Thursday, November 2, 2023

Exodus 33: 18-23 Please Show Me Your Glory

 Exodus 33:18-23 NASB  Then Moses said, "I pray You, show me Your glory!"  (19)  And He said, "I Myself will make all My goodness pass before you, and will proclaim the name of the LORD before you; and I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion."  (20)  But He said, "You cannot see My face, for no man can see Me and live!"  (21)  Then the LORD said, "Behold, there is a place by Me, and you shall stand there on the rock;  (22)  and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by.  (23)  "Then I will take My hand away and you shall see My back, but My face shall not be seen."

God.  Have you contemplated Him?  Thought deeply about how He looks, how being with Him in close proximity would affect you?  There are so many things about God that stretch our minds and exceed our ability to comprehend.  Though we're made in His likeness, we're so distant in our current state from our creator's glory.

Moses was called by God to lead.  Though reluctant, in  obediece he did lead.  He heard from  God and followed His instruction through the wilderness as they escaped Egypt and transitioned to the promised land.  In the wilderness God called Moses to the top of Mt Sinai to literally lay down the law.  God talked with Moses but hid Himself in a cloud.  As it turns out this was for Moses' own good.  Eventhought Moses was selected specially for the job he was not able to be too close.  After spending a long time (at least 40 days and nights) on the mountain hearing from God all the ways he should instruct the people, Moses made his bold request.  "Please show me your glory" Exo 33:18.

I think Moses expressed a desire many of us have.  Simply said, it is to "Know" God in a greater way than we do at a particular point in time.  Typically (for me anyway) this is in seasons of closeness.  That is, times when I'm intentionally focused on the Lord, His Word, my obedience to Him.  I'm easily distracted and I'm betting I'm not alone.  But in these times I do want to know God in a deeper way and on its face I think that's what Moses wanted to.  So he asked.

And God didn't reject his request but at the same time He didn't give Moses all he had requested for his own good.  "You cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live".  What?  Our God who wants us to come to Him then says, but only so close because you'll die?  Yep!  Without going through the whole story, Moses like the rest of us decendents of Adam have within us the stain of sin.  That taints us and makes all of us unable to stand in the presence of the Glory of God.  We would die just as God says Moses would die.  More on that in a minute.

So, God does honor the request but with the appropriate limitations and safeguards necessary to keep Moses safe.  He puts Moses in the cleft of a rock shielded to a degree.  He passes by but puts His hand over Moses location to guard him from seeing too much.  Then as He passes He removes His had to allow Moses a glimpse of His back.  In so doing Moses was afforded a special but partial encounter with God.

As a result Moses literally glowed.  "Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because of his speaking with Him." Exo 34:29b  That guarded exposure to God made Moses skin glow.

So God gave Moses answer to his request not in full but in part according to what was best.  He does that for us too because He simply knows better.  We're instructed to pray according to His will, but we are limited in our ability and on our best day fall short.

The bigger issue is what can be done about this separation problem.  Why is it neither we nor Moses can stand it his full glory?  How can we connect with God when being fully in his presence would kill us?  Out of mercy, the largest fathomable expression of His grace He sent us His son Jesus.  Jesus cleared the path for us to come fully into God's presence.  He paid the price for us.  We who believe that to be true accepting this grace gift are seen not of Adam's lineage but that of Jesus.  And we will one day see God in his full glory in heaven.  AMEN!

Monday, April 11, 2022

Romans 5:6-10 Personally, for Me!

Romans 5:6-10 ESV  For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.  (7)  For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— (8)  but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  (9)  Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.  (10)  For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

Having been a church goer all of my life the story of Easter and particularly the work of Christ on the cross paying the price for my sin (see Romans 6:23) has been engrained thoroughly.  Even as a young child the fact that Jesus died for my sin was centric to my belief.  It would be years later that my understanding deepened.

To say this another way, I was aware and understanding of what was actually accomplished.  Jesus died for the sins of the whole world, me included.  The conditions of accessing this benefit were derived completely on acceptance by faith that it was true.  I did, of course but found that I lumped myself in with the rest of "The whole world" and in that sense seemed to be just a small part of what Jesus did.

It was not until later in life and while studying the Word that a deeper and more significant understanding came my way.  It was more significant in a personal way that is.  I don't remember the exact date or time or whether this was in a group study, a Sunday School class or during my own study that this gem of my faith entered my consciousness.

It is articulated in Scripture in 1 John 2:2 which reads, "He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world." 

Well, there it is - do you see it?

It ends with where my faith had been seated all those years.  Jesus was the propitiation of our sins; He atoned for our transgressions reconciling us to God which had been impossible while still in our sin.

But I had missed the first part.  

The sentence construction is this:  What was done for me, was done for the whole world.  Do you see it now?  Jesus did this thing for me and he also did it for the whole world.  For me!  It was done personally for me.  By inference he would have done the very same had I been the only one!  That's what finally hit me.  My salvation, my reconciliation to Holy God through the work of Jesus Christ, His suffering which he chose to take on my behalf was done personally for me.

