Monday, October 12, 2015

SILOS AND TOWERS: Part XI of Why Not? - a Perspective on Suffering


There is dust across the fields tonight.
The moon shines upon a forgotten plow.
Tomorrow in the dawn nothing changes.
The furrows remain unseeded, unattended.
The crop brought a banner yield at harvest
And the farmer took his rest.

He tore the old ones down and built anew.
Big sturdy silos and heavy wooded stalls
To hold all the grain and produce
Through the year and seasons to come.
He planned a banquet every day
And drank wine the very best.

He worked the summer long in the heat and dry,
Plowing in the spring and weeding through
Until the corn grew tall, the apples sweet,
For the cool crisp autumn harvest where
He took in his bounty of the labor.
And tore the old ones down and built anew.
“I’ll grow fat now”, was his jest.

So he filled the cribs to the breaking point,
He stacked the fruit up to the ceiling
And scattered wheat across the threshing floor.
“I’ll live a life of ease and merriment,”
And with that cry he challenged God.

Now these wait full for the burrower and thief,
Fine food to feed the pests.

by Larry Eugene Meredith, April 2012
Published "Poetry Vortex" 2012
Wilmington, Delaware
Dallas Kirk Gantt, editor

A quick review: Sin entered the world because Eve and Adam using the gift of free will were disobedient to God. Disobedience to God is the definition of sin. Commitment of a sin brought its own suffering in shame, mental anguish, regret and fear. However, man after a short time was able to rationalize his behavior and diminish the influence of conscience. As a result, punishment was needed to deter sin. Punishment, in whatever form, involves the infliction of some kind of suffering.

Sometimes people didn't commit a sin, but were making choices that could result in sin or less than the best for the people involved. These people needed some guidance. Guidance sometimes involved suffering to show their way wasn't the best way.

Sometimes suffering was brought on by folly, by our own stupidity or stubbornness. We decide we can beat the train to the crossing and end up with a smashed up car and an ambulance ride to the hospital, or perhaps to the morgue. It was foolish behavior and we suffered for it.

It is not always a clear-cut distinction between these reasons why we suffer. Any of them can involve a sin; some may not involve sin every time. Punishment may also be a form of guidance and discipline may or may not include punishment. We come to a fifth reason we may suffer and it could involve sin, but it ain’t necessarily so.

It is not at all unusual to see some person become so sure of their self they overreach their ability and fail miserably and come to ruin just like that particular farmer in my poem.

And he [Jesus] told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’Luke 12:16-21.

So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.

It didn’t take long after the Creation for man to become obsessed with his own powers. Remember  the offspring of Cain. (Genesis 4:17-24) His descendents looked to success in earthly pursuits and turned away from God and what did that lead to? A big puddle of water that washed away all those people accomplished. Still, it didn’t take long after Noah landed up on Mount Ararat (Genesis 8:4) until we come to this in Genesis 11:

Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a
plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." Genesis 11:1-4

What happened next?

God looked at what man was doing and put a stop to it. He caused the various people to begin speaking in different tongues so they couldn't understand each other and he scattered them over the whole world.

What are your thoughts about this?

Do you think God was afraid man would become more powerful than He when He said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them?"

What would have happened if God had left man finish that tower and not change the language?
I think men would have become so full of them selves they would went on disobeying God in a grand style until they brought it right back where it was before the flood. God stepped in to prevent this for the sake of mankind.

By the way, man's plan for Babel was already a grand sin of disobedience. God had ordered early man to fill the whole world, not consolidate in one place. This may be the reason he scattered them after confusing the language. God's creatures never usurp God’s plan.

Speaking of which, look at how certain people have usurped the rainbow. I saw this Twitter Tweet quoted on Facebook.

 “Ireland got a double rainbow after legalizing same-sex marriage. Texas got a flood after banning it. God has spoken.”

This is what you get from those ignorant of Scripture.

Read Genesis 9:12-16:

And God said, “This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh. And the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.”

So those Texans who suffered floods had the assurance that God would not destroy them while Ireland should have been grateful God put that reminder in their skies; in fact, had to double it up, for the same reason.

Look at Saul, the first Israel King. There is a lot we could say about this guy, but let's focus on a couple of passages:

1 Samuel 9:1-2
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish, the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, a Benjaminite, a man of wealth. And he had a son whose name was Saul, a handsome young man. There was not a man among the people of Israel more handsome than he. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.

