I've got the worst headache, and I'm tired, and I have to get up early in the morning to teach, but I just have to write. I've been putting it off.
I've been reading 1 Samuel this week. Faithful Hannah feverishly prays for a son, and her gift-child at age twelve recognizes the voice of God more clearly than Eli, the high priest of Israel does. Then Eli's evil priest-sons are killed violently in battle because they asked for sacrificed meat to be roasted instead of boiled. And Eli falls off a rock and breaks his neck when he hears the news. Granted, he didn't fall off a rock when he first learned of their meat-roasting habits, so he kinda had it coming.
In the same battle that Eli's sons are killed, the ark of the covenant is captured by the Philistines. God's people mourn because they think His presence has been taken from them. The Philistines think they're hot stuff for having the ark until the rats and the tumors start popping up. I personally picture Arnold Schwarzeneggar as a rogue Philistine telling some young innocent, "Eet's naht a ... ok, eet ees a TU-mah." They end up sending the ark to four of the five Philistinian cities as a test to see if cancer-carrying vermin continue to pour out. By the time the ark nears the fifth city, the people are outside waving their hands and wailing to be spared of the ark--please don't send us this God.
The concept of the ark of the covenant has always fascinated me. God had his people build him a gold box for a house. The movie Raiders of the Lost Ark gave me nightmares in eighth grade. All the melting of faces and stuff--ew. (Hmm, Kevin talked about melting faces this week, too...) And then I read about the return of the ark to one of the towns on the outskirts of the promised land. As kind of an afterthought the author explains God's judgment. The ark returneth verily and greatly unto the people of Israel. There was much rejoicing and ... oh yeah, He melted the faces off 70 men who looked inside it, too.
And sitting on my front porch, I nearly choked on my coffee--half because I didn't remember the melting faces actually being in there, and half because I would've been one of the ones to look. It's not in the holy museum. It's just in this guy's house. I'm a chosen one. He's my God, why wouldn't he want me to look? Okay, so he told me us not to look, but surely he didn't mean me right now in this situation. I can already hear the excuses. I mean, just look at how many times I typed the first person pronoun in this paragraph! It's all about me. I think about me. And italics. I think about italics, too.
NPR's All Things Considered had a special report today about the scientists who discovered a persistent low-frequency hum in the mid-70's. Two non-Ivy league astronomers won the Nobel Prize for discovering the 15-million-year-old residual sound of the Big Bang. It was science's first physical evidence for all of life coming into existence in a single moment. Interestingly, they also cite it as evidence for all of life eventually ending apocalyptically in a moment. They interviewed one of those astronomers who had this to say about their conclusion: "When you've eliminated all the probable possibilities, then you must conclude that the least possible is the most probable."
Can't you just imagine the power that must have unleashed in that moment when the dark void first heard the words "Let there be ..." Couldn't the universe have replied with a primal birthing scream that was so powerful we could still hear it today? Wouldn't that have been the birth of sound itself? Systems of harmonics yawning and flexing their newly-found muscles?
A God that overwhelming--a God that ancient--asking His people to build him a little ark. All of a Big Bang God in a box. That'd be enough to melt anyone's face off.