My Grandmother who raised me did not drive so as a child we had to walk and take the bus or someone would pick us up for a ride. It was often frustrating because when you rely on others you can’t just get up and go, you have to wait! Since I was eighteen I have been driving and I just love being able to go where I want when I want.
My wife is from the island of St. Lucia and when we travel there we rely on others to get us where we need to go. It is one of the most difficult places to drive because of steep hills and narrow roads and we want to save money by not renting a vehicle. We traveled there this past April and we said, “enough is enough,” we are renting a car, and we are just going to learn to drive on the difficult roads. It was so nice to arrive on the island and just get going and go wherever we wanted when we wanted.
Here in Exodus 33, the Lord says to Moses, “Get going, you and the people you brought from Egypt.” It is nice when the waiting season is over and it is time to get going, it is exciting! The children of Israel had been going around in circles, but the time was over. We get stuck in circles but if we ever learn from our mistakes and develop our faith and trust in God, we will get going. God saved us and has called us to greater things! He wants us to get past ourselves and be used to drive out the enemies in our land. All we have to do is put off our stubborn and rebellious ways and start dressing in His likeness.
The key to moving forward in life with God is found in Exodus 33:11; “”Inside the Tent of Meeting, the Lord would speak to Moses' face to face, as one speaks to a friend.” You can’t walk with someone whom you don’t know or understand. God working in and through our lives can only transpire to the degree of our friendship with Him. All the great men and women in the Bible had one main thing in common, they were friends of God.
In the latter part of verse 11, it says Joshua would remain behind in the Tent of Meeting. He was the one to take Moses place and lead the children of Israel into the Promised Land because He was like Moses spent quality time with God face to face, which is the main qualification of becoming a legend of faith
I remember when I went to my second college, it was far away from home where I didn’t know anyone. Initially, it was exciting, but it soon got frightening, I always had my grandmother who raised me to rely on and now I had to take care of things on my own. It was good for my personal growth but I made bad choices that could easily have been life-altering regarding my future. Thank God that He saved me within a year of when I moved out, for I had hit rock bottom, and if it wasn’t for Him I would likely not be around.
Moses in Exodus 33:12-23 is having a conversation with the Lord, humbly admitting that he cannot move forward without the presence of God going before Him. This is the key to moving with God, humility! The fear of the Lord where one is afraid to move without God.
We too often move ahead and only cry out to God when we think we need Him. Is He is just our lifeline when we are drowning? God should not be like a life insurance plan when we only really turn to Him when we are close to dying. Many believers attend church, give tithes and offerings, pray sometimes, even read scripture occasionally, but regarding the Lord directing their lives, they are far from it.
Moses is telling the Lord, you are telling me where you want me to go but you are not telling me whom will be with me. The Lord assures him that it is He himself that will be with him. Moses in verse 13, asks the Lord to continue to look favorably upon him and help him know His ways and understand Him fully and remember that the nation is His very own people.
This conversation is amazing between Moses and the Lord, it is how friends communicate not acquaintances. The Lord had referred occasionally to the children of Israel as Moses’ people, not His, it came from being so disappointed in their behavior. So it is funny how Moses reminded the Lord that they are truly His people.
Moses humbly acknowledged that without the presence of the Lord, he is no different than anyone else, it is His presence alone that sets them apart. The Lord responds saying “I indeed will do what you have asked, looking favorably on you, for I know you by name.” “Moses responded, then show me your glory.” The Lord’s goodness passes before him, and Moses covered by the crevice of the rock and the hand of God witnesses the Lord pass by him from behind.
Without the shed blood of Jesus, no man could see God face to face. Now that we are in Christ we can experience the fullness of His Glory face to face, communing with Him as His beloved sons and daughters, His personal friends. Let us like Moses each day ask our Heavenly Father to go before us, and that His presence and favor be upon us, as we manifest His glory throughout the earth.
Sunday June 10th
Here’s a little riddle for you about cows:
Do you know how long cows should be milked?
The same way that short cows should be milked!
In Exodus 32 the people of Israel are going to literally have a cow – one that they made for themselves!
Now when the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people assembled about Aaron and said to him, “Come, make us a god who will go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
Look how quick they were to just abandon Moses and all that he had taught them about worshipping the true God of Israel. But that’s how people can be – very fickle!
Now the heat is on Moses’ brother Aaron, and he falls into what one writer calls “Male Answer Syndrome”, which is defined as “a tendency of men to answer a question even when they don’t know the right answer.”
I mean, think about it – there is only one correct answer that Aaron can possibly give, and that answer should be “No, I can’t do that, it would be wrong.”
He should have reminded them of what God had already said in Exodus 20 verse 4 “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth below…”
But instead of giving THAT answer, Aaron gives THIS answer:
2 Aaron said to them, “Tear off the gold rings which are in the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” 3 Then all the people tore off the gold rings which were in their ears and brought them to Aaron. 4 He took this from their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool and made it into a molten calf; and they said, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt.” 5 Now when Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made a proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a feast to the Lord.” 6 So the next day they rose early and offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and to drink, and rose up to play.
Here is how the Jewish Bible commentary explains all of this:
“The Jews needed a tangible representation of the Divine presence in their midst.” They had seen the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire and they wanted some form of visual reminder that God was still with them.
Now remember that, during all of this time, Moses was up on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments.
So God tells Moses to go back down immediately because: "Your people have messed up!"
7 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, “Go down at once, for your people, whom you brought up from the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves. 8 They have quickly turned aside from the way which I commanded them. They have made for themselves a molten calf, and have worshiped it and have sacrificed to it and said, ‘This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt!’”
Moses, as a human being, has been completely unaware of what’s been going on down at the bottom of the mountain. But God, who knows all things, is VERY aware of what’s happening among the people that He has chosen and rescued from Egypt. And God offers Moses an interesting choice:
9 The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, and behold, they are an obstinate people. 10 Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.”
God is offering Moses a reboot! He’s saying, “Listen Moses, you and I both know that this group of Hebrews has been nothing but trouble – grumbling, complaining, rebelling, and now they’re building idols to worship!
