Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Invitations (part 2)

This is where it gets even more interesting, and also where the narrative connections, both that of Jesus in Luke/Acts and Jesus inside the Creator God’s plan, take over and are revealed.  As has already been seen, “…The the master of the household was furious at the report of the excuses for lack of attendance at the banquet and said to his slave “Go out quickly to the streets and alleys of the city, and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.”  Then the slave said, “Sir, what you instructed has been done, and there is still room.”  So the master said to his slave, “Go out to the highways and the country roads and urge people to come in, so that my house will be filled” (14:21b-23).  How does this fit within the over-arching Biblical narrative? 

Taking in the whole scope of Scripture, the offering of excuses should remind an observer of the oft-repeated offering of excuses to be found within the pages of the sacred writ.  While one can think about the excuses on offer from Jeremiah, Saul, Gideon, and Moses, as to why the Creator God could not effectively use them, one can here be sent all the way back to the very first excuses of Scripture, which are to be found in the opening pages of Genesis.  There, effectively, the Creator God had made preparations for something wonderful (a banquet of sorts) and sent out His invitations.  Those invitations, of course, were extended to the first divine image-bearers, that being Adam and Eve. 

“God created humankind in His own image, in the image of God He created them, male and female He created them” (1:27).  It is then that a directive (an invitation) is given to this pair.  They are invited to partake in the Creator’s intentions for His world.  “God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply!  Fill the earth and subdue it!  Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and every creature that moves on the ground.’” (1:28) 

Without getting into the order of the creation accounts on offer in chapters one and two, the reader will go on to learn that “The Lord God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it.  Then the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat fruit from every tree of the orchard, but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will surely die” (2:15-17).  With this, the invitation takes on specificity. 

Shortly thereafter, at least in terms of the narrative, it is reported that “the serpent was more shrewd than any of the wild animals that the Lord God had made.  He said to the woman, ‘Is it really true that God said, “You must not eat from any tree of the orchard?”  The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit from the trees of the orchard; but concerning the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the orchard God said, ‘You must not eat from it, and you must not touch it, or else you will die.’”’” (3:1-3) 

Without offering up the remainder of this part of the story, as all should be quite familiar with how it turned out, suffice it to say that both Adam and Eve ate from the tree, thereby introducing death into the world.  They rejected the Creator’s invitation.  Then what did they do?  They offered up excuses.  The Creator God asked “Did you eat from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” (3:11b)  What was Adam’s excuse?  “The woman whom You gave me, she gave me some fruit from the tree and I ate it” (3:12).  What was Eve’s excuse?  “The serpent tricked me, and I ate” (3:13b). 

Understandably, the covenant God is angry with these individuals that have now declined His invitation of participation in His purposes.  However, what the big picture of Scripture reveals is that the same God re-directs His anger.  That re-direction begins, in earnest, in chapter twelve of Genesis, when the covenant God invites Abraham (Abram) to participate in His plan.  Abraham’s (Abram’s) acceptance of the Creator God’s gracious invitation is prelude to, and because of the promise of descendants, looks toward Israel’s invitation to participate with their God in His plans for the redemption of the entire creation. 

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