July 09, 2012
Author: Scott Hoezee
Comments and Observations
Every day the news contains sad and tawdry stories not too far removed from this lection in Mark 6. It’s altogether too typical. Here in Mark 6 we learn that the last great Old Testament prophet and the first great New Testament gospel herald, John the Baptist himself, was done in because of a boozy promise made by an oversexed older man who had been turned on by a scantily clad teenager who did a dance for him and his equally besotted party companions. Having kept his hands off of John the Baptist out of fears of a Jewish reprisal in case some harm came to John—and anyway Herod also found himself oddly drawn to John’s words—Herod even so now seals John’s fate after all because of a moment of weakness in which he promises to give a pretty young girl just about anything she wants. (“What’ll it be, you hot little thing? You want the moon? I’ll give ya the moon . . .”)
How can it be that so vital a figure in salvation history gets murdered on account of so tawdry an event? This is no glorious martyrdom. This is not Stephen testifying to God’s grace and seeing Jesus just before the fatal stone strikes him in the head. This is a silent beheading in a prison cell, as swiftly enacted as it was stupidly arranged.
Only the back-story here provides a glimmer of something positive to say about how it all came about. According to a very helpful article by Craig Keener in The Lectionary Commentary (Eerdmans, 2001), John the Baptist was probably the only figure who had the courage (and the holy pluck) to stand up to Herod Antipas. This is not the Herod who was around when Jesus was born nor is this the Book of Acts Herod who later persecuted the church and killed, among others, James. But what this middle Herod shared in common with those other two was a real nasty streak of immorality, self-aggrandizement, and corruption.
He had been married originally to a Nabataean princess whom he later dumped in favor of marrying his brother’s wife, Herodias. As Woody Allen might say, the heart wants what it wants, and Herod’s heart wanted Herodias. So even though it made him guilty of multiple sins (adultery and incest among them) and even though it angered the king of the Nabataeans (to whom Herod’s first wife fled in humiliation after Herod took up with his sister-in-law Herodias)—and even though this later led to a military conflict with the Nabataeans in which Herod was roundly defeated and embarrassed—nevertheless Herod married Herodias, and no one save John the Baptist had the moral fortitude to point out how wrong it was.
Had John just stuck to baptisms and some harsh pronouncements about the Pharisees and such, he would have been OK. But John landed in prison because he had the temerity to question the morality of Herod the Tetrarch (he never was actually designated a king and when he petitioned Rome for the title, Caesar Gaius Caligula banished Herod and Herodias to Gaul for the rest of their lives). As has too often been the case in history, the powers that be are content to regard religion as a kind of hobby that seems to satisfy certain needs people have. And so long as it stays in the realm of “hobby,” religion and the people who practice it are left alone. But when the religious start to stray out of that designated realm, that’s when things get ugly fast.
So John questioned the king’s morality, even rebuking him for his deeds. This landed him in prison. But then, as though to prove John right that it’s both wrong and foolish to cross certain moral boundary lines, the tangled web Herod wove ensnared both him and John the Baptist on the occasion of that fateful party when Herod’s lust for his niece (turned stepdaughter) and the evil machinations of Herodias behind the scenes all caught up with Herod, leading to John’s summary and ignominious demise.
Well, that’s the story and if it’s a vignette of evil and tawdriness you’re looking for, you could hardly do better than Mark 6:14-29. But to return to the earlier point, what if it’s the case that what you’re looking for is a Gospel text to preach to God’s people? What if you’re aiming for an instructive passage on gospel hope and grace? This passage doesn’t fit the bill!
Maybe as good a way as any to approach this homiletically is to use this as an example of why the world needs the gospel to begin with. Yes, you could make the bottom line of this sermon something along the lines of, “And so we, too, need to be morally courageous in denouncing the evil we see around us also today.” You could use this as a bolster to the conducting of the various “culture wars” in which many today participate with holy relish and verve.
But suppose you prefer not to end your sermons with a moral “To Do” list in which people feel that the main facet of the Christian life is how well we behave and so earn our place in God’s good graces. Maybe one way to avoid preaching a finger-waving “Go and do likewise” message is to let the tawdriness of the story remind us that if ever we needed a reminder of why only the death of God’s Son can save this sorry old world, this story provides that reminder. The world is locked in endless cycles of death and destruction. We are quite literally hell-bent on messing up, on following the desires of our hearts into all kinds of dead-end alleys that lead only to suffering.
