God Is Love

“When I was just a lad of ten, my father said to me,
“Come here and take a lesson from the lovely lemon tree.”
“Don’t put your faith in love, my boy”, my father said to me,
“I fear you’ll find that love is like the lovely lemon tree.”

Lemon tree very pretty and the lemon flower is sweet
But the fruit of the poor lemon is impossible to eat.”

– Peter, Paul & Mary, Lemon Tree

lemonsRomantic love is not always reliable, brotherly love is not always trustworthy, familial love can let you down. Love in almost every relationship we can have on earth can be strained and leave you hurting. This folk song speaks about the woes of that reality. Love from the outside, love desired, can be very pretty and appear so sweet. But when actually partaken of, it’s not always what we expected it to be.

There is a passage from the book of 1 John that blows holes in this mindset that we can fall into regarding love, and it’s worth sharing and expounding upon.

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. – 1 John 4:7-11

Don’t miss the power of those three little words wedged into the middle of this passage I shared.

God is love.

There is a tremendous difference between the idea that God is loving and the assertion that is made here.

Your friend can be loving. Your boss can be loving. Your neighbor can be loving. Your mother can be loving.

But none of the men or women in our life are love itself.

God is not simply loving.

That being said however, it is a wonderful thing that He is loving, but that is not all that God is in the context of love. God has shown that He is loving, namely in the fact that He sent His one and only Son Jesus into the world to bring us life. We don’t inherently love God. We don’t inherently and naturally pour out praises and adoration to our Lord. Instead, before we even sought out His love, He gave His Son Jesus to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins. All of them.

When things don’t go smoothly in my life, when things don’t go exactly as I would like, it’s naturally easy to immediately start to question or doubt God’s love for me.

It’s easy to say, “if You love me, why is this happening? If You love me, why aren’t you responding to my cries?”

Yet when you doubt God’s loving nature, look to the sacrifice of Jesus Christ upon the cross. There will you see the unadulterated message of God’s love for you. Even while you were an enemy of His, He gave Himself for You.

God is loving, and He is perfect in that love.

Yet, what calls us to deeper action is the reality that God IS love. That means that God is the perfect embodiment of what love is. Because of this, all love comes from Him. Because of this, we cannot claim to be in an intimate relationship with the God who perfectly embodies love if we do not strive to love our brothers and sisters in Christ in the same way that He loves us.

Because God is love, love comes from God. God is the source of love. Like the electricity running through electrical wires, love comes from God to us, then flows through us to others in the community. When John exhorts his readers, let us love one another, he is encouraging them to allow God’s love to flow through them. – Marianne Meye Thompson

If my phone charger is plugged into the outlet, it will charge my phone (I’m a genius, I know). My charger cannot charge my phone without being plugged into a power source. If it is not charging my phone, it is not plugged into a power source.

If we as disciples of Jesus are abiding in, connecting with, and communing with God, we will overflow God’s love out onto our brothers and sisters in Christ.

We cannot be a conduit of God’s love to our Christian community if we are not abiding in, connecting with, and communing with God.

If we are not loving our Christian community, we are not in full connection with the God who is love.

That is what John is stating in this passage.

Now if you’re anything like me, there are bumps in the road. It is not easy to love our brothers and sisters in Christ at all times. There are times where I feel like I’m walking with the God who is love but still struggling to allow His love to come through me. In the case of my phone charger, sometimes I have to untangle the wires and make sure the connection is coming all the way through. In the case of my spiritual life, sometimes I have to take the time to untangle the dark recesses of my heart and mind as I allow the gospel of grace to deal with any bitterness or unconfessed sin in my life.

We are imperfect followers of Jesus. We are still on the journey of learning to love like Jesus.

I implore you to spend daily time with the Lord, meditating upon His great love for you. The more you come to terms with His love for you, the easier it will become to share His love with others.

And unlike the lemon, when you truly taste the love of God, you will see that it is good.

God is love.

I appreciate any and all feedback, and you can follow my blog via the menu.

