Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Keeping the “get to” going

Exodus 23:

God’s people get to tell the truth, avoid the wicked and not run with the crowd to do evil, pervert justice or take sides indiscriminately.

God’s people get to return what is lost, help those who hate them by easing their burdens, keep justice, avoid falsehood, refuse bribes and treat strangers well.

God’s people get to feed their family and those not in the family, grant rest to all in the household and remain free from idolatry.

God’s people get to celebrate often before the LORD, giving careful tributes for the things He hath done.

God’s people get to go forward with the LORD’s leadership making the way, making certain His voice is heard. Those who disobey the LORD gets to know Him as an adversary. God’s people get to be used by Him to deal with others, so worship must remain unmixed and pure.

Exodus 24

Moses delivers the “book of the covenant” (20:22-23:33) to the people and everyone agrees, “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” (24:1-3)

In that wonderful narrative style of the Hebrews, the first three verses are repeated again, this time with emphasis on more details. After receiving the words of the Lord, Moses writes them down, builds an altar and worshipping (that was the plan, as he told Pharaoh), Moses then sets aside some blood to consecrate the book of the covenant and reads it to the people and everyone agrees, , “All the words which the LORD has spoken we will do!” (24:4-7) The agreement to be bound to the word of the covenant were sealed with blood (24:8).

Then they have the scariest pot-luck ever. Moses takes Aaron, his sons and 70 others up the mountain, they see God and they ate and drank. They fellowshipped. They pulled up a piece of ground and made themselves comfortable at the feet of the mountain-shaker. One way we can get an idea of what this must have been like is to do one of two things: picnic under a spewing volcano, or read Psalm 29 (note the imagery captured in this psalm, and don’t miss the final word that contrasts the entire picture).

24:12-18 is the entire story from Exodus 19 told all over again. Either that or Moses went up and down, up and down, up and down and had many conversations with God, receiving the law in bits and pieces at a time. I’m inclined to accept the first option [Please read early posts made since 1/1/06 for background on narrative style and how this “synoptic resumptive” style is typical of Hebrew literature].

Chapter 25:

God is preparing the people for His immediate “in the ‘hood” presence. They saw what He was doing through the plagues, they saw him in the cloud of fire by day and night and they see Him and what happens to mountain when He touches it. Now He is letting everyone know what to do to prepare for His immediate presence.

When they sat down to eat, God was letting everyone know 1) they should be frightened; 2) it alright, because He is taking care of everything.

I’m going to say this over and over and over and over again—this is the same God that indwells those who place their faith and trust in Him even today. Those people had fresh in their minds what it looks like to be on the receiving end of God’s punishments and what it looks like when the great Creator Covenant Maker judges little idols who are no-gods. They saw what happens when God helps people get to know Him in a not-so-good way. And they had strangers traveling among them who got the message clearly.

This God who breaks mountains is living in me—and you if you are regenerated in Christ Jesus. I am reminded in these verses that God-fearing is right. There is a tremendous amount of grace and mercy being shown to those who pot-lucked at His feet, even moreso to those who were at the base of the mountain. How much more did He extend grace and mercy to the same when He dwelt among them? How much more did He extend grace and mercy to me and not destroy me when He came to live in me? This is why when I sing “Open the eyes of my heart, LORD, I want to see you” I think of how much grace and mercy He extends because I (nor anyone else for that matter) could withstand the horror.

The place God dwells was not left up to man to design or make. God gave the pattern because He wants His presence among them to be enjoyable (read: tolerable). He was going to communicate compassion to them in this whole endeavor because they did not seek Him, they just sought deliverance from their captivity—but God had already attached a promise to them and was carrying through on His word. The Israelites are more than just chosen people. These are descendants of Adam and inheritors of that which cannot remain in God’s presence . . . sin.

One thing that jumps out at me is the description of all things concerning the tabernacle are backwards, God describing the construction of the most holy, most inward parts first. Looking at it, we would never see the inmost parts—but here is a description of God’s place first. God’s kingship is recognized as they prepared to make the sanctuary, the ark, the table and lamp stand. They made the items closest to His presence first of the most precious items. This is not Jewish "bling" and a pimped up tent.

Think about that . . .

This is the place of God's dwelling among men . . . they get to enjoy God's presence.

Do you?

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