Something has to break through to this world of ours. Something has to snap these destructive cycles. Something has to narrate a different story and point in a different direction. Thanks be to God that we know what that “Something” is: it is the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord, the Son of God who became the servant of all. Because of Jesus, the bottom line of our lives does not need to be something like the sad spectacle with which this story ends as John’s devastated disciples sadly bury his headless corpse. Because of the gospel, the end of the story is finally resurrection, restoration, and the clarion cry, “Behold, I make all things new!”
As this sordid story makes clear, only the gospel has the power to let us hope for such a vision of restored humanity.
And it’s no accident that the very next story—and the next lection in Year B—is the story of Jesus’ being revealed as the Great Shepherd of his sheep who feeds his people with life abundant even in a desert waste of a place. That’s the hope that bookends this sad, sad story in the middle of Mark 6.
Questions to Ponder/Issues to Address
Why does Mark seem to back into this story about John the Baptist’s death? It’s an odd way to tell the tale. He does not tell this story at this juncture in his gospel because it fits chronologically. Indeed, it’s pretty obvious that John’s death had happened some while back, well before Jesus sent out the twelve disciples for their first-ever solo ministry experiences.
It creates a bit of a jolt for the reader. Suddenly we hear that some people, Herod Antipas included, were concluding that John the Baptist was back from the dead. But when you hear that, you’re shocked.
“Dead!!?? John is dead? I didn’t even know he was sick! What in the world happened!?” And then it’s as though Mark says, “Oh, that’s right—I haven’t told you that part of the story, have I? Well, it went down this way . . .” and then Mark launches into this grim narrative.
Why does Mark tell it this way? Why did he plunk this grim narrative right in the middle of the otherwise highly encouraging story of the disciples’ success in ministry and the miraculous (and much-loved) story about Jesus’ Feeding of the 5,000? Those other stories are so positive, so full of light and hope. So why does Mark darken the narrative horizon here with a story that, all things being equal, really does not need to be relayed at this particular moment?
It seems as though Mark is not only darkening the atmosphere here but that he is quite probably intentionally darkening it. Maybe part of the reason is that Mark knows that the cross is the key to the gospel. That’s why in Mark Jesus’ true identity is perpetually hushed up until the moment Jesus is dead on the cross and the soldier nearby declares Jesus to be the Son of God. The so-called “Messianic Secret” pervades Mark until Jesus may safely be identified only after he is dead. Until then, Mark never wants people to run ahead or assume anything resembling a triumphalist air. We have to follow Jesus all the way to Golgotha if we are really going to understand who he is and what the gospel brings.
So maybe Mark is tempering things a bit by inserting this sad reminder of sin, evil, and death. Lest we readers conclude that ministry is only about the kinds of success and excitement the disciples encountered—and lest we think that it’s only all about getting our needs met (as in Jesus’ feeding of the 5,000 that follows)—we are reminded that faithfulness can bring suffering and even death. We are reminded that what will finally cure what ails this sin-sick world will be something far more startling than healings, exorcisms, and miracles of feeding. What a world as sordid as this one needs will be, finally, the death of God’s beloved Son. Things are that bad in this world, as the story of John’s beheading may remind us.
Indeed, this story not only tempers our enthusiasm for what the disciples accomplished but casts the pall of death over the next incident, too. What Jesus provides for the people in the wilderness in the following story is far more than just supper for hungry folks. What he does is bring life in a place of death, which is something that only the great Messianic Shepherd of the Sheep can do.
What Mark’s placement of this grim tale tells us is that what we finally need most of all is not a sprucing up of our life or a helping of bread and fish. What we need is the living bread that just is Jesus’ sacrificed body.
As Craig Keener points out, Mark’s reference to Herod as a “king” in Mark 6:14 may have been somewhat tongue-in-cheek in that Mark may well have been aware that Herod Antipas was never called a king. The next Herod (Herod Agrippa) was granted this title due to having a close personal friendship with Caesar Gaius Caligula, but Antipas never had the title and was banished to Gaul on account of having finally requested it.
One other textual curiosity to note is in Mark 6:20 where we learn that Herod had an odd attraction to John the Baptist’s rhetoric. He couldn’t for the life of him figure out what John was talking about, but the spectacle of watching John fulminate and prophesy and preach seemed to have been plenty entertaining. Or at least that was the case up until it was altogether TOO clear what John was saying in terms of Herod’s own household.