– Nathan Roach

 

 

 

God Is Not A Psychopath

God needs nothing from us, but He asks for everything. abraham-and-isaac-1

In his book Paradoxology, Krish Kandiah argues that this is one of several apparent paradoxes that we see in the Christian faith. This paradox is most notably seen in the story in Genesis where Abraham is led by God to sacrifice his son Isaac. Yet this paradox shows itself not only through other stories in Scripture, but through innumerable stories of missions and martyrdom that I have heard in everyday life.

In the past year, I have wrestled with this in a major way. In prayer, journaling, Christian community, and the like I have fought this ‘paradox’ with everything in me. I’ll be honest, the wrestling matches with God over this haven’t been easy or pleasant. Now I’ll be clear right from the get go that I personally have had an extremely blessed and privileged life, but my wrestling was dark all the same.

My biggest hold up in this aspect of the Christian faith is the fact that God directs all circumstances in my life to be for His glory. I’ll be real transparent here. This made me mad. This seemed vastly unfair to me. How could God be allowed to do anything He wanted to me, and all I was allowed to do was put on a smile and say it was for His glory? When He took away my granddad, was I to just smile and say ‘for His glory’? When a member of my family went wayward, was I to just smile and say ‘for His glory’? When my health got rocky, I was separated from all the guys I had deep friendships with from OBU, and I didn’t get to be with Jamie, was I to just smile and say ‘for His glory’? If suffering, disease, or death came into my life, was I to just smile and say ‘for His glory’? I again know that I’ve been blessed, but this was the battle.

It didn’t seem fair. I had seen in Scripture that it’s super clear that God doesn’t need anything from me.

The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. – Acts 17:24-25

I have no need of a bull from your stall or of goats from your pens, for every animal of the forest is mine, and the cattle on a thousand hills. I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it. – Psalm 50:9-12

God owns all, He made all. He gives me everything and is not served by human hands. So why would God ask so much from so many of His followers? If He needs nothing, why does He ask for everything? Why would He ask Abraham to give up the very thing that the promises of God were contingent upon, his own son? Why does he ask so many of His followers to give their lives for Him in missionary service, to endure trials of many kinds for the sake of His glory?

God needs nothing from us, but He asks for everything.

Why? Why? Why?

These aspects of the Christian faith that seem like paradoxes tend to keep us at bay, as we shove these things out of our minds because they seem too difficult to rationalize, too complicated to come to grips with. My eyes are slightly beginning to open (in part because of the work of theologians like Krish Kandiah) to the fact that as we press into these ‘paradoxes’, the beauty of the gospel shines forth and we are led to praise the God who is in the center of the tension.

So I press forward. The verse at the center of this paradox for me is John 3:16.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. – John 3:16

Yes, God asks for everything from His followers.

However, this must be understood in light of the gospel truth that God gave everything for His followers.

God sent His one and only son to live the perfect life I could not live, to die the death I deserved, and to rise from the grave three days later to set me free from the power of sin, hell, and death.

You may have heard this gospel message for the first time in reading this blog, or you may have heard it a million times.

Either way, it is the answer to this ‘paradox’. God is trustworthy, in that we know that He is doing all for not only His glory, but our good as well.

Psychopaths and surgeons have something in common – both can inflict considerable pain with a knife, both can cause scarring, loss of limbs and terrible disfigurement. But whereas we would fight off an attack by the psychopath, we would willingly put ourselves under the surgeon’s knife because we trust their expertise and their motives. We recognize that in order to save a life, sometimes pain and loss have to be endured. – Krish Kandiah

To use this analogy, God is not a psychopath. We know that when He goes to work on our lives, it is for our good. The pain caused by His work is for our good. We may not have the privilege of seeing in the moment why the pain is happening, but we can cling to the fact that He is loving and good to us. The Scriptures tell us so.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. – Romans 8:28

We know that we don’t see the whole picture. We also know that God is worthy of trust.

When He asks us for everything, we need to remember that He has given everything for us.

