Photo credit to funnypics.com.
“Take with you seven pairs of all clean animals, the male and his mate, and a pair of the animals that are not clean, the male and his mate, and seven pairs of birds of the heavens also, male and female, to keep their offspring alive on the face of all the earth.” Genesis 7:2-3
Did you ever stop to think that all these pairs of animals walking two by two onto the ark could have a spiritual application? But I think it really does. I mean, why did You pick pairs? Well, that’s a no-brainer, right? So they could make babies and multiply their kind on the face of the earth. But is this really just about animals or is this a picture of Your desire for Your children?
I was thinking about something I read last night. It was talking about leadership, about shepherding. And it was talking about how most of us in the church have gotten it wrong because we haven’t really been following Your example. Because if we get back to following Your example, it brings me back to this two by two thing, to this being called and sent in pairs. And maybe there’s a reason bigger than saving the animals from the flood.
So I go back in time to where You have gathered Your disciples, the twelve. And they have learned from You and seen You and been witnesses to Your power and Your person. As a matter of fact, they haven’t arrived all the way in learning everything they need to. They are still learners. But Mark tells us that You “called the twelve and began to send them out two by two, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits.
And that takes me back farther in time, even farther than the animals arriving on the ark in pairs. It takes me back to Adam and Eve. If You had wanted us to do things on our own, You would have stopped with Adam, that guy you formed and had name all the animals, that guy who was working and keeping the garden of Eden. Here’s this guy You made who had everything at his fingertips except that tree of the garden, the one called the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. It was just Adam, the animals, the plants, and a responsibility to take care of it all, and no weeds in the deal, just one warning. I’m pretty sure Adam thought it was good. But God already knew that wasn’t good for Adam. There’s no way he could do it sufficiently on his own.
How do I know he wouldn’t be sufficient on his own? God made a help meet for him. That’s that ezer kenegdo. God makes him one to stand beside him, actually face to face. God makes him one who can sweep down and rescue him like God rescues Israel. Because the truth is, none of us were created to be islands. I guess I could think of it just being Eve that was that help meet for him, the warrior woman created to stand face to face with Adam and watch out for him so that he could be everything he was created to be. But that face to face part just makes me think of this reflection of this image. And it’s not the reflection of the image of Adam, or Eve, but it’s the reflection of the image of God in them.
Why would You make a help meet for him? Could it be because he’s not the full image on his own? Why did You create Eve? Was she better? Or did she just complete that image? Does it take a man and a woman and what You created them both to offer to share Your image the best? Notice I didn’t say that it takes man and a woman to offer what they want to share Your image best. But what if this idea of Eve being that help meet, that ezer kenegdo, that warrior woman for man is because You really intended man to be that warrior man for Eve? What if this help meet for him was intended to be recipricol? What if You intended for these two that were created to stand face to face, to love and protect and honor and esteem each other like that, each as much as the other? After all, Paul reminds us to do nothing through selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others as more significant than ourselves. We’re not supposed to look at only our own interests, but also to the interests of others, having the same mind as Christ, who”though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” And why did You do that, Jesus? Is that because You were our Ezer Kenegdo, our Help Meet, from the start? Well, that put’s a new twist to ezer kenegdo, that help meet idea, doesn’t it.
Well, that’s a lot of jumping around so let’s jump back up to Luke 10. Timewise it comes after You send the 12 disciples out by twos to proclaim Your kingdom and heal. Why by two”s? Do You want us to learn dependency on each other? Could we be called to lean on each other as another form of ezer kenegdo? Is there something vitally important about community and walking this walk in You together? Just going back to the twelve, You told them not to take anything for their journey, no staff, money, bread, bag, and not even a change of clothes. They would stay in a stranger’s house who would receive them. And they did that. They went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing, and staying with people and getting to know them. And I suppose that gave people the opportunity to get to know them and see that there was something different about them.
