Friday, February 26, 2010

Bus driver - MOVE THAT BUS!

On the long running show - Extreme house makeover, the climax of the show each time was the statement,

"Bus driver - MOVE THAT BUS!"

Amidst an explosion of excitement, the bus would move, and the homeowner would get the first view of their incredible house.

Back in the day, God had designed and ordered built an incredible "house", a tent, actually, for worship.

Today, it is "Ox Driver - Move that Tent!"

1 "On the day Moses set up the Tabernacle, he anointed it and set it apart as holy. He also anointed and set apart all its furnishings and the altar with its utensils. 2 Then the leaders of Israel—the tribal leaders who had registered the troops—came and brought their offerings. 3 Together they brought six large wagons and twelve oxen. There was a wagon for every two leaders and an ox for each leader. They presented these to the Lord in front of the Tabernacle.


4 Then the Lord said to Moses, 5 “Receive their gifts, and use these oxen and wagons for transporting the Tabernacle.[a] Distribute them among the Levites according to the work they have to do.” 6 So Moses took the wagons and oxen and presented them to the Levites. 7 He gave two wagons and four oxen to the Gershonite division for their work, 8 and he gave four wagons and eight oxen to the Merarite division for their work. All their work was done under the leadership of Ithamar son of Aaron the priest. 9 But he gave none of the wagons or oxen to the Kohathite division, since they were required to carry the sacred objects of the Tabernacle on their shoulders."

I think it was just as exciting to them as extreme home improvement is to us...

Strained relations

We are designed to expect faithfulness in marriage. When there isn't it strains the very core of a marriage.

Following is one of the strangest rituals ever condoned in the Bible...

Numbers 5:11 "And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel.

“Suppose a man’s wife goes astray, and she is unfaithful to her husband 13 and has sex with another man, but neither her husband nor anyone else knows about it. She has defiled herself, even though there was no witness and she was not caught in the act. 14 If her husband becomes jealous and is suspicious of his wife and needs to know whether or not she has defiled herself, 15 the husband must bring his wife to the priest. He must also bring an offering of two quarts[c] of barley flour to be presented on her behalf. Do not mix it with olive oil or frankincense, for it is a jealousy offering—an offering to prove whether or not she is guilty.

16 “The priest will then present her to stand trial before the Lord. 17 He must take some holy water in a clay jar and pour into it dust he has taken from the Tabernacle floor. 18 When the priest has presented the woman before the Lord, he must unbind her hair and place in her hands the offering of proof—the jealousy offering to determine whether her husband’s suspicions are justified. The priest will stand before her, holding the jar of bitter water that brings a curse to those who are guilty. 19 The priest will then put the woman under oath and say to her, ‘If no other man has had sex with you, and you have not gone astray and defiled yourself while under your husband’s authority, may you be immune from the effects of this bitter water that brings on the curse. 20 But if you have gone astray by being unfaithful to your husband, and have defiled yourself by having sex with another man—’

21 “At this point the priest must put the woman under oath by saying, ‘May the people know that the Lord’s curse is upon you when he makes you infertile, causing your womb to shrivel[d] and your abdomen to swell. 22 Now may this water that brings the curse enter your body and cause your abdomen to swell and your womb to shrivel.[e]’ And the woman will be required to say, ‘Yes, let it be so.’ 23 And the priest will write these curses on a piece of leather and wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He will make the woman drink the bitter water that brings on the curse. When the water enters her body, it will cause bitter suffering if she is guilty.

25 “The priest will take the jealousy offering from the woman’s hand, lift it up before the Lord, and carry it to the altar. 26 He will take a handful of the flour as a token portion and burn it on the altar, and he will require the woman to drink the water. 27 If she has defiled herself by being unfaithful to her husband, the water that brings on the curse will cause bitter suffering. Her abdomen will swell and her womb will shrink,[f] and her name will become a curse among her people. 28 But if she has not defiled herself and is pure, then she will be unharmed and will still be able to have children."

From a counseling perspective, the ritual would have some effects totally apart from drinking the brine.
 
1. Put a fear of adultery into people
2. Give spouses a way to follow their gut instinct (or irrational suspicion) about marital unfaithfulness.
3. Give the priest a moment to see by the responses if this couple is faithful to each other.
 
I have always thought this whole thing was weird.
How many sermons have you ever heard preached on it?
But the bigger picture is clear - we were designed in such a way that faithfulness is expected and deserved inside marriage.

The finest people in the world

Over my lifetime I have known God's people in many continents and from all walks of life. Generally speaking, they are the finest people in the world.

I think this is part of the reason why...


5 Then the Lord said to Moses, 6 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel:

If any of the people—men or women—betray the Lord by doing wrong to another person, they are guilty.
7 They must confess their sin and make full restitution for what they have done, adding an additional 20 percent and returning it to the person who was wronged.
8 But if the person who was wronged is dead, and there are no near relatives to whom restitution can be made, the payment belongs to the Lord and must be given to the priest. Those who are guilty must also bring a ram as a sacrifice, and they will be purified and made right with the Lord.[b]
9 All the sacred offerings that the Israelites bring to a priest will belong to him.
10 Each priest may keep all the sacred donations that he receives.”

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How to get things done

I am reading a book on how to get things done. It is all about systems and models. There are proven models to achieve major objectives. There are systems that have been tested, and used and refined over the years. It is not necessary to invent something brand new.

In todays reading God comes up with a model and a system to get things done.

It is very interesting from that perspective. He had chosen one leader - Moses. He had chosen one priest - Aaron.

Moses had learned to set up government - leaders of 10s, leaders of 100s, leaders of 1000s. Now civic and legal needs were being taken care of.

God had set up the system of worship, with the tabernacle, and sacrifices and priests. Today He introduces all the workers to maintain and perpetuate all of that.

Numbers 3:1 This is the family line of Aaron and Moses as it was recorded when the Lord spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai: 2 The names of Aaron’s sons were Nadab (the oldest), Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. 3 These sons of Aaron were anointed and ordained to minister as priests. 4 But Nadab and Abihu died in the Lord’s presence in the wilderness of Sinai when they burned before the Lord the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. Since they had no sons, this left only Eleazar and Ithamar to serve as priests with their father, Aaron.

5 Then the Lord said to Moses, 6 “Call forward the tribe of Levi, and present them to Aaron the priest to serve as his assistants. 7 They will serve Aaron and the whole community, performing their sacred duties in and around the Tabernacle.[a] 8 They will also maintain all the furnishings of the sacred tent,[b] serving in the Tabernacle on behalf of all the Israelites. 9 Assign the Levites to Aaron and his sons. They have been given from among all the people of Israel to serve as their assistants. 10 Appoint Aaron and his sons to carry out the duties of the priesthood. But any unauthorized person who goes too near the sanctuary must be put to death.”

11 And the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Look, I have chosen the Levites from among the Israelites to serve as substitutes for all the firstborn sons of the people of Israel. The Levites belong to me, 13 for all the firstborn males are mine. On the day I struck down all the firstborn sons of the Egyptians, I set apart for myself all the firstborn in Israel, both of people and of animals. They are mine; I am the Lord.”

14 The Lord spoke again to Moses in the wilderness of Sinai. He said, 15 “Record the names of the members of the tribe of Levi by their families and clans. List every male who is one month old or older.” 16 So Moses listed them, just as the Lord had commanded."

Levites. The men and their families dedicated to:

Git er done!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

God's Crazy Math

God created numbers.

Numbers don't lie.

Right?

Read this with me...

18 “If you want to live securely in the land, follow my decrees and obey my regulations. 19 Then the land will yield large crops, and you will eat your fill and live securely in it. 20 But you might ask, ‘What will we eat during the seventh year, since we are not allowed to plant or harvest crops that year?’ 21 Be assured that I will send my blessing for you in the sixth year, so the land will produce a crop large enough for three years. 22 When you plant your fields in the eighth year, you will still be eating from the large crop of the sixth year. In fact, you will still be eating from that large crop when the new crop is harvested in the ninth year."

God always asks us to treat our finances as an act of faith, an act of priority, an act of obedience and an act of love.

So we give the first 10% of our income back to Him. But what if we run out of money before we pay all our bills? Faith and priority.

This idea of the seventh year makes no sense on the surface. But God said He would take care of them, provide for them. And they were to obey in faith, putting His commands as a priority, and showing their love and trust for Him.