I would like to conclude with another lengthy paragraph from Kandiah’s book:

If God did not withhold even the life of his own Son from us, there can be no doubting the generosity or benevolence of God. The cross of Christ is the place where God dealt with our sin and gave himself up for us. If God loves us this much, we know that anything he does to us or asks us to do for him is not to be taken in isolation, but understood in the context of love. It is through the times of loss and trauma and sacrifice that we can learn most about trust and faith, God’s heartbeat and God’s resurrection power. 

When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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The Search For Joy

Joy. grace

According to the the Merriam-Webster dictionary, joy is defined as “the emotion evoked by well-being, success, or good fortune or by the prospect of possessing what one desires.”

I strive for joy. I yearn for joy. Yet when I chase after joy in the sense of its worldly definition, I’m left empty. You see, the Webster definition doesn’t exactly lend itself to the idea of having joy in all circumstances. Instead, joy is the emotion associated with being healthy, successful, fortunate, and having possession of what one desires. So what about the times when we’re unhealthy, unsuccessful, unfortunate, and devoid of our desires? What then?

The book of Philippians is saturated with the idea of sovereign joy. It is built upon the belief that joy is wrapped up in the fact that God is our deepest desire, and that because of Christ, we can truly possess communion with the One we love.  It is filled to the brim with the idea of learning to have joy in every circumstance, because we know that God is sovereign, and that all He does is for our ultimate good and His ultimate glory. It’s easy to just rake over the leaves of this Pauline letter without digging down deep and seeing the wonderful depths of this dramatic and incredibly applicable thematic thrust of having sovereign joy. We see also in the book of Philippians that this joy is often produced and built up through the trials and sufferings of life, rather than the happy and easy moments. This joy is most prevalent when we unashamedly pursue the mission of God, the spread of His Name and fame.

Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. – Philippians 1:1-2

In just the opening of the letter to the church at Philippi, we can glean where we can find joy. I love beginnings, and so I always seem to pay extra close attention to the greetings in Paul’s letters. What I’ve come to learn is that Paul would infuse even his greetings with gospel truth. In the words of John Byron, “In Paul’s hands everything, even the opening address, becomes an opportunity to remind his readers of God’s work in their lives.” 

In the case of the search for joy, this greeting awakens our hearts and opens our eyes to the joy we can find in serving God and the joy we can find in being God’s.

1. Joy In Serving God

Paul refers to both himself and Timothy as ‘servants’ of Christ Jesus. In some translations the word used is ‘slaves’. The Greek word used here is ‘doulos’ which according to Strong’s Concordance means: ‘one who gives himself up to another’s will; those whose service is used by Christ in extending and advancing His cause among men.’

Paul found joy in submitting to God’s will and advancing the cause of the gospel, and he was willing to give his life for it. – Britton Sharp

Paul’s life was not devoid of struggles, trials, pain, or suffering. Yet we see that Paul also lived with a joy that was again founded on the sovereignty of God. Even still, his joy was multiplied by his submission to the Lord, and His commitment to advancing the cause of the gospel, no matter what the cost.

Brother or sister, there is joy to be found in serving God. There is joy to be found in advancing the Name and fame of the one who has redeemed you. There will be trials and tribulations in the journey of missional living, but there is unending joy to be found in full submission to the mission.

Consider giving yourself up as a servant of Christ. Trust His will, trust His hand, trust His heart. Find joy in the advancement of the gospel.

2. Joy In Our Position Because of Christ

Let’s not gloss over what Paul refers to the church at Philippi as. He calls them ‘saints’. Now, we know that the church at Philippi was indeed doing exceedingly well. However, they were not devoid of struggles or sins. Yet Paul knew that in the eyes of God they were considered to be saints because of Jesus Christ.

As someone who sins, it is a joyous realization that my sin doesn’t change my position before God. Because of the perfect life of Jesus Christ, I am seen as a saint. No matter what. My struggles do not change the way that God sees me.

I am more and more convinced that if we were to grasp at the heart level the truths of who we are in Christ, of what the gospel message says about us, then we would find the fountain of never-ceasing joy. This is why re-preaching the gospel to ourselves every day is so vastly important. Let us remember what the gospel says that we are.

