Perhaps it may turn out a sang,
Perhaps turn out a sermon.

-- R. Burns Epistle to a Young Friend

Monday, May 5, 2014

Keeping the Hornets Out Front

And I sent the hornet before you, which drove them out before you, the two kings of the Amorites; it was not by your sword or by your bow.  I gave you a land on which you had not labored and cities that you had not built, and you dwell in them. You eat the fruit of vineyards and olive orchards that you did not plant. -- Joshua 24:12-13

(I'm trying to get back to every-week-day posting.  I'm not sure how it will go because I'm adjusting back to a regular work schedule, trying to figure out where I might be needed and where I can help out.  Anyway...)

This is one of those statements that you read and think is a little odd.  Hornets.  I think Mel Gibson stole this for a scene in Apocalypto.  Checking Strong's and some dictionaries, it's a stinging insect, tsir`ah, like our good old hornet, which, especially in hot weather, may prove dangerous, debilitating, or deadly to a person attacked by a swarm.  If you've ever literally "stirred up a hornets' nest" -- as I have, there is no fight; it's flight.  You can see the poetic side.  No one can stand if pursued by hornets, and no enemy could stand against God's army.

The root word from which this is derived, tsara`, means "to scourge" and spoke figuratively of being stricken with leprosy.  Thus those inhabitants of Canaan who had defiled the land by their abominations and evil were driven out by Israel as with a whip in God's hand.  I think immediately of how Jesus plaited a whip and violently drove the money-changers from the temple.  They, too, fled as though hornets were after them. 

When things are going well for me, I am apt to do what Joshua warned against.  I may start thinking that I have achieved and accomplished quite a bit.  A lot of us have worked hard, made sacrifices, delayed gratification, made good decisions, etc.  We have a measure, perhaps, of economic security because of our own efforts.   The Bible does not denigrate that.  The slothful are condemned.  Paul says that one who doesn't work hadn't ought to eat.  We need to do our part while remaining humble and grateful for God's grace, His guiding hand, His protection, and His gifts to us. 

What's true in the natural is even more vital in the spiritual.  What spiritual territory we hold, what we have gained and whatever progress we have made is that much more a function of God's gracious provision for us.  Here Christ gives us His righteousness and abundant life.  We are not the ones who lived a sinless life and conquered death; nonetheless, we are offered a share in His victory and the benefits of His labor. 

As an aside, something I think I picked up from MOTT has to do with getting the devil on our side.  Israel was supposed to clear Canaan of all its previous inhabitants.  They mistakenly made a covenant of mutual protection with Gibeonites who had deceived Israel into thinking they were not residents of the Promised Land.  When the deception was known, the Gibeonites were made "hewers of wood and drawerers of water" for the benefit of the children of Israel.  Some other tribes were subdued but not entirely eradicated, and these, too, were put into forced labor for their conquerors. 

If we can overcome our adversary and stand strong and unbending against temptation, that tempter must then serve us.  It's not that we want demons following us around or heralding us like the poor girl with a "spirit of divination" in Acts 16:16-18.  We must also be careful that we are not betrayed by it at a later time.  Saul of Tarsus was that early Church's greatest adversary and persecutor.  When he was overcome by Christ, Paul became a critical part of the foundation upon which the Church has been built.  A more secular example, and one I believe UF uses, is how Germany was defeated in WWI but not overcome until the end of WWII.  Germany and Japan were overcome and became active allies of those they had sought to destroy. 

We can either be "subject to" our temptations and weaknesses if we give in to them, or we may put them in subjection to us if we resist them fully.  All the things that trouble us now, if we will stand, will serve us.

Much better to have the hornets after the other guy.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Fine post, Mush.