Wednesday, November 23, 2016


Today's reflection on the Daily Texts:

Noah did all that God commanded him. - Genesis 6:22

By faith Noah, being warned by God about things not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his household. - Hebrews 11:7 (NASB)

Two-year reading texts: Psalm 133; 1 Kings 15:9-16:14; John 18:1-11

There's a sequence of events that happens with Noah, as told in today's verses. First, he's warned by God. Our English word warned might have a little too much negative weight to it; the sense of the Greek verb seems to be just that Noah had a word or message or instruction from God.

Second, Noah reveres this message. Here the English word says it pretty well; it means to pay attention, to beware or be cautious. There's a sense of taking the message seriously and being moved to do something about it. When translating from Hebrew in the Old Testament, the Greek word is used to convey Hebrew verbs such as fearing, revering, seeking refuge, being silent, or just generally trusting and having faith in God. Noah receives the message, believes that it comes from God, and takes it to heart.

Third, Noah prepares for what the message says. In specific contexts, the Greek verb means to build or equip or furnish something, but again, prepare says it well. This is a word of action, to get ready for something that's coming. It's the same word we hear in Advent with John the Baptist, who fulfills Isaiah's prophecy about "preparing the way." Preparing means to listen, obey, and do what's called for. It takes time and energy and planning and resources and vision and patience.

It strikes me that this sequence of events is a good source of wisdom for Advent, and all of life with God. The sequence begins with God's action and then calls for human action. The plan and vision are God's; there would be no useful progress in this sequence at all without the word from God. The middle piece, the communication piece, involves listening and hearing and respect, collecting the word like a precious stone and studying and keeping it. Then there's the faithful obedience, the daily process - possibly over many, many days! - of putting in the work toward fulfilling the vision.

For me, right now, I hope this is a pattern that informs everything I do in life, and in my call as a pastor. And it seems especially important as I watch what happens with the coming change of national leadership and its impact on people all around. How can I keep an attitude of listening and reverence for God's word, trusting that God will give the word that's right for me and my context at the right time? How can I ponder and study and wrestle with the word of God, large or small, submitting myself to God's direction? And how can I translate reverence and faith into the action of preparing, letting God's word be a blueprint for whatever it is I'm called to build or equip or do? Maybe an early part of the preparation itself is to think and pray about this process, how it's worked for faithful people before me. May Noah and his sequence of events be an inspiration for me, and for everyone who seeks to be faithful to God.

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