Books on ‘discipline’, ‘how to bring up kids’. Those are the kind of books I would not have clue where to start… or books on almost anything practical. So maybe I should read what the good book says and receive some gentle instruction:
If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father and mother, who does not heed them when they discipline him, then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his town at the gate of that place. They shall say to the elders of his town, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” Then all the men of the town shall stone him to death. So you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel will hear, and be afraid (Deut. 21:18-21).
Yesterday’s post on gift or title still does not make the calling of ‘city elder’ too appealing! A gift to live up to?
All designed to make sure Israel will be kept in order, everyone will ‘be afraid’. Such a tough old book to understand. I am coming to the end of Deuteronomy, Joshua will be something to look forward to though not sure what to make of all the blood in there, not to mention the lack of archaeological evidence for so much of what is claimed… Anyway I have got through some of this law stuff by also reading Psalms – though one or two tough bits there too!
I like Jesus. He told a story that is a bit of a challenge to the law about ‘discipline’ that I quoted above. He told the parable of the very outrageous father, the ‘prodigal’ father, and I don’t think it is going too far to suggest he probably intended us to understand something about God through the parable, the God who gave the Deuteronomy instruction.
The so-called prodigal son certainly qualifies for a good old stoning. It starts with his ‘I wish you were dead’ attitude and speech to his father, for to ask for one’s inheritance in that culture, something given at death, was to say just that. He went off, rebellious, disrespectful, lived a life of debauchery including being with prostitutes.
WOW… he decides to come home! Any decent father knows exactly what to do, and it has to be done otherwise law and order, society itself would be undermined.
So yet again God is going to break his own law. He runs – shock, this is not in the script. In that very act he is undermining, disrespecting the status quo. It just carries on. Party time. Party time to the extent that it offends the ‘good son’. The explanation is at the end:
But we had to celebrate and rejoice, because this brother of yours was dead and has come to life; he was lost and has been found.
The correct behaviour would have been to let the son come back then inform all that ‘this brother of yours has been put to death’; rather we read ‘he was dead and has come to life’.
Life triumphs over right and wrong. The law just does not cut it, and when applied is a strong statement that something bigger is amiss. Choose life…