Sunday, February 7, 2010

February 7

OT: Ex. 26:1-27:21

I read more about how the tabernacle was to be constructed and furnished, and I continued to be dazzled by the specifics of it all. God makes it painstakingly, overtly clear exactly what He wants this structure to look like. So...what does this tell us about Him?

I have always heard that this passage shows that God is very specific about how He wants to be worshiped. And I have heard that as the Law provided a specific pattern for the Israelites, so Acts and the epistles provide a specific pattern for the church. To some extent, I agree with that interpretation, except that I cannot see Acts and the epistles as a NT corollary to the Law, when it comes to worship forms. Acts and the epistles simply lack the specificity of the Law. God demonstrates with these instructions that He is very clear and specific about things that are important to Him. You just don't see this kind of specificity when you read about the formal worship of the early church. Nowhere in Scripture does God lay out exactly what we are supposed to do in our assemblies the way He lays out what Israelite worship was supposed to look like.

There are some things that God does lay out clearly in the NT, though, and those things are generally more daunting than whether or not we should use instruments or exactly how and when we take the Lord's Supper. I have been increasingly drawn to Jesus' clear, repeated instructions that we are to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow Him, that we are to lose our lives to save them. More and more, I see how much that means that we are to give up our very identity, our hopes and dreams, our daily wishes, our "me" time, our preferred methods of escapist entertainment, our cherished cultural notions, our private philosophies, our financial goals, our everything to God. Every second of our life is to be lived for God. We are to be literally controlled by the Spirit. We are to take every thought captive, to pray continually, to live a life of love, to be defined by love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. In short, for us, to live is Christ and to die is gain.

Like God's tabernacle instructions, those commands are crystal clear to me. Like I said, God is very clear when He wants to be. I believe that the Law was given to put the fear of God into His people. In His myriad, specific, exact instructions, God shows them the perfection that He requires. Thank the Lord that, in His mercy, He gave us a perfect sacrifice to redeem us. However, that Sacrifice made it very clear during His time on earth that He did not come to remove the fear of God. In some ways, through the sheer power of His words and the demanding nature of His commands, I believe He came to instill it in us even more!

NT: Matt. 25:1-30

Jesus continues telling tales warning against complacency, and I can see why. His words about the end times make it sound like they are coming soon. He even says, "I tell you the truth, this generation will certainly not pass away until all these things have happened" (Matt. 24:34). Clearly, I have no idea what on earth that means (and none of the explanations I've heard have been particularly convincing to me). And it appears that most of his disciples interpreted it the same way I would have. They all seem very sure that the end is near. I especially get that vibe from Paul.

And yet, the end wasn't near. And as humans, I think it is really easy to get complacent. We just get tired of living life so radically. We tend to slowly lower our standards. At least, that is kind of what I've seen, in my own life and in others. These parables serve as reminder to us to be faithful to God throughout our lives. They also remind us that one way God expects us to be faithful is through our resources, our "talents." God gives us gifts for His glory. They are to be used for Him.

I'm totally preaching to myself here. More and more, I have come to view everything I have as God's. But I still have strongholds, things that I don't want to give up, or things that take "too much effort" to use to His glory. I am trying to let His Spirit guide me and show me how to turn everything over to Him.

Psalm 30: 1-12

Maybe it is because Jesus says it, but I found myself particularly drawn to verse 5 today: "Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O Lord, the God of truth." That is a good line to pray.

Prov. 8: 1-11

Wisdom and the Adulteress continue their verbal stand-off. The Adulteress has been luring her prey, and now it is Wisdom's turn to give it another go. I mentioned recently that I think it is interesting how both of them are portrayed as so active. I see that in life. I really do feel that both Sin and Wisdom call out to us all the time. The problem is that sometimes it is hard to discern one from the other, especially when it comes to hearing advice or hearing philosophies from our culture. Sometimes the cultural ones are so ingrained in us that they seem "right," when really, they are the opposite of true Wisdom.

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