Numbers

I live in Seattle, dominated by Boeing and Microsoft.

Boeing engineers are traditionally linear, sequential, rational thinkers. Microsoft engineers are typically smart, logical, creative problem solvers.

Both live in the world of the rational. The logical. The world of numbers.

Today we start the book of Numbers in the Bible. Here you go...

17 "So Moses and Aaron called together these chosen leaders, 18 and they assembled the whole community of Israel on that very day.[c] All the people were registered according to their ancestry by their clans and families. The men of Israel who were twenty years old or older were listed one by one, 19 just as the Lord had commanded Moses. So Moses recorded their names in the wilderness of Sinai.

20 -21 This is the number of men twenty years old or older who were able to go to war, as their names were listed in the records of their clans and families[d]:

Tribe — Number

Reuben (Jacob’s[e] oldest son) — 46,500

22 -23 Simeon — 59,300

24 -25 Gad — 45,650

26 -27 Judah — 74,600

28 -29 Issachar — 54,400

30 -31 Zebulun — 57,400

32 -33 Ephraim son of Joseph — 40,500

34 -35 Manasseh son of Joseph — 32,200

36 -37 Benjamin — 35,400

38 -39 Dan — 62,700

40 -41 Asher — 41,500

42 -43 Naphtali — 53,400

44 These were the men registered by Moses and Aaron and the twelve leaders of Israel, all listed according to their ancestral descent. 45 They were registered by families—all the men of Israel who were twenty years old or older and able to go to war. 46 The total number was 603,550."

I can't think of anything more boring than numbers. Numbers of men that can go to war.

But I AM writing this on a computer...

And the NUMBER of dollars that Boeing and Microsoft accumulate is rather impressive...

Ahhhhh - Numbers!

I Don't Like THAT!

This is a terrifying passage!

Shat does it look like if God is against you? Read on...

14 “However, if you do not listen to me or obey all these commands, 15 and if you break my covenant by rejecting my decrees, treating my regulations with contempt, and refusing to obey my commands, 16 I will punish you. I will bring sudden terrors upon you—wasting diseases and burning fevers that will cause your eyes to fail and your life to ebb away. You will plant your crops in vain because your enemies will eat them. 17 I will turn against you, and you will be defeated by your enemies. Those who hate you will rule over you, and you will run even when no one is chasing you!

18 “And if, in spite of all this, you still disobey me, I will punish you seven times over for your sins. 19 I will break your proud spirit by making the skies as unyielding as iron and the earth as hard as bronze. 20 All your work will be for nothing, for your land will yield no crops, and your trees will bear no fruit.

21 “If even then you remain hostile toward me and refuse to obey me, I will inflict disaster on you seven times over for your sins. 22 I will send wild animals that will rob you of your children and destroy your livestock. Your numbers will dwindle, and your roads will be deserted.

23 “And if you fail to learn the lesson and continue your hostility toward me, 24 then I myself will be hostile toward you. I will personally strike you with calamity seven times over for your sins. 25 I will send armies against you to carry out the curse of the covenant you have broken. When you run to your towns for safety, I will send a plague to destroy you there, and you will be handed over to your enemies. 26 I will destroy your food supply, so that ten women will need only one oven to bake bread for their families. They will ration your food by weight, and though you have food to eat, you will not be satisfied.

27 “If in spite of all this you still refuse to listen and still remain hostile toward me, 28 then I will give full vent to my hostility. I myself will punish you seven times over for your sins. 29 Then you will eat the flesh of your own sons and daughters. 30 I will destroy your pagan shrines and knock down your places of worship. I will leave your lifeless corpses piled on top of your lifeless idols,[a] and I will despise you. 31 I will make your cities desolate and destroy your places of pagan worship. I will take no pleasure in your offerings that should be a pleasing aroma to me. 32 Yes, I myself will devastate your land, and your enemies who come to occupy it will be appalled at what they see. 33 I will scatter you among the nations and bring out my sword against you. Your land will become desolate, and your cities will lie in ruins. 34 Then at last the land will enjoy its neglected Sabbath years as it lies desolate while you are in exile in the land of your enemies. Then the land will finally rest and enjoy the Sabbaths it missed. 35 As long as the land lies in ruins, it will enjoy the rest you never allowed it to take every seventh year while you lived in it.

36 “And for those of you who survive, I will demoralize you in the land of your enemies. You will live in such fear that the sound of a leaf driven by the wind will send you fleeing. You will run as though fleeing from a sword, and you will fall even when no one pursues you. 37 Though no one is chasing you, you will stumble over each other as though fleeing from a sword. You will have no power to stand up against your enemies. 38 You will die among the foreign nations and be devoured in the land of your enemies. 39 Those of you who survive will waste away in your enemies’ lands because of their sins and the sins of their ancestors.

40 “But at last my people will confess their sins and the sins of their ancestors for betraying me and being hostile toward me. 41 When I have turned their hostility back on them and brought them to the land of their enemies, then at last their stubborn hearts will be humbled, and they will pay for their sins. 42 Then I will remember my covenant with Jacob and my covenant with Isaac and my covenant with Abraham, and I will remember the land. 43 For the land must be abandoned to enjoy its years of Sabbath rest as it lies deserted. At last the people will pay for their sins, for they have continually rejected my regulations and despised my decrees.

44 “But despite all this, I will not utterly reject or despise them while they are in exile in the land of their enemies. I will not cancel my covenant with them by wiping them out, for I am the Lord their God. 45 For their sakes I will remember my ancient covenant with their ancestors, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt in the sight of all the nations, that I might be their God. I am the Lord.”

46 These are the decrees, regulations, and instructions that the Lord gave through Moses on Mount Sinai as evidence of the relationship between himself and the Israelites."

The interesting thing is that this was prophecy. All of this happened to the nation of Israel.

It is also precept. Do you want to be on God's side, or do you want to live your life against God?

I choose the former...

I like that!

God makes some very strong promises in this passage.

I like them!

Leviticus 26:1 “Do not make idols or set up carved images, or sacred pillars, or sculptured stones in your land so you may worship them. I am the Lord your God. 2 You must keep my Sabbath days of rest and show reverence for my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

3 “If you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands, 4 I will send you the seasonal rains. The land will then yield its crops, and the trees of the field will produce their fruit. 5 Your threshing season will overlap with the grape harvest, and your grape harvest will overlap with the season of planting grain. You will eat your fill and live securely in your own land.

6 “I will give you peace in the land, and you will be able to sleep with no cause for fear. I will rid the land of wild animals and keep your enemies out of your land. 7 In fact, you will chase down your enemies and slaughter them with your swords. 8 Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand! All your enemies will fall beneath your sword.

9 “I will look favorably upon you, making you fertile and multiplying your people. And I will fulfill my covenant with you. 10 You will have such a surplus of crops that you will need to clear out the old grain to make room for the new harvest! 11 I will live among you, and I will not despise you. 12 I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. 13 I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt so you would no longer be their slaves. I broke the yoke of slavery from your neck so you can walk with your heads held high."

Of all the blessings mentioned, the greatest is this:

"I will live among you, and I will not despise you. I will walk among you; I will be your God, and you will be my people. I am the Lord your God"

God Almighty in relationship of love with us...

Monday, February 22, 2010

Sinking Prices

We are in the biggest and longest depression any of us have ever experienced. Very few are alive who experienced the so called great depression of the 1930s.

In our area prices of real estate have dropped 22% in the last three years, wiping out the equity of anyone who did not buy more than 4 years ago. Many real estate investors, builders and land developers have been completely wiped out.

In the time of Leviticus it was different.

Prices dropped 2% a year every year, year after year. When the value got to zero, you had to give the property back to the original owner. Talk about deflation!

8 “In addition, you must count off seven Sabbath years, seven sets of seven years, adding up to forty-nine years in all. 9 Then on the Day of Atonement in the fiftieth year,[d] blow the ram’s horn loud and long throughout the land. 10 Set this year apart as holy, a time to proclaim freedom throughout the land for all who live there. It will be a jubilee year for you, when each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors and return to your own clan. 11 This fiftieth year will be a jubilee for you. During that year you must not plant your fields or store away any of the crops that grow on their own, and don’t gather the grapes from your unpruned vines. 12 It will be a jubilee year for you, and you must keep it holy. But you may eat whatever the land produces on its own. 13 In the Year of Jubilee each of you may return to the land that belonged to your ancestors.


