Thursday, February 7, 2013

Indicatives, Imperatives, Astronomy and God


"The heavens declare the glory of God;
the skies proclaim the work of his hands."
~ Psalm 19:1


We began an Astronomy unit study in our co-op recently, and I began the first lesson by introducing the concepts of indicatives and imperatives.  My students scratched their heads.  I probably would have also, if I were them, but I knew where I was taking the lesson so I encouraged them to hang with me.  What are indicatives and imperatives?  And what do they have to do with Astronomy? 

Indicatives demonstrate or exhibit or describe.  They indicate something. Make something or someone known.

Imperatives assert or command.  They relate to authority and rule.

I talked with my curious students about the book of Ephesians (they were still wondering what this had to do with Astronomy...are you too?).  Ephesians has 6 chapters, and the first 3 have no commands that I've ever noticed.  If you know of one, let me know.  God tells us He has blessed us in Christ, chosen us before the foundation of the world, adopted us to be His kids, forgiven us, and all kinds of other wonder-filled things relating to the power of God and Christ's blood covering us and His love and grace abounding toward us according to His wisdom and rich mercy.  Indicatives.  Describing, making known who He is and what He has done.

Chapter 4 begins with Paul saying  "I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called....".  Here come the DO's.  Because of who God is and what He has done, love one another. Because He has mercifully called you and me to Himself, walk as children of light. Because He pursued us in love while we were yet dead in our sins, THEREFORE walk now in a worthy manner.  Husbands, love your wives.  Wives, be subject to your husbands.  Children, obey your folks.  And for 3 chapters Paul gives us a bunch of "do this, don't do that" sort instruction.  Some imperatives.

Do you slow down when reading God's indicatives?  I used to skim over them, to my peril.  True story. I think I have experienced every horrible consequence of skipping straight to the do's and don'ts...things like pride with its various falls, fear, and the nastiness of being critical of others as I thought too highly of myself.  Now I pause and ponder.  I want to know Him: His character and wisdom and love and power and goodness and sovereignty and justice...everything about Him.  I want to soak up His mercy so that when He tells me I ought to be putting off and putting on, I want to.  The "therefore" is there for a reason.  All those indicatives are there to help us know Him and trust Him.  And they help us to know that the imperatives are not a list of rules from an angry guy in the sky that is waiting to zap us the moment we mess up.  They are instructions from our Father on how to live like He does. When we fall, He is there to help us up and to cheer us on.  The indicatives make it clear: We have THE BEST FATHER ever.   And we get to be His kids. What kid on the planet who knows His dad rocks doesn't want to be like him? 

This has everything to do with Astronomy because our Father is the One who spoke this amazing universe into existence.  It declares His glory and proclaims His handiwork...it is a giant indicative!  I told the kids that for the next 8 weeks we were going to get to dive into the WOW factor of God.  Eight weeks of exploring our Father's glory and handiwork is in store and I wanted us to get excited about it.  This isn't just learning the names of planets and facts about how far away the sun is.  Oh no...it is SO MUCH MORE.  Oh that our peeks into His heavens might make us hunger to know our Father better.

Father, thank You for your mercy...thank You for declaring Yourself to us, and making Yourself known in Your word, and in Your creation...thank You for rescuing us and making us Your sons and daughter's by adopion.  Use these weeks of study to cause us to desire all the more to therefore walk in Your ways. 

1 comment:

  1. Indicatives and imperatives! Great explanation. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete