Thursday, July 13, 2006

Malachi's First Oracle: Respond to God's Love

I woke up this morning at about 5:30. The Turners were up shortly thereafter, and we had breakfast together. At 8:30, we met with the students for a devotional time. Dr. Turner is doing a series of devotionals on life lessons from the story of Noah. He will give devotionals for the rest of this week. I’m not sure but I may be in charge of giving devotionals all next week.

I teach the first class period from 9:00 to 9:45. Yesterday, I gave the students a bit of an introduction to the book of Malachi. Today, we began to tackle the actual content. It’s a little challenging to teach with a translator, but Linus does an excellent job. We only covered the first 5 verses of the book today, but because the book only has about 45 verses, we should be right on track. I’m not sure I can actually fill 10 days of class with the content I have right now, but we’ll see. I have about 32 pages of notes, but I’ve gone through 7 of them in 2 days. The students seemed to be tracking along, and some even responded when I asked for questions at the end.

The first five verses of Malachi are about God’s great love for his people. Israel had enjoyed many, many blessings from God. He had chosen, by his own power and grace, to bless Jacob’s descendants more than he blessed Esau’s descendants. To Israel, he had given the Law, the temple, the priests, the judges, the prophets, etc. Both Israel and Edom had become wicked, and God punished them by sending them into captivity in Babylon. But, because of God’s great love, he brought Israel out of captivity and restored them to their homeland. One hundred years passed. Israel was under Persian domination, the crops were less than satisfactory and God had not yet ushered in his Messianic kingdom. In the face of these negative circumstances, Israel began to complain that God didn’t love them. They overlooked 1000 years of God’s loving provision and blessing to complain about the few things they didn’t have in the present. They forgot about the covenant God had made with Abraham and Isaac. They forgot how God chose them before Jacob was even born. They forgot how God delivered them from slavery in Egypt. They forgot how God had protected them in the wilderness. They forgot how God had given them the land of Canaan. They forgot how God had sent judges to deliver them from the messes they got themselves into. They forgot how God had brought them out of captivity, while he left Edom under Babylonian bondage. They forgot how God had allowed them to rebuild their temple, while the Edomites were again attacked by the Nabatean Arabs and forced out of their land. Their current circumstances blinded them to the overarching love God had shown them.

Malachi does a great job of pointing out the ingratitude typical of the human experience. God gave Adam and Eve thousands of trees in the Garden, but they fixated on the one tree they weren’t allowed to have. Are you there? Do you focus on one negative in your life, forgetting a long history of God’s gracious acts toward you? I know I really struggle with cynicism and a complaining spirit. I’m praying that God will help me to remember how he has worked in my life, so that I will never ask accusingly, like Israel did, “How have you loved us?”

Well, enough preaching for one blog. After class, I got online and posted my blog from last night and read a few e-mails. I tried to talk to Tiffany, but she was probably putting Elijah down for his nap. I went back to the apartment and continued class preparation. I think I’m more or less prepared for the rest of the time I will spend here. We talked a little about my plans for the end of this trip. I don’t fly out until the evening of the 24th, but I may try to go to Mumbai on the 23rd and spend the night in a hotel. That would give me a chance to run out and get the geocache on Elephant Island, do some souvenir shopping, and still get to the airport in plenty of time. Hopefully, I could leave my luggage there for a while, so that I don’t have to lug it all over the city.
I’m still keeping my ear to the ground about the situation in Mumbai, though. If things heat up any more, I will scrap the whole thing, go directly to the airport on Monday evening and get out of the country with the least bother possible.

I’m really hoping I get a chance to do one day of sightseeing. I really am seeing a very tiny slice of India. This village is about 50,000 people, but we don’t really leave the campus. We may do a little grocery shopping or something tomorrow; I’m not sure.

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