Monday, December 17, 2007

Famous Last Words: Exodus

Welcome, readers, both new and old-er. :)

I'm sticking with this project to comment on the last verse of each "book" of the Christian Bible. It was both humbling and energising that my first foray into this drew the attention of a number of Jewish friends, in particular Yehudi01 who has undertaken the same project. I'm looking forward to this as it unfolds; to have a Jewish and a Christian perspective on the same verse ... I dunno, it's just kinda cool!

(In fact, my friend is now miles ahead of me and has posted up to Numbers. I'm trying not to read his posts, until I've at least drafted mine, so I'm only up to his Exodus post ... and it is not only very good reading but highly motivating).

Anyway, let's get into it...

***

So the cloud of the LORD was over the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, in the sight of all the house of Israel during all their travels.
Imagine living like this, the supernatural plainly visible, the actual presence of the Lord manifestly right there in front of you 24/7!! I sometimes skip over the words on the page, but when I stop to place myself in the situation, man! For creatures like us whose primary sense is sight, this would be breathtaking.

As I contemplate it this morning, the verse speaks to me of 3 things: reassurance, culmination and inclusivity.

Reassurance.
While I imagine the cloud and the fire to be terrifying in some ways, in others I imagine it to have been reassuring. Looking at it would make me think "The Lord is with us".

In Psalm 91 and John's Gospel 14:15-17, He promises to remain with us, to be there for us constantly. Whether in dramatic or in non-dramatic ways, whether seen or unseen, His presence is promised.

But we don't have the fire, the cloud today. We don't live in Exodus 40: 38. And in our reality, it can be so easy to doubt, even to fear abandonment.

So I ask you: how do you look for signs of His presence around you? What has He provided you personally by way of reassurance and how can you utilise that to turn your heart and your faith toward Him afresh today?

He is here. He is near.

Culmination.
Now that the Tabernacle had been set up according to His command, the Lord showed that He accepted their obedience and fulfilled His earlier promise to remain with them in Person.

Some preachers tell us that when we obey the revealed Word, the commands, then we will release the storehouses of heaven over our life, releasing healing, being showered with finances and possessions, having doors open before us, etc etc.

And that's one way that He may choose to bless us, with seasons where these things happen. But I don't think the Lord is into transactional relationships: I can't imagine the Most High saying you scratch My back, I'll scratch yours.

It strikes me from this passage, that the main purpose of His instruction and His commands are to prepare the way for Him to act, to fulfill His own will. Whether that action is dwelling near to us, or doing a miracle, or filling our souls with peace, or humbling us for a time, or suddenly turning our heart to forgive another ... those actions are His choice.

That said, obedience culminates in the Lord's action. But again the highlight of this is not so much what He does as it is that we get to know Him! Jesus Himself (John 17) intimated that the goal of life is to know "the only true God". Obedience makes this possible.

Inclusivity.
I picked this word up in my life as a professional trainer/presenter. And I love it.

Everyone in the nation of Israel could see the cloud and the fire. Everyone. It was not for Moses or for priests alone. Everyone from leader to follower, from ol' codger to little baby, both man and woman could see!

The Lord desires that all would be aware of Him, be in awe of Him, draw near to Him.

My position in life does not determine whether or not I can know God; what counts is that I turn my heart to perceive and know Him. Whether He is near or afar is no longer the issue. The issue is: which way am I walking, which way am I facing? I can turn and seek Him, I can turn and know Him, I can turn and 'see' Him.

***

Today, I turn my heart afresh to You, Lord. I believe Your promise to never leave nor forsake me. I see Your hand at work in my life and my family and I thank You for it. I recall what You have asked me to do and to be and once again I turn my strength toward Your instruction and command so that You would do what You will in me and through me.
Amen.

6 comments:

Yehudi01 said...

Fantastic perspective, Pete! Dang, maybe I should wait until you post yours, and then I can cheat a little! Just kidding! I appreciated how you broke it down into 3 thoughts, and all 3 were right on. I look forward to Vayikra!

Jeremiah said...

What a terrific project. It's always very interesting to see what comes out when someone works on a particular scheme of bible study.

Pete Aldin said...

Daniel, the feeling's mutual. See my comments on your post.

Jeremiah, I loooooooooove projects. They seem to bring far more gold to the surface than just doing what's always been done.

Ann said...

My Husband who is jewish has started studying the scripture since Yehudi has started posting this. Thanks Pete for the project! Please keep it going he can't wait to see what G-d has put on your heart!

Pete Aldin said...

Ann, that's terrific. Will definitely keep it going, though it's summer holidays here and with kids home, well, you know how busy it gets. My goal is to post at least once a week on this theme and Yehudi has certainly helped me to become more committed to following through on this.

Blessings!

Jon said...

Yes, i love that word too; "inclusivity'. The Theophany there for 'all' to see, gain strength from, be inspired by, and as you've said, be reassured by. Imagine if all who encountered God in one way or another received and appropriated that...I dare say the church universal would look a little different? Oh, ok. It starts with me right? Can't i leave it to someone else and simply follow them rather than The Lord? ;-)