Awake Lord! Why do you sleep?

Daily Readings: Numbers 31-32, Psalm 44, 1 Corinthians 6

We have heard it with our ears, O God;
our ancestors have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our ancestors;
you crushed the peoples
and made our ancestors flourish.
It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.

You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.
Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
I put no trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.

But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.

You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
I live in disgrace all day long,

and my face is covered with shame
at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.

All this came upon us,

though we had not forgotten you;
we had not been false to your covenant.
Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals;
you covered us over with deep darkness.

If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?

We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
Rise up and help us;
rescue us because of your unfailing love.

Psalm 44

I think we have all been there.

I think we have all been where the author of this Psalm was at when he wrote, “Awake, Lord! Why do you sleep?”

The thing I love about this Psalm is that it points to the type of relationship that God wants to have with each and every one of us. God does not desire a bland, whitewashed, stereotypical relationship with you and I where we show up on Sunday, sing a couple of worship songs, pray occasionally thanking him for our blessings, and calling it a day.

God wants raw. God wants unfiltered. God is unafraid of our anger, frustration, and hurt. He wants us to lay it all before him, not just what we perceive as the good stuff. To God, it is all good stuff. He wants us to be authentic with him.

When we are feeling abandoned he wants us to cry out passionately.

God already knows our hearts, but he wants us to bring it to him anyway. When my wife is upset, nine times out of ten I already know, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want her to still tell me and talk with her about it. God knows us infinitely more.

This Psalm also reminds me that God’s timeline is often not our own and God’s perspective on our lives is far greater than mine. When we are caught up in the moment it is easy to say, “All this came upon us, though we had not forgotten you; we had not been false to your covenant. Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path.”

And yet if we are honest with ourselves, we are almost always straying from the path in some form or fashion. We are human.

There are times where God is working in our lives through the challenges and we rarely have the ability to see the fruit that will come from this time wandering in the desert. A year or two in our lives feeling distant from God can feel like an eternity. To God it is a blink of the eye and he has more in store for us on the other side of adversity if we choose to continue to follow his path and trust in his will.

Easier said than done, but always worth the fight.

Whatever you are facing currently in your life, don’t be afraid to lay that down before God…raw and unfiltered. You don’t need to polish it up for him. God knows your heart anyway. Let it rip.

The God of all creation loves you so much and wants a true relationship with you. Great relationships start with authenticity.

Thought to ponder

What anger, frustration, or hurt do I need to turn over to God?

Remembering Context

Daily Readings: Leviticus 11-15

“‘These are the regulations concerning animals, birds, every living thing that moves about in the water and every creature that moves along the ground. You must distinguish between the unclean and the clean, between living creatures that may be eaten and those that may not be eaten.’” 

Leviticus 11:46-47

A common stumbling block for many people in their early exploration of the Christian faith is plucking a verse or two out of the Bible and then asking a question along the lines of, “Have you read this passage before? How could this possibly make sense and reconcile with the notion of the God you have been telling me about?”

Christians who are trying to defend their faith are frequently at a loss for words other than to give something vague along the lines of, “Well Jesus changed all of that.” or “Well that was the Old Testament.”

When confronted with, “Well, does that mean God changes? Are his promises to us and eternal purpose subject to edit at any time?” it is easy to stumble again. I always want to fall back on, “Well, he is God and I am not. I don’t know why he set it up that way, but it is not my prerogative to question the sovereign will of an almighty God!”

That last answer is certainly true! There have been many times throughout my life where that has needed to be my fall back. However, even if true, it is not incredibly intellectually satisfying to a person who has not yet come to know Jesus.

In these moments, when dealing with specific verses that seem challenging to reconcile with other portions of the Bible, I think it is so incredibly important that we remember to view the Bible as one complete story and not simply a collection of good ideas.

The Bible is the story of God’s love for us. It is the ultimate non-fiction account of an almighty God and his love affair with his creation, mankind. You would never watch one minute of a romantic comedy and try to determine the entire nature of that couple’s relationship from that one-minute clip. How much more sense does it make to read a single passage from the Bible, out of the context, of the entire story and extrapolate eternal truth from it?

In Leviticus we see an amazing example of this. Throughout Leviticus 11-15 we see God lay down a huge number of regulations for the Israelites. These deal with everything from what animals to eat, to how to handle skin diseases, to what to do about mold in a house, etc. If we were to read any single one of them today, some might still make complete sense, and some would leave us scratching our heads. Why would this one seemingly random thing be important to God?

Then we take a step back and look at the context. The Israelites were formally a people living in complete bondage. They were all slaves their entire lives. The generation that was free previously had all died off. Here was a collection of people that had never before needed to think about things like, “Are their any animals that can frequently be hosts for parasites and could make human beings violently ill upon eating? What does mold on the walls of a home look like? Does it do serious damage and pose a health risk? How would I deal with it if I saw it?”

More than anything chunks of Leviticus were God laying out nothing more than public health regulations. At that point in history I have no idea what food born or blood born pathogens were common. Diseases adapt and change over time. This is still true to this day.

Context.

Similarly, when we read every letter from Paul, it is easy to forget that he was writing a letter to a very specific church each time, dealing with very specific issues. When we don’t dig deeper into what was happening in that single church, at that given time, and also compare what Paul is saying to what we see throughout the rest of the Bible, it is easy to jump to conclusions that are, at best, incomplete.

Context.

It is so much simpler, in our meme-centric world, to want nothing more than to take the statement, “The Bible is God’s word and every portion of it infallible.” and take that to mean we can take any passage out of context, throw it over a beautiful picture, post it online, and it will share God’s truth.

In some cases, this is accurate. There are undeniable truths running throughout the Bible. In many cases individual verses or collections of verses reflect these undeniable truths flawlessly. However, in many cases, there is a much deeper level of Biblical research that needs to be done.

God wants us hungry for his truth. He wants us digging into his word and getting to know the entirety of his story, not just a few verses that really speak to us. This takes time, intentionality, patience, and intellectual curiosity.

God wants a relationship with us. The backstory leading up to our scene in this epic love affair has already been written. God wants us to know it well. The Bible is not just the story of Biblical times. It is not just a collection of rules and wise words to live by. It is the story of God’s love for us.

I want to always have a hunger to get to know this story more every single day!

Thought to ponder

What has held me back from diving deeper into God’s word in the past? Who can I reach out to that could partner with me as I dig in and get to know God’s truth?

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