Monday, March 27, 2017

Year 7, Day 86: Exodus 37

Theological Commentary: Click Here

As we read through this chapter, we are easily reminded of three lessons in our not so distant past.  First of all, this chapter continues to be full of obedience.  The items for worship are made as God desires.  They aren’t improved upon.  They aren’t casually made.  They are made to God’s standard with precision and accuracy.  There is joy in this kind of obedience.

Second, you will notice that the implements that are made are all made with rings and poles.  They are made for movement.  God mission is a mobile mission.  We are to follow God wherever he goes. 

Third, notice that the poles are overlaid with gold.  They are overlaid with gold to help keep them intact and unaffected by the weather and time.  Not only is God’s mission on the move, but it is always on the move.  It is always moving and shifting to wherever there is a heart and a place that is open to Him.  God wants us to be prepared to join Him now, tomorrow, and deep into the future.  Our commitment to Him is lifelong, even generational.  God’s work will continue long after the death of the workmen who fashioned these things and the people who donated the material resources.


Sunday, March 26, 2017

Year 7, Day 85: Exodus 36

Theological Commentary: Click Here

As I say in my commentary from a number of years ago to which I link above, this chapter and the next few chapters to come feel a bit light in content.  We are going to get much of the same story day after day.  We are going to hear how the workers did the work of the Lord as the Lord described.

On one hand, you wonder why these stories are necessary in a book like the Bible.  What wisdom of God do we gain in these verses?  It’s easy to feel this way, isn’t it?

However, so long as chapters like these don’t dominate the landscape, which they don’t, they do provide us with a very important perspective that would otherwise be lost.  God doesn’t just give directives, people follow them.  There are plenty of people before us who were obedient to the calling of their God.  They followed directions to the best of their ability.  They are an example to us.

Furthermore, notice that there was no scramble for the needed supplies.  When we are genuinely doing the work of the Lord, He will provide.  Moses actually had to cut the people off.  I think this is something that we lose in today’s culture.  How many times do we ear spiritual leaders or those under them begging and pleading for money?  The reality is that if God’s will is for something to happen, God will put the resources within His people to accomplish it.  Yes, things need to be advertised.  Moses had to tell the people what was needed.  But Moses didn’t have to beg and plead and exhort.

I wonder how many times we have a human agenda that we assert as God’s will.  We put the label of “God’s Work” upon it.  Yet it struggles to find support.  We get angry and say that the people aren’t listening or they are tight with their money.  Perhaps it is the leaders or the people who are behind the movement who aren’t listening to God.  God has the ability to resource and supply those things that are His will.


Saturday, March 25, 2017

Year 7, Day 84: Exodus 35

Theological Commentary: Click Here

The Hebrew people reach into their supplies and give to their Lord so that the tabernacle may be built as desired by the Lord.  There are many people who look into these verses and see a predecessor to the tithe.  In fact, I count myself among them.  There is good precedent in these verses for us to give to the work of the Lord.

However, I want to take a step further back from the concept of the tithe.  I found it incredibly interesting to hear how the Bible talks about the response of the people.  First of all, it was a willing offering.  Second, the Bible says that everyone went home and found what they had.  As I read that, I thought that it was worded rather interesting.  Wouldn’t they know what they had?

I don’t know about you, but I typically know what I have.  This is even more true about wealth and valued possession.  But this passage reads as thought the people went home to explore what they had and then to give it to the Lord.

Naturally, I realized the reason for my gut feelings.  Remember that the Hebrew people were slaves in Egypt.  They had nothing.  The wealth that they gained was taken from the Egyptians as they fled Egypt and followed God.  The wealth that they had gained was not earned and accumulated slowly over a lifetime but amassed all at once!  Some people had this.  Other people had that.  They needed to hear what was needed and then go home and investigate what they could offer.

I think that this really takes the passage to a deeper level of giving than just that of the tithe.  The wealth out of which these people give is only in their hands because God put it there in the first place!  When we give, we give back to God what He has placed into our possession.  We aren’t giving to God what we have earned in our own righteousness.  We give back to God what He deemed to put into our hands.


Friday, March 24, 2017

Year 7, Day 83: Exodus 34

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Moses goes up the mountain and gets the stone tablets v 2.0.  Once more Moses gets to hear God expound upon his Law.  Maybe the extra run through was good for Moses.  Maybe Moses’ anger was proof that he really needed to hear the Law again himself.  Either way, it gives us some time to recap as well.

As I read through this passage today, I was reminded about the early commandments.  God is our God.  We are to have no other.  He wants to be our primary focus, our only true source of power.  He is a jealous God, seeking to take His rightful place at the pinnacle of our existence.

In this context, we also hear about God driving out the native people of the Promised Land.  Mind you, it doesn’t say that God will eradicate them – at least not in this passage.  They will simply be driven out before the Hebrew people.  The land is a part of the covenant for the Hebrew people.

What I love about this particular passage and how it talks about the native residents of the land.  God doesn’t reject them because of who they are.  God rejects them because they are a danger to godly people.  They are capable of tempting God’s people away from Him into idolatry.  Their nature isn’t any different than the Hebrew people.  Their nature is corrupt and sinful, just like the Hebrew people.  But the Hebrew people are willing to repent. The Hebrew people are willing to see their mistakes and humble themselves and accept correction.  The native people of the Promised Land are a danger to corrupt God’s people.  Therefore, God will drive them out.

