12.24.2009

Thankful Thursday/ Episode 39

Back in the day, about a million years ago (sorry, cheap shot to make my Fundamentalist friend’s heads spin around) when two people came to an agreement there was a ritual preformed to mark the occasion. They didn’t have contract attorneys or a bloated and overworked legal system to rely on to settle disputes. Instead they made agreements – covenants - based on their word and sealed with a ceremony. The two involved parties would gather a bunch of livestock, cut all the animals in half (I can’t believe PETA let them get away with that!!!) and place the halves on the ground so that there was an aisle through which they could walk. It would go something like this, Binnui would stand on one side of the aisle and promise to turn over 1/3 of his rutabaga crop to Putiel’s family and Putiel would stand on the other side and promise to provide protection for Binnui’s family from the neighboring tribe that was known for stealing rutabagas. Each would then walk through the aisle. This walk would communicate that if either party didn’t keep his end of the bargain he acknowledged that what happened to these animals would happen to him. And in case you missed what that was, it was bloody death. That's quite an incentive to keep one’s word, huh?


That background makes this next part easier to follow. So, in Genesis we’re introduced to this guy Abram (who later becomes Abraham). Abram is an old, married guy and he and his wife are childless. Which it turns out is a real bummer to Abram. He really wants an heir and because he has a relationship with God, he asks ~ outright ~ for one. Now, Abram is thinking small potatoes. He wants a son. But God is thinking big picture. HE’s planning to provide an entire nation ~ and then give that nation eternal life. This story, if you didn’t go back and read it, is the one where God promises descendants that are as numerous as the stars in the sky – I’m not kidding, BIG PICTURE. It’s cool; God agrees to give Abram what he wants (because it is also what is good for him) in return for Abram’s love, worship and trust. In fact he not only says, “Sure” but he shows Abram that this isn’t an empty promise.

Episode 39: “Today I am thankful for… promises fulfilled.”

God tells Abram to go and to get all the fixings for a covenant ritual, i.e. Lots of dead animals cut in two. But instead of both God and Abram standing at either end of the aisle, making their promises and walking through, God flips the script. Abram falls asleep and God mysteriously, magically even, manifests and travels through the animals solo. See, he knows there is NO WAY that Abram can love, worship and trust God faithfully. But, God doesn’t let that stop him from promising Abram EXACTLY what he’s asking for, plus, it turns out, a whole bunch more. And by performing the ritual alone, God is communicating that WHEN Abram doesn’t fulfill his side of the bargain that God will not only still keep his promise but he’ll take the punishment in Abram’s place. SERIOUSLY. God loved Abram that much. Stop for a minute and try to wrap your head around that. God does all the work, God takes all the punishment, Abram gets the goodies (he thinks it’s just an heir, God knows he’s promising MUCH bigger stuff… like eternal life for Abram and a whole mess of others) and through all this God gets His glory.

So, without going much deeper into all the theology… suffice it to say, that we as Christians are party to that same covenant. I’m not even kidding. Put yourself in Abram’s place if you’re a believer and know that while we were sleeping, God took care of business. See the punishment that God promised to take, he took it. He took it via Christ’s death on the cross. This year, Christmas is a whole lot bigger for me. Christmas is really a celebration of the beginning of the end of God’s plan to fulfill that promise he made to Abram and to all his descendants (which includes ME). It’s more than just a birthday party for “Dear Lord infant baby Jesus.*” Christ’s birth meant that God remembered his promise. It meant that God came through. He promised and he delivered.

So today, I am thankful.




*If you don’t usually follow the links, I promise this one is worth your time. CLICK IT, you’ll laugh.

1 comment:

angelonwheels said...

I'm so glad God is so much bigger than we know!!! That his ways surpass anything we could ever dream! Thanks Molly! Merry Christmas to you, Brian Spike, and Vance!