14 “When you make an agreement with your neighbor to buy or sell property, you must not take advantage of each other. 15 When you buy land from your neighbor, the price you pay must be based on the number of years since the last jubilee. The seller must set the price by taking into account the number of years remaining until the next Year of Jubilee. 16 The more years until the next jubilee, the higher the price; the fewer years, the lower the price. After all, the person selling the land is actually selling you a certain number of harvests. 17 Show your fear of God by not taking advantage of each other. I am the Lord your God."

I'm guessing there were a limited number of real estate investors in Bible times!

The 37 Commandments

The 37 Commandments

What? You thought there were only 10? Read Leviticus chapter 19!

Leviticus 19:1 "The Lord also said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the entire community of Israel.

"You must be holy because I, the Lord your God, am holy.

3 “Each of you must show great respect for your mother and father, and you must always observe my Sabbath days of rest. I am the Lord your God.

4 “Do not put your trust in idols or make metal images of gods for yourselves. I am the Lord your God.

5 “When you sacrifice a peace offering to the Lord, offer it properly so you[a] will be accepted by God. 6 The sacrifice must be eaten on the same day you offer it or on the next day. Whatever is left over until the third day must be completely burned up. 7 If any of the sacrifice is eaten on the third day, it will be contaminated, and I will not accept it. 8 Anyone who eats it on the third day will be punished for defiling what is holy to the Lord and will be cut off from the community.

9 “When you harvest the crops of your land, do not harvest the grain along the edges of your fields, and do not pick up what the harvesters drop. 10 It is the same with your grape crop—do not strip every last bunch of grapes from the vines, and do not pick up the grapes that fall to the ground. Leave them for the poor and the foreigners living among you. I am the Lord your God.

11 “Do not steal.

“Do not deceive or cheat one another.

12 “Do not bring shame on the name of your God by using it to swear falsely. I am the Lord.

13 “Do not defraud or rob your neighbor.

“Do not make your hired workers wait until the next day to receive their pay.

14 “Do not insult the deaf or cause the blind to stumble. You must fear your God; I am the Lord.

15 “Do not twist justice in legal matters by favoring the poor or being partial to the rich and powerful. Always judge people fairly.

16 “Do not spread slanderous gossip among your people.[b]

“Do not stand idly by when your neighbor’s life is threatened. I am the Lord.

17 “Do not nurse hatred in your heart for any of your relatives.[c] Confront people directly so you will not be held guilty for their sin.

18 “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against a fellow Israelite, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord.

19 “You must obey all my decrees.

“Do not mate two different kinds of animals. Do not plant your field with two different kinds of seed. Do not wear clothing woven from two different kinds of thread.

20 “If a man has sex with a slave girl whose freedom has never been purchased but who is committed to become another man’s wife, he must pay full compensation to her master. But since she is not a free woman, neither the man nor the woman will be put to death. 21 The man, however, must bring a ram as a guilt offering and present it to the Lord at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[d] 22 The priest will then purify him[e] before the Lord with the ram of the guilt offering, and the man’s sin will be forgiven.

23 “When you enter the land and plant fruit trees, leave the fruit unharvested for the first three years and consider it forbidden.[f] Do not eat it. 24 In the fourth year the entire crop must be consecrated to the Lord as a celebration of praise. 25 Finally, in the fifth year you may eat the fruit. If you follow this pattern, your harvest will increase. I am the Lord your God.

26 “Do not eat meat that has not been drained of its blood.

“Do not practice fortune-telling or witchcraft.

27 “Do not trim off the hair on your temples or trim your beards.

28 “Do not cut your bodies for the dead, and do not mark your skin with tattoos. I am the Lord.

29 “Do not defile your daughter by making her a prostitute, or the land will be filled with prostitution and wickedness.

30 “Keep my Sabbath days of rest, and show reverence toward my sanctuary. I am the Lord.

31 “Do not defile yourselves by turning to mediums or to those who consult the spirits of the dead. I am the Lord your God.

32 “Stand up in the presence of the elderly, and show respect for the aged. Fear your God. I am the Lord.

33 “Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. 34 Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

35 “Do not use dishonest standards when measuring length, weight, or volume. 36 Your scales and weights must be accurate. Your containers for measuring dry materials or liquids must be accurate.[g] I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt.

37 “You must be careful to keep all of my decrees and regulations by putting them into practice. I am the Lord.”

37 Commandments!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Tiger Woods - I'm sorry!

Yesterday was Tiger Woods much anticipated public confession. Here is some of what he had to say.

“I was unfaithful, I had affairs, I cheated. What I did was not acceptable and I am the only person to blame. I stopped living by the core values that I was taught to believe in. I knew my actions were wrong but I convinced myself that normal rules didn’t apply. ... I ran straight through the boundaries a normal marriage should live by. ... I thought that I was entitled. Thanks to money and fame, I didn’t have to go far to find [temptations]. ... The same boundaries that apply to everyone apply to me. I hurt my wife, my kids, my mother, my wife’s family, my friends, my foundation, and kids all around the world that admired me.”

But why was the apology necessary? We live in a culture that assumes premarital intercourse as a right. Where adultery is common. Where pornography is rampant. In fact, in the state where he had many of his affairs, prostitution is legal and beautiful women are on call for the rich and famous. So what code did Tiger break? Why does our promiscous culture want an apology?

Listen to some of what God had to say about sex some 4000 years ago. Some things are just NOT ok!

Leviticus 18:1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. I am the Lord your God. 3 So do not act like the people in Egypt, where you used to live, or like the people of Canaan, where I am taking you. You must not imitate their way of life. 4 You must obey all my regulations and be careful to obey my decrees, for I am the Lord your God. 5 If you obey my decrees and my regulations, you will find life through them. I am the Lord.


6 “You must never have sexual relations with a close relative, for I am the Lord.
7 “Do not violate your father by having sexual relations with your mother. She is your mother; you must not have sexual relations with her.
8 “Do not have sexual relations with any of your father’s wives, for this would violate your father.
9 “Do not have sexual relations with your sister or half sister, whether she is your father’s daughter or your mother’s daughter, whether she was born into your household or someone else’s.
10 “Do not have sexual relations with your granddaughter, whether she is your son’s daughter or your daughter’s daughter, for this would violate yourself.
11 “Do not have sexual relations with your stepsister, the daughter of any of your father’s wives, for she is your sister.
12 “Do not have sexual relations with your father’s sister, for she is your father’s close relative.
13 “Do not have sexual relations with your mother’s sister, for she is your mother’s close relative.
14 “Do not violate your uncle, your father’s brother, by having sexual relations with his wife, for she is your aunt.
15 “Do not have sexual relations with your daughter-in-law; she is your son’s wife, so you must not have sexual relations with her.
16 “Do not have sexual relations with your brother’s wife, for this would violate your brother.
17 “Do not have sexual relations with both a woman and her daughter. And do not take[o] her granddaughter, whether her son’s daughter or her daughter’s daughter, and have sexual relations with her. They are close relatives, and this would be a wicked act.
18 “While your wife is living, do not marry her sister and have sexual relations with her, for they would be rivals.
19 “Do not have sexual relations with a woman during her period of menstrual impurity.
20 “Do not defile yourself by having sexual intercourse with your neighbor’s wife.
21 “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the Lord.
22 “Do not practice homosexuality, having sex with another man as with a woman. It is a detestable sin.
23 “A man must not defile himself by having sex with an animal. And a woman must not offer herself to a male animal to have intercourse with it. This is a perverse act."

Some things are not OK. Period. Cheating on your spouse is one of those. It is hard wired into our conscience.

Roasted Gecko, Anyone?

Have you ever gone to a restaurant and had roasted Gecko? Or, perhaps, mountain lion baby back ribs? Or camel steak? Bat bites or vulture drum stick?

Today's reading has a long list of clean and unclean animals. I've never really figured out why some animals were OK to eat and some were not. But in today's reading I was struck by the fact that most of the animals on the prohibited list we don't eat, have never eaten, don't even want to eat. Interesting!

4 "You may not, however, eat the following animals[a] that have split hooves or that chew the cud, but not both. The camel chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is ceremonially unclean for you. 5 The hyrax[b] chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. 6 The hare chews the cud but does not have split hooves, so it is unclean. 7 The pig has evenly split hooves but does not chew the cud, so it is unclean. 8 You may not eat the meat of these animals or even touch their carcasses. They are ceremonially unclean for you.


