The above quote is from Leo Tolstoy. The quote was made as a challenge to his readers. The challenge, after one reads a passage of history, a piece of scripture, a novel, etc. is “What difference does it make?,” in how we live and/or think about living. Tolstoy believed that the true test of great literature was that it positively impacted its readers living.
My reading style is cursory. I leave it to others to pour over every sentence, every printed word analyze, in depth, what is said and unsaid, and so on. For myself, I’m trying to quickly read to gain an overall impression of what the author is saying, to learn from it, and determine whether or not it matters to me or should.
As the regular reader of this blog is aware, I normally concentrate on just one (read: laziness) of the three common lectionary scriptures to comment on. For whatever reason, possibly driven by The Spirit, I feel that each of the three for today are very worthwhile. So here goes…
Psalm 73, entitled “A Psalm of Asaph.” This Psalm addresses the problem of the prosperity of the wicked. There appears to be a discrepancy, at times, between the Israelite ideal of living an upright life and not prospering vs. living wickedly and becoming wealthy. When life is measured strictly in terms of prosperity in all of its forms, it would appear that the wicked path is best. This reasoning is blown apart when one turns towards God for advice (v. 17) and are taught that the wicked have no real future (vv. 18-20). God’s followers, often referred to as righteous, have an inheritance and a future (vv. 23-26).
Jonah 3:1-10. Nineveh was one of the greatest cities in antiquity. Jonah is compelled to preach there in order to save the city from God’s judgement. Subsequently, what happened was the greatest revival in recorded history (v. 10). None of the physical miracles in this book compare to the marvel and extent of this spiritual miracle. The modern equivalent would be the preaching of the Gospel in Chicago which leads everyone in the city to devote their way of life and way of life to Him.
Finally, in this 2 Peter 3:8-13 passage it is stated that the human conception of time (v. 8) is irrelevant. What appears slow to human eyes is God offering mercy by way of His patience. Mentioned (v. 9) is the will of God. I recall my Mother telling me, as a child, that the won’t of God significant too. There are three aspects of the will of God in the Bible: (1) His sovereign will (Isa. 46:9-11, Dan. 4:17, 35, Heb. 2:4), (2) His moral will/laws (Mk. 3:35, Eph. 6:6), and (3) His desires (Ezek. 33:11, Matt. 23:37). The sovereign will is a certainty, the moral will/laws are followed and not followed by human beings – they are optional, and the desires of God are adhered to only to the extent that they are included by His sovereign will. God does not desire that any should perish, but it is clear that some will not come to salvation (Rev. 21:8). The reason for this is not clear at the human level, only the divine.