You just get the feeling that Herod Antipas was not the sharpest knife in the drawer . . .
One wonders at times how many bad things have happened in history because certain leaders dared not appear to be weak. In his most recent volume on “The Years of Lyndon Johnson,” premiere biographer Robert Caro makes it clear that much of what drove and animated Lyndon B. Johnson was a deep-seated fear of never looking like a failure, of never being seen as a failure the way his own father had been. So even though he was determined to become President of the United States one day, in 1959 and early 1960 LBJ doggedly did not put himself forward as a candidate for the 1960 Democrat nomination. He wanted it desperately but dared not say it out loud for fear that then if he did not get the nomination, people would look down on him. That was bad enough but Caro tells us that when his fifth and final volume on Johnson comes out, it will become clear that this fear of failure—the fear of becoming his father all over again—is also why so many tens of thousands of young men would lose their lives in Vietnam. Johnson could not back down—not even when backing down was the most eminently sensible thing to do as most people could see clearly.
In Mark 6, Herod has some of this going on, too. He can’t be seen as a failure. He can’t let go of power, even when that power overtakes his better judgment and results in an innocent man’s beheading. Ah, the tangled webs we weave . . .
2 Samuel 6
Author: Scott Hoezee
Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider
Recently one of my students preached a sermon from Joshua that was, shall we say, downright “edgy.” He began by quoting a comedy routine done by a non-practicing Jew in which this comedian tackled—without knowing he was doing so—that great question long ago raised by Marcion: why does the God of the Old Testament appear so harsh (why does he come off like “a jerk” in the comedian’s stand-up routine) whereas the God of the New Testament appears downright mellow by comparison? Did even God finally mature and grow up a bit?
In his sermon, my student dealt with a harsh text in Joshua in which God wiped out Achan and company on account of his one sin. The student brought things around eventually to say that the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament is finally the same God and we have to understand that that same God was all along dealing with something as deadly serious as it gets: viz., sin and evil. Still, the lingering Marcionite notion that there is a cleft between OT and NT remains, and passages like 2 Samuel 6 make sure that this continues for most thoughtful readers!
Of course, the Common Lectionary seems intent on distracting us from seeing the troubling aspects. You just know that when the Lectionary guts a half-dozen verses from the middle of a story—and stops four verses short of the story’s conclusion—that the really juicy stuff is in the deleted materials. It’s like telling one of your kids they may look at the whole magazine on the coffee table except for pages 23-27. The minute you’re out of the room, you know full well what the kids are going to do.
And indeed, in the case of 2 Samuel 6, when you yield to the temptation to read the deleted verses, you find lots of mayhem. A man named Uzzah does the seemingly laudable thing of keeping God’s holy Ark from sliding off the oxcart only to have God strike him dead for his “irreverent” act of intended reverence. This, in turn, ticks David off. David is actually said to get mad at Yahweh and so out of a combination of pique and fear, David mothballs the Ark at someone’s house, refusing to take so dangerous a thing into Jerusalem after all.
But then, in a reversal of fortunes, it turns out that the presence of the Ark in the home of Obed-Edom the Gittite (not even an Israelite apparently) serves to prosper that family in startling ways. Now David starts to think that maybe the Ark can bring blessing—and not just bane—after all and so he figures that if anyone was going to get blessed, it was not going to be any old Gittite but David himself and the household of Israel generally. So he fetches the Ark to Jerusalem after all and is so elated to have it there, he dances and leaps around like a newly born calf, thus earning him the opprobrium of one of his wives (who happens to be one of rival Saul’s daughters who may have been grinding lots of different axes for all we know). But before the chapter is finished (in another of those verses the Lectionary wants us to edit out of the story) Michal is struck barren on account of her not sharing David’s joy over the Ark’s presence in the Holy City.
So in the span of two dozen verses one man is struck dead, a woman is struck barren, and some foreigners get prospered all on account of something to do with the Ark of the Covenant, the presence of God on earth.
Not pleasant stuff. Puzzling even.
This Old Testament reading is paired in the Common Lectionary with Mark 6 but about the only obvious connection I can see is the dancing part. Neither the dance in 2 Samuel 6 nor the dance in Mark 6 led to particularly uplifting things. But if the dancing were the only connection between these two lections, it might be a point hardly worth making.
