Time stands still in a siege, still,
the waters run
red as blood on a beach, till
they strung him up,
king’s son hanging like incense
burnt to the bone,
scared away all the offense;
they’re going home.
Today I was reading 2 Kings and was suddenly stricken with inspiration to take up the ol’ keyboard and blog again. In chapter 3, we see the Israelites and Edomites laying the Moabites under siege. The Lord was with the Israelites, so when they advanced upon the kingdom, He aided them. The siege became so bad for the king of Moab, he called upon his god.
And this is the part that struck me.
This gentile king’s way of calling out for help from his god, Chemosh, was to burn his oldest son alive and hang him from the wall where the people would be able to see the bones. It is unclear which wall, exactly, he hung him from, and who would have seen him, but this action is what caused the Israelites to finally relent and return home.
This is an image that we expect to see in R-rated Hollywood films, not the innocent realm of the Bible! As my Uncle Mark always says, ‘if you want an R-rated story, read the Old Testament.’
In thinking about this sequence of events, it is clear to see a difference between the rationale of the Israelites (God’s people) and the Moabites (People of the world). Look at their language. In verse 15, Elisha calls for a musician to come and play for him. Then he delivers the Word of the Lord. In the following verses, he prophecies that the Lord will make a dry streamed full of pools, and He will give the Moabites into their hands. Compare that to the Moabite king who, when the pressure came on, went and sacrificed his most valuable thing, his firstborn son who was next in line to become king!
I think this is a crystal clear demonstration of how the world functions versus how God functions. God gives things to those who do His will. Not in a prosperity-gospel sort of way. Look at Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you, you need only be still.” The deliverance of our God comes by simply calling out to Him and looking to Him to be our deliverer. He is not bought by sacrifices. He is not appeased by burnt offerings. You cannot buy God.
I think of my own life, and the lives of so many people who believe in a pseudo-God of the Bible who is bought by our good works or appeased by our donations. Our thoughts are so transaction-oriented. If I give more money to the church, God will heal my mom. If I stop cussing, I will finally be able to feel His presence. I don’t believe God works in such a narrow “if-then” system of morals.
In the past few months, a passage I have returned to several times is Matthew 9.
And when the Pharisees saw this, they said to his disciples, “Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” But when [Jesus] heard it, he said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
Even if we wanted to, we could not give God anything. We cannot add onto Him. Rather, we only receive. Jesus came to seek out and save sinners, not those who are already righteous (which is actually…no one). We are recipients of His grace and His promises, and He is always faithful to His promises. This should make us infinitely grateful to Him and only increase the volume of our worshipful songs back to Him, singing thank You, thank You, thank You…
Thank You that we don’t need to sacrifice our firstborn sons for You to hear us.
Thank You for being our friend.