How about I just wipe them all out and we start over? I’ll start again with you the way I did with Abraham and with Noah. I’ll find you a new wife and start fresh with your new descendants. What do you think about that?”
But Moses actually has grown to LOVE these people, despite all of their complaints and issues, which is the mark of a true leader. So he answers God this way:
11 Then Moses entreated the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does Your anger burn against Your people whom You have brought out from the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? 12 Why should the Egyptians speak, saying, ‘With evil intent He brought them out to kill them in the mountains and to destroy them from the face of the earth’? Turn from Your burning anger and change Your mind about doing harm to Your people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, Your servants to whom You swore by Yourself, and said to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants as the stars of the heavens, and all this land of which I have spoken I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’” 14 So the Lord changed His mind about the harm which He said He would do to His people.
Moses’ argument is basically, “Yeah God, but that would look pretty bad to the Egyptians if you wiped out the entire Hebrew nation after rescuing them, don’t you think?”
Now it says in verse 14 that God changed His mind, but I wonder if God wasn’t just testing Moses, to see what he would say, the same way that God tested Abraham but never really intended to let Abraham sacrifice Isaac.
15 Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand, tablets which were written on both sides; they were written on one side and the other. 16 The tablets were God’s work, and the writing was God’s writing engraved on the tablets. 17 Now when Joshua heard the sound of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a sound of war in the camp.” 18 But he said,
“It is not the sound of the cry of triumph,
Nor is it the sound of the cry of defeat;
But the sound of singing I hear.”
Joshua has been faithfully waiting for Moses, somewhere up on the mountain. He hears all of the commotion down below and tells Moses, “It sounds like a battle is going on down there!” But Moses knows the truth, because God has already warned him, so he tells Joshua, “That’s not a battle you’re hearing, it’s a party!”
19 It came about, as soon as Moses came near the camp, that he saw the calf and the dancing; and Moses’ anger burned, and he threw the tablets from his hands and shattered them at the foot of the mountain.20 He took the calf which they had made and burned it with fire, and ground it to powder, and scattered it over the surface of the water and made the sons of Israel drink it.
If Moses had truly talked God out of His anger, maybe he should have planned to deal with his own anger too. Because he goes off the rails when he sees what the people have done. He smashes the Ten Commandments, melts down the golden calf, mixes the melted gold with water, and makes those rebellious Israelites drink it!
Then he has a few choice words for his brother:
21 Then Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you, that you have brought such great sin upon them?” 22 Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn; you know the people yourself, that they are prone to evil. 23 For they said to me, ‘Make a god for us who will go before us; for this Moses, the man who brought us up from the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ 24 I said to them, ‘Whoever has any gold, let them tear it off.’ So they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf.”
Did you catch that hilarious lie? “I don’t know how it got there! I just threw a bunch of gold jewelry into the fire, and the next thing I knew – this calf appeared!”
Yeah, right! Now Moses is going to lay out a challenge:
25 Now when Moses saw that the people were out of control—for Aaron had let them get out of control to be a derision among their enemies— 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Whoever is for the Lord, come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered together to him. 27 He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Every man of you put his sword upon his thigh, and go back and forth from gate to gate in the camp, and kill every man his brother, and every man his friend, and every man his neighbor.’” 28 So the sons of Levi did as Moses instructed, and about three thousand men of the people fell that day. 29 Then Moses said, “Dedicate yourselves today to the Lord—for every man has been against his son and against his brother—in order that He may bestow a blessing upon you today.”
The sons of Levi pledge their loyalty to Moses, and then they help carry out Moses’ judgment against the other Israelites who participated in the idol worship. But where were these guys when the false worship was going on? Why didn’t they speak up then or try to put a stop to it?
After his anger has cooled down, Moses prays to God for forgiveness for the rest of the people:
30 On the next day Moses said to the people, “You yourselves have committed a great sin; and now I am going up to the Lord, perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” 31 Then Moses returned to the Lord, and said, “Alas, this people has committed a great sin, and they have made a god of gold for themselves. 32 But now, if You will, forgive their sin—and if not, please blot me out from Your book which You have written!” 33 The Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against Me, I will blot him out of My book. 34 But go now, lead the people where I told you. Behold, My angel shall go before you; nevertheless in the day when I punish, I will punish them for their sin.” 35 Then the Lord smote the people, because of what they did with the calf which Aaron had made.
This whole story is one of those that we can too easily file under the category of – “That’s what those Hebrew people did back then, but I’ve never worshipped any golden calves!”
The thing is - idolatry can take a lot of different forms.
And I want to give you an interesting perspective that one writer shared. He wrote this:
We try to make idolatry hit home by naming some modern practices or things as idols: a hobby, a job, a person. A contemporary idol is something or someone that replaces God in our lives. We set something else in God’s place. Idols replace God. That’s how we typically talk about idolatry.
But that’s not the way the story of the golden calf describes idolatry. God isn’t simply being replaced with the image of the golden calf. There’s something else going on. Let’s examine this more closely:
At Aaron’s request, the people give up all their golden jewelry. Aaron melts it down and forms a calf. But the calf isn’t supposed to replace the God of Israel. Instead, the people perceive the calf as a way to worship the God of Israel.
This is what they say when they see it: “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” The calf isn’t actually a replacement for God; rather, it is meant to help the people in their attempt to worship the true God. The calf simply functions as a focal point for God’s presence in the midst of the people.
Aaron is very clear about this. He says to the people in verse 5, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” When he says “the Lord” he uses the same name that God gave to Moses at the burning bush—YAHWEH. This golden calf is in some strange way supposed to help the people of Israel worship Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob…the God who just saved Israel from Egyptian slavery.
To these people the calf is simply a creative aid for the worship of the Lord; it helps them make God feel present, tangible, and real. For them it served the same purpose as having a worship team or waving banners. It was intended to get them into God’s presence, or more accurately, it was intended to make God’s presence appear before them.
But this is what idolatry does - It ultimately distracts us from a true relationship with God. It’s an exciting spectacle that distracts us from the reality of the true God who is always present, who is always near us, who will never leave us nor forsake us.
