Digging in Deeper: Haggai 2:12-14

“‘If a man is carrying consecrated meat in the fold of his garment, and it touches bread, stew, wine, oil, or any other food, does it become holy?’ The priests answered, ‘No.’ Then Haggai asked, ‘If someone defiled by contact with a corpse touches any of these, does it become defiled?’ The priests answered, ‘It becomes defiled.’ Then Haggai replied, ‘So is this people, and so is this nation before me–this is the Lord’s declaration. And so is every work of their hands; even what they offer there is defiled.'” (CSB – Read the chapter)

One of the principles that lies at the heart of much modern thinking about religion and morality is that good things should happen to good people, and bad things should happen to bad people. In fact, the question of why bad things happen to good people is of great enough interest that it has been the subject of more than one book-length treatment. What God communicated to the people of Israel through Haggai here doesn’t resolve the issue by any means, but it does offer some good food for thought to folks who are pondering on it.

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Morning Musing: Isaiah 53:4-5

“Yet he himself bore our sicknesses, and he carried our pains; but we in turn regarded him stricken, struck down by God, and afflicted. But he was pierced because of our rebellion, crushed because of our iniquities; punishment for our peace was on him, and we are healed by his wounds.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Have you ever set out down a path you knew wasn’t going to end well? Or, let me change that just a bit. Have you ever set out down a path that you knew was going to eventually have a good ending, but the journey to get there was going to be exceedingly difficult? When God the Son left His throne in heaven and came to earth as a baby, He knew just what He was getting into. How do we know? Because He told us long before He got here. Isaiah tells us about it in this passage.

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Digging in Deeper: Job 42:1-6

“Then Job replied to the Lord: I know that you can do anything and no plan of yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this who conceals my counsel with ignorance?’ Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wondrous for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak. When I question you, you will inform me.’ I had heard reports about you, but now my eyes have seen you. Therefore, I reject my words and am sorry for them; I am dust and ashes.” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Sometimes when we are making breakfast in the morning we like to make scrambled eggs. And sometimes when we get the eggs out to crack, our 5-year-old happens to be in the kitchen. Do you know what he unfailingly requests in these moments? Can I crack the eggs? Now, don’t get me wrong: It’s cute that he wants to help. I definitely don’t want to discourage him from it. That’ll blow up in my face later. But by the time I’ve cleaned up gooey egg mess from the counter and the floor and spent five minutes chasing minute pieces of egg shell around the bowl before I scramble everything up to put them in the pan, there’s a small part of me thinking, “Thanks for nothing.” As I read the tail end of the book of Job here, I feel a bit like he’s got to be thinking the same thing about God.

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Morning Musing: James 1:2

“Consider it a great joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you experience various trials…” (CSB – Read the chapter)

Years ago I read Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court. The book was a combination of science fiction and medieval adventure. It should have been an easy sell for a great book. And it did end strong. But it took me just shy of forever to get into it. The beginning was as slow and dry as anything I’ve ever read. Most often, an author starts a book with some kind of compelling, attention-grabber that will get you quickly engaged and hungry for more. Similarly, if you’re going to include something hard in the book, you save that for later after the audience is already engaged with you. Not James. He socks us in the nose from the moment we get started. What are we supposed to do with this?

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Digging in Deeper: 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.”‬‬ (CSB – Read the chapter)

If this world is all there is, there is no reason to endure any amount of chronic suffering, particularly if we don’t have any reasonable expectation that it will end. That’s what we established the first time we examined these words. If this world is all there is, a great deal of what we do becomes meaningless. In fact, all of it does, but the hard stuff in particular. If this world is not all there is, however, everything changes. 

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