START A FIRE!

EXODUS 21-24 & ACTS 22


As God spoke forth the MARRIAGE COVENANT to the people they became very afraid. I guess the FIRE< LIGHTING<RUMBLING< and SMOKE billowing from the mountain was not a very welcoming sight. HAHAAAAAHAAAA…. I love that the first time God chose to reveal Himself to humanity HE CAME FULL FORCE holding nothing back. I mean lets BE REAL, still to this day people everywhere are like UHH NOPE you talk to God and let me know what He says. Worse, people like to dumb down God so that He is a little more approachable to humanity. I think God approached humanity the exact way He desired to, in His HOLINESS! God engaged the world with LOVE wrapped all up in HOLINESS. The Israelites were afraid and begged Moses to speak with God for them and so he did. One thing I love about Moses’s relationship with God was that God told the Israelites WHAT he was doing but revealed to Moses WHY He was doing something. When we do not rely solely on other people to tell us the heart of God but we seek out personal revelation on our own, God honors our pursuit with friendship and intimacy. Moses actually approached the Lord, heard His voice while the rest of Israel chose to remain at a distance. NEVER choose distance when you can draw near and hear His voice for yourself.


The next few chapters are full of legal issues. Just reading them casually can become very boring and we can be tempted to just fly past them as if they do not apply to us. DO NOT DO IT!! All scripture is God breathed for our training and the instructions of God hold purpose for our lives today. We just need to get real good at saying WHAT THE HECK does any of this have to do with me? Let me remind you that a lot of the instructions have absolutely NOTHING to do with us because we are not Jewish, do not live in the land of Israel, and do not have Temple sacrifices. However, ALL of the instructions represent the heartbeat and character of our God so we need to understand them and apply them accordingly to our lives. God can be found at the very CENTER of all the LAWS and the judgements for breaking them. Please understand that all throughout scripture God DOES NOT ordain VIGILANTE justice. There is order, reasoning, and GODLY JUSTICE bestowed on every violation. Most of the penalties that you read about cannot even be exacted because we are outside of the land of Israel and there is no longer a ruling court of the SANHEDRIN. This was a group of SEVENTY men of honor that were endowed with the spirit to hear cases and wield legal authority. The Sanhedrin was a little different from what we would traditionally think of as a court of law. For example in the Sanhedrin they would not entertain circumstantial evidence or hearsay. A complaint had to carry TWO EYE WITNESS testimonies to be heard. They WOULD NOT carry out the death penalty unless it could be proven that the individual had prior understanding of the penalty BEFORE he committed the crime. There had to be TWO warnings to the offender that what he was about to do was an offense punishable by death and those warnings had to be proved in court. The Sanhedrin DID NOT take justice lightly it was a serious matter as unto God.


In western culture we tend to think that the laws laid out before the Israelites is archaic and harsh and no longer apply to us. They reflect a different world and we have evolved. The NEW TESTAMENT is kinder, more loving, and easier to swallow. DOES GOD CHANGE? NO! Society and culture may change but God NEVER changes. He spoke every word of covenant with intention and purpose of walking in close relationship with His people. When we begin to discard commandments or edit them because WE FEEL they are no longer applicable, we are shaping God in OUR IMAGE and placing Him within the confines of OUR WAYS and this is idolatry. The commandments of the Lord are rules of conduct AND expressions of God’s heart. Remember when you read these laws they are for the immoral. God gives the instructions to flawed, I like to say flawsome because we may have flaws but we are AWESOME, and sinful humans speaking directly into our situations. When we take the time to read and attempt to understand the commandments, we can see the beauty of God all through them and His amazing heart for humanity. Understand that as we read through these that just because there is attention to something does not mean God allows it for any reason. However, God understands that we will fail and that evil does prevail in the hearts of man BUT God will always be pointing the way to FREEDOM and WHOLENESS for those who have ears to hear. Let’s DIVE IN and try to grasp some of what the LAW holds for us as believers. Understand that it is the GRACE of God that actually EMPOWERS us to live this out to the best of our ability and when we fall short it is the LOVE of God that covers us and speaks a better word!


SLAVES…

hold up WHAAAATTTTT? yes the bible talks about slaves but in NO WAY in the sense that our time and culture would think of when we hear the word slave. this commandment only talks to jewish people dealing with jewish slaves in the land of israel and when the year of jubilee is practiced. and is very specific that they are to be treated as HIRED LABOR. it permits slavery in this sense but teaches that FREEDOM is better. people were very poor and needed at times to take on a position of servitude to provide for family. when God's people had these slaves they were to be treated with respect, honor, and love but ONLY FOR A SEASON. the heart of the father is displayed through this because god always desires our liberation from bondage and slavery. and he fixes a time for their suffering to come to an end. slaves had rights and could not be separated from their families. a slave girl could not be misused for personal enjoyment. you harm her you either take her as a wife for yourself or son, treat her as a wife, provide for her, treat her as daughter. why did they even sale their daughters? because they were poor and could not afford to feed and protect her. she became a hired servant that was feed, clothed, and brought into a family. she could never be sold and if the owner did not want to take her in he had to allow the family to redeem her for whatever price they could afford. if the owner did not want to do any of the above then he forfeited his right to the girl and she could go home. this expresses the heart of gods compassion for the downtrodden and poor. god is eager to make sure that no-one is misused or abused and that there is always opportunity for her to be redeemed. even in exile god retains the right to redeem his people.


