From the chair:
“When Israel grew strong, they put the Canaanites to forced labor, but did not drive them out completely.”
“Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, ‘I brought you up from Egypt and brought you into the land that I swore to give to your fathers. I said, “I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.” But you have not obeyed my voice. What is this you have done? So now I say, I will not drive them out before you, but they shall become thorns in your sides, and their gods shall be a snare to you.'”
“But whenever the judge died, they turned back and were more corrupt than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them. They did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways. So the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel, and he said, ‘Because this people have transgressed my covenant that I commanded their fathers and have not obeyed my voice, I will no longer drive out before them any of the nations that Joshua left when he died, in order to test Israel by them, whether they will take care to walk in the way of the Lord as their fathers did, or not.'”
“It was only in order that the generations of the people of Israel might know war, to teach war to those who had not known it before.”
-Judges 1:28; 2:1-3; 2:19-22; 3:2
So which is it, author-of-Judges? Did the nations remain because Israel failed to drive them out or because god left them as a thorn in their sides or because God left them to test them or because God wanted to keep the later generations war-ready. Apparently, all of the above.
The fact that these verses all come in the first few chapters of Judges doesn’t suggest to me that Judges is a hodgepodge of ancient texts. Rather, it implies that these statements could all be true at once about the same set of historical facts. Furthermore, the fact that these come together in Scripture tells me that all this is not too much for God to wrap his mind around. God is not flip-flopping here; he is operating on a level we cannot, comprehending and even using a complexity we can’t even understand.
That’s the thing about God. We often question his sovereignty or his goodness when things aren’t how we would choose, because we forget that God is not just higher than us, not just higher than the best of us, he’s higher than all of us combined, from the people who can compost classical music without sight to those who can put a person on the moon. This handful of reasons for this historical fact is just a glimpse into the unsearchable wisdom of God, just a reminder that he knows what he’s doing, and that he has countless purposes at work that we are yet to see.
From the desk:
“‘It means,’ said Aslan, ‘that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backward.'”
-C.S. Lewis, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, HarperCollins 1978 ed., p.178-179
I know this will make my PhD seem silly, but this is a selection I chose for class tomorrow. We start every season of “Speech Performance and Preaching” with some sort of reading–a poem, a prayer, a Biblical passage–and we haven’t done prose fiction yet. So, in light of Easter, we’ll be reading this.
“The chair” is the one Annie aptly chose for the corner of our living room, and it’s where I am committed to daily hearing from God’s Word–the Word I above all else hope to speak to others. “The desk” is the one by my coffee grounds and spare charger (if I get to the library early enough); it’s where I have the privilege of reading and thinking all day, where I intend to learn for others’ sake.