EXODUS 18-20 & ACTS 14
Is anybody ready for a WEDDING? Did you know that GOD has always desired to have a wedding with His people? Intimacy is the heartbeat of God and His love for us is FIERCE! That is one of the reasons the word HARLOT is used throughout scripture to describe the unfaithfulness of Gods people. His relationship with us is meant to be COVENANTAL! He sets the covenant, we ACCEPT the proposal, and we are BOTH responsible for remaining FAITHFUL! Before we get to that let me point out one thing from yesterday’s reading.
Guess what? The Israelites are again COMPLAINING. You will see this is a common theme throughout the wilderness that eventually cause an entire generation to miss the PROMISE LAND. Man oh Woman complaining is kinda important to the Lord. I believe He really desires for us to TRUST His heart for us and believe that His plans are for our good. I have been wrecked lately by the song GOODNESS OF GOD by Bethel. Learning to be THANKFUL even in the midst of a wilderness is key to MATURITY and BREAKTHROUGH! OK that was a rabbit trail back to our complaining brothers. At least in Egypt we had food to eat. We may have been slaves but we had full stomachs. They just experienced a MIRACLE from God and watched their enemies swallowed up and they were complaining about what to eat. A heart that has not learned to be thankful can look at any situation and GRUMBLE. A grumbling heart can cause us to not SEE what God is doing. May the Lord OPEN all our eyes to see as we CHOOSE to rejoice in the victories of God while expecting FUTURE victories to come to pass. The graciousness of God heard their cries and said TRUST! I'm gonna take care of you, PROMISE! Sometimes we can be in bondage for so long that even when God is delivering, setting free, and doing a new thing it’s hard to let go of the old and believe for greater things. Be FREE what God begins He will FINISH. So the Lord says I am going to feed you MYSELF. Get just enough for your family and for the day. If you gather too much it will rot and worms will consume it. The Lord SUPERNATURALLY feed His people on a daily basis. I do not know about you but I want to be feed SUPERNATURALLY on a daily basis from the King of Heaven. I believe this is a powerful lesson for us to latch onto and apply to our lives. Everyday there is FRESH REVELATION for us to lay hold of and we need to prioritize the daily gathering of MANNA so that our bodies will be FULL, DAILY. We cannot live off of YESTERDAY’S MANNA and expect to live our tomorrows VIBRANT AND FULL OF LIFE. We tend to think that we can do things on our own and we need to understand that God is the AUTHOR and FINISHER of our faith and we NEED Him daily.
Im not going to touch on the whole ordering of JUDGES in this blog but I do want you to see that SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY is important to GOD. He desires for us to walk in community with each other and to have leadership that we can trust. God wants us to SHARE our lives with our brothers and sisters and He desires for all of us to exercise humility when it comes to other people speaking into our lives. On our own we can get into a lot of trouble and find ourselves in messes that we were NEVER intended to be caught up in. ALL throughout scripture we find examples of SPIRITUAL LEADERSHIP and Godly authority. We cannot get around it AND it is actually a gift from God to keep us safe from our own selves. Whenever you find yourself on an ISLAND alone, remember that God calls you into a FAMILY, get RECONNECTED ASAP there is power in UNITY.
OK NOW, put on your best clothes and get ready to CELEBRATE. We have all been INVITED to a wedding, OURS! I love this about God. He was not content with just rescuing a people and MAKING them obey. He desires VOLUNTARY LOVE and calls us to COVENANT. Back in Exodus 6 God says, “I will take you for my people and I will be your God”. This is marriage language and would be fully understood by the Israelites as such. In a Jewish wedding the groom would say, “ You will be my wife, I will be your husband”. It was a declaration of contractual arrangement that includes terms and responsibility. Exodus 19 is God’s BETROTHAL. The Lord spoke tenderly and lovingly to Israel and reminded them of how He rescued them and desires to make them HIS SPECIAL TREASURES. That Hebrew word is SEGULAH and actually means “BELOVED TREASURE” or “PECULIAR TREASURE”. Segulah was used to describe the special treasures of KINGS after they conquered an enemy. The King would keep the most VALUABLE treasure for himself and wear it as a PRIZE. WE ARE THAT VALUABLE TREASURE! The Lord is saying I own it all, EVERYTHING, but YOU are my most valued treasure. OHHHHHH…. I wanna SHOUT! He goes on to say I am going to make you a Kingdom of Priest. WHY? The job of the Priest was to serve as an intermediary between God and man. When they approached God they represented humanity. When they interact with humanity they represent God. God desires for all of us to do the same. When we go before Him it's not just about US there is always a bigger picture. When we are with humanity we are called to represent HIS HEART. When people look upon our lives they look upon the Lord. THIS is why our actions matter. We are a Kingdom of Priest unto God. We are to be LIVING TESTIMONIES of what God is like.
