Three Dog Night

Posted: October 13, 2009 by Matt Horan in ReEmergent Church

By Matt Horaniditarod

For some reason, I found the song “One is the Loneliest Number” in my head the other day.  For me, sometimes hearing the song will get it out of my head, so I was perusing the internet to see if there was some way I could hear it without the time or expense of downloading it or requesting it on the radio.  In my travels along the information superhighway, I discovered that it was the second biggest hit by the group Three Dog Night.  (The biggest was “Jeremiah was a Bullfrog.”)  I got reading about the band, and I stumbled upon the story of how they got their name.

The lead singer’s girlfriend had been reading about Alaska, and discovered this expression used to talk about cold nights.  If it was somewhat cold, they’d sleep next to a dog to keep warm.  If it was colder, it might be a two dog night.  When temperatures were at their coldest, they’d call it a “three dog night.”  The band liked it, and they still have the name today.

Ever in search of connections between my experiences in the world and the Scriptures, it occurred to me that, early on in his long walk to the Promised Land, Moses was having a three dog night.  Granted, he was not in Alaska.  Nor was it cold.  Nor was he a driver of dog sleds.  But his solo act was not enough.  The story goes that, at one point, he sent his wife, Zipporah, and their children to go back to stay with his wife’s father, Jethro.  Doesn’t say why he did that, but you can get the idea as the story progresses.  Zipporah and Moses’ sons are received by Jethro, who then “comes to him in the wilderness.”  Shey showed up, and it seems that he turned them right back around and headed off to see Moses.  He sent his wife and kids to live with his inlaws, and they said, “Ahh, no.”

I have to imagine that Moses was a little stressed to see his father-in-law returning with the wife and kids he just sent away.  He leads with the good news.  Things are going great!  We got out of Egypt after walking right through the middle of the Red Sea.  We were hungry and God miraculously fed us.  We were thirsty and God miraculously gave us water.  There was no doubt that this God, Yahweh, was far greater than all other gods.  Things were going great!

Jethro rejoices.  He is excited to hear about all that God has done.  But he sticks around until the next day, and sees why Moses probably sent his family back—he didn’t have time for them.  Moses spent all day deciding disputes between people and giving out the decrees of God on all kinds of issues.  Jethro pulls him aside to have a little talk with the man to whom he has given his daughter:

“The thing that you are doing is not good.  You will surely wear out, both yourself and these people who are with you, for the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone.

Moses had been taking too much responsibility on himself, and not inviting others to share the burden with him.  I confess that there’s no textual evidence to say that Moses sent his family away because he was too busy for them, or that Jethro came because his daughter and grandchildren arrived at his doorstep without his son-in-law.  But when Jethro returned home after delivering his advice to delegate responsibility, he did not take his daughter and grandchildren with him.

You could say that Moses was having a “three dog night,” but he had no dogs around to help him through it.  God speaks to us here—there will be some three dog nights in your future.  It’s not a question of if life will get hard.  Someday—life will get difficult.  We will face a three dog night, and we don’t want to face it all alone.  According to the Scriptures, we won’t be able to.

Do you recall what God repeatedly said during the Creation story?  After everything he created, he saw that “it was good.”  He created the heavens and the earth; day and night; animals in the sea, on the land, and in the air; vegetation, the sun, moon, and stars, and after each one, he looked and saw that it was good.

But then he saw something that was not good.  He said, “It is not good for the man to be alone.” [Genesis 2:18]  It’s is not good for the man to be alone

Even Jesus Jesus picked twelve apostles, and within them he chose three that he was particularly close to. hugging-her-twin[1]

You may have heard of Kylie and Brielle Jackson, twins who were born prematurely.  One began to gain weight and progress, while the other lost weight and began to deteriorate.  Having tried everything to bring the baby along, a nurse finally put them in the same incubator.  She left them and came back to find that the healthy one had put her arm around the other, and almost instantly her vital signs began improving, she began gaining weight, and today they’re both in high school in Massachussettes. 

The worst punishment in prison is to be put in solitary confinement.  Being alone is a punishment.  There must be people in our lives that know our souls.  That ask about our souls.  God does not want us to walk the path of a disciple alone.  In fact, if we try to walk it alone, we won’t walk it very far, if  we even continue to walk it at all.

  1. Bob B. from Winter Park says:

    Well done, Matt H. You’re the real deal and I appreciate you a lot.


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