You and I, as followers of Christ, are saints.

Find joy in the mission of Jesus Christ and in the position we have before God because of Jesus Christ.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

The Timehop Trap

What were you doing one year ago today?timehop

This has been one of the consistent marketing taglines that the app Timehop has used to reel people in. The app is super awesome. Every day you can check into the app and see all that you’ve posted on social media on that day in years past, whether that was on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram.

In recent months however, I have seen how dangerous of an app this can be for me personally (I’m not using this blog post to boycott the app, say that it’s sinful for followers of Christ to use, or anything disproportionately crazy like that). One of my biggest struggles is looking backwards. I don’t blame myself for that, it’s easy to do. It’s easy and natural for me (as well as many others I’m sure) to think about the what used to be, and how life was different back in the day. Nostalgia distorts. Nostalgia is not regret. Nostalgia focuses on the good that used to be and glosses over the difficult. It’s like looking at the past with rose-colored glasses on.

I have wrestled with a sin that I hadn’t been able to put into words but knew was present in my life. This struggle was put to words by the author Jen Wilkin. Jamie and I are reading through her book None Like Him, and as we read through a chapter of it this past Saturday morning, Jen spoke on the idea of ‘sinful nostalgia’:

Sinful nostalgia causes us to idolize a time when life was “better” or “simpler,” resulting in perpetual discontentment with our present circumstance. We may long for a time before bad news of some kind arrived, for a time when our health was better, when our kids were still young, or when a loved one was still alive. Life’s changing seasons can cause a natural longing for the way things used to be, and though it is not necessarily sinful, it can become so. We are allowed to grieve the loss of happy seasons, but we are not allowed to resent their loss. There is a difference between missing the past and coveting the past. The antidote for covetousness is always gratitude: We can combat a sinful love of the past by counting the gifts we have been given in the present. 

Wow. As I was reading this section aloud to Jamie on Saturday, I had to stop at the end of this paragraph. This struggle I’ve battled in my heart, especially with post-graduation blues, was called into the light. It’s easy for me to allow my acceptable grief to turn into sinful covetousness of the past.

It’s laughable how I set myself up for falling into this sinful covetousness. For close to a month, the first thing I would do in the morning when I woke up would be to lay in bed and check my Timehop. I would scroll through posts and pictures of previous years, and immediately my current state would feel insignificant or less than ideal. Immediately my heart would yearn for the ‘better’ time in my life, disregarding all the gifts that God has granted to me daily in the present. As far as the rose-colored glasses are concerned, Timehop does nostalgia’s job for it. Considering I never post on social media about anything negative, all I see from past years is the good.

Not to mention the fact that I might as well be the Israelites in the book of Exodus. God had delivered them from slavery and they responded by grumbling and proclaiming that they’d rather be back in slavery. God has delivered me from ‘slavery’ to different idols and difficult circumstances, and when I long sinfully for the past, that’s me wanting to assert myself right back into the slavery He has rescued me from.

Pay careful attention, then, to how you live – not as unwise people but as wise – making the most of the time, because the days are evil. – Ephesians 5:15-16

The days we have are numbered. They are passing. We are called by God to live wisely in our days, making much of His Name through all that we say and do. Yet I waste my days when I’m living in an attitude of sinful nostalgia.

Jen has it right when she says that the greatest way to combat this is via gratitude and thankfulness. On the extremely rare occasion, I will begin my day by writing in my journal ten things from the previous day that I’m thankful for. This is a wonderful way to begin my day, and it leaves me in awe of God’s generosity as I consider and meditate upon the fact that I deserve absolutely none of the gifts that God so generously pours into my life.

Is everything in my life just the way I want it? By no means (and that is absolutely a good thing). But everything in my life is exactly the way it is for a reason, as God uses each and every day of my existence to bring about my good and His glory.

Don’t fall into the Timehop trap (again, disclaimer: I’m not saying that Timehop is evil or wrong. When used rightly, it can be a wonderful way to reflect on God’s goodness) of wanting the past.

