7 Godly Sins? – the Sloth of God
If God lets tragedies and disasters happen which He could have prevented, is it Sloth?
Israel Crosses the Jordan
Early in the morning Joshua rose and set out from Shittim with all the Israelites, and they came to the Jordan. They camped there before crossing over. At the end of three days the officers went through the camp and commanded the people, “When you see the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God being carried by the levitical priests, then you shall set out from your place. Follow it, so that you may know the way you should go, for you have not passed this way before. Yet there shall be a space between you and it, a distance of about two thousand cubits; do not come any nearer to it.” Then Joshua said to the people, “Sanctify yourselves; for tomorrow the Lord will do wonders among you.” To the priests Joshua said, “Take up the ark of the covenant, and pass on in front of the people.” So they took up the ark of the covenant and went in front of the people.
The Lord said to Joshua, “This day I will begin to exalt you in the sight of all Israel, so that they may know that I will be with you as I was with Moses. You are the one who shall command the priests who bear the ark of the covenant, ‘When you come to the edge of the waters of the Jordan, you shall stand still in the Jordan.’ ” Joshua then said to the Israelites, “Draw near and hear the words of the Lord your God.” Joshua said, “By this you shall know that among you is the living God who without fail will drive out from before you the Canaanites, Hittites, Hivites, Perizzites, Girgashites, Amorites, and Jebusites: the ark of the covenant of the Lord of all the earth is going to pass before you into the Jordan. So now select twelve men from the tribes of Israel, one from each tribe. When the soles of the feet of the priests who bear the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan flowing from above shall be cut off; they shall stand in a single heap.”
When the people set out from their tents to cross over the Jordan, the priests bearing the ark of the covenant were in front of the people. Now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest. So when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the edge of the water, the waters flowing from above stood still, rising up in a single heap far off at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, while those flowing toward the sea of the Arabah, the Dead Sea, were wholly cut off. Then the people crossed over opposite Jericho. While all Israel were crossing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the middle of the Jordan, until the entire nation finished crossing over the Jordan.
There is a short comic strip that will ruin The Lord of the Rings for you with one glance. Whether you are a fan of the book or movies, it doesn’t matter. Despite Tolkien’s beautiful language and powerful imagination, some people have pointed out the major plot hole that the stories could have been 2 and ¾ books/movies shorter if they had just called the eagles to fly them over Mount Doom to begin with, instead of waiting until the very end. Here is a short video that explains why that would not work:
We can laugh and joke about ideas like this, but many have taken this same situation and applied it to God and His relationship to people in in our world. If God is all-powerful, why doesn’t He just do all the work for us and save us from danger, toil, and snares. Wouldn’t he be considered slothful or lazy if He did not?
God wiped out the entire Egyptian army in one fell swoop. Why then did He make the Israelites carry His ark and fight their way into and through the Promised Land? These are valid questions…Good questions even. But they do not offer the complete picture. Sometimes we have to ask ourselves is it easier to give a man a fish and feed him for a day or to teach a man to fish and feed him for a lifetime? Most would say just feeding him is easier. Easier is not the same as better though, and the easier path often ends up being the path of sloth in the end.
It might be easier for parents to feed children through feeding tubes, keeping them locked in rooms, safe and secure from the world. Most would call that abuse though, not the kind of love that goes the extra mile. It is harder to let them go and grow, making their own decisions, and gradually allowing them to join in the work of the entire family. That is what I believe God is trying to do with us.
It means allowing us the freedom to try, even though God could always do better Himself. It is not because He desperately needs us to help Him. Rather I think it is that we desperately need to be a part of His work in this world to give our lives purpose. Even Jesus called the disciples to do things He could have easily done Himself. Here he asks them to go tell people about his resurrection, right before He planned on visiting them and showing them Himself. There is no logical necessity of the act from the perspective of just spreading the news about the resurrection. Jesus Himself was much more credible. But I think it was important for the growth and development of the disciples themselves.
The Resurrection of Jesus
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
Pointing our finger at the laziness of God regarding tragedy and disasters is a bit of a cop out if we are unable or unwilling to do anything to prevent or bring healing to them ourselves, and looking for sloth in God usually only exposes it in ourselves.
What is one thing you wish God would do for you today?
What have you done about that situation yourself?
What is one thing that God wishes you would do today?
- (Mk 16:1–8; Lk 24:1–12; Jn 20:1–10) ↩