Perhaps a more useful way to view it is to say that the presence of God on this earth is always a dicey proposition. As I’ve quoted before, Fred Craddock once said of John the Baptist that John ushered people into the presence of God, which is what everyone wants and what no one wants. Like moths to a flame, we are both drawn toward the holy otherness of God and in danger of being consumed by that holiness, too. In Mark’s gospel when Jesus is baptized, the heavens are torn open, giving God access to us here on earth in the person of the anointed Son Jesus. When Mark concludes, the Temple curtain is torn in two, giving us access to the Holy of Holies where once the Ark was kept and so giving us access to God (and without the fear of being consumed that once gripped God’s people prior to the incarnation and sacrifice of the beloved Son).
But the intersection points of the divine with the human can be fraught. Jesus’ presence on this earth brought as much mayhem as immediate peace, and John the Baptist’s sad martyrdom in Mark 6 is one such sign of the difficulty that comes when God draws close to a sinful people. In 2 Samuel 6 and in a similar vein David brings the presence of God—via that Ark of the Covenant—close to the Holy City but ends up getting a bit frightened of what can happen when God gets that close. In the end, David is delighted to bring the Ark to Jerusalem (even as the gospel ends with the delightful ongoing presence of Jesus among his people) but the little coda to the story involving Michal is a reminder that even so, the presence of God makes a person properly mindful. We dare never be casual when it comes to the presence of God. We are right to be thoughtful about how we speak of it and approach it and ponder it.
Yes, God’s presence in also the church yet today is a profoundly good thing, much to be celebrated and generally not to be feared. But in a day when lots of churchgoers want to view coming into the house of the Lord on a par with going into the house of Starbucks any other day of the week, maybe a little reminder of the searing nature of divine holiness would help people start to distinguish between a caramel mocha latte on Tuesday morning and the holy cup of the Lord on Sunday.
And anyway, as I pointed out to my student in his edgy sermon, we all find a passage like 2 Samuel 6 to be something of a scandal—a literal stumbling block—when it comes to forming an image of God. Harsh actions attributed to God are hard to parse (the Jewish comedian said it made God look like a jerk!). But what we Christians too often forget is that the shining center of the entire New Testament—actually of the entire Bible—is properly no less shocking (if only we can overcome our over-familiarity with it which blunts the shock value): namely, the Son of God hanging dead as a doornail on a Roman cross.
If that does not shock you and also remind you of how things go when God’s holiness encounters human sin, then something of both the glory and the scandal of the Gospel has been lost to you.
This whole sin and salvation thing: it’s serious business.
Is God easy to find or difficult? Is God close or remotely distant? Throughout history people have wrestled with such questions and have come up with diverse answers. Some Medieval theologians liked to talk about Deus absconditus, the "hidden God" who is so splendidly transcendent, so totally Other that we could never expect to encounter this Deity in average experiences. God, some claimed, is outside the flow of time–he's above history, simultaneously and benignly aware of all events past, present, and future and so God lacks the kind of forward motion of expectation which is a defining characteristic of us.
On the other side are those who believe that God is actually close to us. Gandhi once stated that God is nearer to us than flesh is to fingernails. Pantheists try to locate God in everything. See a rose, it's part of God. See a cloud, it's part of God. See a Springer Spaniel, it's part of God. Meanwhile a variation on this theme is panentheism which does not want to say everything just is God but which wants to say that everything is in God.
Orthodox Christians have traditionally come down somewhere in the middle. We've no wish to deny the Other-ness of God. We've no desire to skirt the Bible's constant reminders of how holy and blindingly stunning God is in his sheer majesty. Then again a poem like Psalm 139 says there is nowhere we can go to escape God's personal presence. "If I soar to the heavens, you are there. If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there." We've also got a long tradition regarding prayer in which we do not envision prayer as the ultimate long-distance call but see it as personal, close communication.
Is God near or far, close or distant? In a sense he's both and neither. I once read a story about a four-year-old named Callum who asked his mother, "Is God everywhere, Mommy?" "Yes, dear" his mother replied. "Is he in this room, Mommy?" "Yes, Callum, he is." "Is God in my milk mug, Mommy?" His mother was a little uneasy now but still replied, "Um, yes." Callum then clapped his hand over the mug and declared, "Got 'em!"
