So my super hot boyfriend, to whom I have had the privilege of being married for seven years, is out of town right now. Sad face. Here is a picture of us. He’s so dreamy.
In the absence of Dreamy Scott and through a series of fortuitous circumstances, I got a NIGHT OUT BY MYSELF, sans children, on Tuesday night. Shyeah, I know, right? I chose to indulge myself in two of my favorite things: 1) drinking a Starbucks and 2) reading nerdy books. I do not blame you for judging me right now; I’m just saying that a girl should do what she wants on her rare solo flight and this girl WANTED TO READ NERDY BOOKS. I bought three of said books with my Mother’s Day moolah, which I have been saving for, drum roll…….nerdy books. Here is a list of what I bought:
1. Strong’s exhaustive concordance, expanded edition, King James Version
2. Zondervan’s one volume Bible commentary
3. A totally rad and unexpected book called The World of the Bible by John Drane
This last book is so, so good and I have some things to say about it.
The World of the Bible is a coffee table book, really. It is full of photos, stories, drawings, descriptions and facts about what the world was like while the Bible stories were, well, happening. The World of the Bible ties the Biblical narrative with the culture surrounding it. And it tells us how we know about that culture. To me, its enthralling. I have spent the last two days reading it whenever I can. I have even begun telling my 5 year old about it because I think it is just so cool.
I am going to share with you something I learned from it that slayed me.
In ancient times, when humanity was still expanding and settling and figuring out how to live on the brand new earth, humans were mostly hunters and gatherers. As time passed and they discovered agriculture and herding, people started to group together, mostly around a water source. These groups matured and expanded, developing into what we call city-states, ancient self-contained civilizations with a central authority, typically a king. Each city-state worshipped their own “god”. To demonstrate their devotion to their deity, the people of the city-state would build a grand temple. The people believed that the city-state deities were battling it out to be the biggest, baddest one. Each city-state wanted their deity to win – the size and grandeur of the temple was an indicator of the power and prowess of their “god.”
Then along came Israel.
First of all, the Israelites were nomads. By God’s choice. In a world where nomads were “so last year,” God called His people to wander in the desert. The desert was the exact opposite of where smart people lived at that time. No water, no food, no opportunity to settle into a great civilization. The Israelites must have been the laughingstock of the city-states, don’t you think?
Then, on top of that, God told His people to build him a tabernacle. Not a grand temple in a permanent place. A tent. With poles and sheets. If you know anything about the Tabernacle, it was a masterpiece of Divinity& humanity’s skillfully designed beauty and symmetry, but the city-states didn’t know that. To them, it was just a tent for a nomadic people’s second-rate deity. And the Israelites knew it. You better believe they wanted something different. Like me and probably you, they could not for the life of them figure out what God was doing. They had to choose to believe. It was necessary for them to have Faith.
Have things changed so much, really? The contemporary equivalent of the city-states still mock the Lord and puff themselves up. The current chosen people of God still cower and wimper and covet and grumble. Our God still “chooses the weak things of the world to shame the strong.”
And He still dwells with us in a way that is wholly unexpected and unspeakably beautiful.
I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 2 Samuel 7: 6-7