I think that it is very important to see this point.  The Hebrew people aren’t more righteous.  They aren’t genetically superior.  They are simply the people with whom God chose to work.  The Canaanites aren’t an inferior people; they are simply a people who are likely to tempt God’s people away fro Him.

As we will see while reading through the Old Testament, any person of any genealogy can be grafted into God’s people.  It isn’t about race or color or heritage.  It is about one’s heart and its inclination towards God.


Thursday, March 23, 2017

Year 7, Day 82: Exodus 33

Theological Commentary: Click Here

This chapter is a favorite chapter for the people who consistently argue that human beings can change God’s mind.  I’m not saying that I disagree with them here.  However, I tend to argue that this chapter, like so many others in the Bible, has a bit of a deeper meaning below the surface.  This chapter is about so much more than Moses’ ability to change God’s mind.  Let’s probe into it, shall we?

What Moses is doing in this chapter is being a mediator.  Please note that this is actually a skill that God desires of Moses.  God appointed Moses to be their leader.  God wants Moses to be their representative for them in His presence.  Therefore, the first thing that we can learn about this chapter is that Moses is being obedient to God.

Furthermore, when Moses stands up for the people and argues for them, he is demonstrating his love for them.  Moses is doing more than being obedient to God; Moses is demonstrating God’s character to the people.  Moses is showing love for a people when the easier path would be to let God do what he has planned.

What Moses teaches us is more than just being able to alter the mind and will of God.  Moses teaches us what it means to be a leader.  A leader advocates for the mercy of those who are under them because he loves them.  A leader balances this with obedience to God.  Put this way, what Moses is doing here is giving us a foretaste of the greatest spiritual leader of all time.  Moses is foretelling Christ.

Think about it.  Doesn’t Christ argue for His enemies when He says, “Forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing?”    Doesn’t Christ look to the Father and ask to have this cup lifted from Him yet submit to the ultimate will of the Father?  This chapter is not as much about Moses’ attempt to change God’s mind as it is about laying down an example of great spiritual leadership, the kind like we will ultimately see in Jesus Christ.


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Year 7, Day 81: Exodus 32

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Exodus 32 is a real head-shaker of a chapter.  While it is not nearly as popular of a story as the burning bush or the ten plagues or even the crossing of the Red Sea, it is still certainly well known.  What makes it a head-shaker is the horrible way that human beings act in this chapter.

First of all, we can easily talk about impulsiveness.  Moses is gone for a reasonably short while.  While he is gone, there is all kinds of storms and lightning and reason to realize that Moses is up on the mountain with God.  But what do the people say?  “We don’t know what happened to that guy who brought us out of Egypt.”  In other words, we want leadership here and now, and if you can’t be here in the moment then we’re moving on to something else.  Doesn’t that sound rather modern?  Perhaps modern impulsiveness isn’t such a modern concept at all.

Next, of course, there is the blame game.  The people blame Moses for being away.  Aaron blames the people for making him create the golden calf.  Moses comes back before God and blames the people for making him angry.  I’m not sure that anyone takes any responsibility for anything that they do in this chapter at all.

Naturally, this leads us to anger.  Moses is so enraged by the behavior of the people that he smashes the work of the Lord.  The Law of the Lord, which God had literally just inscribed, Moses smashes in his rage.  Remember that Moses has had other anger issues in the past, by the way.

We shouldn’t also forget the human propensity to whitewash sinful behavior.  When asked about the golden calf, Aaron essentially says, “We took some gold, threw it in a fire, and out popped the calf!” This makes it sound so innocent, unplanned, benign.

Given all of this, let’s look at God’s behavior.  God’s wrath burns.  He wants to destroy the people in their rebellion.  That’s how bad the sinfulness was!  However, in His wrath He is forgiving.  There are consequences, of course.  Yet, the people live.  God deals with them in their sin, through a plague, even!  But God still forgives.  He imparts grace upon them and gives them an additional chance.  We may shake our heads at humanity, but we must acknowledge the sovereignty of God’s love.


Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Year 7, Day 80: Exodus 31

Theological Commentary: Click Here

Bezalel and Oholiab.  Whenever I read these two names I always get a sense of foreboding, as if something bad is about to come.  But in reality this chapter is just the opposite.  Bezalel and Oholiab aren’t bad things, they are good people!

These are two craftsmen that God has filled with His Spirit.  They have been given the skill to construct everything as God has directed to Moses.  They have been given the desire within themselves to do the best job possible.  They have been given the ability to be creative and enjoy their trade.

However, there is more to it than simple artistry.  God tells Moses that He has given them wisdom and understanding and knowledge.  In fact, notice that these attributes are listed first, even!  Their artistic skill is nestled within their greater understanding and wisdom.

What does this wisdom do for them?  This wisdom gives them the ability to see their work in the community.  This wisdom and understanding allows them to not just follow directions but see the greater vision that God is creating within the people.  They can see their role and how they are going to play a part in God’s work.

So often we are a people who focus on skill.  We want to do things well.  However, how often do we take the time to stop and examine our skill within the community?  How often do we look to our greater role in what God is doing through us and in the community around us?  How often do we ask ourselves not just whether or not we are doing our job well but whether the job we are doing is actually a greater part of the community around us?  That’s a very important question that I often fail to ask, especially when I am in a place in my life where things are going well.