I Don’t Get It

Jude 1: 9-10

9But even the archangel Michael, when he was disputing with the devil about the body of Moses, did not himself dare to condemn him for slander but said, “The Lord rebuke you!”  10Yet these people slander whatever they do not understand, and the very things they do understand by instinct— as irrational animals do— will destroy them.


In seminary my husband had a teacher who told them while they were preaching not to refer to obscure references as illustrations because they would lose the congregation’s understanding. This scripture is a perfect illustration. No one knows what Jude is referring to. No where in the Old Testament is Michael recorded arguing with the devil over the fate if Moses’ body. There are some traditions advanced scholars have flushed out such as God hid Moses’ body to keep it from becoming an idol, but even those ideas are scarce.

We understand Jude Is making a contrast. Even Michael when doing something as important as protecting the great Moses’ body did not stoop to slander. But we feel left out because we do know about the incident to which he refers.

Now we know how many people feel when we speak “Christian -eeze.”  We understand what we mean. Perhaps people of our own denomination and church understand what we mean, but the further we get away from the church the less people know the illustrations.

To me this passage is a challenge to study and understand what the terms and illustrations (examples or references) we use originally meant so I can reword them before I use them outside the church.

Our traditions are rich. We don’t have to abandon them. But as society around us grows more secular, we will have find new ways to express our faith so we remain Christ’s representatives today, not merely yesterday’s symbols. And we need to teach people the traditions, what they mean. We need to keep teaching what the symbols mean. We need to teach the Old Testament to understand how we can expect God to relate to us today by seeing how he related to them. We cannot assume even our own children understand. These days life changes radically from one generation to the next. We all must teach by what we say and what we are.

God does not change. The way he relates to us, his love for us, his understanding of us will not ever change. I relax in he presence as I become convinced of that, but the way that relationship looks changes from society to society and generation to generation. We need not be frightened of that.


When No One Approves

This picture of David dancing in the streets in a victorious celebration

Over the return of a precious symbol for his people.

The nation was excited and celebrating with their king.

And all Michal saw was a man who was not acting ‘kingly.’


And the scripture (NLT) records she felt contempt for him

As she watched him dance with his people.


And then she taunted him:

How Distinguished the king ofIsraellooked today, shamelessly

Exposing himself to the servant girls like any vulgar person might do!”


And my heart sang to understand even people close to King David didn’t understand

What was in his heart, his motivation, his dancing with abandonment.

He gave everything of himself

And all he got was criticism.


Often when we do our best to cover all the bases,

To address all the possible problems,

Give all we are and all we have to a project,

Someone sees it only from their point of view and says “No, that can’t be.”


And they let us know about it.

It’s like someone just walks up and hits you in the head.

Your breath is gone. The only thought you can form is

“I had no idea anyone thought that.”


I know when anyone something public,

People feel free to criticize and feel contempt for your work.

And it is their right to let you know it.

God, help me learn David’s lesson.


Vs. 21 David retorted to Michal,

I was dancing before the Lord, who chose me above your father and all his family! He appointed me as leader of Israel, the people of the Lord, so I celebrate before the Lord. 22 Yes and I am willing to look even more foolish than this, even to be humiliated in my own eyes! But those servant girls you mentioned will indeed think I am distinguished.


On the surface his reply seems to reflect arrogance.

But in the end he is expressing confidence his God’s calling in his life.

He doesn’t ignore his wife’s accusation, but also doesn’t let it beat him.

Oh that I can come to that place.


God, help me accept authority even when I’m not sure they understand.

Help me know you work in odd ways sometimes.

But help me neither ignore criticism nor let it defeat me.

Help me understand what you are saying to me through others.


But help me turn to you to help me deal with it.

Go a different direction, perhaps,

Find new paths, try something new, make new friends and

Find new ways to express the talents you have given me.


But don’t let give up and get stuck in a hurting place.

Give me courage to get up and start again.

Renew your call on my life.

Reassure me you have a place for me, something for me to do.


And help me rest in your presence as I discover a new place.