Twelfth Day Reading
Interesting reading today – I missed my reading in the Hebrew Scriptures yesterday, so I got to experience one of the great hinge passages in the Bible today… The frustration of Genesis 11 that becomes the determined blessing of Genesis 12. The Garden, the Flood, the Tower – no matter what the Creator God does, humanity continues to resist the grace of God and seeks to glorify themselves. Three times, God moves in a sort of holding action, using his power to thwart the advance of chaos and evil. Though He is frustrated at every turn, he will not give up on this project. Finally, as we turn the page from Chapter 11 to Chapter 12, he begins his great advance!
He chooses one man out of the pagans of Ur, and promises to bless him and, more importantly, to bless the whole creation through him. Abram is not a perfect man by any stretch of the imagination (despite centuries of hagiography that would grow up around him), but his god does not require that. He requires, instead, that Abram trust that He is a different sort of god from the spiritual powers of the Chaldeans. He is not a localized power, or a seasonal power, or a fertility power. He is a power that can bless in Ur, in Harran, and in Canaan. He, Abram will learn, is the God of the whole earth – indeed, the one and only being worthy of the label “god.”
We see in the second half of the chapter where his grandson will come by his cunning and guile. The truth is that the great problem lies even within Abram himself. Later in the story, we will be reminded over and over and over that the great problem lies deep within the hearts of the People of the Solution. Psalm 12 reminded me of that today. Eventually, the God of Israel will have to defeat the powers that have arrayed themselves against his creation. He has prepared a people for himself, a people in whom He can come and face down those awful powers and invite them to do their worst to him. But I am a long way from that point in this reading.