always in squint

by Zach Kincaid

Trace back. Cain and Abel began the dance with great flare. What follows? The drunkenness of Noah; Abram’s lack of faith; the sin of Lot’s daughters; Isaac and Rebecca playing of favorites; the neglect of Jacob for his other sons; God’s rebuke of Eli for he honored his sons above his faith; the spear that divided Saul from Jonathan; the mess of David that his crafty eye began, that included rape and murder, that had Absalom hanging from a tree by his jealous hair, that brought the wisdom of Solomon who offered several songs about relationships despite a life riddled with misplaced priorities.

In Job there is hope. The Scripture explains that he regularly sacrificed burnt offerings for his sons and daughters. “Perhaps my children have sinned and cursed God in their hearts,” he reasoned. His account concludes, “And Job saw his children and their children to the fourth generation.” I suppose Hannah provides the chief Old Testament example of a faithful mother as Mary and Elizabeth offer similar examples in the New Testament. Others may be pieced together, but for much of Scripture, family relations are seen- for sin is blinding- through an eye always in squint.

But the story is redemptive as all stories can be. Who was Terah that Abram became the father of many nations (despite his setbacks); who was Amoz that allowed Isaiah the eyes to see the prophesy of Messiah; who was Hacaliah that gave Nehemiah the charge to rebuild the wall and prompted the return of Israel from exile? Trace back and find a patient God who embraces time with love and a people who desperately pull away from that embrace.

How about it? Faithfulness has a lineage but it is speckled. Maybe this promotes “real life.” Are David’s deceits a reassurance for our own unfaithfulness, or do we cry out with naked vulnerability, torn and diseased before a God of cures?

It is far easier to sympathize and rationalize our behaviors than to hear what prophets Samuel, Nathan, or John the Baptist might say? The purpose of Scripture is not first to promote reality but to exhort truth in which reality can be confirmed.

May our days be marked by his faithfulness, not by our excuses; may our affections be for his cross not for our philosophies that cuts sin’s sting without reconciling it.

(Genesis 4:8; 9:20-21; 16:1-4; 19:30-38; 25:28; 37:3; 1 Samuel 3:13-14; 20:30-32; 2 Samuel 11:4; 13:11-12; 13:30; 18:9; 1 Kings 3:12; 11:2-6; Job 1:5; 42:16; 1 Samuel 1:21-2:10; John 19:26; Luke 1:57-58; Genesis 11:27-12:3; Isaiah 1:1 and, e.g., 9:1-7; Nehemiah 1:1 and 11:1-2.)