Nerd is the Word

What You’ve Missed…
* Hosea continues to tell the people of Israel that they’re evil, that they’re spiritual prostitutes, and basically that they’re a bunch of selfish jerks.
* Also, I’m guessing he continued to get kicked in the shins. By everyone. Even little kids. And babies.
* Isaiah decides to get in on the prophecy action, basically telling Israel that God is going to Hulk out on everyone by shaking the earth and messing up their lives big-time.
* Also, “Hulk out” is a loose translation.

Day 193
Daily Reading: Psalm 119

We’re more than halfway through the Bible and so I think that’s cause to rejoice. I’d like to celebrate by repeatedly declaring how much I love God’s Old Testament Law, and how tailoring my behavior to all those intricate details is the best part about life and how the only thing I want to do day after day is obey His commandments and follow His incredibly specific rules! Yeah! Woo hoo!

Okay, not really. I don’t know if I’ve ever met anyone who thinks like that. If I did, I assume they’d be the happiest Jewish rabbi of all time. Like Ben Stiller in Keeping the Faith. Though in the movie he makes out with a non-Jewish hottie and fraternizes with a Catholic priest while singing karaoke, so I’m not so sure he would have been obeying all of God’s commands to the nth degree.

However, in Psalms, we come across just this person. Whoever wrote Psalm 119 was friggin’ in love with God’s Law. I’ve met some nerdy rule lovers in my day (heck, even I come to a full stop at all stop signs, and rarely go more than 5 mph over the speed limit) but this guy takes rule following to a whole new level.

“I am always overwhelmed with a desire for your regulations.” (Psalm 119:19)
“Make me walk along the path of your commands, for that is where my happiness is found.” (Psalm 119:35)
“How I delight in your commands! How I love them!” (Psalm 119:47)
“This is how I spend my life: obeying your commandments.” (Psalm 119:56)
“Your instructions are more valuable to me than millions in gold or silver.” (Psalm 119:72)

That is just a small taste of how much the author loves following God’s rules. Did you catch that last one? They’d rather have God’s rules than millions of dollars. I don’t know much…but I know that rules can’t buy an Xbox, or a cheeseburger, or a dinner nice enough to impress a lady.

Am I really supposed to believe the author loves God’s instruction more than anything? That seems a little extreme. But that’s just the beginning. The author continues…

“Oh, how I love your instructions! I think about them all day long.” (Psalm 119:97)
“I rise early, before the sun is up; I cry out for help and put my hope in your words. I stay awake through the night, thinking about your promise.” (Psalm 119:147-148)

They think about God’s rules all day? Really? I’m amazed if I can think about anything for more than 15 minutes, and that’s if I’m thinking about something crazy awesome like cinnamon rolls or swimming in a pool of Jell-o. Not a bunch of rules. And this person wakes up early, and stays up late to think about God’s law even more? Geez nerd, calm down. But here’s what really blows my mind,

“I will walk in freedom, for I have devoted myself to your commandments.” (Psalm 119:45)

Huh? You’ll walk in freedom because of restrictions placed on you? Um, I don’t mean to point out the obvious here nerd, but you do realize that commandments are restrictions, and restrictions RESTRICT freedom right? Freedom comes through independence baby! I guess you guys didn’t have any American History to study back then huh? That stinks, because ‘merica knows more about freedom than any other country. If you want real freedom, then you need to be free of everyone and everything. You can’t have people, or God, telling you what to do all the time if you want to be independent and free.
Or can you?  Can life with boundaries actually bring more freedom than life without them?

What has the author discovered about following God’s law that has him more psyched than a sixth grade boy being invited to a pool party, with girls? Why are they so jazzed about not just centering their entire existence on obeying God’s law, but loving every minute of it?  Why are they so joyful about something many of us are often resentful towards, or see as a burden?

What is happening here?

This is turning my world upside-down even more than when I discovered that playing the “Quiet Game” as a kid was really a trick to get me to shutup for five minutes. And that no matter how often any of us “won”, no one won as much as Mom.

God Throws a Wicked Curve

What You’ve Missed…
* A lot.
* A whole lot.
* Like, a buttload.

Day 178
Daily Reading: Hosea 9-14

Let me catch you up to speed (since I clearly copped out in the actual recap.) Israel went off the deep end, following evil king after evil king. There was lots of idol worship, temple prostitutes and basically people just kind of forgot about God for awhile. Sort of like an extended weekend in Vegas. A very extended weekend. And apparently His people totally forgetting about Him hurt God’s feelings.

So He sends some prophets out to let everyone know that He’s upset and is going to bring some serious destruction their way as a result of their disobedience and lack of desire to interact with Him the way He’s asked them to. And He’s not messing around.

“The LORD says, ‘O Israel…there has been only sin and more sin! You have made no progress whatsoever…Now whenever it fits my plan, I will attack you too. I will call out the armies of the nations to punish you for your multiplied sins.’” (Hosea 10:9-10)

“The people of Israel are struck down. Their roots are dried up, and they will bear no more fruit. And if they give birth, I will slaughter their beloved children.” (Hosea 9:16)

Yikes. Calm down there Debbie Downer.

(Can we just pause for a minute to think about how much everyone probably hated Hosea? And since he was a prophet, I bet he literally rained on their parade every time they had one.)

So Hosea’s getting the word out that God’s about to lay the smack down, when all of a sudden God throws out a curve ball.

“War will swirl through Israel’s cities; their enemies will crash through their gates…For my people are determined to desert me. They call me the Most High, but they don’t truly honor me. Oh, how can I give you up Israel? How can I let you go? … My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows. No, I will not unleash my fierce anger. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal…and I will not come to destroy. For someday my people will follow me…and I will bring them home again.” (Hosea 11:8-11)

I bet when Hosea heard this he thought that he might actually get invited to a party for once. Or maybe he set his expectations a little lower and thought this good news meant he wouldn’t get kicked in the shins everywhere he went. Either way, he had to be stoked that he got to actually deliver some good news for a change.

I can only wonder how he went about it. “Uh, hey ya’ll. Remember all that stuff I said about God totally wrecking your lives? And remember how I said that He said everything was going to be horrible for you because of your sins? Well, uh, God changed His mind, and so He’s not going to completely destroy you anymore. He says He loves you too much. So, that’s good news right? Think I can come to Tommy’s Passover dinner tomorrow night? And remember how you guys booed me all the time? Think we could call it quits on that for awhile?”

However he did it, I bet Hosea was just as thrown off when he heard God say it as I was when I read it. “God, you’re changing your mind? Are you even allowed to do that? You love them? They hate you. You know that right? Oh, you do? Oh. Okay. Well, I just don’t really get it I guess. You’re more unpredictable than I expected.”

And so we’re left with another fantastic head-scratching moment brought to you by the Bible.