God has a great sense of humour. He seems to get a kick out of sending his most powerful messages through some of the most unlikely people. He delights in annoying the religious establishment with folks my mom would call “characters.”
Amongst his own disciples Jesus included Simon the zealot and Matthew the tax collector. This was the equivalent of including a gun-totin’ anti-government survivalist and an IRS auditor on the same camping trip. That alone would be worth the price of admission just to hear conversations around the campfire.
I don’t imagine John the Baptist smelled that good, dressed as he was in camel-hair in the desert heat in pre-deodorant days. And some of those other messenger boys were pretty weird too. I have a feeling that if you had a gathering of Old Testament prophets it would look like a blooming asperger’s convention.
God’s habit of using the non-mighty makes me wonder if Samson looked more like Woody Allen’s Alvy Singer than Kevin Sorbo’s Hercules –and that’s why the Philistines demanded to know the source of his strength — because it obviously wasn’t his own steroids. (Judges 14)
Ehud, another unlikely hero whose name means “praise”, was sent to bring down a fat despot who oppressed the people. Ehud was left-handed. He was weak on the side where most soldiers were strong, but strong on the side where most other warriors were weak. His strength was overlooked and he walked right into Eglon’s bathroom with an unconventional weapon strapped to his thigh. Where armies could not rise up enough to free the people, a “weak” man could. (Judges 3)
Another time Barak told the judge Deborah that he would attempt to rid the country of the oppressor by going after Sisera only if she would go with him. She agreed, but said the victory would go to a woman. In that time, when women were regarded as property, this was humiliating to a man. The victory did go to a woman. The tent-wife Jael finished Sisera with the unconventional weapons of a tent-peg and hammer. (One scholar goes as far as saying the word used here implies Jael was a not even a regular wife, but a sex-slave captured from another people group. The lowest of the low.) (Judges 4)
Eowyn from Lord of the Rings reminds me of Jael and Deborah. The Nazgul had her pinned down and intimidated her with the known fact that he could not be killed by a man. She herself became the unexpected weapon when she removed her helmet and cried, “I am no man!” and thrust her sword into the enemy’s face.
I heard a story once of how a janitor became the leader of a group of high-powered CEOs when he bashed through the wall with his broom handle and rescued the entire group from a burning building. Because he had the knowledge of where the weak spot was in the wall and unconventional weapons, and wisdom and foresight to do what needed to be done, he became the instant leader.
The battle is heating up. Have you noticed? This very week powers of darkness twist communication and seek to divide and confuse people who are meant to be examples of love, grace, and freedom to live holy lives.
This song has been going through my head over and over for the past few days. (I’ve learned to pay attention to insistent songs that wake me up in the night.) It’s about those who dwell in the tents of the Lord, who are made strong by grace and carry the unconventional weapons of deeds of love and mercy.
Lead on, O King eternal,
the day of march has come;
henceforth in fields of conquest
your tents will be our home.
Through days of preparation
your grace has made us strong;
and now, O King eternal,
we lift our battle song.
Lead on, O King eternal,
till sin’s fierce war shall cease,
and holiness shall whisper
the sweet amen of peace.
For not with swords’ loud clashing
or roll of stirring drums
with deeds of love and mercy
the heavenly kingdom comes.
Lead on, O King eternal;
we follow, not with fears,
for gladness breaks like morning
where’er your face appears.
Your cross is lifted o’er us,
we journey in its light;
the crown awaits the conquest;
lead on, O God of might.
While men jockey for positions of power in government and church hierarchies, it is often the janitor in the elevator, the odd student, the refugee with limited language skills, the grandmother on her knees, and even the slave who become the generals in this fight against sin and unbelief that would block God’s goodness and hurt the ones He loves so much. Their weapons are not rhetoric or guns but whatever God has placed in their hands with which to demonstrate love and mercy. They receive their orders from the King of heaven himself and they follow Him alone. He has been bringing them through a tough school of preparation, teaching them to respond to his grace, live holy lives and rely on His faithfulness.
Over them, gladness breaks like morning, because they look to his face. The joy of the Lord is their strength.
For you see your calling, brethren, that not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called. But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence. But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God—and righteousness and sanctification and redemption— that, as it is written, “He who glories, let him glory in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1)