Be grateful for God’s gifts in the present.

In His Name,
Nathan Roach

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Affirmation Addiction

The whiteboard here at the Community Center where I work holds a special place in my heart and in my relationship with one of my best buddies out here. The whiteboard is where we go to unpack in written form the deep recesses of our brains. This is often hilarious and joyous as we speak candidly about relationships, health, and the things which plague our minds and hearts at the time.pills.jpg

More than just being a good end of the week laugh, we use this time to speak gospel truth into each other’s lives as we admit our places of fear, doubt, and other things which hinder our growth in the Lord. Just yesterday was once such impactful moment, where I was able to speak truth to my friend, while also receiving from the Lord a reminder through my very own words of a truth I needed to hear as well (It’s intriguing how God often speaks to me the loudest via my very own words).

Affirmation. Purpose. Identity.

These three things tend to go hand in hand in hand in my mind and life (boy, that was quite the sentence). When I feel affirmed, I feel like I serve a purpose, and my identity becomes wrapped up in that feeling of affirmation. I begin to seek it out more from the place I received it from, and become acutely aware of where I’m not getting that feeling. Where I’m not getting that feeling, I then struggle with thoughts that I have failed in some way in that arena of my life. In the most ironic of ways, it was in addressing this in my friend’s life that I realized how big a struggle it is in mine as well.

This is a terrible way for a follower of Christ to live. It is dangerous, draining, depressing, and devoid of gospel grace.

I believe every follower of Christ has struggled with this or is currently struggling with this in some form or facet. We all struggle with needing to be affirmed by our family, friends, work supervisors, or significant other. Not only that, but when we get sucked into the idea of ‘Christian karma’, where God’s affirmation of us as individuals is contingent upon our performance and behavior, then we feel like we have to fight for His love and thus our very purpose and identity. This level of needing affirmation can destroy a person at their very core. I know. I’ve experienced this.

This debilitating desire of needing affirmation can lead us to inspect every word said to us, feeling joyous when it appears positive, and devastated when it isn’t. Brother or sister, this is no way to live. Man in the mirror, this is no way to live.

This desire to be affirmed seems to be not so insidious at first glance. We all want encouragement, the Scriptures teach that we should be affirming and supporting our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, so it only makes sense that we should expect that in return.

Yet when the enemy creeps in and starts to make that encouragement the source of our identity, bad things are in store. What should give us life and purpose and identity is the gospel, what the good news of Christ crucified says about us. Grace. Coming to the Father in prayer, meditating on Scripture, partaking in the Lord’s Supper. It is these things that should fuel our lives, beckoning our hearts into ever increasing joy as we feel the grace of God seeping into and filling the dark and hidden crevices of our hearts.

Your relationship with him [Jesus] must be your ultimate satisfaction. Every other relationship and every other source of success is like a sugar high. The buzz feels good for a while but leaves you deflated in the end.  > Jeff Iorg

Brother and sister in Christ, search the Scriptures for a deeper understanding of who God is. When we come to a deeper understanding of who God is, we then can understand the wonderful riches and blessings that we have in Christ. When we remind ourselves of this day by precious day, the insidious craving of affirmation grows bleak in comparison to the guaranteed love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Search the Scriptures. We are forgetful people, and I believe I’m the worst of all when it comes to this. That’s why we must preach the gospel to ourselves daily as we remember who we are in Christ.

Every page of the grand narrative of Scripture points to Christ, and we are able to glean a beautiful and marvelous depiction of who we are in Him.

I’m praying that God would open my eyes through His Word to the realities of my identity in Him.

I pray that He would do the same for you.

Blessings.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

 

 

 

God’s Pursuit In Prayer

The strain on my mind and heart feels near-constant sometimes as I struggle and yearn to maintain my relationship with the Lord. There are days, weeks, entire seasons of my life where it’s a battle, a struggle, a fight to pursue the spiritual disciplines that I know will yield spiritual growth in my life. It can be exhausting to feel the pressure of pursuing God in my daily life. That’s weird to type out, but it’s no less true. 395H

In the quiet moments before sleep, my mind runs a recap of my day, and I feel the internal self- scrutinizing begin, as I question how well I pursued the things of God.