According to the Bible, God is very different from us–mind-bogglingly so in fact. At the level of philosophical distinctions, that chasm of difference forces us to focus on God's distance. But the Bible also makes clear that mostly what separates the Creator from his creatures now is sin. But God never wanted sin to mar his creation, and so God is intent on bridging this chasm himself. God wants to be not the Deus absconditus, the hidden God, but the manifest God who dwells very, very close to his beloved imagebearers.
As Donald McCullough has pointed out, we tend to envision God's holiness as the burning, consuming fire that keeps God and us apart. But within the bond of Trinitarian fellowship as revealed in Jesus, we now see the flames of God's holiness as a kind of bonfire burning against the world's dark night of sin, inviting all people to pull up a log and join our God at the warmth of the fire.
We've got to know that this is who God is. We've got to tell people that he is this close. We need not compromise his holiness, splendor, righteousness, or justice to do this. We need not turn God into the friendly old man upstairs who benignly winks at human sins in order to help people recognize his nearness. Nor do we need to go in some pantheist direction of conveying God's nearness by making God everything. The way to show God's nearness, love, warmth, and utter holiness is available to us in the person of Jesus.
A passage like 2 Samuel 6 tends to focus our attention on the otherness of God, on the dangerous nature of his holy nature over against our sinful, fallen nature. It’s this kind of Old Testament passage that has led some to conclude the Bible is the story of two different gods: the fire-breathing God of the Old Testament and the kinder, gentler God revealed in the New Testament. But perhaps we’re better served if we see that the difference between the testaments is not God or even the nature of God but the incarnate presence of Jesus Christ, who has brought the holy God of the universe close and into intimate fellowship with us.
Author: Doug Bratt
Comments, Observations, and Questions to Consider
Scholars call Psalm 24 a processional liturgy that celebrates Yahweh’s entrance into Zion. They speculate that the poet composed it for either David’s bringing the ark into Jerusalem as reported, for example, in 2 Samuel 6, or a festival that commemorated that event, or the return of the ark to Jerusalem and its temple after Yahweh granted Israel victory in battle.
Of course, all of those things seem very remote to citizens of the 21st century. Jerusalem’s temple is, of course, little more than a memory. Jesus Christ was the new temple. Now by the Holy Spirit God graciously lives within Christians, transforming each of us into “mini-temples.” So when the Church uses Psalm 24, it often uses it to celebrate Christ’s ascension into the heavenly realm.
However, one underlying theme remains as relevant for modern Christians as it did to Israelite worshipers. After all, as Joel LeMon notes, “One message pervades Psalm 24: God conquers chaos.” To understand its initial relevance, worshipers need to realize that people in the ancient near east worried that chaos constantly threatened what the gods had created. They particularly worried that heavenly or earthly water would overwhelm the world.
Against those fears, Psalm 24 echoes passages like Genesis 1 by asserting that God conquered the pre-creation chaos at the dawn of measured time. God, it insists, is now sovereign over that creation. That, in turn, guarantees God’s continuing control of the chaotic forces that imperil not only creation, but also God’s Israelite sons and daughters. As Yahweh continues to preserve and restore order for Israel, she responds by worshiping him as creation’s ruler (7-10). What’s more, by obeying God’s law (4), Israel participates in preserving the order that God established at creation.
While at least some Christians question Genesis 1 and Psalm 24’s cosmology, the psalm especially remain hugely relevant. After all, we know about chaos. In a world instantaneously familiar with “natural” catastrophes like earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and tornadoes, we’re familiar with chaos. What’s more, we realize that we may be unleashing chaos through our behaviors that lead to global warming, starvation and environmental degradation. Many Christians also know the personal and relational chaos that is illness, alienation and uncertainty. In the face of that chaos that seems to threaten so much, we cling to Psalm 24’s profession that Yahweh is the king of glory over creation and the chaos that sometimes threatens it.
Psalm 24 begins by echoing the Apostles’ Creeds’ claim that “I believe in God the Father Almighty, creator of heaven and earth.” In doing so, it makes the radically counter-cultural profession: “The earth is the Lord’s and everything in it, the world and all who live in it.” In other words, neither we nor anyone else gets to do with that world as we choose. That profession also has numerous implications. For Israel’s neighbors (and all too often the Israelites themselves) who thought of the world as the handiwork of a buffet line of gods, Psalm 24 asserts that Yahweh founded it upon the seas and established it upon the waters.
