Regular nibbles from the Bible. . .come for a bite, leave with an appetite

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight. (Psalm 19:14, MSG)

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I often ponder how God passed the spiritual blessings of His promise to Abraham through Judah's line and blessed Joseph's descendants with large numbers and prosperity. I am saddened that the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh play such a minor role in the spiritual history of Israel.  I'd like to think that Joseph's family would become spiritual giants, in his shadow. But they didn't.

Today I catch a first glimpse into that change. The leaders of Ephraim and Manasseh came to Joshua with a complaint: There are too many of us for the land you allotted to us. Give us more.

Joseph didn't mind complying with that request. He gave the hill country.

The tribes were dissatisfied with the additional allotment. They threw a pity party and revealed their real complaint: we can't get rid of the people of the plains you assigned to us. The Canaanites who live down in the plain . . . have iron chariots. Whimper, whimper. They wanted the land handed to them on a silver platter.

Joseph would have made a plan and developed work plans. His sons wanted it handed to them.

In a few more centuries, after King Solomon, the kingdom divided into north and south. The southern kingdom consisted primarily of Judah, where we get the word "Jew." The northern tribe was called "Israel," but at times was also referred to as Ephraim. And anyone familiar with the history knows that Israel was the quicker to sin, to wander from God, and to bring down judgment on exile on themselves.

A sad, sad story for their forefather.

Yesterday, we looked at how reason and faith work together.  I mentioned that sometimes God does ask us to do things that don't make sense. That's how the Ephraimites felt. "They're too strong for us. They have chariots, of iron. They have an atomic bomb and we don't." You get the idea. Reason said they couldn't conquer them.

Sometimes God calls us to do the difficult or even the impossible. Only, without a neon-sign-in-the-sky, I always wonder if it's God who is calling me to a task, or my own overinflated desires. It helps to have a faithful friend who can serve as a sounding board.  Someone like Joshua who can say "You will clear the land and make it your own . . . The powerful Canaanites, even with their iron chariots, won't stand a chance against you."

It's okay to ask God to make things clearer. It's okay to ask for confirmation. And I have decided that most movements from God begin with an element of doubt. I act in faith, believing God has called me to the task, but not entirely sure. Sometimes I stumble and fall. I may race and not win the prize (as in a publishing contract.)

And sometimes, like Ephraim and Manasseh, I whimper and say, "It's too hard. Don't ask me to do that."

Today is a day of acting in faith. I don't feel all that well. My mind is struggling to pull thoughts into some semblence of order. But I write, trusting God with the outcome. God has called me to this battle, and it's my job to show up.

Whatever you sense God asking of you. Pray about it. Seek wisdom from friends. Ask God for open and closed doors. Move in the direction you believe He has called you. Don't let fear of iron chariots stop you.

If you ask God for something--don't be surprised if He tells you to go out there and earn it.

In words of worldly wisdom, if you aim at nothing, you're sure to hit it.

1 comment:

  1. Praying you feel better! You encourage many people...