God's Agents of Smash Preview
God’s Agents of SMASH
God using ordinary people to eliminate the barriers between Him and His people.
This entire idea began with a simple desire to do a study with my children, using Bible stories that I thought might capture the attention of my three- and five-year-old boys. They, like any young boys, are enamoured with the concept of superheroes. As I was growing up, I was captivated by comic book characters, and, just like their father, my boys fell in love with The Incredible Hulk©.
After watching cartoon series about the Avengers and Iron Man, the boys came upon one called Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H.© They sat down and watched the episodes with great enjoyment. As I watched some of the episodes with them, (I mean, what dad doesn’t try to get involved in what his boys like? Or maybe part of me just liked watching the Hulk© again. Who can say for sure?), I started to notice that when all else failed these superheroes simply smashed the problem. When evil popped up in any form, Hulk and his team smashed it victoriously. Sometimes the smashing was tactical or thought out, and other times it was simply, “We don’t know what else to do, so let’s smash and hope it works out.”
As my wife and I talked about we could be more intentional with our Bible lessons and times with our kids, I began to think of how I might be able to do something that would reach both our boys, and also our daughters, who were 11 and 12 at the time. I was personally going through the book of Nehemiah with a friend in our weekly Bible study, when suddenly God gave me an idea.
When I finished reading the book of Nehemiah, I was amazed by what I saw in the 13th chapter. This guy who rebuilt the wall in Jerusalem for the protection of the people of God was suddenly seen throwing people out in the street, beating them, pulling out their hair, and driving them out of town! After each act of seeming violence, this same guy would ask God to “remember [him] with favor” for what he had done.
I remember the feeling I had as I read the account of Nehemiah “losing it” because sin was again separating the people from God. I thought, “Wow, God sent an agent of smash to remove the thing that’s hindering His people from being close to Him!” That’s when God planted the idea of God’s Agents of Smash in my mind. So, I began going through some well known, and not so well known, Bible stories with my kids, where God used an Agent of Smash to bring His people closer to Himself.
I honestly had no idea where this was going to take me, as each week I simply waited and prayed for God to show me the next Agent. I started all this for my kids, but little did I know how much this study was going to impact my life. Seeing these Agents at work in the stories, I began to realize that God will use anything and anyone to eliminate the thing or things that are separating Him from His people. Sometimes these agents were sent to smash an enemy. Sometimes they smashed religious barriers. Sometimes they smashed idols. And sometimes they smashed the very thing that was intended to draw people to God, but instead had been twisted into a barrier, separating God and His people.
What I realized on this journey was that, ever since Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, God has been working to eliminate the barriers that hinder the intimate relationship He longs to have with His people. When He found Adam and Eve hiding because they were naked, God immediately went to work to restore the relationship they had prior to eating the forbidden fruit, by supplying clothing for His children. Essentially, when Adam said, “I can’t be with You because I am naked,” God clothed him so he would not be ashamed to be with God. God was saying, “So you are worried about your nakedness? Here, I will supply the blood for the sin, and here are some clothes to eliminate your shame. Let’s walk together again!” That has been the story of redemption and restoration from the beginning. God doing whatever it takes to restore those intimate walks He loves to take with His kids. And He has, at times, employed His own Agents of Smash to break down those barriers, so He and His beloved could take those walks together again.
What follows are the same stories that we used as a family on our journey, the same ones God used to revive a slumbering Agent - me - He had called into service many years ago!
Notice: The Incredible Hulk, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., The Blue Hulk and all other Marvel Characters mentioned are the property of Marvel Studios
(I would like to thank Sara Hays for her effort in proofreading my work and a very big thanks to Deborah Secor for her tireless efforts to edit this work and make me sound much more articulate than I claim to be. Also thanks to my daughter Hailey for her work on the preliminary cover drawing and to Jack Verret for finalization of the cover and all the characters portraits for this study! All of you are amazing and I am blessed to call you family through Christ.)
*Note. All Scripture references are from the NIV unless otherwise notated.
What is an Agent of Smash?
In all honesty, this is probably the most important questions that has to be covered before beginning this study on the Agents. The term agent is used for so many different things. Federal Agent. Rogue Agent. Real Estate Agent. Sports Agent. Players Agent. Personal Agent. Chemical Agent. This is just to name a few.