The thing is that we can all recognize very easily that God is not a golden calf. That image has nothing to do with God’s presence, even if they thought they were worshiping the true God.
But God isn’t a lot of other things that we sometimes use to try to connect with His presence.
For instance, God isn’t a certain worship song or a certain worship band or a certain style of worship or a certain volume of worship, but sometimes we act like God is only present when the worship is to our liking.
When we think that way, we make worship an idol.
And God isn’t necessarily in our flag waving or our shouting or even our praying in tongues. Those things CAN BE ways to connect with God, but if we start acting as though we MUST do those things in order to feel God’s presence, we turn those forms of worship into idols.
But isn’t speaking in tongues and prophesying good?
Well yes, it certainly can be, but as the Apostle Paul reminds us in 1st Corinthians 13:1-2
“If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.”
What are noisy gongs and clanging cymbals made of?
Metal, just like a golden calf!
Tongues, prophesy, and any other act or gesture that is separated from love is nothing but an idol, because it causes us to miss the true presence and image of God.
And what is the true image of God? We were told back in Genesis 1:26 Then God said, ‘Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness.’
Where do you go to find God’s true image? Where do you go to find God’s true presence? Where do you go to know that God is still with you? You don’t have to go anywhere. Turn to your neighbor. Turn towards any other human being. That’s how close the image of God is.
And as John told us in 1 John 4:20
If someone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for the one who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
Here’s my suggestion as to how to tell whether your favorite form of worship is genuine or if it has become an idol:
Does it make you love other people more?
It’s that simple. Because if you come away from some supposed time spent with God and you can’t get along with your brothers and sisters in Christ, then you weren’t truly worshipping god – you were worshipping your worship time. And that thing you were doing has become an idol in your life.
Let me close out this message with this wonderful quote that sums it all up very clearly:
“True worship is a life-long education in how to dwell with God and our neighbors at every moment of your life. True worship isn’t an enthusiastic moment of escape; instead, true worship teaches us how to be present, truly present, in a world held in together only by God’s grace. True worship is a slow, patient path of discovery where we come to see people, even difficult people, as the image of God’s beautiful presence.”
Priests of the Lord (Exodus 30)
As priests of the Lord, we are called to meet with God daily and offer him prayers. We are not to pray to try to get God to move on our behalf, rather, we are to listen and then pray as God instructs.
Priests are called to be a bridge between God and man. God will bring people and problems to our mind that we are to stand in atonement so mercy can be given.
As a community of believers, those of age are to offer contributions to the work of the Lord. We can no longer just think of ourselves and our own needs, we are part of a global body, each person's need is our personal need. We should never just shut someone out because they ask for help, we should always seek the Father how He would have us respond.
God desires to use us as His Tent of Meeting, so the world can encounter God. To do this we must assure daily that we have confessed our sins so that we are cleansed and consecrated as vessels of God. Taking the time to be consumed in the presence of the Anointed One so that His anointing flows through us in all we say and do. Those who are with God have His sweet holy aroma manifesting from their pores.
Work & Rest (Exodus 31)
We are the Father's chosen vessels, no matter our job, we are to be filled with His Spirit, so that we walk in great wisdom, ability, and expertise. We are called to be master Craftsmen, anointed by God to bring glory to His name in all we say and do. We are working with God in the restoration and redemption of all things.
The mindset that the holy is only what takes place within the four walls of a church building is an old covenant mentality. "The earth is the Lord's and the fullness thereof." Jesus in the parable of talents says "occupy until I come." Our occupation is our ministry!!!!
So ask the Father each day to anoint you as you go to work and watch and see the wonders He does in and through you.
The 2nd half of Exodus 31 deals with the Sabbath, so we go from work to rest. We need to have the balance of rest or our work will suffer. The Sabbath as Jesus said was made for man. Rest is something we need to receive to have the refreshing necessary to remain strong both spiritually and physically. It is a reminder that God is our source in order to do all things well.
Sabbath is a commandment given by God, the day is up to us, but if we don't follow this command we give the enemy a foothold. No man is above the natural order of the bodies need to be recharged. The Sabbath in the new covenant means perpetual resting in Christ, trusting in the Lord at all times, but we also need a full day of relaxation, where we rest the body and feed our spirit.
Sunday May 27th
A little boy went up to a priest, stared at his white clerical collar and asked, “Why do you dress so funny?”
The priest replied, “This is kind of like the uniform that I wear when I go to work.”
The child pointed to the collar and asked, “Do you have a boo-boo on your neck?”
The priest pulled out the white plastic insert and showed it to the little boy and said “No I’m just fine. Do you know what this is for?”
The little boy stated, “I sure do.”
The priest said, “OK then, you tell me what it’s for.”
The little boy then replied, “It kills fleas and ticks for up to six months.”
In Chapters 28 and 29 of Exodus, God establishes a “uniform” for the priests of Israel and then he sanctifies them for His service. We aren’t going to read every verse within these two chapters, but let’s see how things start out in Exodus 28:1-4 as God gives these instructions to Moses:
“Then bring near to yourself Aaron your brother, and his sons with him, from among the sons of Israel, to minister as priest to Me—Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar, Aaron’s sons. 2 You shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother, for glory and for beauty. 3 You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments to consecrate him, that he may minister as priest to Me. 4 These are the garments which they shall make: a breastpiece and an ephod and a robe and a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash, and they shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons, that he may minister as priest to Me.
There were six specific articles of clothing for the priests. Each one had to be made of woven gold, with blue, purple and scarlet material and fine twisted linen.
And God wanted these items made by “skillful persons” who had a God-given gift of wisdom to make beautiful things. So don’t ever think that the ability to make or create something isn’t a spiritual gift. It most certainly is a gift from God, just as much as prophecy or preaching.
The breastplate had two onyx stones engraved with the names of the sons of Israel. Below those were four rows of stones; ruby, topaz, emerald, turquoise, sapphire, diamond, jacinth, agate, amethyst, beryl, onyx and jasper.
The breastpiece also contained the Urim and the Thummim, which were stones that the priests used to seek the Lord prophetically.
Around the hem of the linen garment there were bells of gold and a pomegranate. And those bells were very important!
