Devotions Archive

Perfect storm

Saturday, January 4, 2003

Psalm 98:7-9
7Let the sea roar, and all its fullness,
The world and those who dwell in it;
8Let the rivers clap their hands;
Let the hills be joyful together before
the Lord,
9For He is coming to judge the earth.
With righteousness He shall judge the world,
And the peoples with equity.

Rarely do I attach emotion to the earth around me. Cornfields, oak trees, rivers and seas don’t feel anything. Feelings are for humans, and for God.

In 2 Samuel 6 David is bringing the lost ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem. The carriers are not allowed to touch the ark itself. But after the oxen stumble, a carrier named Uzzah grabs the ark to prevent it from falling to the ground. He is instantly killed.

David is frightened out of his wits and leaves the ark, untouched, at a nearby farmer’s house. He’s confused and angry about the death of Uzzah, an innocent man.

Not innocent to God, however. In God’s eyes Uzzah was dirtier than the dirt he wanted to keep off the ark. Regardless of any actual “sins,” Uzzah’s fallen human nature, his sinfulness, seeped through every pore of the hands that touched the ark. In contrast, what did the dirt ever do that was wrong?

It’s in the context of this story that I can imagine the hills jumping for joy as the Lord comes to judge the earth. In Genesis we were charged with caring for the earth, making it prosper, loving it. Instead we’ve mostly taken it for granted, and taken it for ourselves.

Paul writes that all of creation waits with eager longing for the moment of judgment, when God’s righteousness will redeem it from its “bondage of decay” Romans 8:21). I think of a grandmother’s puppy, very comfortable and cozy with its master, suddenly thrust into the hands of five screaming, delighted, carless, rough grandkids. How happy is that puppy to be back in grandma’s hands?

So while we wait, so do the hills, so does the sea. Powerful, inexorable, roaring, longing for its maker, just like me.

I stretch out my hands, Lord, and feel the wind, see the hills, hear the sea. All of us belong to you.

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