Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Thoughts in a Subjunctive Mood

Yesterday we started the Subjunctive.  As I expected, I had a bit of trouble understanding.  Okay, maybe a bit more than ‘a bit’!  Basically, the Subjunctive is not a tense like Past or Present, but a ‘mood’.  It expresses an uncertainty, doubt, desire, suggestion, request, etc. 

For example, I might desire that you go to my party, but you may or may not want to attend.  My part, desiring that you go, is in Present tense (and also Past and Future).  But, since you might not want to, the second part, you going, is in the Subjunctive. 

It’s difficult for English speakers, because we really don’t use it very often.  There isn’t a simple way to show the Subjunctive.  I’m sure the example I just gave is not completely accurate!  So, there weren’t clear examples Sonia could give me, especially since she only speaks a little bit of English.  
Sonia told me that the Subjunctive is used a lot in the Bible, because God desires that we live for Him, but we are given freedom to accept or reject His good, pleasing and perfect will for us.  She suggested that I use my Bible to try and find some examples, as she knows how much I love to read the Word. 
So, last night I sat and thought about passages where God expresses His desire for how we live…
The Holy Spirit led me to Jesus’ prayer in John 17:11-24.  This is part of His beautiful prayer for Himself, for His disciples, and for us. Jesus prays that His followers may be one just as He and His Father are one.  Jesus prays His desire, but the disciples’ part is in the Subjunctive.  There is uncertainty because the disciples may or may not love each other with the love Jesus has for His Father, and His Father for Him. 

This morning, I was reading Romans 10, where Paul quotes Deuteronomy 30.  I decided to check out the chapter to get more of the context.  This is at the end of Moses’ life, where he is admonishing the Israelites as they wait to step into the Promised Land.  It is a strong and challenging passage. 
Again, Moses speaks his desire, but the part of the Israelites is uncertain, and so is expressed in the Subjunctive.  Will they love God, will they follow His commands, will they choose life in Him, or death by following others ‘gods’? 
In verses 17 and 18, Moses describes the consequences of not following God’s commandments.  In verse 18, instead of the Subjunctive, (which introduces an element of doubt), Moses uses the future tense.  The English says, “you will certainly be destroyed.”  Here, the door is shut.  There is no doubt that if the Israelites choose to follow other gods, desolation and destruction will follow.
As I read these passages in Spanish, and compared them in English, I began to understand.  Not only the Subjunctive, but it added a new depth to my understanding of God’s word.  In both passages, our Almighty, Triune God is unchanging, and His desire for His followers, His people, is unchanging. 
God's desire is that we love Him with all of our hearts, and that we show the world that love, in our love one for another.  Those words are stated without question, without a doubt. 
But… in His love, God gives us the opportunity to do, or not do, His will.  Sadly, I choose to reject His will for me far more often than I’d like.  And, we’ve all seen the consequences of our unloving behavior toward each other. 
At the end of all things, the future will be the present and the door will shut.  There is much to do before then!  I praise God for His patience with us.  I praise Him for the privilege and opportunity to share His word – His Word, Jesus, with the world.  May I be faithful.  No, not Subjunctive.  I pray that I WILL be faithful!

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