MARRIAGE…

when it comes to a marriage god said there are three things a husband has to do. he must provide food and any other thing to do with her physical health. he must provide her with clothing and any other basic needs for human dignity. he must provide her with sexual relationship and intimacy. this is a beautiful expression of gods heart for us. he will provide for us, he will over us, and he will remain close and intimate with us. we do not need to fear a change of heart toward us he is committed to our care.


MURDER…

bottom line if you casually take another mans life, intentional homicide, the Lord says you shall die. shed innocent blood your blood shall be shed.


STRIKING A MOTHER OR FATHER…

the law directly condemns any kind of violence toward one’s mother or father. physical violence and verbal violence. and the penalty for such an offense is death. WHAATTT? yep, god considers an assault on one’s parents just as offensive as murder. we may think this is harsh but gods ways are higher than ours and he highly regards the family structure. to keep the law of honoring ones parents brings long life. to break that law brings death. i believe god takes this very serious.


EYE FOR AN EYE…

we have to remember that in this situation god did not mean to gouge out someones eye. he did not mean for us to match identical injuries. this law does not give us permission for personal justice or vengeance. the penalty was fines and compensation. meaning you injure someones eye then you have to pay for the worth of their eye AND take care of them until they are better. this law is declaring that the punishment for these things can be met by other means than retaliation or payback. this is why the cross takes care of our sins, our punishment was met by other means, and the penalty was befitting of the crime. an eye for an eye.


EXODUS 21:22….

should silence any stance we have about abortion, god considers even the life of the unborn as he executes judgement. there is no question when it comes to life and when it starts. life is found in the blood. baby has blood baby is alive. ok moving on…


The next couple of instructions are for liability and compensation of one’s personal stuff. Here is the interesting thing about these laws as you read through them. God cares about the victims compensation AND the restoration of the offender. God’s heart is for all of humanity and if redemption is possible for an individual God desires it and he cares deeply for the justice of the victim. I believe this is a beautiful picture of the FULL heart of God. His throne is established with JUSTICE and RIGHTEOUSNESS doing what is right for all involved. God has the amazing ability to see into a person no matter how far removed they may seem and see DESTINY, what they could be. He will stop at NOTHING to draw it out. Im so thankful he SAW me!


THE MAN HOE…

oh yes I did. look bottom line the law of god does not sanction sex outside of marriage. you have sex you get married. you don’t want to marry you pay a big price known as the bride price. you force yourself on someone, you marry, you don’t want to you pay for her the rest of your life. you sleep with another mans wife, you die. yes, sexual purity and the sanctity of marriage is a direct representation of gods character, faithfulness, no whoring around, be committed and love with integrity.


WITCH HUNT…

god does not want us to appeal to the powers of the adversary in any way shape or form. he does not tolerate divided allegiance. to commune with them or mess around with black or white magic is strictly prohibited and is punishable by death. any form of sorcery should be avoided. witchcraft, those who commune with the dead or spirits, horoscopes, astrologers, enchanters, ANY FORM. there is no such thing as harmless or good magic. we can not kill them because there is no sanhedrin or court in israel but we are to treat them as if they are dead to us. do not dabble, do not tolerate, cut the head off the snake and say NOT IN MY HOUSE.


STRANGERS, WIDOWS, ORPHANS, the POOR…

take care of them, honor them, respect them, include them. there is no question about this. the lords heart is always for the under dog and for us to believe in them and help them to come alive in family and love and BE ALL THEY CAN BE. by treating them well we display god. if we give to the poor we do so without anything in return. we don’t demand repayment or put added pressure upon them. we give with open hands and generous hearts because this is how god treats us.


AUTHORITY…

very clear honor authority. do not curse them, do not mock them, do not speak falsely or hurtful about them, HONOR them. this is hard for this culture because people do not want to submit to any authority but god says trust me and honor the authority. this has to do with your heart stance. god says from your heart honor. the other law about cursing your leader forbids us from cursing, speaking harshly, speaking against the head of our nation and those in leadership positions. (our president and govt leaders) if you have nothing nice to say the lord says ZIP IT UP. when you don't then ultimately you are not trusting god to be in control.


BLASPHEMY…

simple, do not use any abusive, false, slanderous , or careless talk against god or the things of god.


The instructions turn to judicial processes and basically say, hey when it comes to culture and things being fought over, don’t jump in with the crowds. do not be swayed by popular opinion or just because everyone is doing it or believing it. STAND ON TRUTH. Then it goes into LOVING our enemies and taking care of them. The lord is saying do not just do for those you love but allow godliness to flow out of you by caring for your enemies. Do not rejoice over their misfortune actually be a catalyst for their restoration. The Sabbatical year has to do with the land of Israel and we already discussed the Sabbath. The Lord then goes on to remind them to be careful not to mention other gods or cause people to worship them. It is idolatry and against faithful covenant.