Because I grew up in the 70s and 80s, when I need a definition I turn to Webster’s Dictionary. So I looked up the word agent and found this:
1. A person who acts on behalf of another.
2. A person or thing that causes something to happen.
3. One who acts or exerts power.
4. Something that produces or is capable of producing an effect.
5. A person who is authorized to act in the place of another as a representative.
However, my favorite one is this: “A means or instrument by which a guiding Intelligence achieves a result.”
To me, all of these definitions play a small role in defining who and what an Agent is. However, the last one seems really to capture what these Agents of God are. They’re a means by which God Himself achieves a particular result.
I think it is important to point out that these Agents act a lot like Hulk© and his Agents of S.M.A.S.H.© I readily admit I still like watching cartoons with my kids. I was raised watching cartoons and have little issue with sitting down and watching them with my girls and boys - as long as they are filled with heroes beating up the bad guys! No girlie cartoons please. And since this particular series was based around my all-time favorite superhero, The Incredible Hulk©, I was all the more overjoyed to watch them.
As I did my cartoon research on the Hulk© and his agents, I noticed that each time these agents go to smash, it’s meant to eliminate the evil that’s intended to harm the people of earth. They have to overcome many obstacles—fighting amongst themselves, seemingly insurmountable odds, and their own disbelief—to win.
But their greatest battle is not trying to save the world; it’s trying to convince the world that they’re there to help, not hurt. People take one look at the Hulk© and his team, and they are overwhelmed by fear. A monster who is filled with rage just seems scary, and people aren’t usually ready to accept him. In order to “convince” the world the team is there to help, A-Bomb©, a.k.a. The Blue Hulk©, produces a live webshow showing the world all the good things Hulk© and his team of smashing Agents do. Time and again, Hulk© ends the show with an explanation of the lesson they have learned about the evil they faced and the teamwork they need to learn - and he always finishes with “Hulk Out!”
Unfortunately for the hulks, no matter what they do to prove themselves to the world and other superheroes, they are continually feared, questioned, and distrusted. At various points in the journey, Hulk becomes frustrated because it seems like no matter what he does, people are never going to trust him. In their eyes, he forever will be the rampaging monster that the world fears, and therefore his fall-back move is to always leap away and just disappear. This running away only allows the evil to grow, becoming more powerful. In the end, Hulk© and his team have to decide that they will fight the good fight, and smash all the evil they can, whether or not the world ever accepts them. In this decision, they have a new purpose: To make the world as safe as they can, even if they never receive the thanks they truly deserve. Once they make that decision, they literally become a family that’s unstoppable, when they work together.
This is a very good picture of God’s Agents of Smash that we see in Scripture. These agents were sent by God to tear down a barrier that has caused separation between God and His people. God’s agents were rarely appreciated for their efforts, and many times they were feared or scorned for what they had done. But they were acting on behalf of God, guided by His intelligence to produce a necessary effect: To remove all barriers that separated God and His people from each other!
Every time an Agent of Smash appeared, acting on God’s behalf, something - some sin, or some person - replaced God or kept people from seeing God for who He truly is and, therefore, hindered that walk in the Garden that God desires with His people. The Bible is full of these moments, recorded throughout Scripture. If I were to do a full disclosure of every Agent of Smash there, no telling how long I would keep writing.
For this particular study, I want to focus on the ones that God led me to as I walked through this study with my kids. I will admit it will be difficult for me not to do a comprehensive study, as is my nature (I can think of several really good ones right now, even as I type), but for our purposes we’ll focus on ten agents who were guided by Divine Intelligence to smash down the walls that had been put up between God and His people.
This journey will require you to read Scripture, if you want to allow the full effect of each story to do its work. It will require that you study, question, probe, discuss, and dig deeper. My first act of smashing in this book will be to tell you that a lazy approach of just reading my words and taking my opinions and words as pure truth is not allowed! If you really want to know God in a deeper way through this study, you’re going to have to work. Otherwise, this is just a bunch of words on paper that you will read and either say, “Man, that was a great new look at these guys in the Bible,” or, “what a waste of time.”