Alright, so I’m only in Luke 9, still looking at the 12, and I haven’t made it to Luke 10 yet. And I’m looking at these disciples, sent out in community, sent out to build community, and it’s Jesus’ time to share and preach and teach. And all these people have come out into this far away desolate place just to hear from this Jesus these guys have been telling them about. Their hearts want more. And they’re even forgetting about their next meal and forgetting to look at their watches because here they are out in the wilderness, far from home, with nothing to eat, but they want to hear. Wow, this method of Jesus’, sending out His disciples in community, it seems pretty effective. It seems like hearts are searching.
Funny thing is that the disciples don’t realize all that’s transpiring. And then Jesus invites them to be an even closer part of the community. “You feed them.” Well, that causes a quandary, doesn’t it? I suppose if I had just been preaching this wonderful news and healing people of diseases and casting out demons, which I’d never been able to do before, you’d think I might think a little more extraordinarily about things. But maybe not. I mean, if I just “flew into Neverland on a pirate ship, you would think my view of reality would be a little more fluid”(from Pan). But I guess we all miss the obvious when we’re not used to seeing it.
“You give them something to eat.” “You be my hands and feet.” “You be my mouth.” “You be my love.” “What do we have to give that would be sufficient?” What’s the answer? “Me, by faith.” So we obey in community. If You tell us to have them sit down in groups of 50 each, well, we do it. And then we wait and we watch, together. And then we minister together. We give them what You give us to give them. We feed them. And there’s overflow, and we get to see it and be a part of it and reap it’s benefits! But only in community with You and each other. And then we reap the benefit of seeing You. It’s when we come to say and see and know that “You are the Christ of God.”
Oh, there’s more that happened in that chapter, but if you want to know, you’ll have to read it. But it continues to help us to grow in the knowledge of Christ and in community. And then after these things, and after more followers, more disciples have been drawn to You, You appoint 72 others and send them ahead of You two by two into every town and place where You Yourself were about to go. You sent them into a harvest that was ready and waiting. You sent them into a harvest with few laborers. You sent them out to pray for more laborers. It was a doable deal. You had already sent out 6 pairs of disciples and now there were 36 more pairs to send out.
I think it’s kind of ironic that You sent them out “as lambs in the midst of wolves.” I just heard again yesterday how stupid sheep are. That sheep sometimes just fall down because they are afraid or they just start running and running and don’t even think about where they are going. The comment was made that sheep are probably the dumbest creatures. So You send out Your disciples as sheep? As sheep in the midst of wolves?
What if living in community with You and fellow believers so alters this sheep that they don’t respond in the ways people or wolves expect them to respond. What if these sheep are so in tune to their Master and so in tune to their brothers and sisters that they blow other’s expectations of them away? What if we’re talking about some radical reactions of some kind of radically recreated sheep? I mean, who goes out without money, knapsack, sandals, and doesn’t greet everyone on the road. Who is that focussed? Who is that obedient? Who is that certain? These dumb sheep. Or maybe more so, these transformed sheep.
I think of Your command in Genesis 1:28, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” That’s what man and woman were created to do together. That’s what the body of Christ was created to do in community. Adam and Eve can’t be fruitful without true community. And it won’t lead to filling the earth and subduing it in the Lord without living in community with You, Lord. Animals may be a far stretch, but if they don’t follow out the purpose they were created for, in their own communities, they’ll go extinct. And extinction could be a real danger for believers who don’t know how to live in community with You and each other. We’re not called to build our own kingdom our own way. We’re called to build Your kingdom Your way. I want to get on board with You. I want to live in community. I want to partner with others to bear Your image more fully. I want to partner with other brothers and sisters so that people see something different, something they would want to come hear more about, something they would forget they were hungry over.
I want to be like those 12 or like the 72 who returned with joy so excited about what You were doing through them. But I want to remain even more excited that I am Yours forever and You are mine. My name is written in heaven. But not just mine. Look! Look at all my brothers and sisters names too! Now that’s exciting! And it’s exciting to think about the other names that will be added as brothers and sisters as I go out two by two (or even more!) with those already in the Book. I’m not a dumb sheep any more, I’m a transformed sheep. I want to walk in the community of other transformed sheep and I want to draw more dumb sheep into the fold so they can be transformed. And that’s right in line with Your will so I can’t think of a better place to be than right there, in the middle of Your fold, listening to Your voice, and helping others to come so they can hear.