What Kind of Friend is God?
I believe it was Philip Yancey who observed that if God is my friend then he’s always the kind of friend that I imagine myself as wanting to be.
If I imagine that I have the power of God and a friend is in trouble I would do what would be necessary to help that friend out. Need money? Healing? Rescue from violence?
Christians of course pray for these things, good things, and no answer seems to come.
Our contemporary skepticism sometimes seems to imagine that this is a new problem for believers, it is not. The Old Testament prophets deal in these questions all the time, not simply at a personal level but at a national level.
What Has Happened to the LORD’s Favor?
Last we talked about Israel’s story being the world’s story and our own story.
The foundational part of the Hebrew Scriptures was the Torah, the first 5 book. Those books contain what we know as “the mighty acts of God”. In them Israel’s identity is formed as God’s chosen people, his special possession by which the LORD will reveal himself to the nations and under the curse of death over the creation.
While believing egalitarian Americans consider individual “friendship with God” a foundational relationship Israel saw themselves as the LORD’s vassal. Such a relationship assumed that the LORD would look out for and protect Israel and in return Israel should serve, love and be obedient to the LORD.
Israel’s prophets majored on the breakdown of this relationship? Why was Israel weak, corrupt, violent and eventually subject to the abusive whims of greater nations that lived in her neighborhood? Was it Israel’s failure to keep up her end of the deal? Was God moody or negligent?
When Israel and Judah were swallowed up and carted off into exile and slavery once more the prophets wrestled with these ideas over and over and over again. This week we’ll look at some of that wrestling in Isaiah chapters 63 and 64.
Is it really better to have loved and lost? Continue reading