9 “Of all the marine animals, these are ones you may use for food. You may eat anything from the water if it has both fins and scales, whether taken from salt water or from streams. 10 But you must never eat animals from the sea or from rivers that do not have both fins and scales. They are detestable to you. This applies both to little creatures that live in shallow water and to all creatures that live in deep water. 11 They will always be detestable to you. You must never eat their meat or even touch their dead bodies. 12 Any marine animal that does not have both fins and scales is detestable to you.

13 “These are the birds that are detestable to you. You must never eat them: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 14 the kite, falcons of all kinds, 15 ravens of all kinds, 16 the eagle owl, the short-eared owl, the seagull, hawks of all kinds, 17 the little owl, the cormorant, the great owl, 18 the barn owl, the desert owl, the Egyptian vulture, 19 the stork, herons of all kinds, the hoopoe, and the bat.

20 “You must not eat winged insects that walk along the ground; they are detestable to you. 21 You may, however, eat winged insects that walk along the ground and have jointed legs so they can jump. 22 The insects you are permitted to eat include all kinds of locusts, bald locusts, crickets, and grasshoppers. 23 All other winged insects that walk along the ground are detestable to you.

24 “The following creatures will make you ceremonially unclean. If any of you touch their carcasses, you will be defiled until evening. 25 If you pick up their carcasses, you must wash your clothes, and you will remain defiled until evening.

26 “Any animal that has split hooves that are not evenly divided or that does not chew the cud is unclean for you. If you touch the carcass of such an animal, you will be defiled. 27 Of the animals that walk on all fours, those that have paws are unclean. If you touch the carcass of such an animal, you will be defiled until evening. 28 If you pick up its carcass, you must wash your clothes, and you will remain defiled until evening. These animals are unclean for you."

What do you do if God prohibits something you want to do? Do it anyway? Pause? Stop and obey blindly?

These are the thoughts I had today as I read this rather tedious passage...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Aaron had 4 boys - Oops, now only 2!

Aaron had 4 boys - Oops, now only 2!

This is a troubling story from any angle you look at it.

God has asked for some pomp and circumstance in the ordination and inaguration of the priests.

Leviticus 8:1 "Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Bring Aaron and his sons, along with their sacred garments, the anointing oil, the bull for the sin offering, the two rams, and the basket of bread made without yeast, 3 and call the entire community of Israel together at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[a]”

4 So Moses followed the Lord’s instructions, and the whole community assembled at the Tabernacle entrance. 5 Moses announced to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded us to do!” 6 Then he presented Aaron and his sons and washed them with water. 7 He put the official tunic on Aaron and tied the sash around his waist. He dressed him in the robe, placed the ephod on him, and attached the ephod securely with its decorative sash."

All was grand and beautiful. Sacrifices for sin are instituted, and there is a lot of emphasis of "just as the Lord had commanded."

22 "After that, Aaron raised his hands toward the people and blessed them. Then, after presenting the sin offering, the burnt offering, and the peace offering, he stepped down from the altar. 23 Then Moses and Aaron went into the Tabernacle, and when they came back out, they blessed the people again, and the glory of the Lord appeared to the whole community. 24 Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground."

Forgiveness of sin! Worship of God! Great joy! They all go together.

Then...

Leviticus 9:1 "Aaron’s sons Nadab and Abihu put coals of fire in their incense burners and sprinkled incense over them. In this way, they disobeyed the Lord by burning before him the wrong kind of fire, different than he had commanded. 2 So fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and burned them up, and they died there before the Lord.

3 Then Moses said to Aaron, “This is what the Lord meant when he said,
‘I will display my holiness
through those who come near me.
I will display my glory
before all the people.’”

And Aaron was silent."

This was serious stuff! And the dad isn't even allowed to grieve his two sons.

4 "Then Moses called for Mishael and Elzaphan, Aaron’s cousins, the sons of Aaron’s uncle Uzziel. He said to them, “Come forward and carry away the bodies of your relatives from in front of the sanctuary to a place outside the camp.” 5 So they came forward and picked them up by their garments and carried them out of the camp, just as Moses had commanded.


6 Then Moses said to Aaron and his sons Eleazar and Ithamar, “Do not show grief by leaving your hair uncombed[g] or by tearing your clothes. If you do, you will die, and the Lord’s anger will strike the whole community of Israel. However, the rest of the Israelites, your relatives, may mourn because of the Lord’s fiery destruction of Nadab and Abihu. 7 But you must not leave the entrance of the Tabernacle[h] or you will die, for you have been anointed with the Lord’s anointing oil.” So they did as Moses commanded."

What are the lessons to be learned?
One - certainly God is to be respected, and not trifled with. Two - He wanted to create fear of God among the people. Three - These were to be spiritual leaders of 3 million people. With priviledge comes responsibility.

What other lessons can you think of? Any way you cut it, this is a troubling passage...

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Guilty! - Forgiven...

All religions deal with guilt. Only Christianity provides free and complete forgiveness through Jesus Christ and his sacrifice on our behalf.

Even in todays passage, God defines guilt, and provides for forgiveness and covering for that guilt.

“If you are called to testify about something you have seen or that you know about, it is sinful to refuse to testify, and you will be punished for your sin.

2 “Or suppose you unknowingly touch something that is ceremonially unclean, such as the carcass of an unclean animal. When you realize what you have done, you must admit your defilement and your guilt."

Sin? - Guilt.
Followed by confession - offering - and forgiveness.

5 “When you become aware of your guilt in any of these ways, you must confess your sin. 6 Then you must bring to the Lord as the penalty for your sin a female from the flock, either a sheep or a goat. This is a sin offering with which the priest will purify you from your sin, making you right with the Lord.[a]


7 “But if you cannot afford to bring a sheep, you may bring to the Lord two turtledoves or two young pigeons as the penalty for your sin. One of the birds will be for a sin offering, and the other for a burnt offering."

Again:
Sin? - Guilt.
Followed by confession - offering - and forgiveness.

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, 15 “If one of you commits a sin by unintentionally defiling the Lord’s sacred property, you must bring a guilt offering to the Lord. The offering must be your own ram with no defects, or you may buy one of equal value with silver, as measured by the weight of the sanctuary shekel.[c] 16 You must make restitution for the sacred property you have harmed by paying for the loss, plus an additional 20 percent. When you give the payment to the priest, he will purify you with the ram sacrificed as a guilt offering, making you right with the Lord, and you will be forgiven.

Again:
Sin? - Guilt.
Followed by confession - offering - and forgiveness.

17 “Suppose you sin by violating one of the Lord’s commands. Even if you are unaware of what you have done, you are guilty and will be punished for your sin. 18 For a guilt offering, you must bring to the priest your own ram with no defects, or you may buy one of equal value. Through this process the priest will purify you from your unintentional sin, making you right with the Lord, and you will be forgiven. 19 This is a guilt offering, for you have been guilty of an offense against the Lord.”

God knows we commit sins.
Our consciense knows we commit sins.

Psychology teaches us to ignore or override our consciense. It doesn't work.

God shows us how to confess, make atonement for, and recieve forgiveness for, sin.

Love

Today is Valentines Day, so it is appropriate to talk about God's Love Letter to mankind - the Bible.

The most famous love note of all time?

16 “For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life."

The most quoted passage at weddings?

4 "Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance."

13 "Three things will last forever—faith, hope, and love—and the greatest of these is love."

So - Happy Valentine's Day, from God to you!!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Only the best

I grew up on a coffee farm in Colombia. This picture is an acuarate representation, the basket, the berries and all. You try to pick only the red ones. The yellow and green ones need to stay on the bush for a later picking.

My Christmas money each year as a child came from my earnings picking coffee. The harvest started in October, so the timing was perfect.

On our coffee farm, we drank coffee from the worst beans. Picked green, or shrivelled. The best beans, like all farms everwhere, were shipped off to the market. Coffee was our cash crop. The best went to bring in cash. The worst went for our own consumption.

Today God makes a big deal about the best. He says it again and again. The best must go to Him. Not the worst. Not even the medium. No - only the best. Read with me...

1 "The Lord called to Moses from the Tabernacle[a] and said to him, 2 “Give the following instructions to the people of Israel. When you present an animal as an offering to the Lord, you may take it from your herd of cattle or your flock of sheep and goats.


