For God So Loved the World

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JUDGES 17:1-18:31 | JOHN 3:1-21 | PSALM 104:1-23 | PROVERBS 14:20-21

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The story of Micah and his idols is a most curious one.  Micah, a young man, is said to have stolen from his mother and then comes clean to her.  The mother is thrilled and takes part of the money and gets an idol made.  Micah installs this idol in his house, and then just for good measure, he hires a young man from the priestly tribe of Levi to be his household priest. 

Imagine that:  a Levite serving as priest and tolerating a molten image under the same roof as he!  What was Israel coming to?! 

Well, not much, I suppose, because the text does state “In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as they saw fit.”  It does show us, however, the dichotomy that existed in the minds and affairs of the children of Israel in how they sought to worship Yahweh, the God of their fathers, while still holding on to their desire to practice idolatry.

Well, if all this sounds a little bizarre, that was just what it was:  most bizarre.  And things get even more strange when a group of Danites (from the tribe of Dan) go out scouting for a new settlement, and along the way chance upon the Levite residing in Micah’s house and lure him to follow them and be their household priest! 

Not only that, they also take the idols from within Micah’s house—as if those things were necessary for the priest to carry out his priestly duties—and make off with them to a new town called Laish (which they promptly rename Dan).  Micah is left high and dry and watches all this happen before his very eyes.  If there’s a lesson in all of this, we are yet to learn it.

Turning now to our reading in the book of John, we encounter one of the most famous passages in the New Testament:  the story of Nicodemus, the Pharisee who comes to Jesus inquiring about the meaning of becoming “born again.”  Jesus explains to Nicodemus that it is not a bodily rebirth but a birth of the spirit. 

He goes on to say probably the most often quoted verse in the entire Bible:  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.

Furthermore, Jesus goes on to say this:  17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. 19 This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but people loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. 20 Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that their deeds will be exposed. 21 But whoever lives by the truth comes into the light, so that it may be seen plainly that what they have done has been done in the sight of God.

Turning now to our psalm of the day, we find the psalmist praising the handiwork of an Almighty God in whose hands the changing seasons lie.  The passage of time that results in night and day is God’s doing.  David says:

19 He made the moon to mark the seasons,
and the sun knows when to go down.
20 You bring darkness, it becomes night,
and all the beasts of the forest prowl.
21 The lions roar for their prey
and seek their food from God.
22 The sun rises, and they steal away;
they return and lie down in their dens.
23 Then people go out to their work,
to their labor until evening.

Finally, one last verse from the book of Proverbs that is reminiscent of Jesus’ command that replaced the entire law of Moses.  Solomon, king of Israel, and author of these verses, writes this:

21 It is a sin to despise one’s neighbor, but blessed is the one who is kind to the needy.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

5 thoughts on “For God So Loved the World

  1. In understanding Jesus’ words to Nicodemus here, it’s important to remember that the biblical world’s view of the body was not like Plato: dualist, body vs spirit, one against the other. The view was more holistic, body and spirit as one. So Jesus is not necessarily condemning the world but he is saying that living according to just the world’s standards or only within the world is “darkness” (Nicodemus has come to him at night). Transformation by the spirit brings light, the spirit transforming the world, not necessarily rejecting it.

    1. Thank you for sharing that. I tend to view this as a deeply personal exchange that any of us can have w/ Jesus. It was a one-on-one w/ Nicodemus as well. Love is the overwhelming concept here. Without it, even the brightest light doesn’t matter.

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