I wake up with the sun, strain to pursue God in the midst of earthly things, and run through the same self-scrutiny at the end of the day.

In the midst of these seasons, I wrestle with feeling like this shouldn’t be the case. Jesus proclaims that His yoke is easy, and His burden is light (Matthew 11:30). Yet in every church service and small group setting, I’d be reminded of the importance of my relationship with God. I’d be reminded of the priority it should hold in my life, the priority the pursuit of spiritual disciplines should hold in my personal life. This would push me right back into the weight of feeling responsible for maintaining my relationship with God.

Maybe you’ve experienced the same feelings and struggles.

Maybe you feel an immense pressure and weight to make sure you do everything you can to maintain your relationship with God.

What shatters this weight, what sets us free to have renewed joy and energy for our days, free from the shackles of feeling wholly responsible for our own spiritual growth, is when we remind ourselves that God is a pursuing God.

Consider the following verses.

There is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. – Romans 3:11

No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him, and I will raise him up on the last day. – John 6:44

See! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. – Revelation 3:20

I know that I’ve stripped all three of these verses from their contextual passages, but it is widely attested and widely circulated in theological circles that all of these have implications regarding God’s pursuing grace. Most often, these verses are used in the context of salvation, of people coming to know the Lord. In this context, we see that God does the first pursuing in the onset of our relationship with Him. It is His grace that draws us to Him.

Look next at the words of Paul to the church at Galatia:

You foolish Galatians! Who has cast a spell on you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? I only want to learn this from you: Did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by believing what you heard? Are you so foolish? After beginning by the Spirit, are you now finishing by the flesh? – Galatians 3:1-3

Paul was combating in Galatia the doctrine of false teachers who were saying that newly converted Christians had to follow all of the Jewish laws and regulations. In essence, new believers were being told they had to adapt to Jewish culture, and become culturally Jewish in order to be right before God.

So Paul is calling the Galatian churches foolish for straying into this false doctrine. The point he is making in these verses is that God draws us to Himself when we first enter into a relationship with Him, and our continued growth in spiritual things is dependent upon His grace as well. We didn’t start our walk with Him via grace, only to be dependent upon our own flesh for the rest of our walk with Him.

HOW FREEING THIS IS.

I am incapable of pursuing God in my own strength, in my own sinful flesh. No one seeks God without God first drawing them closer to Himself.

I forget this truth, and God graciously reminds me of it time and time again. When God brings renewed vigor and understanding of this truth, it changes how I view prayer.

Prayer is easily my least practiced spiritual discipline. This is a hard admittance to make, but it is true. I can go hours in studying the Word and memorizing Scripture, but it takes all of my effort to get into my prayer closet and have personal times of prayer with the Lord. I too often begrudgingly meet my quota of prayer time because it feels like my way of maintaining the relationship.

Yet when I meditate upon the fact that God is the one pursuing me, drawing me into communion with Him, this changes prayer 100%. It is not burdensome any longer (I don’t say this as if prayer should ever be burdensome, this is merely just a confession). It is a precious and wonderful gift of God’s grace, as He draws me into deeper intimacy with Him!

Hallelujah!

What a wonderful gift! Any time I feel prompted to pray, that is God present grace. God is not distant, He is here, drawing me into communication with Him.

There is so much here, so much of God’s character that is worthy of praise.

He knows that I need Him. He knows that prayer changes my outlook, attitude, heart, mindset, and passion for Him.

Because He knows I need Him, He draws me, calls me, prompts me to pray.

Since no human heart naturally seeks God or can come to God without his drawing, no one even thinks about praying unless God is prompting or leading us to pray by his Holy Spirit… – Timothy Keller

Be encouraged.

Whenever you feel led to pray, study God’s Word, or worship with other believers, God’s grace is drawing you into deeper intimacy with Him.

