Live it! Blog

Friday, 21 May 2021 00:00

Luke 22:7-20

Moses is my name. Yahweh is my God. Israel is my nationality. Being God’s spokesperson is my responsibility.

You may remember that God spoke to me once from a burning bush. He also told me many things to say to Pharaoh. But he said the most to me from Mt. Sinai.

The first thing God said from the holy mountain was probably the most important. It was about the covenant relationship: “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. If you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession (Ex 19:5).

Unfortunately, it wasn’t long until the people built a golden calf and worshiped it. Incredibly, they gave credit to false gods for bringing them out of Egypt! It should have been obvious that the “if” of the covenant relationship was serious business. Apparently, they ignored it. And God responded appropriately, “Leave me alone so that my anger may burn against them that I may destroy them” (Ex 32:10). So much for being the “treasured possession.” (For the rest of the story, see Ex 32:11-35.)

The Israelites ignoring their part of the covenant relationship was especially grievous since even before the exodus out of Egypt God had demonstrated his grace in the most amazing way. It was a night of life and death. The angel of death “passed over.” No blood on the doorpost? Thousands of Egyptian firstborn died. Lots of blood on the doorpost? Thousands of Israelite firstborn lived. “When I see the blood, I will pass over you” (Ex 12:13). 

God created a memorial so the people would never forget what he had done. Passover: Lambs slaughtered. Blood splattered. Bread flattened (made without yeast: no time to let it rise in the rush to flee Egypt). “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you” (Ex 24:8).

Fast-forwarding, I am now speaking as the Moses of the New Testament. Jesus is my name. Yahweh is my Father. The people of the world, my ministry. 

You probably remember sermons I preached, parables I told, and many things I said. But those weren’t my words. “The Father who sent me commanded me what to say and how to say it . . . whatever I say is just what the Father told me to say” (John 12:49-50). Being God’s spokesperson, like the Moses of the Old Testament, was my responsibility too.

One of the most important things I said was one of the last. It was the final time I was together with all the disciples. It was that night again—life and death. Passover. But not the same. It was back to the future. This time, the focus was not bread without yeast, but my flesh: “My body given for you” (Luke 22:19). This time, not the blood of a lamb, but my blood: The new covenant in my blood, which is poured out for you (Luke 22:20). But beware: “Woe to the one who betrays me” (Luke 22:22). 

Now please don’t ignore the “if” of the new covenant: “If you hold to my teachings, then you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (John 8:31-32).

Life Application Questions

  • Is there always an “if” in our relationship with God? Note what God said to Abraham (see Gen 17:1-2). Does God have the right to expect our obedience? And if we don’t? 
  • The supreme act of worship is responding to who God is and what he has done. We do so on a daily basis by faithful obedience. We also do so by regularly remembering his body and blood sacrificed for us. Can we be true Christ-followers if we don’t?

~ dbs

Thursday, 20 May 2021 00:00

Exodus 24:12-18

This scene reminds me a bit of the story of Shadrack, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.  The difference is that Moses, of his own accord, walked straight into the “devouring fire.”  Rather than being thrown into the flames by King Nebuchadnezzar, he was invited into them by God. It’s like he jumped off the edge of a volcano into spewing molten lava.  No wonder the people of Israel thought he must have died when he didn’t show up again for many days.

But he hadn’t died.  What he had done was enter the terrifyingly glorious presence of Yahweh, the one, true God.

That’s not to say that Moses himself hadn’t done this with some apprehension.  Of this same scene, the author of Hebrews wrote: “Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, ‘I tremble with fear’’ (Hebrews 12:22).  Facing his own trepidation, Moses went to God on behalf of the people, who were petrified by the blazing appearance, thunderous voice, and holy command of God.

The author of Hebrews went on to write that we who are followers of Jesus Christ do not approach God this way.  We don’t come to “a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them”(Hebrews 12:18-19).  

Instead, we “come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel” (Hebrews 12:22-24).  

This is an altogether more inviting picture.  And it is made possible because Jesus, like Moses, went ahead of us into the presence of God.  Not only did Jesus go into the Father’s presence, He made a way for us to do the same.  Jesus did this by dying in our place for us, resurrecting triumphantly over death, and then ascending to the Father’s side.  His “sprinkled blood” covers us, washes away our guilt and shame, and makes us worthy to confidently follow the trail he pioneered into God’s presence.

But don’t think that God has changed.  The author of Hebrews warned his readers not to reject this offer of grace...“for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29).  He is worthy of all our respect, our reverent worship, and our lives.

Let’s fear God and cling to Jesus, following him with confident faith into God’s presence. 

KC                  

Wednesday, 19 May 2021 00:00

Exodus 24:1-11

As a newspaper reporter, I’d often find myself at an event, meeting, or scene of an accident. It was vital to get information that could be reported to our readers. They were confident that we’d provide the most accurate, up-to-date information.

Frequently, when I encountered such a situation, access to the general public would be denied. But I would show up, introduce myself as a reporter for the local newspaper and be provided access – to cover a meeting, interview a witness, or talk with an investigating officer. Often, I was recognized by those providing security and allowed admittance.