The Lord begins to call His bride to meet with Him. He starts the entire ceremony off by saying CONSECRATE yourself. In a marriage ceremony both parties would typically take a MIKVAH, a washing of oneself in a baptismal purity ritual. Washing away the old and preparing to enter into the new. The Lord says to His TREASURE, CONSECRATE yourself for me. Lay aside all you have known and prepare for the new. He is very careful to tell them NOT to touch the mountain because it is HOLY and if they do they will DIE. Geez harsh! No, it is actually protection for His beloved. God was preparing to meet with them, to enter into covenant with them by descending DOWN upon the mountain and was concerned about their safety. HOLINESS was the issue and was not harsh it was actually LOVE. God understood that mortal flesh could not handle the GLORY, the KAVOD, of His presence. In order for God to descend, the mountain had to be made HOLY(separate). If people were to touch the mountain it would be unholy or NOT SEPARATE! To separate biblically can mean two things. ONE is to come out of, to divide and TWO it can mean to set aside, to make holy, to CONSECRATE for Godly purposes. God was saying that you must not touch because my presence is HOLY and all consuming and can be devastating to that which is not SEPARATE..set aside for holy purposes. When we understand the KAVOD, heavy respectable glory, of God and the danger of approaching Him so casually, we can appreciate the beauty of being able to BOLDLY approach Him in the name of JESUS.
In a Jewish wedding the bride and groom are married under a CHUPPAH. A canopy that symbolized the presence of God hovering over the most sacred moment of marriage. The cloud that HOVERED over the mountain was the Chuppah it WAS the very presence of God. This is just one more imagery for the Israelites that God was calling them into a marriage. Lighting flashed, fire blazed all around, a trumpet blasted and the groom entered the Chuppah. As Moses ascended the mountain it was as if the bride was entering the Chuppah and the marriage contract was about to be read. Traditionally the contract is called a KETUBAH. The written contract lays out the terms and conditions for both groom and bride. It is read at the ceremony and after the wedding the witnesses would sign the contract and it would be displayed in the couples new home as evidence of their legal marriage. There on the mountain God himself declares the KETUBAH between himself and His bride Israel. This is why we should always see the word, the COMMANDMENTS of God as a loving covenant not a set of dos and don’ts. If you understand the giving of the Covenant as a MARRIAGE it is easy to receive the commandments of God as a blushing bride and loving grooms wedding vows received with joy and anticipation of a beautiful future together. The reading of the KETUBAH on Mount Sinai was not an ethical system on how to live it was a laying out of parameters and expectations for a faithful relationship. Exodus 20 said God himself declared the contract, everyone heard them, they required no JUSTIFICATION, and they were non-negotiable. We will talk about them next time. For now I hope we get a beautiful picture of the relationship that God calls all of us into. When God first called His people into this marriage he declared it was for ANY sojourners among them and for all to come. God PROPOSES to us and ask us to enter into COVENANT with Him. When we break covenant with Him we are like unfaithful spouses BREAKING the heart of our FAITHFUL LOVE. The Lord decided to set this whole thing in motion with a wedding and He continues to chase His love with PASSION and FIERY ZEAL jealous for our affection. Our relationship with God is NEVER meant to be burdensome or harsh. It is an INVITATION OF LOVE, backed by the promises of God, and sealed with His declaration that YOU ARE HIS TREASURED POSSESSION. So beautiful and life changing when you grab ahold of this truth.
I'm not sure I will even get through Acts. There is so much to stop and meditate on. I feel like I get going and then #BAM right there in my bedroom God performs open heart surgery on me. You know that kind they show on the ER sitcoms. They rip open the chest and a young Doctor just reaches right on in and manually pumps the heart. That is what I feel like most times when I read scripture that jolts my heart. The Holy Spirit just rips open my chest and gets all up in my business and begins to pump my heart. Paul is traveling around preaching and is met with all kinds of receptions. They love him, they hate him, they want to worship him, and then they beat him up and leave him for DEAD. What does he do? Gets up, goes back into town, and preaches some more. Yep! No quit in his blood. I'm telling you HEART TRANSPLANT over here. Paul performs a MIRACLE by healing a man and immediately starts talking about rain and crops. WHY? well first of all he was trying to get them NOT to worship him as a god. Go figure. A man of God that was used mightily did not desire to be worshipped but gave God all the glory. About five or six years ago the Lord whispered in my ear, Kristi do you know why it is so hard for me to be God today, because too many men want to be. Moving ON! Why would he start talking about crops after this amazing miracle? Paul is saying to all these people, Hey you know the God who does all these ROUTINE things in your life, the rain, the crops, the seasons He also is the God of this MIRACLE. If we allow the presence of God to invade our lives He has the ability to make MIRACLES routine and the ROUTINE things in our lives miracles. This means that NOTHING is common in your life and at any moment God can break in with a miracle. He is never ABSENT even when things seem so mundane. Right there in that very place the UNEXPECTED can happen and Heaven can invade Earth. Our song of praise can be raised in the ORDINARY as well as the EXTRAORDINARY because the God of miracles is also the God of routine. Our faith does not separate the two. Our everyday life is important to the Father and He desires for us to find Him in the deep REVELATION and the beautiful SUNRISE. He can be found in the PROPHETIC word you receive and taking the TRASH out. Seeing God is as simple as opening your eyes and whispering, WHERE ARE YOU and hearing in return I've been right here ALL ALONG!