Saturday, May 31, 2014

More On Appeasement

At times, throughout the ages, man has fallen prey to 'appeasement' theology. The picture painted in our minds is that there massive white bearded guy sitting on the throne of clouds waiting for us to offer up suitable sacrifices to make him happy.

Look around at the beautiful flowers, birds, greenery, blue sky. Do you think that this world was originally created by a scary narcissist? God is not like that.  The more I read in Genesis and Exodus, the more I understand about how loving and patient God truly is.

If you really want to know who God is, start in Genesis.  Yes I know a lot of people do that when they up and decide to get religious. Often they give up because they say it is too hard.  It is too hard because the religious airwaves have so much clutter flying around. I have been there done that!

I did everything I could to understand the Bible. I took a koine Greek class, I dabbled in Hebrew linguistics. I bought every research book that I thought would help me understand. Yes, some of those skills helped me somewhat just to sort through the variants between versions and doctrine proposed by different organizations.

It wasn't until I absolutely realized that God genuinely wants every person to come to a true knowledge of Him because He genuinely is the God of love. I still love to work the details of the Word but I do it because it is such a blessing, not because I feel I have to appease Him.

We need to understand what went on in Genesis. I had sort of pushed the Old Testament into a "for our learning" (Romans15:4) category and diminished its importance because we live in a different time. That is not what "for our learning" means. Genesis is pretty important to our understanding the big picture especially about the love and patience of God. Exodus and the rest of the Old Testament is too. It is 'for our learning' for real.

One day I bought a new Bible (no old notes) and started in Genesis reading a little at a time and marking places that intrigued me. Thinking about the different records and relating them to life proved fruitful. It also helps to talk to others who are on the same journey. By journey, I don't mean people who believe exactly the same things at the exclusion of others, but people who have the same goal of getting to know who God really is. No one has all the answers to the questions of the Bible, but all believing people have equal access to God. It is amazing sometimes what you can learn from someone who may not agree with you about baptism (dunked, sprinkled or dry-cleaned?) when holy spirit is working in them.

If the wording in the King James is difficult to understand, I look at other versions. I have a Bible that has 4 versions side by side on the page (called a Parallel Bible) to compare texts. Ultimately however, I literally ask God the why of things. The answer comes in a variety of ways and there might be a delay. You learn what you need and want to learn at the right time. There are lots of things I don't understand but that keeps me thinking. Biblical research is absolutely nothing without God and He IS very patient and loving.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Apeasing the Gods? Jehovah-jireh

On twitter, it is fun to read the 'handles' of people who post there. Often the names people use say something about the poster. God has a series of compound names in addition to Elohim, Jehovah, El Shaddai. These names tell us something about God that are significant to remember.

After my last post I was so struck by the significance of these compound names that I had to go back to Genesis and find the first one, Jehovah-jireh. It is used in Genesis 22:13-14.
13 And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt offering in the stead of his son. 14 And Abraham called the name of that place Jehovahjireh: as it is said to this day, In the mount of the Lord it shall be seen. 
This 'shall be seen' is in the sense of God's provision.  God provides.  Abraham was about to offer his own son as a sacrificial burnt offering. This is not a big show of 'appeasing the gods' so prevalent in that culture. God does not have to be appeased. Yes,  Abraham would do anything for God. He genuinely loved God, but the whole event proves that ultimately that it is God that provides, not man.

Evidence that God provides is so prevalent everywhere. It's in His Word. It is found displayed in nature.  It shows up in individuals led by the spirit of God.

God's provision appears in remarkable clarity. There is no mistaking it. Sometimes man's thinking however, gets in the way. Man is responsible to do his best. In Exodus when the Israelites came up against the Amalekites, Joshua was the one sent in to lead the battle and he did his best, but it was Moses up on a hill holding up his hands to God that brought about the victory. It is a classic example how God is the one who provides.

Abraham had several instances where he tried to make something happen by his own means (birth of his first son, the  lie to Pharaoh about Sarah being his sister are examples).  Moses did too. It is very easy to do and it happens all the time today. God is not an over-doer in the sense he does not throw everything at the wall to see what sticks, He always does what's right.  Man often overdoes and seldom gets it right.

There are so many versions and interpretations about this section in Genesis 22 and one could go on and on analyzing it till the cows (or the ram) come home, but the point that God made with Abraham is all wrapped up in the name Jehovah-jireh. God provides! We just need to do our best and let Him do the rest! The key ingredients of doing our best are: prayer, listening (always a part of prayer), reading up on, waiting if necessary, and acting when the time is right.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

The Lord Is Our Banner

There is a scene in Exodus 17 that is better than the flag scene in the movie, Patriot. It occured right after the children of Israel had been complaining about water again, this time at Rephidum ('place of rest'). Moses, frustrated, went to God. God told Mose to take the rod and hit a rock (water out of a rock?). Voila! Water!

Amalek attacked the Israelites when they were camped at Rephidim. Moses responded by appointing Joshua to lead up the battle against them. Joshua did as Moses told him. Moses took Aaron, and Hur up on top of a hill with the rod of God in his hand. As Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed in battle and when Moses let down his hand Amalek prevailed. As Moses got tired of holding his hands up, Aaron and Hur propped him up until they won.

Moses never physically entered the battle. His praying focus to God was visible. This battle was won by God.  Joshua carried out God's will. Those who stood by saw how the battle was won. For Joshua who would later take on the big task of leading the children of Israel into the promised land, it was just what he needed to learn and experience.

The name for God, Jehovah-Nissi, signifies victory in the battle. The name means: The Lord Our Banner. A banner is a standard (often a flag with an insignia) to identify a group or company with the force behind it. For God's people in Exodus, God was their standard.
Exodus 17:13-16 And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.14 And the Lord said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.15 And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovah-nissi: 16 For he said, Because the Lord hath sworn that the Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.
God is our banner. Whatever today's 'Amalek' is, God provides the victory. The battle may take time and effort, but it is won with focus and prayer. God wants us to remember what he has done, is doing and will do for us. He is the wind in our banner.
Psalm 60:4 Thou hast given a banner to them that fear (respect) thee, that it may be displayed because of the truth. Selah.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Murmuring Is A Waste of Time

In the section of the Old Testament I am reading now (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy), there are several major sections of murmuring records. The people involved murmured against Moses.  They were on a roll in Exodus 15:24, 16:2 and 17:2-3. Moses was acting for God, so it was really God whom they were complaining about. Moses explained to them that they were murmuring against God in Exodus 16:7:
And in the morning, then ye shall see the glory of the Lord; for that he heareth your murmurings against the Lord: and what are we, that ye murmur against us?
What a waste of time! Laying blame at God's throne is ultimately an act of unbelief. Moses said to the Israelites in Exodus 14:13:
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
The blame game has been alive since the beginning long before anything was written down in God's word. It is still around today. God is not to be blamed.  Moses told the people not to fear and to stand still and see God go into action.

What does it mean to stand still? I looked it up and it is the Hebrew word 'yatsab'. It means to set, station oneself, take one's stand. With any circumstance, the act of believing is to do just that. It means to stop being afraid and take one's stand with God. Sure there are Red Seas, enemies, no food, no water and what ever else comes at us. Regardless we can just plant our feet in God's light and face whatever head on. We lay claim to God not circumstances. 

In our day and time, Jesus Christ has been resurrected, the Bible is printed and the pouring out of the gift of holy spirit on the day of Pentecost has happened. We have a lot of resources individually that the didn't have in the Old Testament so we shouldn't be too judgmental Smiley on those 'murmuring' travelers. 'Standing still' involves a huge dose of thankfulness!

Monday, May 5, 2014

God's Provision is daily

In Exodus 16, the provision of the manna is a great record with lots of lessons that apply to us.
God provided on a daily basis. He provided enough for each individual. Some of the travelers however thought it they ought to store up some manna in case maybe God runs out the next day???? If God provides today, He will provide tomorrow.
Matthew 6:34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.
I can think of so many instances where tomorrow can become so much more important than today if we allow it. There is absolutely nothing wrong with planning ahead. The Israelites had a plan to follow.  Being anxious for tomorrow is the key issue. God just doesn't show up one day and disappear another day. Daily we should trust God (It was God that made a day equal to 24 hrs!)

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Manna For Today For You

Manna is a substance that the Israelites found in the early hours of the morning that came from God to sustain them. The word 'manna'  in essence means "what is it?" because they had no idea what it was. God was specific in how they were to collect it and use it. For 5 days they collected enough for that day. They were supposed to use it all or it would go bad. On the sixth day however, they were told to collect double and save some of it for the seventh day. The 6th day gatherings did not go bad. Go figure! God's provisions are seldom formulaic! A formula always works the same!

God not only provided the manna but he provided for  the individual needs of the people. It is a great lesson of trust. God never resides "in a box".  Too often we try to put him in a box. Just when we think we've got it all figured out, he surprises us with greater blessings that don't fit within the 'box'! Ephesians 3:20.

There are four great lessons from this:
1. God loves us and is to be trusted
2. He knows our need
3. He is able to provide
4. He WANTS to provide

When we get to the place where we realize how much God wants to provide, we will listen to Him intently. He provides what we need and more.

Man gets so anxious about what he perceives is ahead of him. We just have to think "manna" instead! God had gotten the Israelites to a pleasant rest area in Elim (Exodus 15:27). After leaving Elim and entering into the wilderness, they began to complain against Moses and Aaron (which was in actuality a complaining against God). Instead of looking to God, they looked at the sand and surroundings. Whaaaa! Moses, however, looked in God's direction because he got the answer and told the people how God would provide. The sand and dust didn't magically disappear, but God gave them 'manna'!

God will and does provide. More importantly, it is His heart to provide. The great name of God, Jehovah-Raphah ('for I am the Lord that healeth thee'), makes it's debut just prior to landing in Elim. There is no doubt the world appears as a wilderness at times. There is lots of junky stuff going on. Instead of falling in the mire of it all, we should look for the bridge over it all. A bridge still gives us a view of what's below but there is also a view of the oasis on the other side.