Recently our Congress extended permissions for the NSA to continue to dumpster dive in the flotsam and jetsam of your digital wake. For another six years, so long as they happen to be hunting foreign terrorists, our government can keep a benevolent eye on us through the cyber tracks we leave everywhere in an ever-broadening desire to be connected.
Our pocket-palantirs are ever listening, watching and reporting. In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien unwittingly prophesied the doubled-edged benefit of smart phones when he conceived of the Palantir. The Palantir were seeing stones that let the characters in Tolkien’s world see and communicate with one another across time and space. They also revealed the potential futures of those peering into them. Sounds great, except that anyone looking into a Palantir could be seen by anyone possessing another Palantir, especially Sauron with his “all-seeing” eye. Magic rings and Palantir are tempting productivity tools, but remember there is an “all-seeing” eye.
Many of my friends have tape on their smart phone camera, keep wifi and mobile data off, and never enable GPS because of concern that their pocket-palantir makes them seeable by an ambiguously benevolent higher power. But this is not a new idea in the history of the world, just a different tool and new set of players. Men have always had concern over whether they are being watched. Jesus noted that men prefer darkness to light so that their deeds may remain hidden. Yet the scripture notes that even darkness is as light to God and that the Lord sees everything, down even to the deepest thoughts and intents of the hearts.
The Nazca Indians of South America sensed this, even in their spiritual darkness, and constructed mammoth images on the desert floor to please the gods above whom they believed to be angry because of the lives of men. Men throughout history have distressed over an awareness that the God Who Is, is a God Who Sees. The Psalms speaks of those who try repress the knowledge of God’s omniscience through idolatry and atheism. Yet, this thing which men’s darkened hearts fear, is their greatest hope. For the God who sees is the God who saves. The God who sees is the God who loves the loveless and relieves the afflicted in their affliction.
Genesis 29 is a complicated story of an ancient family dealing with the whole cadre of modern sins. Jacob deceives and is deceived, faces drama and jealousy, plays favorites and shirks his obligations and labors under caustic relations with in-laws. What hope is there for such a family? What hope is there for our complicated families? Buried in this passage is the sad tale of Leah, the unloved wife and woman. Her father trundled her off to Jacob to defraud him out of seven additional years of labor. Her new husband despised her. Her wedding bed was shared with her sister. She was the contempt of her husband, father and sister – but not of the Lord who Sees. He saw her in her affliction. He saw that she was not loved. He loved her and gave her the gift of children, whose love would fill up her empty spaces.
Join us for worship this Lord’s Day, March 11, at Pottsville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church as we examine the story of Leah in Genesis 29 and consider how God, who sees us for what and who we are, is the God who loves us with steadfast and redemptive love. Click here for directions. We look forward to seeing you.