Thursday, June 13, 2013

So Advanced It's Simple: The Butterfly Effect, Alias and God

I was listening to II Samuel and I Kings this morning and come upon this passage in Samuel that has always been messy...especially in light of the corresponding passage in I Chronicles. I will lead with the significant verse in Chronicles.

Satan rose up against Israel and incited David to take a census of Israel. (1 Chronicles 21:1 NIV)

Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, “Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.” 

What, wait!? No, we must press on.

So the king said to Joab and the army commanders with him, “Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enroll the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.” But Joab replied to the king, “May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?” The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enroll the fighting men of Israel. After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days. Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: In Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand. David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, “I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.” Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: “Go and tell David, ‘This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.’ ” So Gad went to David and said to him, “Shall there come on you three years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.” David said to Gad, “I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.” So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, “Enough! Withdraw your hand.” The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, “I have sinned; I, the shepherd, have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.” (2 Samuel 24:1-4, 8-17 NIV)

The first verses of these to passages seem like a whole of messed up trouble. Did God or Satan incite David to this action? Either way it's a hot mess! If God did, that is messed up because I thought God never tempts us. If Satan why doesn't it say so in both places, right?!? This is where Alias and The Butterfly Effect come in. Here's the dealio. The Butterfly Effect is basically this (as well as a movie). Very small events can have immense far reaching consequences. 

Context is everything, so here's some context. The key issue is that the Lord was angry with Israel again. It doesn't even allude to why other than saying "again". What does it mean when God is angry with Israel? Usually it means that they have been cheating on Him in one way or another.
To get that context I will look at two possible ways. One suggestion from a Bible commentary is that it was because Israel had sided against David (and ultimately against God, who chose him) when his son, Absolom had attempted a hostile take over. 

Another possibility is revealed in Kings. 

Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem. The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the Lord. Solomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places. (1 Kings 3:1-3 NIV)

Sacrifices were supposed to be offered at a certain place in a certain way. This did not include the high places. Not to go real far down an immense rabbit trail, high places appear a lot and it only seems to be a good thing in God's eyes when they're destroyed.

The high places, however, were not removed, and the people still had not set their hearts on the God of their ancestors. (2 Chronicles 20:33 NIV)

So it would seem they had been doing this during David's time as well and God was not pleased. Whatever the reason, they had angered God to the point of saying "I have had enough!" 

Here's the progression: God gives us plenty of rope to allow us to be pulled up to Him. Unfortunately, we tend to instead hang ourselves with the lifeline. God has rules. We break the rules. Satan exploits our nature. God knows this and allows him to do so. Ultimately, God is in charge so it can be said that God incited David. 

The Butterfly Effect: Pride in the heart of one man, albeit a head of state, brings catastrophe on a nation directly. Although ULTIMATELY they brought it about by their own actions of polictical and spiritual rebellion. 

Alias: Even though good will eventually win the battle itself will be VERY MESSY and innocents will suffer at times. 

And through it all ONLY GOD knows how it all fits together in His plan. 

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:8, 9, 11 NIV) 

He knows what is right and He IS RIGHT whether we can comprhend it or not. Lifes a puzzle rcwhich only He has ALL the pieces and the ability to the finished picture. See, it's so advanced it's simple.

Next up: King Solomon vs Del Spooner

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