Monday, June 06, 2016

The Way to Win


The magnificience of foolish weakness.
I'm reading The Lord of the Rings with my seven year old at the moment. I'm loving returning to a book that I last read nearly 30 years ago lying on a beach as an 8 or 9 year old. Obviously I've seen the films since but there's nothing like a book for taking you into another world. As JK Rowling has put it:
"Wherever I am, if I've got a book with me, I have a place I can go and be happy."
We've reach The Council of Elrond in the last week. It's striking to hear the Company of the Ring debate how to go forward. Boromir - as we might - suggests using the ring against Sauron. He is told that they can't wield it's power - ultimate corruption would follow rather than victory.

There is silence. And then it falls to the little creature from a backwater of Middle Earth, to the Hobbit Frodo to say
"I will go. Though I do not know the way."
The great ring of power can only be carried to its destruction (and it must be destroyed not just taken away) through the weak journey of the unlikeliest hero.

The magnificience of patience.
At the same time we're reading Exodus. My boy has asked the obvious question that heavyweight theologians have asked. Why does the LORD make the king's heart stubborn... He saw that it's both ways - the king is already a snakey figure. But why add to it rather than let them go?

Then we got to chapter 9 and saw
9v15  - the LORD says I could've used my power to destroy you. 
9v16 - the LORD wants to show his power in the whole world (to lead Rahab to mercy...)
9v17 - the LORD says that the king still doesn't want to let the people go.
And Moses says:
9v30 - you still do not fear the LORD
It would be more expedient to quickly liberate Israel with divine power. There would be less suffering. It would surely be possible. But, the LORD shows mercy, patience and kindness, revelation, opportunity to turn to him for the king - and for the broken spirited Israelites. This king is never going to turn to the LORD for mercy (ditto Sauron, I suppose), will Israel be any wiser?

The magnificience of the Triune God.
The plagues ramp up the revelation - its striking how Israel is preserved in the later plagues while Egypt burns... until we get to the death of the firstborns... and the conclusion of God's gospel proclamation in
4v22-23 Then say to the king, ‘This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son. I told you to let my son go so he may worship me. But you refused to let Israel go, so I will kill your firstborn son.’”
This of course is the the LORD whose final gospel word is the provision of The Son to liberate slaves for adoption into his family. Power and force are not how oppressive evil is overcome, the great stories bring justice and life through weakness and patience... most of all the beautiful sacrifice of the obscure, un-eye-catching Jesus who sunk from heaven's throne through the weakness of infancy and further down to the darkness of crucifixion.... unavoidably through death rather than by killing, not by force but to illicit faith.

Image - Creative Commons - Idreamlikecrazy

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