Because verse 35 says:
“It shall be on Aaron when he ministers; and its tinkling shall be heard when he enters and leaves the holy place before the Lord, so that he will not die.”
I don’t know about you, but I think I would be jingling those bells of a regular basis just to remind God that I was there on official business!
Then verse 36-38 tell us about the turban:
“You shall also make a plate of pure gold and shall engrave on it, like the engravings of a seal, ‘Holy to the Lord.’ 37 You shall fasten it on a blue cord, and it shall be on the turban; it shall be at the front of the turban. 38 It shall be on Aaron’s forehead, and Aaron shall take away the iniquity of the holy things which the sons of Israel consecrate, with regard to all their holy gifts; and it shall always be on his forehead, that they may be accepted before the Lord.”
You could say that the turban was there to keep the priest’s minds focused on the things of God.
That clothing for the priests is the main focus of chapter 28 and then chapter 29 focuses on the consecration, or ordination of the Priests, starting with these verses:
“Now this is what you shall do to them to consecrate them to minister as priests to Me: take one young bull and two rams without blemish, 2 and unleavened bread and unleavened cakes mixed with oil, and unleavened wafers spread with oil; you shall make them of fine wheat flour. 3 You shall put them in one basket, and present them in the basket along with the bull and the two rams. 4 Then you shall bring Aaron and his sons to the doorway of the tent of meeting and wash them with water. 5 You shall take the garments, and put on Aaron the tunic and the robe of the ephod and the ephod and the breastpiece, and gird him with the skillfully woven band of the ephod; 6 and you shall set the turban on his head and put the holy crown on the turban. 7 Then you shall take the anointing oil and pour it on his head and anoint him.8 You shall bring his sons and put tunics on them. 9 You shall gird them with sashes, Aaron and his sons, and bind caps on them, and they shall have the priesthood by a perpetual statute. So you shall ordain Aaron and his sons.”
The remainder of the chapter is instructions regarding the offering of sacrifices for all of the priests, along with one more mention of the garments in verses 29-30
“The holy garments of Aaron shall be for his sons after him, that in them they may be anointed and ordained. 30 For seven days the one of his sons who is priest in his stead shall put them on when he enters the tent of meeting to minister in the holy place.”
This is all very interesting from a historical perspective, but is there any correlation between this discussion of priestly garments and our status as New Testament followers of Jesus? I think there is.
For starters, we are told in 1 Peter 2:9
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light”
We, as believers, are clearly seen as a part of the priesthood in God’s Kingdom. But does our priesthood have a “uniform” like the Old Testament priests? Yes it does!
Let’s go to Ephesians 6:10-17
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of His might. 11 Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore, take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm.14 Stand firm therefore, having girded your loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, 15 and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
How many pieces made up the clothing of the priests of Israel?
There were six: “a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a tunic of checkered work, a turban and a sash.”
How many pieces make up our armor? There are also six:
Those priests were girded – We are girded!
They had a breastplate – We have a breastplate!
Keep in mind that this breastplate of righteousness isn’t our own righteousness, it’s the righteousness of Jesus!
Look at Romans 4:2-8“For if Abraham was justified by works, he has something to boast about, but not before God. 3 For what does the Scripture say? “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness.” 4 Now to the one who works, his wage is not credited as a favor, but as what is due. 5 But to the one who does not work, but believes in Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is credited as righteousness, 6 just as David also speaks of the blessing on the man to whom God credits righteousness apart from works:
7 “Blessed are those whose lawless deeds have been forgiven,
And whose sins have been covered.
8 “Blessed is the man whose sin the Lord will not take into account.”
So there are some similarities in our garments, but there are also a few differences:
They had a turban – We have a helmet!
We also have a sword and a shield. These differences should remind us that we are not just priests before the Lord– we are also warriors for His Kingdom!
And we also have the Gospel of Peace on our feet because we are not meant to stay standing still – we are meant to be moving!
Sometimes it’s hard to see ourselves as deserving such a lofty title or role like “priest” or “priestess”, especially if we’ve experienced rejection and condemnation from others somewhere in our past.
But let me assure you that God sees you as a precious part of the priesthood of believers, no matter what other people have ever told you about yourself!
Look at 1 Peter 2:4-5
“And coming to Him as to a living stone which has been rejected by men, but is choice and precious in the sight of God, 5 you also, as living stones, are being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Does it matter if you have been rejected by men?
Absolutely not! Jesus was rejected by men too!
Look at Psalm 118:22
The stone which the builders rejected has become the chief corner stone.
Who is that speaking about? Jesus! How do we know that? Because Jesus quotes it back to the chief priests and scribes in Mark 12:10
Have you not even read this Scripture: “The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone?”
In Isaiah 53:3 we see that the Messiah was not only going to be rejected – He was going to be DESPISED!
He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
I want you to grasp this today:
It doesn’t matter what people think of you – only matters what God thinks of you!
You are not who other people say you are – You are who God says you are!
Let’s look at how the Apostle Paul explains it in 1st Corinthians 1:26-31
“For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; 27 but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, 28 and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, 29 so that no man may boast before God. 30 But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, 31 so that, just as it is written, “Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.”
If you never considered yourself to be wise, or mighty, or noble – If you’ve always thought of yourself as weak, or foolish, or despised by other people – then according to what these verses are saying you are just the person that God wants for His priesthood!
By choosing people who are not as strong, not as brilliant, not as popular as what the world admires, God is giving us an opportunity to proclaim that it’s all Him, and therefore He gets all the glory! Can we be okay with that?
Why Give? (Exodus 25:1-9)
We have all given something to someone out of feeling obligated or received something from someone that we know they didn’t give it from their heart.
When it comes to giving to God if it isn’t from the heart He does not accept it. We can give financially, volunteer our time, share our abilities, at our local church but God will not honor us if we have impure motives.
The bible says to give cheerfully if we cannot do that we might as well not give at all. It is wrong for Preachers to try to manipulate people to give, for that money will not be blessed anyway.
