Who Will You Follow?

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 24 (day two) When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” vs. 3

When was the last time that you believed so strongly about something that you were willing to make a statement like that? Whatever _____ asks of me, I will happily do it. That requires much trust on our part. Consider the reasons someone would make a statement like that. Perhaps a track record of honesty and integrity engendered that kind of devotion. Personal connection always makes a difference too, doesn’t it? If you know the individual or organization intimately you are more likely to follow without reservation. Perhaps it has more to do with a strong belief in where they are going that develops trust. While some of us trust more easily than others, making a claim to obey every word or command is a bold one.

Now look back over that list and put Jesus’ name. Above any other organization or individual Jesus will fulfill every requirement of trust. His track record, his desire to have a close relationship with him, and his future is a bright as they come. If you are looking to follow anyone or anything…consider Jesus.

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Friendship Restored

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 24 (day one)

“Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders went up and saw the God of Israel. . .and they ate and drank.”–v 9, 11.  It was a friendship restored.  Life as God intended.  Committing themselves to the covenant demands (v 3), and having been sprinkled with the blood of an innocent sacrifice, (v 8), the children of Israel entered into a new relationship with God and all of its privileges.  Through their representatives, they heard testimony of the beauty of Heaven.  They heard the report of feeling welcomed, safe and provided for.  Once again, men ate and drank in the very presence of God without fear or shame.  Leaders were invited into the presence of the Most High to hear “great and mighty things”.  The dream, however,  would soon be shattered. By Exodus 32, a golden calf has been made and worshipped. Bitter consequences came.  What do you think?  In Christ, can our friendship and privileges be restored?

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Eye for an eye

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 21:1-2, 7-17, 22-27; 22:21-31; 23:1-12 (day seven)

“If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman. . .[and] there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth.”–v 21:22, 24.

It sounds vengeful to a society  that has grown soft on consequences, like permission to “get even”.  And probably it has been misused in the past.  Originally, however, it was an expression of accountability and consequence.  Men who fought and injured the innocent by doing so (even if unintentionally) were to be held accountable.  The response was to be measured.  Eye for eye.  Tooth for tooth.  No escalation, but no confusion or avoidance of consequence either.  Jesus will later prohibit us from using this law in personal revenge.  See Matthew 5:38.  I do not think Jesus was removing the principle from courts of law.  Wouldn’t we all make better decisions if we knew that this law (or something like it) would be impartially applied to our choices and actions?

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Messy

 Re: Verse reading–Exodus 21:1-2, 7-17, 22-27; 22:21-31; 23:1-12 (day six)

Exodus 21-23
We would have no need for the Law if there was no sin. The law is detailed and cumbersome. There is no part of the human existence that they do not touch. This reality teaches us a lot about ourselves and the affects of our own brokenness. Our sin has made life messy; it entangles us in every possible way, enslaving us only to perpetuate deceit and murder. The intent of the Law was not only to help us see ourselves for who we are, but also to make provisions for our sinful messes; providing a civil means to untangle that which we have entangled.

The irony is that we often believe that our rebellion against God is an expression of freedom. The reality couldn’t be further from the truth; the further we run from God the more enslaved we become. We have the messes to prove it. Lives are destroyed and relationships shattered all because the sin in us and all around us. We can look often at the Law and think “how cumbersome!” I imagine the response of God is “Well, look at the mess you’ve made.”

True freedom is when we have no need for the Law-and glory to God that day is coming thanks to Jesus who fulfilled the Law!

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Consequences

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 21:1-2, 7-17, 22-27; 22:21-31; 23:1-12 (day four)

There are consequences for every action…prices to pay for offending the law.  God’s word is law.  There is a price to pay for disobeying His word.  In the garden, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s command.  Sin entered the world and mankind is born under that sin.  Romans 3:23 says, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.”  And Romans 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death…”  Death is the consequence for sin.  When Christ died on the cross, He paid the price for our sin.  When He rose from the grave, He had victory over sin.  Our consequences were not just cancelled, they were paid in full.  We often hear of a victim of a crime forgiving the criminal, but there are still consequences, even though they are forgiven.  Jesus didn’t just forgive, He paid the price, He suffered the consequences in our place.  We can stand before God justified, only through Jesus Christ.