Psalm 24’s assertion of Yahweh’s ownership of the world means that we must treat it as God’s property, not our own. It means that we’re just tenants who are only using what really belongs to Someone Else. No part of the world ultimately belongs to nations, governments, corporations, organizations or individuals. It’s all the Lord’s.
Yahweh’s lordship over all of creation also has profound implications for human behavior. Since God is a God of righteousness, we seek to create and preserve right relationships with the world and everything as well as everyone in it. However, God’s sovereignty as expressed in Psalm 24 also grants freedom. So the apostle Paul, for example, cites it as support for Corinth’s Christians eating even food that’s been sacrificed to idols.
Psalm 24 emphasizes God’s creative work. Citizens of the ancient near east always worried that the seas and waters, such as rivers, were part of the unstable chaos that constantly threatened creation. So verse 2’s reference to them suggests that such chaos continues to linger. The world continues to exist, then, according to Psalm 24 because God restrains those chaotic forces.
The “hill of the Lord” to which verse 3 refers is Mt. Zion on which Jerusalem’s temple stands. It’s a holy place, according to Psalm 24, because it’s the place God chose in which to make himself accessible to those who faithfully seek the Lord in worship. Yet Zion’s holiness also, in a sense, makes it a dangerous place for those who aren’t holy. So, according to verse 4, only holy people may approach this hill.
In fact, verse 4 sets a kind of standard for worshipers. It offers a guide for holy living for those whom God has saved by God’s amazing grace. Psalm 24 indicates that those whose “hands” are “clean” may approach the King of glory at Zion. “Clean hands” refer to a posture of godly behavior that’s free from doing wrong to others. They’re especially the hands of those whom others’ blood hasn’t stained. Worshipers who have “pure hearts” cultivate godly attitudes and motives. They’re loyal to God alone in both their behavior and thoughts.
Worshipers who don’t lift up their souls to idols are those who worship only Yahweh, the living God. They don’t assent to culture’s claims that other gods are creator and king. And those who don’t swear by what is false are those who don’t lie, who don’t create communal chaos by spreading falsehood.
Of course, God always saves God’s sons and daughters only by grace that we receive by faith. However, we don’t see our salvation as license to do what we choose. We recognize that those whom God has given much have much obedience and faithfulness to give to the Lord in return. So as we approach God, whether in corporate worship or prayer, we always ask ourselves whether we’ve kept clean hands and pure hearts. Even as we continue to experience God’s acceptance and loving provision for life (5), where we’ve failed we confess our sin and beg for God’s ongoing forgiveness.
Psalm 24 ends with the poet’s call to worship Yahweh, the King of glory. This God is, after all, strong and mighty … mighty in battle.” This King is the “Lord Almighty … the King of glory.” Verses 7-10’s series of questions and answers may be, according to LeMon, a kind of exchange between those who guarded Jerusalem’s gates and those who carried the ark through them. Perhaps the carriers seized the guards’ attention by calling them to “Lift up your heads … that the King of glory may come in.” The guards may have responded by asking for some kind of password: “Who is the King of glory?” The carriers would then have answered, “The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.”
Psalm 24’s final verses return to the theme of chaos. They remind us that Yahweh didn’t just conquer chaos by creating the world and everything in it. God also continues to protect the community from the power of chaos. It suggests that Yahweh must continue to intervene in human history in order to restore order. Of course, God’s greatest intervention came in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ by which God triumphed over the chaotic forces of sin, Satan and death. Yet even as we celebrate the victory God has given us through Jesus Christ, the King of kings and Lord of lords (cf. Rev. 19:16), we remember that Satan and his allies haven’t yet given up the fight. So we trust ourselves, in body and soul, in life and in death, to our faithful Savior, the King of glory, Jesus Christ.
Many of us who attended school in the sixties and seventies were accustomed to somewhat orderly and quiet classrooms. Teachers oversaw classes that seemed controlled.
Were you to walk into a classroom today, you might think things far more chaotic. Modern classrooms are far noisier and full of more movement. Yet most of the time, teachers remain in control. What’s more, were teachers absent, classrooms would verge on anarchic.
We might think of God’s control over our world’s chaos in a similar way. Certainly things regularly occur that lead some to question God’s sovereign rule. The world is full of noise and movement. Yet God remains in control. The alternative would be truly frightening.