The importance of "so that"

psalm 67The people of Israel got it wrong frequently.  

That’s important to remember when we read the Old Testament. The Bible is not filled with heroes, it is filled with humans. Messed up and broken individuals, just like us. People who seemed to fail more often then they succeed.


The Bible is a story of God blessing and loving people not based on what they do, but on who He is.


In the Old Testament jumble of God’s commands and Israel’s mistakes, the stories can sometimes be frustrating. Were the other nations all that bad? And with all the fighting, what is God condoning and what is God allowing? And how can God bless in the midst of that behavior?


We sometimes want more answers than the texts provide.


But, we do have the answer to one thing. Does God love us? The Bible reveals God’s unquenchable, never-ending love for humanity. Not just for Israel, but for the entire world. That’s why He blessed Israel in the first place.


When God chose Abraham in Genesis12, He said it was so that all the people on earth might be blessed through him. That declaration continued throughout the chapters and books that followed.


Israel was blessed in order to be a blessing.


In ancient history, nations each had their own God. The character and circumstances of a nation, then, revealed the God of that nation. A blessed nation would reveal a God who blessed. A nation that was commanded to take in strangers would reveal a God who loved and welcomed all.


Israel had so much potential.


Except that they were broken people just like us. And sin got in the way of obedience and love.


They often focused on what they had, and what they wanted, and forgot the “so that” part of the blessing. Or, maybe even more often, made up their own “so that.”


God, bless us, so that we may become stronger. God, bless us, so that we may become more powerful. God, bless us, so that we may become richer.


This is not what God intended.


In Psalm 67, though, Israel gets it right. They use language that connects to the priestly blessing in Numbers 6. And they remember the “so that.”


“May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine on us- SO THAT your ways may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.” – Psalm 67:1-2


I wonder how often modern Christians repeat the mistakes of Israel, and make our own “so that” for our prayers.


God, bless our church, so that we may grow bigger. God, bless my preaching, so that I may become famous. God, bless my leadership, so that I may be respected.


Whether we admit it or not, our “so that” drifts to selfishness pretty easily.


How would the Church look different if we stopped the drift? If we followed the example of Psalm 67 and refocused our “so that” back where it belongs?


And what about me? How would I look different if my “so that” was not based on my own desires? What if I prayed for God to shine His face on me so that His love could radiate to the world?


Psalm 67 is challenging me with that thought. I think I may take these verses as my prayer for awhile.


Link up your post about Psalm 67 below. Make sure to read the posts of others, too. And come back next week with a post on Psalm 68.