3 “If the animal you present as a burnt offering is from the herd, it must be a male with no defects."

“When you present grain as an offering to the Lord, the offering must consist of choice flour. You are to pour olive oil on it, sprinkle it with frankincense, 2 and bring it to Aaron’s sons, the priests. The priest will scoop out a handful of the flour moistened with oil, together with all the frankincense, and burn this representative portion on the altar. It is a special gift, a pleasing aroma to the Lord. 3 The rest of the grain offering will then be given to Aaron and his sons. This offering will be considered a most holy part of the special gifts presented to the Lord."

“If you present an animal from the herd as a peace offering to the Lord, it may be a male or a female, but it must have no defects."

Only the best.

Something to ponder...

Thursday, February 11, 2010

The glory of God

The glory of God

We are amazed, perplexed and terrified of the glory of God. Magicians and politicians would love to have it on demand. Those who experience it want more. All who get near it are humbled.

God shows His natural glory indiscriminately - to everyone who will look, or listen, or behold. The sunset, the bumblebee, the waterfall, the rolling ocean waves.

But His spiritual power and presence? He is very careful who he shows that to, and how much He shows. Listen to the story of Moses, and the glory of God...

Moses Sees the Lord’s Glory
12 "One day Moses said to the Lord, “You have been telling me, ‘Take these people up to the Promised Land.’ But you haven’t told me whom you will send with me. You have told me, ‘I know you by name, and I look favorably on you.’ 13 If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor. And remember that this nation is your very own people.”

14 The Lord replied, “I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.”

15 Then Moses said, “If you don’t personally go with us, don’t make us leave this place. 16 How will anyone know that you look favorably on me—on me and on your people—if you don’t go with us? For your presence among us sets your people and me apart from all other people on the earth.”

17 The Lord replied to Moses, “I will indeed do what you have asked, for I look favorably on you, and I know you by name.”

18 Moses responded, “Then show me your glorious presence.”

19 The Lord replied, “I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will call out my name, Yahweh,[c] before you. For I will show mercy to anyone I choose, and I will show compassion to anyone I choose. 20 But you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.” 21 The Lord continued, “Look, stand near me on this rock. 22 As my glorious presence passes by, I will hide you in the crevice of the rock and cover you with my hand until I have passed by. 23 Then I will remove my hand and let you see me from behind. But my face will not be seen.”

The glory of God!

Are we too busy, distracted, distant - to experience it?

I will send an angel before you


If you are familiar with the story we are following, you remember the all out war and fighting that it took to conquer the promised land.

There was strategy, and victories, and defeats. It wasn't easy. So it is easy to forget this promise, made by God to Moses, some 40 years before that all happened.

Exodus 33:1 "The Lord said to Moses, “Get going, you and the people you brought up from the land of Egypt. Go up to the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I told them, ‘I will give this land to your descendants.’ 2 And I will send an angel before you to drive out the Canaanites, Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites."

I will send an angel before you...

This is a time of struggle for me. As I visit with, and talk to a lot of people, it has been a time of struggle for almost everyone. I hear again and again, "We are working twice as hard for half the money." I also hear a lot, "It has made us appreciate what is important and what is not, what is worthwhile and what is not."

As we go into battle, it is easy to miss, or forget, that God is with us, that He protects us, His angel goes before. He is with us IN the battle, His presence does not help us AVOID the battle.

3 "Go up to this land that flows with milk and honey. But I will not travel among you, for you are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I did, I would surely destroy you along the way.”

4 When the people heard these stern words, they went into mourning and stopped wearing their jewelry and fine clothes. 5 For the Lord had told Moses to tell them, “You are a stubborn and rebellious people. If I were to travel with you for even a moment, I would destroy you. Remove your jewelry and fine clothes while I decide what to do with you.” 6 So from the time they left Mount Sinai,[a] the Israelites wore no more jewelry or fine clothes."

Yet even in their sinfulness, God was still with them, provided them with manna every day, and sent His angel before them...

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Anointed Art

Christians have rediscovered art.

Whether music, or dance, theatre or sculpture, art is again a legitimate expression of our relationship with God.

For over 1200 years, almost all art was "sacred art". The amazing paintings and scupltures. The grand cathedrals.

Then the Christian church went into a time where preaching was "sacred" and selected, outdated music was sacred, but most music, and art, and dance, and cinema were profane.

Now art - all art - is, and can be, sacred.

How would you like to be this guy in the Bible?

1 "Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Look, I have specifically chosen Bezalel son of Uri, grandson of Hur, of the tribe of Judah. 3 I have filled him with the Spirit of God, giving him great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. 4 He is a master craftsman, expert in working with gold, silver, and bronze. 5 He is skilled in engraving and mounting gemstones and in carving wood. He is a master at every craft!"

Can you imagine God saying, “Look, I have specifically chosen ______________ (your name) I have filled him/her with the Spirit of God, giving him/her great wisdom, ability, and expertise in all kinds of crafts. He/she is a master craftsman, expert in working with ______________" Wow! Yet God does say that about you...

Here is another guy...


6 “And I have personally appointed Oholiab son of Ahisamach, of the tribe of Dan, to be his assistant. Moreover, I have given special skill to all the gifted craftsmen so they can make all the things I have commanded you to make:

7 the Tabernacle;[l]

the Ark of the Covenant;[m]

the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement;

all the furnishings of the Tabernacle;

8 the table and its utensils;

the pure gold lampstand with all its accessories;

the incense altar;

9 the altar of burnt offering with all its utensils;

the washbasin with its stand;

10 the beautifully stitched garments—the sacred garments for Aaron the priest, and the garments for his sons to wear as they minister as priests;

11 the anointing oil;

the fragrant incense for the Holy Place.

The craftsmen must make everything as I have commanded you.”

Anointed artistry!

God saying, "I (God) have personally appointed ____________ (your name)
And he has.

Your art is from God. It is inspired by Him. Created by Him. Your talent is given by Him.

Puts your art into a whole new level, does it not?

Anointed Art...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Census

The superbowl game was great! Lots of buzz before, and a fair bit after.

The oddest ad in the whole event was the census ad. Our government has plunged us into 2 trillion of new debt in just 12 months and yet they spend 2.5 MILLION dollars to advertise the census? Seems pretty lame...

Imagine my surprise to read about a census in the Bible. Not only a census, but they were to collect a tax from everyone at the same time. Could you imagine trying to pull that off in our country today! (Ha!)

11 "Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Whenever you take a census of the people of Israel, each man who is counted must pay a ransom for himself to the Lord. Then no plague will strike the people as you count them. 13 Each person who is counted must give a small piece of silver as a sacred offering to the Lord. (This payment is half a shekel,[e] based on the sanctuary shekel, which equals twenty gerahs.) 14 All who have reached their twentieth birthday must give this sacred offering to the Lord. 15 When this offering is given to the Lord to purify your lives, making you right with him,[f] the rich must not give more than the specified amount, and the poor must not give less. 16 Receive this ransom money from the Israelites, and use it for the care of the Tabernacle.[g] It will bring the Israelites to the Lord’s attention, and it will purify your lives.”

No deep message here. I just find it curious, that's all.

Take a census. Collect a tax. Tell the people it is to bring you to the Lord's attention. That it would make you right with God.

This is actually God's direction - in the Bible, so I am not making fun of it...

But it would sure be hard to pull off in our cynical, secular society!!!

p.s. -
Worst in show: Census Super Bowl ad flops

By Mike Riggs - The Daily Caller 02/08/10 at 1:23 pm
The U.S. Census Bureau’s “Snapshot of America” Super Bowl 44 ad has met with harsh criticism from television writers, media pundits and the Kellogg School of Management, which gave the Census ad an “F” grade — the lowest of any commercial that ran during Sunday’s game.
Television critics charge that the Census ad, which cost $2.5 million and was directed by independent filmmaker Christopher Guest was dry, uninformative, and culturally obscure.

Planning

Every year I make goals and plans for the year.
Last year was so chaotic that I made no plans. Had very little direction, except to survive. This year I am back on track with goals.

In todays passage it struck me how carefully God plans things.

His goal was to take his people and multiply them into a great nation. So he leads Joseph to the most prosperous country on earth - Egypt where they flourish. He plans for them to conquer the land he had given them, so they endure 40 years of desert as mental and physical preparation.