In many cases, it was an “all access” pass that permitted me close proximity to the action, take photographs as needed, and interview individuals who were in the know.

I’ll guess the Israelites at the base of Mount Sinai wished they had an all-access pass to whatever was going on. They watched as Moses built an altar then sacrificed young bulls as a fellowship offering. He splashed the blood of the animals on the alter and then on or towards the people as a sign of their covenant with the Lord. It was a solemn and momentous occasion. Then Moses, Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu and the 70 elders of Israel trekked up the mountain to meet with the Lord. (Can’t you imagine the stories they had when they returned?)

With the blood sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, we no longer have to wait for someone else to share a story of an event or read the words of God to us. As Dr. John Davis writes, “The believer has an equally glorious opportunity to come into the presence of God in the high of holies because of the blood of Christ. We no longer have to wait at the bottom of the mountain for revelation that has been given to us in the Holy Scripture. Our responsibility is to read and obey (Moses and the Gods of Egypt: Studies in Exodus, BMH Books, 1971, 1986, p. 250).

Tuesday, 18 May 2021 00:00

Exodus 19:9-25

     The gap between the two mountains had a chasm that Troublesome Creek ran through. You could ford the creek when it was running low or you could build a bridge. The solution to the problem was to build a swinging bridge, suspended over the creek; that shuddered with every step. Those first steps of trust, stepping onto that swaying structure were the most difficult, yet this was THE WAY to reach the other side. Sin has created a chasm that has separated us from a Holy God. There is a gap that begins at my sin-filled heart that needs a “solution” to be able to draw near to God. 

    My white knuckles gripped the swinging sides of the bridge, with my heart jumping, at what seemed to be the perilous steps that were needed to cross the bridge. My fear was nothing compared to the Israelites fears and their encounter with God. They shuddered in their fear of the omnipotent God. God’s appearance at Mount Sinai emphasized God’s Holiness and separation from His chosen people. The combination of washing themselves and changing clothes (Exodus 19:10-11, 14-15), witnessing the storm (Exodus 19:16-19), and keeping their distance from Sinai, couldn’t help but impress the people with their own sinfulness and God’s majestic holiness. The gap between God and the Israelites was clear. They weren’t clean enough, they weren’t holy enough. Their sins separated them from a Holy God and they had to keep their distance. When have you felt like God was distant? How have you tried to bridge the gap between you and God?

    The structure of the Old Testament worship emphasized man’s sinfulness and God’s “otherness”. The emphasis was always to keep your distance. The Israelites experience at Mount Sinai underscored their separation and their sin. Attempts have been made to try and bridge this gap between God and man.  Physical structures have been built. People have tried to build the bridge of “good enough”. People have tried to develop their own methods to reach God, but without success. How have you seen man try to bridge the gap between God and man?

    Like the tenuous steps of the fearful on that swinging bridge, we have the opportunity to step into faith and draw near to God. James 4: 8 tells us, “Come near to God and he will come near to you…” God has bridged the distance between God and man, and sinner’s only need to put their faith in God’s bridge over the chasm between God and man. In the New Testament, the emphasis is on the nearness of God. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us…” (John 1:14) In Hebrews we read, (“for the law made nothing perfect), and a better hope is introduced, by which we draw near to God.” (Hebrews 7:19) 

    We can draw near to God through Jesus' sacrificial death and miraculous resurrection, unlike the Israelites who lived in a cloud, (Exodus 19:9), of separation. What steps will you take to draw near to the God of the Universe today? God’s bridge is secure and your footsteps can be confident, no white knuckles required.

lkb

Monday, 17 May 2021 00:00

Exodus 19:1-8; 1 Peter 2:1-12

Whether it’s being picked for the kickball team or selected from an orphanage, we all long to belong. We have been created for relationships—especially in a family. And there's perhaps no greater personal sorrow than to be left out, of not belonging. In today's world, where we're being forced into groups by others who think they know where we belong, it has become more and more difficult to feel that you belong. Somehow, we don't belong anywhere. 

Remember how special it made you feel to be chosen for the team? If you have been adopted, how often have your parents told you how special you are because you were chosen to belong to their family?  How special! But, even then, the knowledge that you were abandoned by your birth parents can be very hard to live with. 

Imagine how the people of Israel must have felt. Suddenly free from the bondage of slavery in Egypt, they are wondering where they belong. There's a strange security even in being a slave—at least you belong somewhere and to someone. But God!

Two months after their dramatic exit from Egypt, the Israelite travelers set up camp in the Sinai desert and their leader is called up the mountain for a face-to-face with Yahweh! And what does God tell Moses? “Tell the people, ‘You are chosen’!” The Exodus account says, “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (vss. 5-6). 

In First Peter the apostle echoes this promise in a more personal way when he writes to us, God's New Testament family, “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's special possession” (2:9) What a reassuring statement! We belong to God! 

The question for us today is "Chosen for what?" Peter's answer is in the rest of verse 9 “. . . that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light” (NIV). The New Living Translation says, “As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. Once you had no identity as a people; now you are God's people.” Now, you belong! Praise the Lord! 

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask for, using my name” (John 15:16).

If you have been chosen, how are you showing the world God's glory?

jbd & gmd

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