Finances and service are required for advancing God’s Kingdom but yet having the right heart must be at the core. God does not need our treasure, talent or time, but He desires our heart. What we do with these elements reveal the condition of the heart.
Here in Exodus 25, The Lord told Moses to tell the people of Israel to bring their sacred offerings and to accept the contributions from all whose hearts are moved to offer them. These offerings as it says in verse eight for the purpose of building the Lord a holy sanctuary.
An acceptable offering is one that has no expectation in return. It is a free will offering! I am not giving in order to get, I give because I put my trust not in money but in God and I am grateful for all He is and has done.
Patterned In The Image of God (Exodus 25:10-40)
We are the temple of God our lives are the offering. Our talent, treasure, and time make up who we are and that is what we promised to give when we made Jesus Lord of our lives. Those who truly live surrendered lives are those in whom God inhabits.
The building description of the ark of the covenant, table, and lamp stand, have one main ingredient in common, GOLD.
Gold represents Glory! The physical structure of the temple in the Old Testament has the revelation for us to understand the spiritual structure of the temple in the New Testament.
1 Corinthians 3:16 says that don’t you know you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s spirit dwells in your midst?
As temples of God, we are called to be filled with His glory. Like gold, we have been mined out of the dirt and purified by fire and now shine brightly with the presence of the living God.
We who walk in covenant relationship with God experience the ark of His presence. He meets and talks with us daily.
2 Cor. 6:16-18, “What agreement can exist between the temple of the living God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be My people.” Therefore come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.” And: I will be a Father to you, and you will be My sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.”
We see here we must live a separate life, unclean things and idolatry must be done away with if God’s glory is going to fill our lives. Just as the bread of the presence was to remain on the table at all times, God wants to be Lord of our lives at all times. Too many Christian live double lives, in and out, not consistent. It is time to renounce all darkness and live continually in the light. To do this as it says in verse 40 we must be sure that everything in our life is according to the pattern God has revealed in scripture.
Does all aspects of your life line up with the Word of God? This is the defining factor of how much of His Glory exceeds from your being.
Tabernacle of God (Exodus 26)
Here in Exodus 26, we see the blueprint for the creation of the Tabernacle. In the New Covenant, the Temple of God is made up of human flesh, patterned like the Old Testament Tabernacle after the Word of God, as living epistles. The Tabernacle had so many specific dimensions and we are to have every part of our life formed into the image of God.
The difficulty with this is that we must destroy that which is not a reflection of Him. Every traditional and cultural frame that does not line up with the Word of God removed. Every hurt and pain surrendered so that healing and deliverance can follow. Then and only then can we carry the full weight of God's Glory!
Removing Darkness (Exodus 27:20-21)
God, the Father tells Moses to command the people of Israel in Exodus 27:20-22 to bring pure oil of pressed olives to keep the lamps in the tabernacle burning continually.
Jesus speaks in Matthew 5:14-16 that His disciples are the light of the world, a city on the hill that cannot be hidden.....so let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.
In the Old Testament, the glory of God-centered around a building called the Tabernacle. In the New Testament, those who abide in Christ are the Tabernacle, He is the oil within us that allows us to shine with the glory of God.
Light is used to remove darkness, that is our call, not to escape from the world, but to go into it, countering evil with good, so that the Kingdom of light destroys the kingdom of darkness.
If your light is going dim, humble yourself before God and let the Holy Spirit recharge you, so you can shine brightly once again.
Sunday May 13th
Little Johnny came home from church all excited, and his mother asked him what he had learned in Sunday school.
"Well Mom”, Johnny said, “our teacher told us how God sent Moses behind enemy lines on a rescue mission to lead the Israelite people out of Egypt."
“Oh, that sounds interesting”, his Mom said.
Johnny nodded his head and continued, "And when they got to the Red Sea, he had his army build a pontoon bridge over the water and all the people walked across safely. Then, he radioed headquarters for reinforcements. And they sent jet bombers to blow up the bridge and drown the Egyptians, but all the Israelites were saved".
His mother crossed her arms and asked, "Now, Johnny, is that really what your teacher taught you?"
Little Johnny looked down at the ground and shook his head. He knew that you should always tell the truth to your mother. Then he said,
"Well, no Mom, but if I told you the story the way the teacher did, you'd never believe it!"
I think we can all agree that the deliverance of the Israelites from Egypt was a powerful supernatural event. But God was just getting started with the journey that He was taking them on. And even more supernatural event were about to unfold here in Chapter 24:
Then He said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu and seventy of the elders of Israel, and you shall worship at a distance. 2 Moses alone, however, shall come near to the Lord, but they shall not come near, nor shall the people come up with him.”
Just like with the 12 apostles, there was an inner circle who went with Moses, and it included Moses’ brother Aaron, Aarons sons Nadab and Abihu, and seventy elders. We are going to discuss them more in a little bit but let’s see what unfolded next:
3 Then Moses came and recounted to the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice and said, “All the words which the Lord has spoken we will do!” 4 Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord. Then he arose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain with twelve pillars for the twelve tribes of Israel. 5 He sent young men of the sons of Israel, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as peace offerings to the Lord. 6 Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and the other half of the blood he sprinkled on the altar. 7 Then he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people; and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” 8 So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
So twice within these six verses, the people proclaim - “All that the Lord has spoken we will do.”
And then Moses confirms their promise by them with “the blood of the covenant”, and that blood puts the covenant into effect.
If we look at Hebrews 9:19–22 we see this:
“For when every commandment had been spoken by Moses to all the people according to the Law, he took the blood of the calves and the goats, with water and scarlet wool and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book itself and all the people, 20 saying, “This is the blood of the covenant which God commanded you.” 21 And in the same way he sprinkled both the tabernacle and all the vessels of the ministry with the blood. 22 And according to the Law, one may almost say, all things are cleansed with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”
The blood signified a cleansing from sin so that the people could enter the covenant, and it reminded them that the penalty for breaking the covenant was death. Jesus proclaimed the fulfillment of the Old Covenant and the establishment of a New Covenant at the Last Supper when He said: “This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins” (Matthew 26:28)
So before Laurie takes us through the remainder of this chapter I want to take us back to that list of names of those who were in Moses’ inner circle. Because you may remember two of those names from our study of Leviticus.
Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them. 2 And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.
So these two sons of Aaron, members of Moses’ inner circle, broke the covenant that they had sworn to uphold, and they lost their lives. The question that we need to ask is twofold. First, how did they let that happen? And second how could they have avoided it? The answer is found in the glory! Here’s what happened next:
9 Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and under His feet there appeared to be a pavement of sapphire, as clear as the sky itself. 11 Yet He did not stretch out His hand against the nobles of the sons of Israel; and they saw God, and they ate and drank.
12 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to Me on the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets with the law and the commandment which I have written for their instruction.” 13 So Moses arose with Joshua his servant, and Moses went up to the mountain of God. 14 But to the elders he said, “Wait here for us until we return to you. And behold, Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a legal matter, let him approach them.” 15 Then Moses went up to the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16 The glory of the Lord rested on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; and on the seventh day He called to Moses from the midst of the cloud. 17 And to the eyes of the sons of Israel the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a consuming fire on the mountain top. 18 Moses entered the midst of the cloud as he went up to the mountain; and Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
“O afflicted one, storm-tossed, and not comforted,
Behold, I will set your stones in antimony,
And your foundations I will lay in sapphires.
Now above the expanse that was over their heads there was something resembling a throne, like a sapphire stone in appearance; and on that which resembled a throne, high up, was a figure with the appearance of a man.
2 Corinthians 3:3
being manifested that you are a letter of Christ, cared for by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.
After these things I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven, and the first voice which I had heard, like the sound of a trumpet speaking with me, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after these things.”
in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they.
And having been made perfect, He became to all those who obey Him the source of eternal salvation
Americans grow up in a culture that promotes independence which makes it tough to understand how to operate dependent on the body of Christ. If we are going to move with God as His body, we must learn to walk together with the other parts, or there will not be a move of God.
Exodus 23:1-13; deals with justice. We are to consider others more than we consider ourselves. Every decision we make we need to think it through making sure it is what is best for each person that it affects. The majority of the world is swayed by what is most popular. Children of God are only moved by what is just and right, no matter what persecution may follow.
Passion for God equals compassion for humanity, which produces empathy. Jesus, tempted in all ways, can relate to all people. Those who walk with God identify with the hurt, pain, loss, and anger of others. They don't pass by or cause greater oppression but do whatever it is in their means to help. Knowing that if it wasn't for the grace of God they as well would be in a similar situation.
After dealing with how to walk in harmony with each other, God commands Moses that three Festivals must be celebrated each year; the feast of unleavened bread, harvest, and final harvest.
It is hard to celebrate with people unless you get along with them. When people enjoy each other they look for any opportunity to come together and have a good time. God wants His people celebrating it is a way to bring glory to God for all He has done. The world longs for a good time, they love to be able to forget their worries and just let loose. Those who walk with God have joy, unspeakable, and running over. We don't need a chemical substance to feel good. Our drink is living water, and it is a spiritual well deep within our soul.
When I was a college student, I partied just about every night, I needed alcohol in order to get out of my shell. I had a lot of good times but I had a lot of regretful moments as well. I had a girlfriend who invited me to a gathering of young adults at a theatre when I got there it was packed with people singing about Jesus. They seemed so happy and it caused me to wonder because of my view of Christians as they were boring and serious, obsessed with the end of the world. I went to Denny's afterward with a bunch of them and they stayed up all night, laughing, and enjoying themselves yet without any chemical substances. This blew me away and was a serious seed planted in my heart that eventually led me to know the Lord for myself.
When church gatherings are full of people who love life and love each other, celebrating the goodness of God, it will be very attractive. We will no longer have to pull and push our family and friends to come to church it will be a wanted destination. People want to get free of their cares, they want to feel loved and accepted. We as leaders need to create a celebratory environment and the church will grow.
It is a scary world; mass shootings, terrorist attacks, nuclear threats, police brutality, causing many people to be crippled by fear. The good news is there is a safe place called the presence of the Lord.
The Lord provides protection to those who journey with Him. Someone may say if this is true then why do bad things sometimes happen to Godly people? Jesus did say that those who follow Him will experience suffering. There is certain trouble that cannot be avoided for it goes along with the Lord’s plans. Example of this is when Paul was shipwrecked and bitten by a deadly snake for in him not dying people opened their hearts to God. Unnecessary pain can be avoided if we as it says in Exodus 23:21, “pay close attention to Him, and obey His instructions.” This is only possible if we follow Proverbs 3:5 “acknowledge God in all your ways and He will direct your path.”
We cannot take our life for granted, Satan is waiting for an opportunity to devour us. We must proceed cautiously not haphazardly thinking God will just rescue us anytime we get ourselves in trouble. When we are on God’s right path, His angels go before us and behind us, opposing our enemies, destroying anything in the way of us fulfilling His will. The enemy will try to distract us and get our eyes off of God by tempting us in his evil ways but as we choose to serve the Lord and not walk double minded He will bless us with all we need and protect us from unnecessary harm.
As our faith increases our enemies will fear us and scatter as we go forth to possess God’s promises. The Lord will enlarge our boundaries and expand our influence as we remain completely surrendered to His will.
Praise Tabernacle - A Missions Centered Church (Celebrating 40 years)
Sunday April 22nd
We live in a nation governed by laws. But some of those laws might leave you wondering who thought them up. Here are 12 of the strangest laws on the books:
In Alabama - residents are committing “unlawful bear exploitation” if they train a bear for the purpose of bear wrestling.In California - Any frog that dies during a frog-jumping contest can't be eaten.In Iowa - Anyone trying to pass off margarine as real butter is guilty of a misdemeanor. (I can’t believe it’s not butter! I can’t believe I’m going to jail for saying that!)In Minnesota, any game in which participants attempt to capture a greased pig is illegal.
In New Hampshire -It's illegal to collect seaweed at nightIn New Mexico - "idiots" can't vote in state elections.In North Carolina, bingo games can last only up to five hours.
In Oregon - Leaving a container of urine on the side of the road is a Class A misdemeanor.In South Carolina - A male over the age of 16 can't falsely promise to marry a woman.