THE THREE CELEBRATIONS…

the people of god are to celebrate three appointed times until christ returns. passover(easter), pentecost(giving of torah and holy spirit), feast of tabernacles(provision while in the wilderness). these are three yearly cycles that should always be remembered and celebrated. we cannot go up to the temple because there is no longer a temple. however we can celebrate in our own houses of worship.


NO LEAVEN…

we no longer adhere to this because there is no sacrifice. i do think its important to understand why this was a thing. leaven symbolized decay and corruption which can not be in gods presence. its the same reason the fats had to be burned up. corruption, decay, and spoil could not remain on the alter. god is full of life and is all about life and death cannot find a place in his presence. it is eradicated in him.


The lord then goes through some dietary laws that are for Jewish people. Talks about bringing our FIRST FRUITS into the house of God which does apply to us. We are to honor the house of God with our first fruits, the labor of our hands. It was crops for them but today it is finances. This has been a command from the very beginning. The Lord cares very deeply about us taking care of the house of worship. Moving on…. The next couple of commands have to do with Israel fighting their enemies and ridding the land of them. The Lord very clearly says DO NOT make covenants or legal arrangements with them. DO NOT BE UNEQUALLY YOKED with non believers it will produce idolatry. The Lord is after our whole heart and He does not want us to have divided allegiance especially with the world. This was one of the last things God touched on before He made the marriage legal and enjoyed the reception.


The Lord did ALL this so that He could become their God and they could become His people. Moses built an alter and presented two offerings before the Lord. A burnt offering or OLAH in Hebrew that means “that which rises”. It was an offering on the alter that was completely consumed by the fire symbolizing a complete surrender to God. The OLAH belongs solely to God. This was the people of God saying we surrender, we receive the instruction and will obey, we are yours completely. Then there was the peace offering or SHALEM in Hebrew. It simply meant shalom or peace with God. The meat of this offering was shared as a meal and was considered fellowship with God. The two offerings given that day, one going up to God and one coming to man, was a declaration of a two-way covenant being made and a meal being shared between the two. Then the blood was sprinkled on the people. Ok I KNOW THAT FREAKS SOME PEOPLE OUT but it is pretty cool. Blood represents life and a blood covenant is stronger than brotherhood. This was a commitment on Gods part to stay faithful even when we are faithless. It goes on to say that Moses and some men went up the mountain and saw God. WAIT< HOLD UP< I thought God said they would surely die if they went up that mountain? He did but those men were now under the blood. YAAAAAASSSSSSSSS!!! Thats right the sprinkling of the blood covenant was upon them and they could now enter the presence without fear. Go ahead and take a minute and SHOUT. It’s ok I’m doing the same over here. His BLOOD removes every barrier. The Scripture says they SAW GOD. The blood of the covenant atoned for them, protected them, made a way for them. Do not tell me that Jesus cannot be found from GENESIS to REVELATION. It ALL matters. When they saw God it was as if the wedding was complete the introduction of MR and MRS was taking place and NOW they had a reception to attend. They ate and drank. They CELEBRATED. They PARTIED. God is fun and desires for us, His Segulah, HIS TREASURES, to enjoy Him. There is a time later in scripture where Jesus says, “This is the blood of my covenant poured out for the forgiveness of sins”. He goes on to say I will not drink the cup of redemption again until I drink it again with you at THE GREAT MARRIAGE SUPPER OF THE LAMB. There is another celebration coming when Jesus will present the BRIDE to the Father and once again we will sit, we will eat, and we will drink with the Lover of our soul face to face. May we all find ourselves walking in COVENANT on that day.


The GREATEST weapon any of us have against the enemy is OUR STORY! Every one of us wield the same weapon, our TESTIMONY. Scripture actually says we OVERCOME by the blood of the lamb and the word of our testimony. There is power to transform when we release our TRUTH. We once were lost, full of ourselves, caught up in what we thought to be right BUT NOW we have been found, redeemed for a greater purpose. That is ALL Paul did in Acts chapter 22... he told his story. He was warned not to go to Jerusalem because hardship awaited him yet the Spirit led him there. Paul understood the statement, if God is for me WHO can be against me. When standing before his accusers Paul told about his past outside of God thinking he was doing everything right, his present where God broke into his world and transformed the way he thought, and his future, what God desired to really use him for... Paul simply told his story. That is what we all need to mature in because we all have one. We have to get past the shame and guilt of our failures outside of Christ. We NEED the Lord to heal the wounds of our past so that we can use them as means of deliverance for others. People can latch on to stories especially when they relate. Declaring all God has done for us releases HOPE in the hearts of people to believe God has something better. Our stories hold power to unlock walled up hearts and breathe NEW LIFE into dry bones. Do not remain silent, do not be held prisoner by your past, remember ALL God has done for you and allow your story to spread like WILDFIRE in a dry and thirsty land. START A FIRE! Let it be sung about you that boy/girl is on FIRE. After all, we are called to declare the excellencies of the one who called us out of darkness into HIS MARVELOUS LIGHT!



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