05 April 2010

Apr 5

Reference links:
Old Testament

Today's reading describes the blessings and curses the Israelites will receive if they obey the commands God gave them. It is somewhat telling that the text describing the curses takes up about twice as much space as the space describing the blessings.

Essentially, if the Israelites obey God, he will bless them in everything they do. They will have thriving crops and herds and many children. Rain will come to water the crops. The Israelites will lend to other nations and never borrow. The nations of the world will look upon them with awe. In short, nothing will ever go wrong for them.

On the other hand, if they do not obey the Lord's commands, he will make sure that everything goes wrong. These curses emphasize the point that the Biblical God is not always a God of love and kindness. These curses emphasize the point that it is Biblically invalid to say that good things come from God and bad things come from the Devil. No, in today's reading, the bad things are coming from God quite directly.

To start, everything that was blessed before will be cursed. The Israelites will be frustrated in everything they do, they will lose in battle, their crops and herds will fail, and the skies will yield no rain. Some of the more striking descriptions,
28:20-22: The Lord himself will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in everything you do, until at last you are completely destroyed for doing evil and abandoning me. The Lord will afflict you with diseases until none of you are left in the land you are about to enter and occupy. The Lord will strike you with wasting diseases, fever, and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, and with blight and mildew. These disasters will pursue you until you die.
28:29: You will be oppressed and robbed continually, and no one will come to save you.
28:32: You will watch as your sons and daughters are taken away as slaves. Your heart will break for them, but you won’t be able to help them.
28:47-48: If you do not serve the Lord your God with joy and enthusiasm for the abundant benefits you have received, you will serve your enemies whom the Lord will send against you. You will be left hungry, thirsty, naked, and lacking in everything. The Lord will put an iron yoke on your neck, oppressing you harshly until he has destroyed you.
28:53: The siege and terrible distress of the enemy’s attack will be so severe that you will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you.
28:63: Just as the Lord has found great pleasure in causing you to prosper and multiply, the Lord will find pleasure in destroying you. 
Again, I wonder about those people who can accept both the premise that the God they believe in is a God of love and the premise that the God they believe in is the same as the God of the Old Testament.

New Testament

Jesus explains why it would be silly for him to be casting out demons using power granted by Satan.
Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A family splintered by feuding will fall apart. You say I am empowered by Satan. But if Satan is divided and fighting against himself, how can his kingdom survive? And if I am empowered by Satan, what about your own exorcists? They cast out demons, too, so they will condemn you for what you have said. But if I am casting out demons by the power of God, then the Kingdom of God has arrived among you.
I want to point out to Jesus that while he made a decent appeal as to why he cannot be casting out demons by Satan's power, he has also cast some doubt on his own powers. In particular, by pointing out that random exorcists can cast out demons, he makes his own ability to do so less special.

Psalms and Proverbs

Another psalm along the lines of "God has abandoned me, it's so terrible. But God is wonderful because he did all sorts of wonderful things in the distant past."