His people were slaves - penniless. So he gave this odd command back in Egypt:
Exodus 11:2 Tell all the Israelite men and women to ask their Egyptian neighbors for articles of silver and gold.” 3 (Now the Lord had caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the people of Israel.

Get this. The richest people in the world - with huge houses, every comfort, slaves to do their bidding. Their slaves come and ask them, not for a little hand out, no - for thier silver and gold.

After being destroyed by crop failure, plagues and supernatural wonders, the Egyptians freely unloaded their riches on these hapless slaves.

So now they are in the desert as a reasonably weathy people. But what do you use gold for in the desert? Well, God had planned a lavish display of beauty and value as symbols of their faith and worship.

3 "Overlay the top, sides, and horns of the altar with pure gold, and run a gold molding around the entire altar. 4 Make two gold rings, and attach them on opposite sides of the altar below the gold molding to hold the carrying poles. 5 Make the poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold. 6 Place the incense altar just outside the inner curtain that shields the Ark of the Covenant,[b] in front of the Ark’s cover—the place of atonement—that covers the tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant.[c] I will meet with you there."

God is a planner. So when he directs you in ways that seem a little odd, know that God is at work in your life. You may not know the reason why, but he does...

Monday, February 8, 2010

Set Apart

In the story we are following, Moses has established leaders and heirarchy. Now they act as judges between the people.

Today God calls for leaders in worship and connection to God.

Exodus 28

“Call for your brother, Aaron, and his sons, Nadab, Abihu, Eleazar, and Ithamar. Set them apart from the rest of the people of Israel so they may minister to me and be my priests."

So God is creating something new here. A new order. In Genesis, the only time the word priest was used was for pagan priests.

In Exodus 19:6 we read, "And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

In Genesis God spoke to Abraham. God spoke to Isaac. God spoke to Jacob, and Joseph. Is there now a layer between God and his people? I don't think that is the purpose at all. But there are now 3 million of God's chosen people. He is ready to implement a more organized way to know him and acknowledge him.

Their clothes are to be dazzling in beauty.

2 "Make sacred garments for Aaron that are glorious and beautiful. 3 Instruct all the skilled craftsmen whom I have filled with the spirit of wisdom. Have them make garments for Aaron that will distinguish him as a priest set apart for my service. 4 These are the garments they are to make: a chestpiece, an ephod, a robe, a patterned tunic, a turban, and a sash. They are to make these sacred garments for your brother, Aaron, and his sons to wear when they serve me as priests. 5 So give them fine linen cloth, gold thread, and blue, purple, and scarlet thread."

They are to be consecrated and ordained.

Exodus 29

“This is the ceremony you must follow when you consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests: Take a young bull and two rams with no defects. 2 Then, using choice wheat flour and no yeast, make loaves of bread, thin cakes mixed with olive oil, and wafers spread with oil. 3 Place them all in a single basket, and present them at the entrance of the Tabernacle, along with the young bull and the two rams.

4 “Present Aaron and his sons at the entrance of the Tabernacle,[g] and wash them with water. 5 Dress Aaron in his priestly garments—the tunic, the robe worn with the ephod, the ephod itself, and the chestpiece. Then wrap the decorative sash of the ephod around him. 6 Place the turban on his head, and fasten the sacred medallion to the turban. 7 Then anoint him by pouring the anointing oil over his head. 8 Next present his sons, and dress them in their tunics. 9 Wrap the sashes around the waists of Aaron and his sons, and put their special head coverings on them. Then the right to the priesthood will be theirs by law forever. In this way, you will ordain Aaron and his sons."

So is this the beginning of organized religion? No- there had been organized pagan religions already.

And although there are high standards for those who would lead people to God, we are all to be set apart, to be ministers, to be priests, if we know, and love, and follow God.

Sunday, February 7, 2010

I the Lord will be with you

I the Lord will be with you
Is this not what we all want?
God almighty - with us, not against us?

20 “See, I am sending an angel before you to protect you on your journey and lead you safely to the place I have prepared for you. 21 Pay close attention to him, and obey his instructions. Do not rebel against him, for he is my representative, and he will not forgive your rebellion. 22 But if you are careful to obey him, following all my instructions, then I will be an enemy to your enemies, and I will oppose those who oppose you. 23 For my angel will go before you and bring you into the land of the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Canaanites, Hivites, and Jebusites, so you may live there. And I will destroy them completely. 24 You must not worship the gods of these nations or serve them in any way or imitate their evil practices. Instead, you must utterly destroy them and smash their sacred pillars.

25 “You must serve only the Lord your God. If you do, I[j] will bless you with food and water, and I will protect you from illness. 26 There will be no miscarriages or infertility in your land, and I will give you long, full lives.

27 “I will send my terror ahead of you and create panic among all the people whose lands you invade. I will make all your enemies turn and run. 28 I will send terror[k] ahead of you to drive out the Hivites, Canaanites, and Hittites. 29 But I will not drive them out in a single year, because the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply and threaten you. 30 I will drive them out a little at a time until your population has increased enough to take possession of the land. 31 And I will fix your boundaries from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea,[l] and from the eastern wilderness to the Euphrates River.[m] I will hand over to you the people now living in the land, and you will drive them out ahead of you.

32 “Make no treaties with them or their gods. 33 They must not live in your land, or they will cause you to sin against me. If you serve their gods, you will be caught in the trap of idolatry.”

I will protect you - if you follow me...

Can we agree on some rules?

Can we agree on some rules?
Follow these and we will all get along with each other and with God.
OK? Here goes...

1 "Then God gave the people all these instructions[c]:

2 “I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from the land of Egypt, the place of your slavery.

3 “You must not have any other god but me.

4 “You must not make for yourself an idol of any kind or an image of anything in the heavens or on the earth or in the sea. 5 You must not bow down to them or worship them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods. I lay the sins of the parents upon their children; the entire family is affected—even children in the third and fourth generations of those who reject me. 6 But I lavish unfailing love for a thousand generations on those[d] who love me and obey my commands.

7 “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.

8 “Remember to observe the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9 You have six days each week for your ordinary work, 10 but the seventh day is a Sabbath day of rest dedicated to the Lord your God. On that day no one in your household may do any work. This includes you, your sons and daughters, your male and female servants, your livestock, and any foreigners living among you. 11 For in six days the Lord made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and everything in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and set it apart as holy.

12 “Honor your father and mother. Then you will live a long, full life in the land the Lord your God is giving you.

13 “You must not murder.

14 “You must not commit adultery.

15 “You must not steal.

16 “You must not testify falsely against your neighbor.

17 “You must not covet your neighbor’s house. You must not covet your neighbor’s wife, male or female servant, ox or donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.”

18 When the people heard the thunder and the loud blast of the ram’s horn, and when they saw the flashes of lightning and the smoke billowing from the mountain, they stood at a distance, trembling with fear.

19 And they said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen. But don’t let God speak directly to us, or we will die!”

20 “Don’t be afraid,” Moses answered them, “for God has come in this way to test you, and so that your fear of him will keep you from sinning!”

I've heard it say that no one has broken the 10 commandments. They have, rather, broken themselves ON the 10 commandments.

10 rules for life and happiness. Hmmmm...

Holy!

Holy!

God is holy. What does that mean? Perhaps the best visual picture we can get in from today's passage.

Exodus 19

The Lord Reveals Himself at Sinai
1"Exactly two months after the Israelites left Egypt,[a] they arrived in the wilderness of Sinai. 2 After breaking camp at Rephidim, they came to the wilderness of Sinai and set up camp there at the base of Mount Sinai.

3 Then Moses climbed the mountain to appear before God. The Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “Give these instructions to the family of Jacob; announce it to the descendants of Israel: 4 ‘You have seen what I did to the Egyptians. You know how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you will obey me and keep my covenant, you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth; for all the earth belongs to me. 6 And you will be my kingdom of priests, my holy nation.’ This is the message you must give to the people of Israel.”

7 So Moses returned from the mountain and called together the elders of the people and told them everything the Lord had commanded him. 8 And all the people responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has commanded.” So Moses brought the people’s answer back to the Lord.

9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “I will come to you in a thick cloud, Moses, so the people themselves can hear me when I speak with you. Then they will always trust you.”