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Extras

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 21:1-2, 7-17, 22-27; 22:21-31; 23:1-12 (day three)

“These are the laws you are to set before them.”  In a movie, the people who fill the background are called “extras”.  No movie critic ever rates the performance of the extras; you don’t know their names; no one in the theater cares about them.  In real life, though, each person matters to God.  Therefore, consider the way you approach people at a lower station in life than you are, the way you use your authority over others, the way you live with foreigners.  In each of these realms of life, you are responsible to honor the sacredness of the person with whom you come into contact.  Each of the persons we encounter everyday is one whom God has determined should receive kindness, fairness, and love–from you.

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Rule of Law

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 21:1-2, 7-17, 22-27; 22:21-31; 23:1-12 (day two)

We are a nation of laws. We believe and affirm them as guides to a civil society. Most organizations from the largest corporations to the smallest club have some type of regulations, rules, or laws that people are expected to follow if they want the rights and privileges that come from belonging to that organization. Although much of the language and spirit of the laws we are reading about today refer to a culture that is no longer around, they do inform us that God understands our bent to structure. We need guidelines and parameters to function well. In order to know where we can go, we must also know where we cannot. Beyond the do’s and don’ts how can obeying the laws of the land, and more importantly God’s laws bring honor to him? Law need not be a burden, but an opportunity to show obedience and commitment to our calling.

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Moral, Civil, Ceremonial

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 21:1-2, 7-17, 22-27; 22:21-31; 23:1-12 (day one)

It is an important point.  God gave the people of Israel three different kinds of law.  Moral law–the Ten Commandments.  Written on stone to symbolize their permanence.  For all people, at all times.  Civil law–laws for the national life of Israel.  Not permanent or universal.  See Acts 10-11 as God convinces Peter to set aside  ”kosher” law.  Ceremonial law–guidance for the religious life of Israel.  Feasts and fasts and ceremonies.  No longer binding on Christians, but rich in symbolism and instruction.  Fulfilled in Jesus Christ.  Our RE Verse reading this week deals with civil and ceremonial laws.  Are Christians under these?  No!  Is the Moral law still a permanent revelation of God’s will for us (achieved now by the Spirit)?  Yes! “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke of the Law shall pass away, until all is accomplished.”–Jesus (Matthew 5:18)  Followers of Christ benefit from reading and reflecting on the Law.

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Twice Mine

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:1-17 (day seven) 

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.  You shall have no other gods before me.”–v 2-3.  Old story.  Boy builds a toy boat.  Loves “sailing” it in a pond near his house.  Loses it one day.  Sees it later in a pawn shop window.  Buys it back.  Says, “you are twice mine, I made you and I bought you.”

God owns us the same way.  He made us in creation.  He purchased us through our redemption in Christ.  We are “twice His”.   A clear claim in this week’s text.  “I AM the Lord your God (creator), who brought you out of Egypt (savior).  YOU SHALL worship only Me!   Who can dispute that God DESERVES our obedience?  We are twice His.

I will look for you in worship in a few hours.  We will think together on what we owe Him.  I love you guys!

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Our [g]ods

Re: Verse reading–Exodus 20:1-17 (day six)

Exodus 20:4
Our gods are of our own making. Even when we think on God we tend to “make him in our own image.” We keep the things we like and cast off the things we don’t. Every culture and every generation does it. A new way of thinking about God began anew when God told Moses His name, “I AM.” The name was a clear statement of His holiness; that he was distinct and separate from humanity, that He had a character and nature all of his own that wasn’t dependent on human invention.

That’s why the Law was so good, because it was God revealing to the Hebrew people (and humanity) that you can’t make gods in your image anymore, because I AM your God. The giving of the Law exposed our god-making nature. The Law takes us back to the earliest days in the garden when the Serpent tempted Eve with the notion that she would become like God if she ate of the fruit. Ever since we have been exalting ourselves by fashioning our own gods. The Law says, to be like God you must lay down your god-making ways and worship God only, and then will you clearly see that you were made in the very image of God. The Law reveals our tarnished God-like image; it did back then and it does today.

The Law, and then ultimately Jesus (he alone fulfilled the Law on our behalf) is a God ordained means to restore His image in humanity. Which is why Paul wrote in Romans 8:29, “those who he foreknew, he also predestined to be conformed to the image of the Son.”

 

Be thankful for the Law; it is good!

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