13 June 2013

Written for our instruction: it's all in how you look at it

by Dan Phillips

First scene:
During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew. (Exodus 2:23–25)
...and the people of Israel said to them, “Would that we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the meat pots and ate bread to the full, for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Exodus 16:3)
And again:
Now the rabble that was among them had a strong craving. And the people of Israel also wept again and said, “Oh that we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt that cost nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic. But now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.” (Numbers 11:4–6)
And again:
“Is it a small thing that you have brought us up out of a land flowing with milk and honey, to kill us in the wilderness, that you must also make yourself a prince over us? (Numbers 16:13)
Then rewind, rewind, rewind:
So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate. (Genesis 3:6)
Tap the fast-forward:
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths. (Genesis 3:7)
Once more, a bit longer:
Now Absalom, David’s son, had a beautiful sister, whose name was Tamar. And after a time Amnon, David’s son, loved her. And Amnon was so tormented that he made himself ill because of his sister Tamar, for she was a virgin, and it seemed impossible to Amnon to do anything to her. But Amnon had a friend, whose name was Jonadab, the son of Shimeah, David’s brother. And Jonadab was a very crafty man. And he said to him, “O son of the king, why are you so haggard morning after morning? Will you not tell me?” Amnon said to him, “I love Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.” (2 Samuel 13:1–4)
And tap again:
But he would not listen to her, and being stronger than she, he violated her and lay with her. Then Amnon hated her with very great hatred, so that the hatred with which he hated her was greater than the love with which he had loved her. And Amnon said to her, “Get up! Go!” (2 Samuel 13:14–15)
Press and hold:
But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death. (James 1:14–15)
Tap rewind:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. For by it the people of old received their commendation. By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible. (Hebrews 11:1–3)
Once more:
for we walk by faith, not by sight. (2 Corinthians 5:7)
And once again:
So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:31–32)
Concluding observations:
  1. Sin always — always — makes things appear as they are not.
  2. The only way to see things rightly is by God's Word
See you in church, Sunday.

Dan Phillips's signature


Kerry James Allen said...


"God saith it shall be bitterness; the sinner denies the bitterness, and affirms that it shall be sweetness." CHS

charitisesomenoi said...

So sad that many purported "evangelicals" are loathe to use the "S" word.

We will never realize how good and gracious our God is until we realize how wicked we are....


Randy Talley said...

Thank you, Dan. That might be one of the most profitable exercises I've gone through in a long time.

graceandgraphite said...

The truth that brings freedom also hurts, but it's a good, necessary hurt. My soul has been requiring a lot of steel wool lately, and this post helps too. More thanks, Dan.

Adam said...

Thanks for this, Dan. This post brings together a couple of things I've been thinking about lately: First, I didn't realize it until recently, but I'm a committed presuppositionalist, and seeing nothing but scripture used to prove a point is so encouraging. Second, for the last few years, the depth to which Scripture cuts directly against the understandings we are born with is both convicting and exciting. The deepest cut is what heals the most, as opposed to those who heal God's people lightly — and this post is full of deep cuts and healing. The depths of our capacity to call good evil and evil good really are staggering.