Moses told the Lord what the people had said. 10 Then the Lord told Moses, “Go down and prepare the people for my arrival. Consecrate them today and tomorrow, and have them wash their clothing. 11 Be sure they are ready on the third day, for on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai as all the people watch. 12 Mark off a boundary all around the mountain. Warn the people, ‘Be careful! Do not go up on the mountain or even touch its boundaries. Anyone who touches the mountain will certainly be put to death. 13 No hand may touch the person or animal that crosses the boundary; instead, stone them or shoot them with arrows. They must be put to death.’ However, when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast, then the people may go up on the mountain.”

14 So Moses went down to the people. He consecrated them for worship, and they washed their clothes. 15 He told them, “Get ready for the third day, and until then abstain from having sexual intercourse.”

16 On the morning of the third day, thunder roared and lightning flashed, and a dense cloud came down on the mountain. There was a long, loud blast from a ram’s horn, and all the people trembled. 17 Moses led them out from the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 All of Mount Sinai was covered with smoke because the Lord had descended on it in the form of fire. The smoke billowed into the sky like smoke from a brick kiln, and the whole mountain shook violently. 19 As the blast of the ram’s horn grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God thundered his reply. 20 The Lord came down on the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses climbed the mountain.21 Then the Lord told Moses, “Go back down and warn the people not to break through the boundaries to see the Lord, or they will die. 22 Even the priests who regularly come near to the Lord must purify themselves so that the Lord does not break out and destroy them.”

23 “But Lord,” Moses protested, “the people cannot come up to Mount Sinai. You already warned us. You told me, ‘Mark off a boundary all around the mountain to set it apart as holy.’”

24 But the Lord said, “Go down and bring Aaron back up with you. In the meantime, do not let the priests or the people break through to approach the Lord, or he will break out and destroy them.”

25 So Moses went down to the people and told them what the Lord had said."

God is holy!

Systems and Structure

Old man Jethro comes to visit Moses, and bring him his wife and 2 kids. They have a great visit. Then Jethro sees what Moses does on a daily basis.

13 "The next day, Moses took his seat to hear the people’s disputes against each other. They waited before him from morning till evening.

14 When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he asked, “What are you really accomplishing here? Why are you trying to do all this alone while everyone stands around you from morning till evening?”"

This is craziness, says Jethro. Why are you the only one doing all the counseling and dispute resolution? Well, I am the only one who can, says Moses!

15 "Moses replied, “Because the people come to me to get a ruling from God. 16 When a dispute arises, they come to me, and I am the one who settles the case between the quarreling parties. I inform the people of God’s decrees and give them his instructions.”

17 “This is not good!” Moses’ father-in-law exclaimed. 18 “You’re going to wear yourself out—and the people, too. This job is too heavy a burden for you to handle all by yourself. 19 Now listen to me, and let me give you a word of advice, and may God be with you. You should continue to be the people’s representative before God, bringing their disputes to him. 20 Teach them God’s decrees, and give them his instructions. Show them how to conduct their lives. 21 But select from all the people some capable, honest men who fear God and hate bribes. Appoint them as leaders over groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 22 They should always be available to solve the people’s common disputes, but have them bring the major cases to you. Let the leaders decide the smaller matters themselves. They will help you carry the load, making the task easier for you. 23 If you follow this advice, and if God commands you to do so, then you will be able to endure the pressures, and all these people will go home in peace.”

24 Moses listened to his father-in-law’s advice and followed his suggestions. 25 He chose capable men from all over Israel and appointed them as leaders over the people. He put them in charge of groups of one thousand, one hundred, fifty, and ten. 26 These men were always available to solve the people’s common disputes. They brought the major cases to Moses, but they took care of the smaller matters themselves."

Organize. Hire. Put systems and structure in place. Trust others. You are not the only one who can do things.

This hit me in church this morning. Jesse Butterworth is a world class musician who has raised up the musicians, organizes the rehearsals, leads worship and is in charge of all music in all venues at our church.

We went Wednesday night. He was sick. He was a no show. We went to church this morning. He was nowhere to be found. Was he still sick? Don't know. Was he on a trip? Don't know. However, the music Wed night was great. The music and worship this morning was awesome. Everything continued without him without a hitch. That is the sign of effective leadership.

So Jethro says goodbye.

27 "Soon after this, Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law, who returned to his own land."

Moses has to learn to live with his wife and 2 kids in this new high pressure environment. He organized the group into layers of leadership to make his life livable again. And life goes on...

Provision

Provision

God promises to provide for us. That is a test of our faith. My brother and I go around and around on this. He has a construction company that depends on winning bids for work. I am in real estate and I depend on people choosing to buy or sell property through me and my team. Does our provision depend entirely on us? Does it depend entirely on God? What part does prayer play? Hard work? Customer satisfaction?

Moses and the 3 million people had a problem.
They had left a very fertile part of Egypt and were now out in a desert. They were no longer farming, but were wandering. How were they going to eat?

None of them guessed that this would go on for 40 years. But God knew. And God had a plan to provide all they needed. No more than they needed, but all they needed.

The story starts with a bad attitude.

Exodus 16
1 "Then the whole community of Israel set out from Elim and journeyed into the wilderness of Sin,[a] between Elim and Mount Sinai. They arrived there on the fifteenth day of the second month, one month after leaving the land of Egypt.[b] 2 There, too, the whole community of Israel complained about Moses and Aaron.

3 “If only the Lord had killed us back in Egypt,” they moaned. “There we sat around pots filled with meat and ate all the bread we wanted. But now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death.”

Then God steps in with a promise to provide.

4 "Then the Lord said to Moses, “Look, I’m going to rain down food from heaven for you. Each day the people can go out and pick up as much food as they need for that day. I will test them in this to see whether or not they will follow my instructions. 5 On the sixth day they will gather food, and when they prepare it, there will be twice as much as usual.”

6 So Moses and Aaron said to all the people of Israel, “By evening you will realize it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 7 In the morning you will see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaints, which are against him, not against us. What have we done that you should complain about us?” 8 Then Moses added, “The Lord will give you meat to eat in the evening and bread to satisfy you in the morning, for he has heard all your complaints against him. What have we done? Yes, your complaints are against the Lord, not against us.”

9 Then Moses said to Aaron, “Announce this to the entire community of Israel: ‘Present yourselves before the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’” 10 And as Aaron spoke to the whole community of Israel, they looked out toward the wilderness. There they could see the awesome glory of the Lord in the cloud.

11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “I have heard the Israelites’ complaints. Now tell them, ‘In the evening you will have meat to eat, and in the morning you will have all the bread you want. Then you will know that I am the Lord your God.’”

13 That evening vast numbers of quail flew in and covered the camp. And the next morning the area around the camp was wet with dew. 14 When the dew evaporated, a flaky substance as fine as frost blanketed the ground. 15 The Israelites were puzzled when they saw it. “What is it?” they asked each other. They had no idea what it was.

And Moses told them, “It is the food the Lord has given you to eat. 16 These are the Lord’s instructions: Each household should gather as much as it needs. Pick up two quarts[c] for each person in your tent.”

17 So the people of Israel did as they were told. Some gathered a lot, some only a little. 18 But when they measured it out,[d] everyone had just enough. Those who gathered a lot had nothing left over, and those who gathered only a little had enough. Each family had just what it needed."

God provided in a miraculous way. There were also instructions. There was a spiritual component. And there was a physical, or activity, component. And there were some rules.

19 "Then Moses told them, “Do not keep any of it until morning.” 20 But some of them didn’t listen and kept some of it until morning. But by then it was full of maggots and had a terrible smell. Moses was very angry with them.

21 After this the people gathered the food morning by morning, each family according to its need. And as the sun became hot, the flakes they had not picked up melted and disappeared. 22 On the sixth day, they gathered twice as much as usual—four quarts[e] for each person instead of two. Then all the leaders of the community came and asked Moses for an explanation. 23 He told them, “This is what the Lord commanded: Tomorrow will be a day of complete rest, a holy Sabbath day set apart for the Lord. So bake or boil as much as you want today, and set aside what is left for tomorrow.”

24 So they put some aside until morning, just as Moses had commanded. And in the morning the leftover food was wholesome and good, without maggots or odor. 25 Moses said, “Eat this food today, for today is a Sabbath day dedicated to the Lord. There will be no food on the ground today. 26 You may gather the food for six days, but the seventh day is the Sabbath. There will be no food on the ground that day.”