In Utah, no one may hurl a missile at a bus — except "elected or appointed peace officers"
In West Virginia - Anyone who hunts with a ferret will face a fine of $100 and 10 days in jail.In Wyoming, you can't "detach" more than one-half of a sheep's ear.
As we look at Exodus chapter 22, which is collection of various additional laws for the people of Israel, we may find that some of these could strike us as odd also!
Verse 1 says:
“If a man steals an ox or a sheep and slaughters it or sells it, he shall pay five oxen for the ox and four sheep for the sheep.”
That one makes a lot of sense, because paying back five times more than you stole should help to discourage thievery. But this next one might seem a bit trickier:
2 “If the thief is caught while breaking in and is struck so that he dies, there will be no bloodguiltiness on his account. 3 But if the sun has risen on him, there will be bloodguiltiness on his account. He shall surely make restitution; if he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft.
Here’s what’s being expressed by this law - The killing of a burglar at night did not incur guilt on the home owner, since confronting the burglar in the dark could endanger the homeowner’s life. But a daytime thief was easier to identify and stop, therefore killing him was not justified.
Now verse 4 I can’t quite understand, if it’s connected to verse 3:
4 If what he stole is actually found alive in his possession, whether an ox or a donkey or a sheep, he shall pay double.
Do you see why I’m confused? Who has to repay double, the dead thief? (I never realized that there were zombies in the Bible!)
There must be something in Hebrew grammar that I just can’t figure out. So let’s simplify this one to something simple: “Don’t steal stuff because someone might kill you!”
Verses 5 through 15 are all about property rights regarding fields, animals, fire, accidents, and lending stuff out:
5 “If a man lets a field or vineyard be grazed bare and lets his animal loose so that it grazes in another man’s field, he shall make restitution from the best of his own field and the best of his own vineyard.
So if your goat eats my crops, you owe me your crops!
6 “If a fire breaks out and spreads to thorn bushes, so that stacked grain or the standing grain or the field itself is consumed, he who started the fire shall surely make restitution.
I’m sure that Smokey the Bear liked that one!
7 “If a man gives his neighbor money or goods to keep for him and it is stolen from the man’s house, if the thief is caught, he shall pay double. 8 If the thief is not caught, then the owner of the house shall appear before the judges, to determine whether he laid his hands on his neighbor’s property. 9 For every breach of trust, whether it is for ox, for donkey, for sheep, for clothing, or for any lost thing about which one says, ‘This is it,’ the case of both parties shall come before the judges; he whom the judges condemn shall pay double to his neighbor.
So if you lend me your hammer and I tell you “someone stole it from me” when you ask for it back, but you see it in my toolbox, then I owe you two hammers!
10 “If a man gives his neighbor a donkey, an ox, a sheep, or any animal to keep for him, and it dies or is hurt or is driven away while no one is looking, 11 an oath before the Lord shall be made by the two of them that he has not laid hands on his neighbor’s property; and its owner shall accept it, and he shall not make restitution. 12 But if it is actually stolen from him, he shall make restitution to its owner. 13 If it is all torn to pieces, let him bring it as evidence; he shall not make restitution for what has been torn to pieces.
One time my roommate asked me to watch his cat, and it got hit by a car because I let it outside near a busy street.
It wasn’t “torn to pieces” but it was definitely flattened, and I had some “splaining” to do when my friend got back from his trip!
14 “If a man borrows anything from his neighbor, and it is injured or dies while its owner is not with it, he shall make full restitution. 15 If its owner is with it, he shall not make restitution; if it is hired, it came for its hire.
This one seems to say that if you and I are together, and I’m throwing a Frisbee with your dog, and he run into a tree and dies, that’s not my fault, because you were there and you didn’t tell me to stop.
I think we can see why these laws were important for the people of Israel, because in a farming culture, crops and animals were very crucial to their survival.
And if there weren’t laws regarding how to handle property disputes, then chaos could occur, possibly leading to violence.
Even in our court system today, there are 2 distinct types of courts – criminal courts, which are for law-breakers, and civil courts to settle property issues and other personal matters.
Then verse 16 deals with a very sensitive kind of interpersonal issue:
“If a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged, and lies with her, he must pay a dowry for her to be his wife. 17 If her father absolutely refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money equal to the dowry for virgins.”
This verse was probably the origin of what came to be known as “shotgun weddings”. You got the girl pregnant, so now you need to “do the right thing” and marry her. That is, unless her Daddy says “get lost, you loser!” In that case, just make sure that you pay your child support!”
The next three verses list different reasons why people might deserve capital punishment:
18 “You shall not allow a sorceress to live.
19 “Whoever lies with an animal shall surely be put to death.
20 “He who sacrifices to any god, other than to the Lord alone, shall be utterly destroyed.
Those are three very different crimes, but each one was considered to be a justifiable cause for the death penalty!
The next section, from verses 21-24, has to do with how to treat widows and orphans, and those who are foreigners:
21 “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 22 You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. 23 If you afflict him at all, and if he does cry out to Me, I will surely hear his cry; 24 and My anger will be kindled, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.
God expected the people of Israel to be kind to strangers, since they had been strangers in Egypt. And that last verse surely shows us how serious God is about the treatment of widows and orphans!
If we look at James 1:27 we can see that this concern remained important to God all the way through the New Testament:
“Pure and undefiled religion in the sight of our God and Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself unstained by the world.”
God’s concern for those who are weak and vulnerable has never changed.
God continues to show his concern for the treatment of the poor in verses 25-27:
25 “If you lend money to My people, to the poor among you, you are not to act as a creditor to him; you shall not charge him interest.26 If you ever take your neighbor’s cloak as a pledge, you are to return it to him before the sun sets, 27 for that is his only covering; it is his cloak for his body. What else shall he sleep in? And it shall come about that when he cries out to Me, I will hear him, for I am gracious.
Do you see what those verses are saying? You can’t take away what little a poor person has and claim that its the interest on what they owe you.
Verse 28 equates God’s authority with those whom He has placed in positions of authority:
28 “You shall not curse God, nor curse a ruler of your people.
