Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Bob Dylan as Moses

"Know therefore, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to possess because of your righteousness, for you are a stubborn people." - Deuteronomy 9:5

Moses doesn't mince words with the people of Israel.  Now it'd be cool to be Moses wouldn't it, all Charles Heston-like, with the grizzled bead, sun-charred face and flowing robes.  I'd have sweet dirty pit stains on my blood stained robes which would be a deep v-neck so I could show off my thick desert chest hair (it would have it's own ecosystem as well).  I'd be powerful with a deep booming voice and an ornately carved staff to wave over the crowds, and to point at people I didn't like.  I'd probably feel like a rock star/wizard, somewhere between Bono and Gandalf - hey I just described Bob Dylan!  I'd definitely feel cool.

But Moses' words had power, not because he was any of the things I just mentioned, but because he spoke directly with God.  I think that's why Moses went from a stuttering fraidy-cat to Charles Heston.  You talk long enough with God and surely you'll begin to fear people less.

As Moses points out, the people were stubborn.  He goes on in the passage to unpack their stubbornness, pointing out, ever so painfully, what a miserable job they had done of following the Lord.  The people of Israel were good one thing, namely failing, consistently, and in crux, key situations.  You could count on them for that.

Moses says that it's not because of their righteousness (and here he probably mumbles something under his breath about his tent neighbor who always lets his camels poop on Moses' special patch of dirt - which is according to Leviticus, a perfect square, 10 hand-breadths and 10 spans by 10 hand-breadths by 10 spans, and is to be swept 7 times before the 4th hour of the 5th day on the 3rd month of the harvest year.) that they are inheriting the land, but because the inhabitants of the land have become so ridiculously wicked.

The people of Canaan must have been bad.  Very naughty.  Sort of like sacrificing their kids and stuff.  Bad stuff.  Unless their kids were like some of the kids I've seen at the grocery store, then their actions would totally understandable.

But Moses nails what I just don't get a lot of the time.  It's not because I'm a good guy that God loves me.  It's not that most people are worse off than me and I'm pretty decent.

No God's grace is evident to me when I'm at my worst.  When I hear the deep voice of Moses echoing through the centuries, "Philip, it's not because you're a righteous person that you are God's (I've seen where you let your camels wander), it's that you are his heritage, his loved one."

I, and I'm guessing most of us, get this wrong all the time.  But time and again, God removes the us vs. them scale and replaces it with the sin vs. Jesus scale.  Christ's obedience outweighs our sin.

The deeper this goes into my psyche, the deeper I drink from these sorts of fountains, the more I ponder this sort of love, the more wordy I am, the more I become a human who cares about humans and well basically is less of a jerk.  (Also, as a note on my being a jerk, if you know me you probably think I'm not a jerk, but that's just a rouse.  I'm certifiable.  I took the Myers Briggs and the Strength-Finder tests, and while they don't have an official category for "jerk," they sent me a very official looking document, asking me never to take their tests again.  I think they were disturbed and are now working on a new category called "the criminally inclined jerk who seems nice".)