27 Some of the people went out anyway on the seventh day, but they found no food. 28 The Lord asked Moses, “How long will these people refuse to obey my commands and instructions? 29 They must realize that the Sabbath is the Lord’s gift to you. That is why he gives you a two-day supply on the sixth day, so there will be enough for two days. On the Sabbath day you must each stay in your place. Do not go out to pick up food on the seventh day.” 30 So the people did not gather any food on the seventh day.

31 The Israelites called the food manna.[f] It was white like coriander seed, and it tasted like honey wafers."

God provided for his people.
And He wanted them to remember his provision to build and renew their faith in later times.

32 "Then Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: Fill a two-quart container with manna to preserve it for your descendants. Then later generations will be able to see the food I gave you in the wilderness when I set you free from Egypt.”

33 Moses said to Aaron, “Get a jar and fill it with two quarts of manna. Then put it in a sacred place before the Lord to preserve it for all future generations.” 34 Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded Moses. He eventually placed it in the Ark of the Covenant—in front of the stone tablets inscribed with the terms of the covenant.[g] 35 So the people of Israel ate manna for forty years until they arrived at the land where they would settle. They ate manna until they came to the border of the land of Canaan.

36 The container used to measure the manna was an omer, which was one tenth of an ephah; it held about two quarts."

God does not necessarily provide MORE than we need, but he does provide WHAT we need.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

I didn't sign up for this!

Did Moses choose to be the leader of the Hebrews?

Yes he did. When he was 40 years old. Self confident. Brash. Pampered. The best education. The best food. The best military training. The best of everything.

He stepped in and single handedly was judge, jury and executioner. (Not that they had our system of justice back then!)

The result was that he was banished from the land - hunted and with a criminal record.

Did Moses choose to be the leader of the Hebrews?

No he did not! Now he is 80 years old. He has been gnawing on sheep leg for food, with the odd bit of desert thicket for greens. He has no visions of grandeur, no grand plan, no confidence in himself or his abilities.

God meets him, tells him he is to lead the people, and almost has to force him into the leadership role.

He has weathered the amazing journey out of slavery into freedom.

Now God directs him back into an isthmus where they camp. And Pharoah and all his army are fast approaching. And they have no escape.

Exodus 14

1 "Then the Lord gave these instructions to Moses: 2 “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. 3 Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ 4 And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you.[e] I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told.

The Egyptians Pursue Israel
5 When word reached the king of Egypt that the Israelites had fled, Pharaoh and his officials changed their minds. “What have we done, letting all those Israelite slaves get away?” they asked. 6 So Pharaoh harnessed his chariot and called up his troops. 7 He took with him 600 of Egypt’s best chariots, along with the rest of the chariots of Egypt, each with its commander. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, so he chased after the people of Israel, who had left with fists raised in defiance. 9 The Egyptians chased after them with all the forces in Pharaoh’s army—all his horses and chariots, his charioteers, and his troops. The Egyptians caught up with the people of Israel as they were camped beside the shore near Pi-hahiroth, across from Baal-zephon.

10 As Pharaoh approached, the people of Israel looked up and panicked when they saw the Egyptians overtaking them. They cried out to the Lord, 11 and they said to Moses, “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? 12 Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!’”

13 But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. 14 The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

The people immediately turn on Moses.

I love his answer: Don't be afraid. God will come through.

Then this:

15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me?"

Moses had his game face on for the masses. Then he got on his knees and said, "God, help!"

If you have been in leadership, that is a sequence which is probably familiar to you!

And you might be saying to yourself, "I didn't sign up for this!!!"

God's Timing. God's Direction

God's Timing. God's Direction.

We need the latter. We chafe under the former.

We love God's promises. In the story today, the promise was given to Abraham, then Isaac, then Jacob. The Hebrews were going to be a great nation. They were going to possess the land.

However, they did not realize that they would be in Egypt for 430 years. Most of that time as slaves.That even after Moses was born, he would live in the palace for 40 years - with them still as slaves. That even after his desire to engage in their deliverance kicked in, another 40 years would pass. With them still as slaves.

Today - another kicker.

17 "When Pharaoh finally let the people go, God did not lead them along the main road that runs through Philistine territory, even though that was the shortest route to the Promised Land. God said, “If the people are faced with a battle, they might change their minds and return to Egypt.” 18 So God led them in a roundabout way through the wilderness toward the Red Sea. Thus the Israelites left Egypt like an army ready for battle."

So now they are free. Would it not seem appropriate to finally, Finally, FINALLY take them to the promised land?

Well - NO, as a matter of fact. They had been slaves, so they were tough. But they were not soldiers. God would take ANOTHER 40 years to get that thing going.

20 "The Israelites left Succoth and camped at Etham on the edge of the wilderness. 21 The Lord went ahead of them. He guided them during the day with a pillar of cloud, and he provided light at night with a pillar of fire. This allowed them to travel by day or by night. 22 And the Lord did not remove the pillar of cloud or pillar of fire from its place in front of the people."

This is great! God Almighty was going to personally, and directly, guide them. All they had to do was follow, and everything would go just great! (Well, not exactly)

Exodus 14
1 "Then the Lord gave these instructions to Moses: 2 “Order the Israelites to turn back and camp by Pi-hahiroth between Migdol and the sea. Camp there along the shore, across from Baal-zephon. 3 Then Pharaoh will think, ‘The Israelites are confused. They are trapped in the wilderness!’ 4 And once again I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after you.[e] I have planned this in order to display my glory through Pharaoh and his whole army. After this the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord!” So the Israelites camped there as they were told."

Here is where God's direction comes in. God purposefully directed them into harm's way! Did you get that? GOD PURPOSEFULLY DIRECTED THEM INTO HARMS WAY!

So, if you have been reading along with us, God's timing is way different than ours. And God's direction is based on His grand plan for the world. It often does not make sense to us.

However, it certainly does make for a grand adventure!!!

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Remember

Remember.
The times when you cried out to God, and eventually He did provide a way.

Remember.
The great spiritual victories.

Remember.
The blessings. Your wedding day. The birth of your child. That encouragement. The time God spoke so clearly.

Remember.

50 "So all the people of Israel followed all the Lord’s commands to Moses and Aaron. 51 On that very day the Lord brought the people of Israel out of the land of Egypt like an army.

1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Dedicate to me every firstborn among the Israelites. The first offspring to be born, of both humans and animals, belongs to me.”


3 So Moses said to the people, “This is a day to remember forever—the day you left Egypt, the place of your slavery. Today the Lord has brought you out by the power of his mighty hand. (Remember, eat no food containing yeast.) 4 On this day in early spring, in the month of Abib,[a] you have been set free. 5 You must celebrate this event in this month each year after the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Hivites, and Jebusites. (He swore to your ancestors that he would give you this land—a land flowing with milk and honey.) 6 For seven days the bread you eat must be made without yeast. Then on the seventh day, celebrate a feast to the Lord. 7 Eat bread without yeast during those seven days. In fact, there must be no yeast bread or any yeast at all found within the borders of your land during this time.

8 “On the seventh day you must explain to your children, ‘I am celebrating what the Lord did for me when I left Egypt.’ 9 This annual festival will be a visible sign to you, like a mark branded on your hand or your forehead. Let it remind you always to recite this teaching of the Lord: ‘With a strong hand, the Lord rescued you from Egypt.’[b] 10 So observe the decree of this festival at the appointed time each year.

11 “This is what you must do when the Lord fulfills the promise he swore to you and to your ancestors. When he gives you the land where the Canaanites now live, 12 you must present all firstborn sons and firstborn male animals to the Lord, for they belong to him. 13 A firstborn donkey may be bought back from the Lord by presenting a lamb or young goat in its place. But if you do not buy it back, you must break its neck. However, you must buy back every firstborn son.

14 “And in the future, your children will ask you, ‘What does all this mean?’ Then you will tell them, ‘With the power of his mighty hand, the Lord brought us out of Egypt, the place of our slavery. 15 Pharaoh stubbornly refused to let us go, so the Lord killed all the firstborn males throughout the land of Egypt, both people and animals. That is why I now sacrifice all the firstborn males to the Lord—except that the firstborn sons are always bought back.’ 16 This ceremony will be like a mark branded on your hand or your forehead. It is a reminder that the power of the Lord’s mighty hand brought us out of Egypt.”

Remember.