1 Samuel 13:8-15
He (Saul) waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him. Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered at Michmash, I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The Lord has sought out a man after his own heart, and the Lord has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the Lord commanded you.” And Samuel arose and went up from Gilgal. The rest of the people went up after Saul to meet the army; they went up from Gilgal to Gibeah of Benjamin.

And Saul numbered the people who were present with him, about six hundred men. And Saul and Jonathan his son and the people who were present with them stayed in Geba of Benjamin, but the Philistines encamped in Michmash. And raiders came out of the camp of the Philistines in three companies. One company turned toward Ophrah, to the land of Shual; another company turned toward Beth-horon; and another company turned toward the border that looks down on the Valley of Zeboim toward the wilderness.

1 Samuel 15:1-30
And Samuel said to Saul, “The Lord sent me to anoint you king over his people Israel; now therefore listen to the words of the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I have noted what Amalek did to Israel in opposing them on the way when they came up out of Egypt. Now go and strike Amalek and devote to destruction all that they have. Do not spare them, but kill both man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.’”

So Saul summoned the people and numbered them in Telaim, two hundred thousand men on foot, and ten thousand men of Judah. And Saul came to the city of Amalek and lay in wait in the valley. Then Saul said to the Kenites, “Go, depart; go down from among the Amalekites, lest I destroy you with them. For you showed kindness to all the people of Israel when they came up out of Egypt.” So the Kenites departed from among the Amalekites. And Saul defeated the Amalekites from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt. And he took Agag the king of the Amalekites alive and devoted to destruction all the people with the edge of the sword. But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and of the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
The word of the Lord came to Samuel: “I regret that I have made Saul king, for he has turned back from following me and has not performed my commandments.” And Samuel was angry, and he cried to the Lord all night. And Samuel rose early to meet Saul in the morning. And it was told Samuel, “Saul came to Carmel, and behold, he set up a monument for himself and turned and passed on and went down to Gilgal.” And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction.” Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! I will tell you what the Lord said to me this night.” And he said to him, “Speak.”

And Samuel said, “Though you are little in your own eyes, are you not the head of the tribes of Israel? The Lord anointed you king over Israel. And the Lord sent you on a mission and said, ‘Go, devote to destruction the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.’ Why then did you not obey the voice of the Lord? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the Lord?” And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.” And Samuel said,
“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the Lord and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice. Now therefore, please pardon my sin and return with me that I may bow before the Lord.” And Samuel said to Saul, “I will not return with you. For you have rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord has rejected you from being king over Israel.” As Samuel turned to go away, Saul seized the skirt of his robe, and it tore. And Samuel said to him, “The Lord has torn the kingdom of Israel from you this day and has given it to a neighbor of yours, who is better than you. And also the Glory of Israel will not lie or have regret, for he is not a man, that he should have regret.” Then he said, “I have sinned; yet honor me now before the elders of my people and before Israel, and return with me, that I may bow before the Lord your God.”

and 1 Samuel 18:6-16.
As they were coming home, when David returned from striking down the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet King Saul, with tambourines, with songs of joy, and with musical instruments. And the women sang to one another as they celebrated,
“Saul has struck down his thousands, and David his ten thousands.”

And Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, “They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed thousands, and what more can he have but the kingdom?” And Saul eyed David from that day on.

The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand. And Saul hurled the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David evaded him twice.

Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul. So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand. And he went out and came in before the people. And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David, for he went out and came in before them.

Saul’s leadership and life basically falls apart from this point on as he becomes more concerned about his own status than his people or with God’s will.

Pride can be a sin. Pride can be our idol; in fact, it can turn us into the object of our own worship. We get so high on our own ability, beauty, talent, gift or success that we puff up our chests and brag we did it all our selves. We forget about God in our belief in our powers, but…

Pride goes before destruction,
a haughty spirit before a fall. Proverbs 16:18

References: Luke 12:16-21, Genesis 4:17-24, Genesis 8:4, Genesis 11:1-4, Genesis 9:12-16, 1 Samuel 9:1-2, 1 Samuel 13:8-15, 1 Samuel 15:1-30, 1 Samuel 18:6-16, Proverbs 16:18



1 . Photo of a small silo at Landis Valley Village by Larry Meredith, July 2014.

2. "The Building of the Tower of Babel" by Henrick van Cleve, year unknown.

3. "Saul Tears Samuel's Robe", artist and date unknown.


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