Consecrate Yourselves (aka Don’t Do It for Johnny)

Have you ever used the phrase “Do it for Johnny”?  When I was about 10, I yelled this slogan in a soccer game, after one of our best players (named Johnny) left the game with an injury, not even knowing where the line came from.  Only recently I found out the line is from the movie version of The Outsiders, based on the book by S.E. Hinton.  As the character Dallas, Matt Dillon’s delivery of the line (9 second clip below) is classic and everyone should give it a try at least once.  I’ll wait if you want to do it now.

Now let’s return to the scene of yesterday’s post, where Joshua was about to lead Israel over the Jordan.  Imagine someone in the crowd yelling “let’s do it for Moses!”  In The Outsiders, Dallas was rallying his troops to action against a rival gang, who had killed Johnny, so maybe remembering that Moses didn’t make it would inspire Israel?  Sadly, that would be completely missing the point.

Knowing why has to do with knowing why Moses wasn’t there.  While leading Israel, he decided out of frustration to add his own input to God’s easy instructions.  The story is from Numbers 20, where Israel was in the wilderness, but there was no water (that they knew of).  Moses and Aaron, responding to the ongoing grumbling of the people, went to God asking for a solution.  God responded not with anger or judgement, but with a provision for His people.  Moses was told: “Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water. So you shall bring water out of the rock for them and give drink to the congregation and their cattle.[1]  What Moses actually did was to say “Hear now, you rebels: shall we bring water for you out of this rock?”  Then “Moses lifted up his hand and struck the rock with his staff twice, and water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their livestock.[2]  Therefore, God told Moses he would die before Israel made it to the promised land “because you rebelled against my word in the wilderness of Zin when the congregation quarreled, failing to uphold me as holy at the waters before their eyes.”[3]

Why exactly Moses actions deserved such a harsh rebuke is debated, but it’s clear that Moses mixed what he wanted with what God told him to do, and therefore tried to take glory that belonged to God for himself.  Moses led God’s people for a time, but their success was from God.  Moses learned, and we learn through him, that honoring God first, above all others, is necessary to receive God’s promises.  No honor for God; no promised land.

In Joshua 3:5, Joshua tells the people before miraculously crossing the Jordan to “Consecrate yourselves, for tomorrow the LORD will do wonders among you.”  He was not telling them to consecrate themselves to Joshua as Moses’ replacement leader.  The point wasn’t to transfer loyalty from Moses to Joshua, but the point was to eliminate all loyalty other than to God.  Israel wasn’t supposed to consecrate itself to Moses, then when he was gone, consecrate itself to Joshua.  Israel needed to focus on glorifying God alone and eliminate any other motives from their hearts.  The first time Israel tried to enter the promised land, mixed motives resulted in 40 years wandering the wilderness.

So, whatever your preferred slogan, whether it’s: “Do it for Johnny”, “Do it for [insert any leader]” or “Let’s go [fill in the blank],”[4] it will be replaced with only one in eternity, where God will welcome His people from all tribes and nations:

Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
            who was and is and is to come!” – Revelation 4:8

Therefore, “Consecrate yourselves” because although none of us will achieve perfection this side of paradise, Jesus declared in Matthew 10:33 that “whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.

Crossing the Jordan was hard, and sometimes life is hard on purpose.
Sometimes if we want to cross a river, God wants to teach us first how to trust Him and Him alone.

Soli Deo Gloria

[1] Numbers 20:8-9
[2] Numbers 20:11-12
[3] Numbers 27:14
[4] Yes, dear Americans, I’m including that sarcastic slogan in this too.

A Quint of Quotes #5: Is Science Good?

Fellow travelers,

Here is another “Quint of Quotes” from my collection.  Five quotes somewhat related to each other, but not exactly in agreement.  Hope you find them interesting and thought-provoking.  Enjoy!

“Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.” – Albert Einstein

“Men became scientific because they expected Law in Nature, and they expected Law in Nature because they believed in a Legislator” – C.S. Lewis

“Because we are so scientific now – and so determinedly materialistic – it is very difficult for us even to understand that other ways of seeing can and do exist.” – Jordan B. Peterson

“When scientific power outruns moral power, we end up with guided missiles and misguided men.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

You know how to interpret the appearance of earth and sky, but why do you not know how to interpret the present time?” – Jesus, in Luke 12:56

See previous Quints and other posts on quotes here.

A Quint of Quotes #4: Is Democracy Good?

Fellow travelers,

Here is another “Quint of Quotes” from my collection.  Five quotes somewhat related to each other, but not exactly in agreement.  Hope you find them interesting and thought-provoking.  Enjoy!

“Democracy is the recurrent suspicion that more than half of the people are right more than half of the time.” – E.B. White

“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.” – H.L. Mencken

“Mankind will in time discover that unbridled majorities are as tyrannical and cruel as unlimited despots.” – John Adams

“Your representative owes you, not his industry only, but his judgment; and he betrays instead of serving you if he sacrifices it to your opinion.” – Edmund Burke

“No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed it has been said that democracy is the worst form of Government except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.…” – Winston S. Churchill

See previous Quints: [#1], [#2], [#3] and other posts on quotes here.

A Quint of Quotes #3: Is Freedom Good?

Fellow travelers,

Here is another “Quint of Quotes” from my collection.  Five somewhat related quotes, but not exactly in agreement.  Hope you find them interesting and thought-provoking.

“To admire mere choice is to refuse to choose” – G.K. Chesterton

“Freedom is not worth having if it does not include the freedom to make mistakes.” – Mahatma Gandhi

“Liberty is the only thing you cannot have unless you are willing to give it to others.” – William Allen White

“But what is liberty without wisdom, and without virtue? It is the greatest of all possible evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.” – Edmund Burke, Irish statesman

“Nothing is more seductive for man than his freedom of conscience, but nothing is a greater cause of suffering” – Ivan, in The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky

See previous Quints: [#1], [#2], and other posts on quotes and verses here.

Social Media is Full of Absurdities

Social media is a great place to share short bursts of pontification, whether in memes, quips, quotes, or what have you.  Sometimes a little more research may do some good, though.  Several times recently I’ve seen the quote below shared by people protesting what they see as people in power playing loose with Covid data to pompously push pernicious policies that are precariously close to imperious:

“Truly, whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities.” – Voltaire

Since this quote was often posted by Christians, they might be appalled by the context of the quote:

“Formerly there were those who said: You believe things that are incomprehensible, inconsistent, impossible because we have commanded you to believe them; go then and do what is unjust because we command it. Such people show admirable reasoning. Truly, whoever can make you believe absurdities can make you commit atrocities. If the God‐given understanding of your mind does not resist a demand to believe what is impossible, then you will not resist a demand to do wrong to that God‐given sense of justice in your heart. As soon as one faculty of your soul has been dominated, other faculties will follow as well. And from this derives all those crimes of religion which have overrun the world.”

On the positive side, “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.[1]  Being a Christian requires holding on tight to things that seem absurdities to the world, but it also means we have the “God-given sense of justice” that requires we show mercy to those whose absurdities are different from our own.

I recently started a series of quote posts, so when I post an absurd quote, it may be intentionally absurd, but probably not.  Don’t be shy about letting me know, mercifully…I think Abraham Lincoln said something similar on his website.

[1] 1 Corinthians 1:25