(re-post from my other blog, the now-defunct Facile Nation, 10/9/2009)
I heard some small nattering about this several months back but recently a couple of bloggers I enjoy have addressed it (The Anchoress for one and Ed Morrissey at Hot Air) so something is clearly in the air…
And what is that smell? The smell of stupid. Or maybe presumption. A special new Bible for conservatives– sheesh!
Now I understand the impulse. There are times when I hear some agenda-driven bizarre fruit loop translation and I cringe and think, “God help ‘em, they don’t know what they’re doing. And please protect naive people from being taken in.” But I’m sorry, one doesn’t counter error by compounding the error. God is big, we are small, none of us grasp Him fully.
Others have referenced Jesus rebuking Peter (“Get thee behind me, Satan!” Matthew 16:21-26, particularly interesting as it immediately follows Peter’s great confession, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the Living God,” when Jesus affirms that Peter has heard directly from the Holy Spirit) as an example of well-meaning humanity attempting to impose a human agenda upon God. But Joshua 5 springs to mind for me. Let me set the scene:
Moses (along with all the rebellious & unbelieving generation he so faithfully lead) has died in the wilderness and Joshua has just crossed over the river Jordan with this new generation, raised in the wilderness and accustomed to living by faith. Joshua is walking near Jericho on the eve of that famous event and he runs into an impressive man with a drawn sword and Joshua asks, “are you for us or for our enemies?”
I think this is a Christophany (because, if this isn’t God in human form, there’s a real problem with verse 5:15) and when you consider that God Himself selected Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to be the patriarchs of His (chosen, set apart, holy, peculiar) people Israel, that God Himself pushed Moses into returning to Egypt, confronting Pharaoh, leading the former-family-now-nation into the wilderness and gave him the Torah – well, can there be any doubt? Of course God is on the side of Israel!
But wait– what does this mighty warrior say in response to the question, “are you for us or for our enemies?”
The answer is, “Neither. But as captain (ruler, chief, general) of the host of the LORD I have come—”
In other words, “it’s not MY place to be on your side but your place to be on MY side.”
And Joshua falls on his face (because he recognizes Power and Authority when it stares him in the face) and asks, “what does my Lord wish to say to Your servant?” — as complete a reversal as you’re ever likely to see.
I’m pretty aware of this and I still find I have to regularly stop and repent for presuming that Jesus will line up with me and then ask for help from Him, that I might drop my agenda and line up with His word and will. So the idea of going through the Bible, which I believe is God-breathed, and cherry picking concepts to spin one way or another literally terrifies me. It strikes me as presumptuous, dangerous, and very very dumb.