Bad News First (Or, Slouching Through Lamentations)

Tuesday, August 28, 2012
My Bible reading program for 2012 is taking me through the Bible in chronological order.

In other words, I am reading about the historical events as they actually occurred, rather than merely taking the chapters and books in the order we have them today.

It's really interesting on a lot of levels, especially when it comes to seeing the big, sweeping picture of Scripture.

But it is also really uncomfortable on one huge level.

Especially in the Old Testament, really bad stuff happened for really long periods of time. The nation of Israel had great moments - when they were close to God, following his commands, being the people he meant for them to be.

But they also had horrible moments - when they worshipped false gods, willfully disobeyed the true God, and followed their own very human path.

Because God loves and is committed to his people he sent prophets to warn the Israelites to turn back to Him. When they refused, he let them suffer the natural consequences - disunity, military defeats, famine, judgments of all kinds. So, for days on end this year I am reading prophetic warnings followed by the people saying "no" to God, followed by blood in the streets, children sold into slavery, mothers considering eating their newborns to survive (horrible passages to read), chaos, despair, and grief.

It's a hard slog. I'm not sure I will do it again. But I am coming to realize two things:

First, I am so glad that God sent his son Jesus to bear our punishment on the Cross so that God will not ultimately judge those who accept his offer or friendship and reconciliation and acknowledge that as Creator he has the right to rule our lives.

Second, I take heart that even when bad stuff happens in our lives - for what may feel like hundreds of years - God is always up to something behind the scenes. He is always in control, always working to bring liberation and freedom, always up to something good.

And that one day- beginning now - there will be no more war or poverty or famine or death or suffering or grief.

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