"For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself, above all the nations that are upon the earth." ~ Deuteronomy14:2

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Raising The Standard: Initiative Is Expanding My World By Exploring New Areas Of Interest

A young girl in her mid-teens wandered into a strange city with the intention of exploring and making new friends. Taking initiative which would have been contrary to her father's wishes, she exposed herself to the dangers of a city corrupted by moral decay. Every man in the city was to die because a naive girl took the wrong kind of initiative.
How Does Scripture Illustrative Initiative In Exploring New Areas Of Interest? This one statement sets the stage for a tragic drama which took place only because of unguided curiosity. "She went out to see the daughters of the land."
To understand the deep lesson God wants us to learn from this story, we might well relive the thoughts that may have gone through her mind as she walked toward that city. She may have considered asking her father for his counsel before making this journey. But perhaps a flood of memories prompted her to discount his opinion and his concern for her. She vividly remembered the terror of being placed by her own father in front of his favorite wife's family when they met his brother and four hundred vicious men who were coming to kill them. He certainly hadn't exercised much concern for her protection then, so why would he care if she faced danger now? She also recalled the many arguments between her mother and her father's other wife. She knew that her father preferred his other wife to her own mother. Even if something did happen to her, he probably wouldn't care. She reminded herself that only a few days earlier, her father had gone into the city and bought some land from its leader. Since he traded with them it must be all right for her to meet their daughters. But none of these reasons justified the practice of exploring new areas of interest without the protection of wise counsel. Curiosity without counsel is like a rampaging river. What was meant for our good may become the very means for our destruction. Exploring our world may also expose ourselves to danger. When the young girl entered the city she was unaware of the sensation her attractive appearance would create. The leaders sat at the gate among whom was the prince of the country. He was more honorable than all the men of his father's household, but as he looked at her he was filled with lust and evil curiosity. He approached her and persuaded her to follow him. Before she could comprehend the impure motives of his heart it was too late, and in the tragic moments that followed he defiled her. What began as an innocent visit turned into a devastating event. Because of what that prince ha done all the men of the city were killed by two of the girl's brothers. This destroyed the reputation of her father and his family. Her father failed to provide for her protection just as she failed to ask him for it. The attraction of the city lured her into a nightmare -- the tragic consequences of which became a constant reminder of her uncontrolled initiative. (From Genesis 34)
Why Did Dinah Want To Visit The Daughters Of The Land?
Dinah wanted to make new friends. She was the youngest of Jacob's seven children by his first wife Leah (cf. Genesis 30:19-21). Her six older brothers were busy in the fields all day and occupied with their own young families at night. Similarly her five half-brothers would not have provided the fellowship a young girl desires. Although there were servant girls her age, they were busy at work from early morning until late at night with their many chores. On the other hand, the city of the Sechem was a relatively large and prosperous city with many girls her age. they could show her the latest styles in clothes and jewelry and talk to her about all the exciting events constantly going on in the busy city. But she was naively entering a populace whose moral standards had been perverted through the immoral rites of pagan worship. She was exposing herself to dangers for which she was neither fully aware nor properly prepared.
How Did Jacob Fail His Daughter?
Jacob should have instilled in his daughter a healthy fear of associating with the enemies of God. Unfortunately, Jacob did not provide the example himself. He welcomed their business and even allowed his own wives to possess idols and to wear Pagan jewelry (cf. Genesis 33:18-19). It is not surprising that Dinah was not afraid of being influenced by the Hivite daughters. Jacob was also at fault for exposing Dinah to the temptation of visiting Shechem. He camped right in front of the city and initiated the first transaction of business (Genesis 33:18-19). He should have learned from the mistake of his older relative Lot who unwisely exposed his daughters to the wicked influence of Sodom (Genesis 13:12-13; 19:14, 30-38). Jacob should have passed by Schechem on his way to Bethel without stopping.
Why Did The Lord Allow Dinah To Be Disgraced?
The Lord was trying to develop a nation which would one day glorify His name throughout the world. They were not to be like all of the other nations but were to worship the true and living God. When Jacob settled in Shechem he was thwarting the Lord's plan. His family was already worshipping foreign gods. To associate and intermarry with the pagan Hivites would have increased the problem. The Lord used Dinah to warn the family of their sin and to protect their daughters from the same danger in the future. Because of the abominable sins of the Hivites, the Lord would one day have the nation He was developing destroy them and their idols (Exodus 23:23-24). Dinah's tragedy would remind them of the reason for their distasteful mission.
An inhabitant of the swamps and forests, the ring-tailed raccoon characteristically makes its home in hollow trees. Like that of the bear, the diet of the raccoon varies with the availability of food. This highly inquisitive creature scampers about, investigating every nook and cranny in the hope of uncovering a meal or simply to satisfy its own curiosity.
How Does The Raccoon Illustrate The Need For Caution When Exploring New Areas Of Interest? A leopard frog bounded into the water in an effort to elude the quick paws of the little raccoon. Its illusive tactics were no match for the bushy tailed hunter which made a quick meal of the frog. As the masked bandit scampered on, it investigated tree hollows and interesting smooth stones in the shallows which might conceal something edible. Curious and inquisitive by nature, the raccoon is considered a highly intelligent animal because of its insatiable appetite for exploration.
Although this inquisitive tendency can lead the raccoon astray, it allows the animal to utilize food sources which might otherwise remain overlooked. Its curious nature often prompts it to investigate and carry away bright and smooth objects which are of no practical use except for play. In its enthusiasm to explore, the raccoon often neglects the need to be cautious. Then its investigative efforts may end in tragedy. As the little raccoon continued its hunt it left the pond area and skirted the border stream of a farm. Suddenly, a glittering object caught its eye. Suspended from a low hanging branch of a crab apple tree, the bright object fluttered in the wind, just out of reach. Without thought, the raccoon darted towards the branch. Intrigued, it danced around on its feet pawing at the object in an effort to snatch it. An instant later a sharp crack startled the animal and burning pain shot through its leg. A farmer, capitalizing on the poultry-raider's well known propensity to collect shiny objects had suspended an unlikely lure from the branch and set traps beneath, hidden in the tall grass. Frantically, the raccoon tried to free itself from the pain and the trap which it associated as one. But with each attempt, the metal jaws cut deeper into its leg. The pain intensified. In desperation to achieve freedom, the raccoon furiously bit the trap. But the unyielding metal left the raccoon with only one alternative -- to sever the confined leg from the rest of its own body. Turning its attention from the trap, the raccoon used its teeth to gnaw off its foot. Freed from the grip of steel, the crippled animal hobbled away in an effort to get as far away from the cruel trap as possible. Although the mishap would make a permanent impression on the young raccoon, it is doubtful that even this severe experience would deter it from the carefree and indiscriminate exploration which characterizes this inquisitive little animal.

No comments: