Saturday, January 31, 2015

Brazen Idolatry

Because the sun rises in splendor every morning and sets in beautiful colorful serenity every day, do we make it a god? It should remind us of the incredible power and love of an eternal God.

In Numbers, the exodus sojourners were attacked by serpents. They cried out and God provided them with a way to escape:
Numbers 21:8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived.
In the Numbers incident, it was an action of God that saved them, the brazen serpent was the vehicle. The Israelites kept the brass model and eventually they began to worship it as indicated in 2 Kings 18:3-4 several hundred years later:
3 And he (Hezekiah) did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did. 4 He removed the high places, and brake the images, and cut down the groves, and brake in pieces the brasen serpent that Moses had made: for unto those days the children of Israel did burn incense to it: and he called it Nehushtan.
Hezekiah removed all the idols including the brazen serpent which became an idol. It is a good lesson for us today.  When God works through various vehicles today such as people, ministries, and movements, these vehicles should be catalysts in inspiring individuals to  develop a relationship and trust in the one true God. Too often the means becomes the end instead of being a means to an end. A catalyst is something that causes other things to react without itself being affected. Discipling is just that. It is a process that helps people connect to God without getting in the way.

Jesus Christ refers to the brazen serpent image with an analogy to himself:
John 3:14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: 15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.
Jesus Christ is our catalyst for reconciliation to God. He has a very unique position being seated at the right hand of God and head of the body. God has given him power and authority through the spirit to be the head of the church of God. He is the high priest. He is the way to God.

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Love is Beautiful

Have you ever thought about what is true beauty?  We catch a glimpse of it in eyes
that shine and in words that truly encourage. We hear it in wisdom
Desert Rose
as we feel its peace. Genuine excitement reflects its power. Whenever we look for God He can be found even in the
vast wilderness of this world.

The title of the book of Numbers is translated 'In The Wilderness' from Hebrew ('Bemidbar') and that it is! At the end of Exodus, God came down from Mt Sinai and filled the tabernacle that had been made according to His directions. It was a transportable tent to be taken on their journey to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The time frames for Exodus and Leviticus are very short compared to the +38 years of this book describing the trek through the wilderness. The people got to the edge of the promised land, but because of fear in their own hearts they could not go in. Thus, what should have been a much shorter journey becomes drawn out.

God has previously expressed His heart to provide for and  interact with His people many, many times through the ages. Mt Sinai has come and gone. Archeologists disagree today about where it was located. Maybe its location is no longer important to God.  Yes, it is the place where the burning bush appeared to Moses and where Moses received the 10 commandments and guidelines for living. But once God had done that, He stepped down right in the middle of them to be their God.

For God to be God to His people, he asked for free-will devotion and adherence to His way of right. He was and is not tolerant of evil, but He is forgiving. He designed the universe, he ought to know how to navigate it.

Much has happened to humanity since the days of Moses, but the wilderness hasn't changed too much. God has given us a great path to follow through the the ultimate sacrifice of His son, Jesus Christ. His desire for us is to be His sons with power to overcome fear and to relate to Him not only as some entity in our midst, but relationally in our hearts.

The world is not very peaceful nor very encouraging. It still is a wilderness. God is still God and he is everywhere where there is a heart to live in. His wisdom continues to be extended and every morning we can rise with genuine excitement for the day. The love of God is the most beautiful thing in the world.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Skia of the Skene! (Shadow of the Tabernacle)

1 And the Lord called unto Moses, and spake unto him out of the tabernacle of the
congregation (tent of meeting NIV) saying, 2 Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, If any man of you bring an offering unto the Lord, ye shall bring your offering of the cattle, even of the herd, and of the flock. 3 If his offering be a burnt sacrifice of the herd, let him offer a male without blemish: he shall offer it of his own voluntary will at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the Lord. 4 And he shall put his hand upon the head of the burnt offering; and it shall be accepted for him to make atonement for him. Leviticus1:1-4
These opening verses of Leviticus contain several gems ('and', tabernacle of the congregation, burnt offering, voluntary and atonement). Wrapped up in these words are the promises of fellowship, free-will and salvation wholeness (physically, mentally and spiritually - body, soul and spirit wholeness)