In His Name,
Nathan Roach

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Focus On A Family

The story of the Israelites’ partial obedience to God is interrupted here in the first chapter with a short five verse vignette about the generosity, bravery, and boldness of one specific family.

Caleb said, “Whoever attacks and captures Kiriath-sepher, I will give my daughter Achsah to him as a wife.” So Othniel son of Kenaz, Caleb’s youngest brother, captured it, and Caleb gave his daughter Achsah to him as his wife. When she arrived, she persuaded Othniel to ask her father for a field. As she got off her donkey, Caleb asked her, “What do you want?” She answered him, “Give me a blessing. Since you have given me land in the Negev, give me springs also.” So Caleb gave her both the upper and lower springs. The descendants of the Kenite, Moses’s father-in-law, had gone up with the men of Judah from the City of Palms to the Wilderness of Judah, which was in the Negev of Arad. They went to live among the people. – Judges 1:12-16

This is a seemingly random story about Caleb’s family. Yet when we focus in on each of the three main characters in this story, we see qualities worth emulating.

Caleb

This is not the first mention of Caleb in the Bible. In Numbers 13, he was among the men who went up to spy upon the land that God had promised His people. The spies encountered giant men of renown and then returned to the people. Every spy except for Caleb and Joshua were afraid and told the people that the task was impossible. Only Joshua and Caleb stood up with courageous and radical faith, proclaiming the promises of God and insisting that with His strength they would be victorious. rod

What is all the more intriguing is the fact that Caleb was not a descendant of any tribe in Judah. He and his family came from the Kenizzites. Yet because they were such devout followers of the Lord, they were grafted into and assimilated into the tribe of Judah.

All this being said, we know that he was a man of courageous and radical faith in the Lord. He was a man who wanted his daughter to marry a man of courageous and radical faith as well. This culture had customs we may seem strange. Arranged marriages made perfect sense to this culture, and so Caleb was not devaluing his daughter when he offered her up to a willing and courageous husband.

What is worth focusing on is the fact that Caleb was kind and generous. When his daughter came to him asking for springs of water because of how barren the land was, he graciously and generously gave her more than she needed. This is evidenced by the sweeping gift of the upper and lower springs.

Othniel

Othniel was clearly a man of bravery and courage. He went up to capture Kiraith-sepher, and with the Lord’s help he did just that. It is important to note that this city and the surrounding land was land God had promised to Caleb through the lips of Joshua (Joshua 14:6-15) and not just the land-grabbing of a greedy man.

We will see in just a couple chapters that Othniel was the first judge raised up for Israel. He would lead his people into forty years of peace (spoiler alert: it doesn’t last). His bravery and courage will be on display in that passage as well.

Achsah

Achsah is seen in this story as a bold woman, a woman who was analytical and astute. She surveyed the land and realized that without springs, her family would not be able to survive for long in the desert landscape. Her character reminds me of Proverbs 31:15-16.

She rises while it is still night and provides food for her household and portions for her female servants. She evaluates a field and buys it; she plants a vineyard with her earnings. – Proverbs 31:15-16

She had a desire right off the bat to provide for her family and her estate. She asked Othniel to ask his father in law for the springs and for some reason not explicitly stated in Scripture, he didn’t. With respect balanced with boldness, Achsah takes matters into her own hands and asks Caleb for the springs herself.

Courage. Kindness. Generosity. Boldness. Faith.

In this family we see what the entire people of God should have been characterized by.

Caleb’s family is, in miniature, what all Israel should be like. – Timothy Keller

I would close by reminding you that whenever we look at characters in the Old Testament, we shouldn’t be using them as moral figures to follow. Yes, the heroes of faith in the Old Testament have some great qualities, but more often than not they have some incredible flaws as well. That will be on vibrant display in the book of Judges.

So when we see Caleb, Othniel, and Achsah in this vignette as worthy models of character, let us look beyond them, ahead of them, to the life of Christ.

 

The kindness, boldness, and generosity of Jesus can be seen, remembered, and meditated on via the lens of the kindness, boldness, and generosity of this family.

In His Name,

Nathan Roach

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