This verse is actually quoted by Paul in Acts 23:1-5
“Paul, looking intently at the Council, said, “Brethren, I have lived my life with a perfectly good conscience before God up to this day.” 2 The high priest Ananias commanded those standing beside him to strike him on the mouth. 3 Then Paul said to him, “God is going to strike you, you whitewashed wall! Do you sit to try me according to the Law, and in violation of the Law order me to be struck?” 4 But the bystanders said, “Do you revile God’s high priest?” 5 And Paul said, “I was not aware, brethren, that he was high priest; for it is written, ‘You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people.’”
You see, Paul didn’t realize that Ananias, who had ordered the guards to smack him, was the High Priest.
As terrible as his actions were, Paul knew that he must still respect the authority of his position.
And it was Paul who wrote in Romans 13:1 “Every person is to be in subjection to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those which exist are established by God.”
The next two verses are a reminder not to withhold tithes and offerings from God:
29 “You shall not delay the offering from your harvest and your vintage. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me. 30 You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep. It shall be with its mother seven days; on the eighth day you shall give it to Me.
In our PBI course on Theology and Life we talked about how God doesn’t “need” out tithes, but we “need” to tithe in order to be in a correct relationship with God.
And the final verse in this chapter is what I like to call “The Vegetarian Verse”!
31 “You shall be holy men to Me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh.”
Actually, it says more than that, which is why we always tell you to read every verse in its full context!
The complete verse says:
31 “You shall be holy men to Me, therefore you shall not eat any flesh torn to pieces in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.
Or a more modern translation might be – “Don’t eat roadkill – it might make you sick!”
When we look at this list of laws, we can understand that God was trying to guide His people towards holy, healthy, righteous living. These rules were for their good, not just to frustrate them.
As New Testament followers of Jesus, we also are being asked to not only know God’s ways, but to do them.
We see this in James 1:22-25
“But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; 24 for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was. 25 But one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man will be blessed in what he does.”
It’s not enough to hear God’s Word or to know God’s Word – we are called to DO what God’s Word says!
I want you to think about what verse 25 says about “the perfect law, the law of liberty”
Liberty means freedom. And laws tend to limit or restrict my freedom. So how can there be such a thing as “the law of liberty”?
I believe it means this:
God gave me a free will. I can use it to obey Him or to disobey Him.
If I use my will to disobey God, I may feel that I am walking in freedom, but I am actually walking in bondage to my own selfish desires.
The only way that I can walk in true freedom is to take my free will and turn it back over to God – to submit my will and my ways to the higher calling of His will and His ways!
When I am able to say “Not my will, but yours” then I become truly free – Free from selfishness and self-centeredness – free to serve – free to truly live!
That’s why James describes the law of liberty as “the Perfect Law”
I don’t know about you, but God’s law suits me perfectly!
It is one thing to leave slavery behind it is another to stop thinking like a slave. We have all been slaves to sin, but God made it possible to be free of sin through Jesus Christ, yet this work is a process, called the renewing the mind. Exodus 21 deals directly with the physical issue of how to treat a slave fairly. This leads to the question is God okay with slavery?
When something in scripture does not line up with the nature of God we must study it in depth for truth from the Word will never violate the nature of God.
President Monroe sent African slaves back to Liberia after the abolishment of slavery, but the problem was these slaves had not been educated well. Upon their arrival, they began to treat the African nationalists like they had been treated by their slave masters, which led to a conflict that has cost the lives of thousands and has not been repaired to this day.
Not everything in scripture reflects the way of heaven, because of the frailty of mankind God permits certain things though it isn’t His will. One example of this is divorce God permits it but He hates it. God understands the evil of mankind and driven by greed and lust issues such as slavery exist, even at this time.
In the time of Exodus slavery was common everywhere, throughout history, people have exploited others for the lust of money. God is in the process of transforming lives and systems. We see this throughout the Old Testament the way to treat slaves transitions from Exodus through Deuteronomy into Leviticus where eventually the command is that no Israelite is allowed to be a slave.
When a society built around slavery suddenly stops then economic destruction will follow. God began the shift out of slavery in the Wilderness but it was a process. While slavery still existed the way slaves were to be treated was completely different than how the Egyptian slave masters treated their slaves. We see that slaves were to be set free after seven years of service with their spouses, yet given the choice to serve them for life if that is what they wanted.
Paul addresses this with the story of Philemon in the New Testament. First, it must be understood that the whole structure of Rome was based on slavery. Slaves in these times were often treated better than free men, they were assured of food, clothing, and shelter, slaves could even be doctors, musicians, teachers, artists, etc.
Slavery was not addressed in the New Testament directly because it would have caused chaos. Paul does not order Philemon to free Onesimus or teach that slavery was evil. But by ordering Philemon to treat Onesimus as a brother, the abuse of slavery was eliminated.
If we are going to move with God we must treat people as God would want them treated. God created all people in His image. To treat someone poorly because of their ethnicity is a direct affront to God and His most prized creation. How do you feel if someone mistreats your child? God feels the same and will not allow it to go unpunished.
We are called to establish the justice and righteousness of God throughout the Earth. Child soldiers, forced prostitution, and forced labor are forms of slavery and evil and it is our responsibility as stewards of the Earth to eradicate it.
It is one thing to draw near to God it is another to walk with Him. People often experience God's presence but living in His presence few reaches. The difficulty with abiding in Christ is not God, Himself, but people. Whether purposely or by accident, we trip up by the actions of others.
Ask someone why they stopped going to church, the fault being God will be less common. The blame game goes to church leadership or it's members. The difficulty we have as leaders is trying to get people to get along enough where a significant move of God can take place. God is sovereign but He has chosen to move through His body and if the parts are not together, His power has limits.
Here in Exodus 21:12-36, God instructs the children of Israel regarding how to respond to accidents or malicious acts. God wants His people to get to a place that nothing or nobody moves them but by God. Whether something someone does is by accident or not we need to keep our focus on the will of God. Not that we are not to seek out forgiveness, but we must maintain our surrendered attitude if we are going to continue to walk with God.