The Book of Ash

Hours later, Israel learned what their idol truly was.  Off to a great start, like Ash sleeping in, showing up to get his first Pokemon in his pyjamas, just infinetly worse.

A while ago I was watching Pokemon with my foster son.  He had already seen the first season as well as Pokemon: Origins, but season 12 was the only one available on Netflix.  He asked me “why is Ash still so silly if he has been a trainer so long?”  My first response was something along the lines of, well he’s kind of dumb, then trying to be nicer and come up with a logical reason, I suggested that he forgot a lot of what he learns every time he goes to a new land.  This got me thinking about Ancient Israel and how “forgetful” they were throughout their history.
Israel was unique among the nations of old as they were God’s chosen people.  Deuteronomy 7:7-8 tells us “It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”  The beginning of the next chapter of Deuteronomy tells the people not to forget God.  They don’t listen.It seems that the theme of the Old Testament is that they forget their God at every chance they get.  They either get swayed by the nations around them into serving other gods or making their worship of the Lord more like the pagan worship around them.  It’s not just the fine points of the Law or ceremony that they forget either, they botch it all.  I was pretty frustrated seeing Ash try and figure out what would be super effective against a grass type pokemon when He’s been around the world and battled hundreds of times.  I’m frustrated when I read that while Moses was literally speaking with God just a short distance from the Israelites, the people were trying to worship using pagan Egyptian methods including sexual rituals.  This made Moses so upset that he broke the tablets God had given to him, crushed the idol they had made into dust and forced them to consume it.  Hours later, Israel learned what their idol truly was.  Off to a great start, like Ash sleeping in, showing up to get his first Pokemon in his pyjamas, just infinetly worse.  So they learned their lesson right?  Not quite. What were they thinking when set up altars in the high places, bowed their knees to Baal and offered their children to Molech?  Ezekiel shows the leaders worshiping  images, the sun and even a Sumerian god held in high esteem by the Babylonians named Tammuz, telling themselves that God couldn’t see, hear or care.  God’s judgment was severe as they were invaded by and taken captive by the Babylonians, who’s god they had been worshiping.  Still, God promised to save for himself a remnant, to restore Israel and make them better than they had ever been.
images-3 Christ arrived, preaching grace to a now proud Israel who had been reestablished and reconquered.  Those who had come to religious power for the Jews were proud and corrupt once again, and put their God to death because of his message.  While by the grace of God many turned to him during his ministry and after his resurrection (forming the nucleus of the new church), this act of cosmic treason and murder came just before the Nation of Israel was brought low with the sacking of Jerusalem in 70 AD, and finally the end of the Bar Kokhba revolt in 135 AD.
It’s easy to criticize the past and take examples from people long gone, but what about closer to home?  It’s a lot more natural to get annoyed with other people as opposed to ourselves, but how many times in a single day do we go astray?  How many times do we forget basic elements of the faith and even common decency?  How much of our forgetting is really just not caring or outright rebellion?  When you’re sharing your love of Pokemon with your children and catch a glimpse of Ash acting like the perpetual ten year old that he is, remember that as foolish as he is, you’re probably just as bad.
dry bones
Thankfully our God is gracious, and in the business of fixing things.  Moses received new tablets from the hand of God and got them safely down the mountain.  God went further, promising to take out our stony hearts and replace them with ones that truly live, even promising to raise the dead to life.  God has raised the people of Israel up from destruction and dispersion many times before and Paul seem to say God may do it again (link posted below to an in-depth article).   We are not just characters in a story bent on making money off of kids, we are Characters in a Story where God made himself manifest in Christ who paid for our rebellion and sent his Holy Spirit to make us more and more like him over the course of our lifetime.  It doesn’t happen all at once, even the most seasoned and mature Christians  have “Ash moments”, but thankfully one day, we will be like our Lord.*link to mentioned article: