Tag Archives: Chaos

God’s People, part 38: Lawless

Read Judges 17-18

“Now in those days Israel had no king.” (Judges 18:1a)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

MicahLawlessPart 37: Lawless. The story of Micah and the Levite is like a story out of the wild, wild west. Do you know what I mean? It is the story of utter and complete lawlessness. It was an “anything goes” kind of time. In fact, in Judges 17:6, the author wrote, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.”

This declaration came right amid a story of a son, named Micah, who stole money from his mother. As soon as he heard that she had prayed for God to curse the thief, he told his mother that he was the one who stole the money, and then he returned to her.  She then blessed him and took some of the silver coins and had it fashioned into an idol for them to worship. It is important to note that Micah and his mother were from the tribe of Ephraim.

Micah eventually had a Levite stop by his house and offered the Levite money and a paid job acting as his family priest. The Levites, like the Ephraimites, were another of the twelve tribes of Israel. This tribe was established to be the priestly tribe, who were charged under Moses to be the tribe that kept the people straight with God; however, this Levite decided to take the offer to be the paid family priest of an idol worshiper.

Later, people from the tribe of Dan came by Micah’s house and saw the treasurer it had in it: namely the idols made from silver. They went back to the people of their tribe, another of the twelve tribes of Israel, and brought back a small army to Micah’s house. Upon arrival, they stole all of Micah’s idols and told the priest that they would pay him to come back with them. So, he took the offer and went with them.

As you can see, there is nothing but lawlessness going on here in this story. First, if it wasn’t already noticeable, the characters are all Israelites. Second, they are warring and stealing from each other. They are made up people who know better but do what is wrong anyway. What we have here is a story about thieving sons, warring sects, idolatrous priests, and a people who have completely abandoned God.

Israel was supposed to be a people set apart as a witness of the love of God and, instead, became a people ruled and controlled by sin. Over and over, the Israelites would go from redeemed to fallen and back again. Yet, God did not abandon the people. The truth is, these people are no different than us. I hope this becomes self-evident. We are a people called to be set apart as witnesses of God’s unconditional love, yet we often fall short of that. The good news is, no matter how we might try to short change God in our commitment, God never, ever, short-changes us!

We can be free from God and imprisoned by our sins, or we can be bound to God and freed from our sins.

Lord, forgive me, a sinner. I submit my life to you and follow your lead. Amen.

Out of the Chaos

Read Genesis 1

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea; though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult.” (Psalms 46:1-3 NRSV)

KOccCrtIn the film, “The Dark Knight”, Heath Ledger plays my favorite version of the Joker. As a character actor, Ledger isolated himself and immersed himself in the role in order to “become” the joker. His interpretation of the Joker was that of a maniacal mass murderer who was hell-bent on projecting the inner chaos within his tormented soul out into the world at large. Sure, this Joker has all of the attributes that you’d expect the Joker to have: the clown face, the broad and menacing grin, the crazed laugh, and the green(ish) hair; yet, this Joker is wild, extremely dark and utterly chaotic.

There are many awesome quotes to pull from this Joker character that Ledger plays, but the one that struck me the most came toward the end of the film as it was approaching its tragic and climactic end. Sitting in the hospital next to the bedside of Harvey Dent, the District Attorney who the Joker severely burned with a gasoline explosion, the Joker began to explain himself. “I just did what I do best. I took your little plan and I turned it on itself. Look what I did to this city with a few drums of gas and a couple of bullets. Hmmm? You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go ’according to plan.’ Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all ‘part of the plan’. But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds!”

In that moment, the Joker hands Harvey Dent a gun and has him point it directly at his (the Joker’s) head, “Introduce a little anarchy,” the Joker continues. “Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos. I’m an agent of chaos. Oh, and you know the thing about chaos? It’s fair!”

Whether or not chaos is actually fair, it is certainly indiscriminate. The world, much to our dismay, is filled with chaos and always has been. The Jews who were exiled in Babylon certainly understood what chaos was and they sought some sort of plan in order to explain why the chaos was surrounding them.

While the prophets tried to explain the chaos and the reasons it befell the Jews, the scribes did not for there is no real answer why. Yes, our bad decisions could help in creating chaos around us, as can the bad choices of others, as can the forces of nature. Yet, all of those are chaos because they are NOT a part of any sort of divine plan. Rather than explaining why, the priestly scribes wrote what we now know as Genesis 1, which tells of a God who, at the beginning, hovered over the chaos. What’s more, out of the chaos, God brought order and new life.

It is so easy for us to get caught up, or even tripped up, in the chaos of this world. It is easy for us to allow our lives to spin out of control and for us to fall into chaos ourselves. Who knows why the Joker became the Joker? Who really knows why he chose the path of chaos rather than the path of hope? There is really no explanation that answers those questions, and those questions really miss the point. The point if we succumb to the chaos around us in our lives we, too, become agents of chaos. Just like the Joker, we can choose to be chaotic, but God is calling us to let go of the control we think we have in our lives, to let go of the avoid chaos, and to let go of the fear that keeps us imprisoned within it. If we do that, and we need to trust in God in order to do that, then God will create order in the midst of the chaos and we, in the end will experience true and lasting peace.

“In all chaos there is a cosmos, in all disorder a secret order.” – Carl Jung

“Lord, help me to trust in you, for I know that out of the chaos you bring order. I trust that you can do this in my life.” Amen.