In my Old Testament class this semester, we have been reading through Kings, Chronicles, Daniel, and Esther. Great books, and I am learning so much of how to read them that I never knew before (like did you ever notice that lots of people are eaten by lions… which is kingly imagery…and the author uses that to remind the reader who is king?). One of the key things we keep going back to is how often, during the reign of the Kings of Judah and Israel, God was trying to teach them to listen to the prophets to get his directions.
Yet, when you move to Daniel and Esther, you are watching people in exile … where there is no temple, no levite, no priest, no remnant of anyone to tell them how to live in obedience to God. They had to live according to what they knew was right. It was just them, “doin’ the stuff”, as my professor said, and giving God space to move.
What struck me the most though, is when our professor kept pressing us on the book of Esther. I could tell we were not quite getting what he was trying to understand, until we landed on this: Even when there is no prophet, and people have to make decisions that are made out of their own wisdom and prudence, God is still moving on behalf of his people.
I know that is not a ground-breaking thought, but it hit me right where I have been thinking about some stuff lately. You see, I became a believer in the charismatic/pentacostal side of the church. Hearing from God, asking for the gifts of the spirit, specifically to be able to hear from God FOR others, was a big deal. Although it introduced me to the presence of God and helped me learn how to tune my heart for his voice, it left me always wondering why I never heard much. What was wrong with me? If this was how I was supposed to be “led by the Spirit” is to always have a word from God, how was I supposed to move forward? How would I know I was not offending him somehow? Its not a great place to live, and I think it truncated a part of my own spiritual growth in certain ways.
Over the years, I have learned that being Spirit led is SO much more than just hearing words from the Lord. I have also been exposed to sides of the church that think all that stuff is hogwash for one reason or the other. Whereas I can’t go that far – because I do believe God speaks to us in so many different ways and for so many different reasons – this reality of doing wise things that is present in scripture suddenly became very, very obvious.
It’s all over proverbs. Jesus talks about loving God with your heart, soul, strength, and MIND. But why do we never focus on this? Perhaps this is more a focus of the Protestant side of the house – and for that, I am grateful and hope to learn from my brothers and sisters. But where is the preaching on this? That is something I have to mull over. Preaching on wisdom probably sounds very “not Jesus-y” I guess, yet Jesus certainly seemed to be a man of great wisdom, if you ask me.
I have struggled with how split the body of Christ is in this, where we either seem to be ONLY wisdom seekers or ONLY word-of-God-prophecy-type people. Yet I know there is room for both, corporately and in our own lives as well. So the challenge is to hold both equally… because the richness of the voice of God is something of which I just cannot let go. Neither can I stop being amazed by the wisdom of people I have met and continue to meet that are deep thinkers, lovers of God and others….
So today, I leave you with one of my favorite verses from Proverbs 2:
My son, my daughter, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding —
indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding. (Prov 2:1-6, NIV)