The origin of ‘Happy Families’ was more than a game!

Milton is the locality where our church meets on Sunday mornings. We expressed our vision for 2019 as: ‘Being Family at Milton’.

One of the games we played when our offspring were children was Happy Families. The pack contained such characters as the Bakers and the Butchers, each in cartoon style – a father card, a mother one, and a young brother and sister, each suitably dressed and handling appropriate items of their trade such as dough or cuts of meat.

Nestling among Solomon’s proverbs concerning Lady Wisdom (Proverbs 1:1 – 9:18) we find a beautiful idyll simply brimming with divine revelation that never entered Charles Darwin’s understanding. Here are some selected lines that sum up the whole story – a drama that science could never have told us. Proverbs 8:12a, 22, and 30-31 depict these joyous scenes (The Passion Translation, except for the final three-word phrase = from Today’s New International Version). The series of questions presented below as headings can help us grasp these delightful, dynamic, pre-historic scenes.

WHO am I? ‘I am Wisdom . . .’

Since WHEN are you? ‘In the beginning I was there, for God possessed me [or ‘had me’, as in the sentence, ‘Mary had a baby son’] even before he created the universe.’

WHERE were you then? ‘I was there, close to the Creator’s side as his master artist.’

WHAT were you doing? ‘Daily he was filled with delight in me as I playfully rejoiced before him. I laughed and played, so happy with what he had made, while finding my delight in the human race. (The Hebrew verb can imply spinning around with excitement!)

In Psalm 33:6-8 (TPT) Solomon’s father David had already answered a couple of questions more that we do well to ask:

HOW was the work of creation accomplished? ‘All he had to do was speak by his Spirit-wind command, and God created the heavenlies. Filled with galaxies and stars, the vast cosmos he wonderfully made. His voice scooped out the seas. The ocean depths he poured into vast reservoirs.’

WHY did the eternally satisfied God create our universe? ‘Now, with breathtaking wonder, let everyone worship Yahweh, this awe-inspiring Creator.’

* Yes, let us also delight in him and his inspiring works!

Has the New Testament decoded this Old Testament scenario? Yes it has:

John 1:1-4 (TPT)

‘In the very beginning the Living Expression [Greek = logos, meaning ‘the Word’ or ‘Message’ of divine self-expression; as we express ourselves in words, just as God did in Christ (see TPT footnote)] was already there. And the Living Expression was with God, yet fully God . . . together – face-to-face, in the beginning. And through his creative inspiration this Living expression made all things, for nothing has existence apart from him! Life came into being because of him, for his life is life to all humanity.’

‘Then’, John continues (6a), ‘the Light of Truth’ (9a) entered into the very world he created (10a) . . . the Living Expression became a man and lived among us’ (14a). . . . ‘[He] came from the Father overflowing with tender mercy and truth!’ (14c). ‘No one has ever gazed upon the fullness of God’s splendor except the uniquely beloved Son, who is cherished by the Father and held close to his heart. Now he has unfolded to us the full explanation of who God truly is’ (18).

Of course, Lady Wisdom was a metaphor for Christ (who, let’s not forget, once represented himself as a mother hen sheltering her chicks under her wings, Matthew 23:37)!

Returning to Solomon’s revelation:

Proverbs 8:15-16 (TPT)

Lady Wisdom declares that: ‘I empower kings to reign and rulers to make laws that are just. I empower princes to rise and take dominion, and generous ones to govern the earth.’ We can understand these statements also to foreshadow Christ:

Jesus Christ . . . who rules over the kings of the earth [and] who constantly loves us and has loosed us from our sins by his own blood [and] made us [his genuine followers] to rule as a kingly priesthood to serve his God and Father’ (Revelation 1:5-6). For: ‘We are held in the grip of grace and continue reigning as kings in life, enjoying our regal freedom through the gift of perfect righteousness in the one and only Jesus, the Messiah!’ (Romans 5:17).

So, when I find myself in the throes of a major crisis and I am asked, ‘How are you under the circumstances?‘ I can reply, ‘Oh, I am not “under the circumstances“, I am over them!’ However, I must still be honest with myself and ask if I am morosely battling with some difficult situations or am I joyously reflecting the radiantly ‘happy family’ atmosphere of our eternal God?

What about ‘the pursuit of happiness’?

The late Joyce Grenfell protested against any shallow indulging in pleasures for selfish reasons and testified: ‘I am not interested in the pursuit of happiness, but in the discovery of joy.’ And let Solomon’s father David have the last word for now in praise to the Lord, and make this our own response (Psalm 16:2-3, 11, The Message): ‘Without you, nothing makes sense. And these God-chosen lives . . . what splendid friends they make! [Happy Families indeed!] . . . Now you’ve got my feet on the life path, all radiant from the shining of your face.’

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