Leviticus 1:1 opens with the word 'And'! This tells you something right away. Leviticus is connected to Exodus. In Exodus chapter 40, the tabernacle (Link - skene-tabernacle) was set up and ready for business. In verse 33, it says Moses finished the work and guess who stops by?
32 When they went into the tent of the congregation, and when they came near unto the altar, they washed; as the Lord commanded Moses. 33 And he reared up the court round about the tabernacle and the altar, and set up the hanging of the court gate. So Moses finished the work. 34 Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle. Exodus 40:32-33
The desire of God's heart is to have a relationship with each of His sons. Moving from the mountain to the tent of meeting was a starting place. Eventually He would move from the tabernacle to the temple; then to Jesus Christ (John 1:14 - tenting among us); then on the day of Pentecost into the hearts of men and women who believe.

The book of Leviticus is  an inspiration as well full of information about God's heart. It is a curious book to many but very necessary for our learning as it contains shadows (Link -skia), symbols and patterns of things to come.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Truthful Love

Honestly, Ephesians chapters 4-6 should be read together and not in pieces. Ephesians chapters 1-3 are about God's love. Chapters 4-6 are about loving others and how we should relate to people in a godly way.

Unity is a nice thing and Ephesians 4:1-7 addresses unity, but we need to see the rest of Ephesians to see what pitfalls threaten unity and how to deal with them. For example in Ephesians 5:11, God is pretty clear that we can have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness. How does this relate to longsuffering and forebearing (Ephesians 4:2)?  We have to read Ephesians 4:23-27 and other sections to read verse 2 of chapter 4 correctly.
23 And be renewed in the spirit of your mind; 24 And that ye put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. 25 Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man truth with his neighbour: for we are members one of another. 26 Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: 27 Neither give place to the devil. (Ephesians 4:23-27)
This is not hard to understand because it is specific. It is much more difficult to just read Ephesians 4:1-7 without the context; one would have to extrapolate one's own theology to apply the true meaning of unity in practice.

'Putting away lying' is an important concept. Lying can be a tool in manipulation, gossip and very subtle conversational tact.  Speaking the truth in love can dispel genuine anger but maybe not for every side involved. When one person loves the truth, the sun will not go down on that person's wrath. It is speaking the truth in love that causes one to peacefully grow up!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

God is Huge!

The older I get the more I realize that God is bigger than I could ever have imagined. We get just a glimpse of him as we live day to day soaking up grace. My mind is in awe of the solutions he comes up with when I am patient and trusting to wait on Him.

God committed himself to truth. He is the creator of the universe (if you doubt that, you need to check out the precision in the solar system, the magnificent construction of a tree, the intricacies of the human eye etc). He could have designed it any way He wanted and acted any way He wanted, but everything He created reveals His gracious heart, justice, and sovereignty, and free will choice.  His word is His will. If you want to know God's will for your life, the word of God will reveal what he provides.

I know that we have versions of translations and translations of versions and versions of versions; but God is bigger than all that. It becomes increasingly evident the closer one looks at His word.

At this time of the year a tree has no leaves, it is gray and spindly-looking, but deep inside its cells, it is preparing for the spring, summer and fall! A person just has to look deeper than the imperfections of the environmental flaws to really understand the incredible genius of a tree.

Likewise, the Bible is something to be looked at deeper than its black cover, gilded page edges, thin paper, double columns or even the January 2, 2015 article in a 'weakly' news magazine. God is bigger than any version and man's un-humble opining about God.

We can be so influenced by 'big' names in the world of religion and journalism. I have read oodles of articles and research regarding biblical issues. There are times it is really exciting to see another viewpoint because it may jostle some of my own bias or wrong teaching. But a big name does not make untruth truth nor truth untruth and most people have untruth in their 'isms'. The 'big' in big name is infinitely small compared to even the 'back parts' of God ( Exodus 33:23) .

We have to remember that our relationship with God is first individual. Moses asked to see God  and he saw His glory. That was a lot to take in. Today, the Word of God shows us God's heart. it is our 'burning bush' and 'clift of the rock' (Exodus 33:22). The gift of holy spirit is our radar.
13 Now therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, shew me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight: and consider that this nation is thy people. 14 And he said, My presence shall go with thee, and I will give thee rest.(Exodus 33:13-14)
Amen! Happy New Year!