Thursday, March 23, 2017

Of Trees and Floods

“Then Hezekiah said to Isaiah, ‘The word of the Lord that you have spoken is good.’ For he thought, ‘Why not, if there will be peace and security in my days?’ ”

I have no clue what you’re thinking about right now. Not a one. That’s normal, I think.

Despite this, when we read novels and the writer tells us precisely what is on the mind of the protagonist, we barely notice how bizarre that is. After all, it is the author’s story and it is his prerogative to drive its narrative or provide insight into its characters via whatever literary technique he chooses.

Not in the real world. If a news reporter presumes to inform us what President Trump really intends when he thumbs his latest tweet into his iPhone for the nation, we rightly think she is overstepping her role just a bit. How could she possibly know for sure?

Bible history is a little different.

Those who recorded it were carried along by the Holy Spirit as they wrote, so they occasionally offer us the sort of intimate insights to which we are rarely privy. Here the word of God delivered to King Hezekiah discerns the thoughts and intentions of his heart and records them for us: “Why not?”

Too many of us relate better to Hezekiah here than we care to admit. These particular thoughts are not all that flattering: “My great-grandkids will be eunuchs in the palace of the king of Babylon? Whew! At least it’s not ME ...”

Après moi, le déluge, anyone?

An unattributed Greek proverb goes something like this: “Society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” There is a certain appealing selflessness in the attempt to preserve things worth preserving for generations to come rather than simply enthusing at how good we have it by comparison.

After all:
“These things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
Good thing too. Where would we be if they had not been written down for us? God thinks intergenerationally, and we ought to as well, if we are concerned with developing and displaying his character. Paul was. He told Timothy:
“What you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.”
It is insufficient to concern ourselves merely with the immediate benefits of our faith to ourselves, our families and even the current members of our churches, though we may love them all dearly. Believers who have developed a heavenly perspective on Christ’s church seek to leave a legacy of truth behind them. They care about developing character in people they will never meet and planting the word of God in lives from which they will never personally profit.

What are you and I leaving behind?

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