? Does thinking of God, as woman, as one who gives birth- which only women do- does that make you think of God as being more mothering? Mother God? Or more nurturing? Or more tender? Often in the Old Testament, God is viewed as this harsh, angry God. I hear that a lot- “there’s an angry God in the Old Testament.” What if God is mothering? How does that change that for you? What if God is beyond any gender- mother, father- what does that do for your thoughts or feelings and interpretation of God?
Secondly, what if God is very much like a parent- who is upset when their child has forgotten them, ignored them, not called, not written, not spent time with them? We’re having some of that right now with the pandemic- less time with our extended families. Think of the sorrow that may cause for your own parents if you don’t call them or don’t engage with them. Right? There are some feelings of hurt, or sadness or grief in that. What if God is that kind of personal? What if God desires that sort of tenderness and depth of relationship with us? That kind of closeness with us? How does that impact your understanding of God?
The final piece is that component of God describing, when the enemies look to their gods, what that’s doing and how they’re impacted by that. I’m going to read that portion again. “their rock is not like our Rock; our enemies are fools. Their vine (what they’re nourished from) comes from the vinestock of Sodom, from the vineyards of Gomorrah; their grapes are grapes of poison, (what would that be like to eat?) their clusters are bitter (what would that be like to taste?); their wine is the poison of serpents (it’s not just a little bit bad- it’s to the extreme in terms of how detrimental it is), the cruel venom of asps. So, I think that’s just a very colorful and descriptive way to point out what we consume, what we put in, what we focus on, has the capacity to be really bad for us. Whether we recognize it as the cruel venom of asps, asps being one of the most deadly snakes in the region, or not. That’s the reality. God calls us to something different and wants something different for us. In this text, that God is sovereign, over all things, whether our lives are going well, or whether our lives are not going well, it’s because of God being in control of the universe- God having sovereignty and recognizing God’s authority in that. So, a lot to think about today. But know that you are loved by a God who is enormously beyond our capacity to conceive God and that God does not want venomous poison for you. God wants good for you- very good- and that’s great news. Bye-bye everybody. Take care.