Friday we will remember and celebrate what Jesus did for us on the cross; what he did personally for me.

It was done personally for you too!  AMEN

Friday, April 10, 2020

Genesis 3:14-19 Understand the Curse to Understand the Cross

Genesis 3:14-19 ESV  The LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.  (15)  I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel."  (16)  To the woman he said, "I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children. Your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you."  (17)  And to Adam he said, "Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, 'You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;  (18)  thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  (19)  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

It is all over the news.  In fact, you can hardly find an escape.  It is indeed everywhere and now they’re telling us it was here before we knew it was here.  They have us quarantined at home aside from essential trips to find groceries and such.  Why?  The coronavirus outbreak referred to as COVID-19.  This pandemic has certainly got our attention as it wreaks havoc across the globe with hundreds of thousands expected to lose their lives.  This, while the best scientists in the most advanced institutions in the world wrestle to gain the upper hand.

On this Good Friday when we remember the day of Christ’s crucifixion it brings us to the obvious question of why?  Why did Christ have to die on the cross and why is this coronavirus doing its best to kill us?

The answer is found in the passage referenced today referred to as, “The Curse”.  This act of God cursing his own creation was the result of the fall of Man.  Please review the passages preceding where the perfection of the garden was infected by the temptation of the serpent (Satan) resulting in the sin (something less than holy) of Adam and Eve.  That willful disobedience of the first man stained his kind.  That’s you and me.  We now have the nature of sin within us because of what Adam did.  And with that comes our inheritance of the curse.

In fact, the world from that point forward is living under the curse.  The curse of creation has actually been at work attacking through the ages and having a greater and greater effect.  A review of the patriarchs reveal a steady decline in the age to which they live.  Methuselah lived 969 years the oldest recorded living man.  But all of these early men lived for hundreds of years many more than 500.  As the curse persisted so did the decline in the age to which a normal man would live.

Only with the introduction of modern science, our deeper understanding of the pathogens of the curse have we been able to push back.  But are we pushing back successfully?  I mean real success.  Not just incremental improvement.  I would say, no.  Median lifespan is now in the high seventies approaching eighty.  That’s a far cry from 969.  And by the way, that life span of nearly 1000 years was not God’s design.  Man was created to be an eternal being.  Death was introduced with the curse.  None of us were ever supposed to die – full stop!

But with the curse came death and all the means toward death including yes, the coronavirus and this present COVID-19.  It is the result of the curse and it will be defeated by the scientists and our own immune system which God too created.

So what is the tie to this day; Good Friday?

Well, why would it be called “Good” when such a terrible thing happened?  How is the crucifixion of Christ “Good”?

Frankly, it was the only way.  In fact, it was the very purpose of Christ’s coming to this earth in the form of Man living in this cursed creation but doing so perfectly.  Living a sin free life.  That set him up to be the perfect sacrifice.  Not for himself, a sinless man requires no sacrifice.  Just go ahead, live a perfect life and find out.  Ooops, no you cant.  It’s not possible since you come from Adam and were born into the lineage of sin. 

So on this day some 2000 years ago the perfect was sacrificed for the imperfect.  His act of giving himself up on the cross as a holy sacrifice enables the restoration of mankind.  A reconciliation of the cursed back into the presence of a holy God.  His act breaks the curse.

But, whoa, hold on, you said that happened 2000 years ago.  Why do we have a pandemic today?
Well, that is simple to answer but hard to understand.  The simple answer is that God is merciful and full of grace.  You see the impact of the act of Christ on the cross is dependent on our faith.  We must believe what Christ did and believe He did it for us.  In order to do that, some of the generations prior to Christ looked forward to the cross anticipating the Messiah.  There are numerous examples of faithful people believing the promise of a deliverer and that faith being reckoned as righteousness.  Since the cross we look back with the same faith.  God’s grace has provided the time for this message to reach us.  In fact, He is providing time for all to hear and respond to this good news.
So what?  All this blather about reconciliation and sin and etc. etc.  Why does this all matter?  People are sick and dying.

Yep!  They are and they will continue to.  The coronavirus COVID-19 is a blessing in one simple way.  It has our attention.  It has brought the stark reality of life and death literally to our front door.  There is no escape from the cursed world in which we live.  That is, no escape other than through Christ.  Even then, we will all still die.  Well, except those who are still here when Christ comes to bring us home.  But that’s a story for another day.

For today, take a moment to reflect on the cross.  The sacrifice made for you.  Make the decision that this gift of grace is indeed for you and accept it.  You can do that right there where you are.  Just talk to God – in your head or out loud.  He’ll hear you.

And with me and the other Christians around the world anticipate with great joy the celebration of Easter on Sunday when we celebrate the victory of Christ as he conquered death and rose from the tomb.  Like Christ, we who believe will rise and join Him to live forever as originally intended.

The Curse is Broken!  AMEN