BEHOLD, I AM MAKING A COVENANT. BEFORE ALLYOUR PEOPLE I WILL DO MARVELS- SO AS HAVE NOT BEEN CREATED IN ALL THE EARTH OR IN ANY NATION, AND ALL THE PEOPLE AMONG WHO YOU ARE SHALL SEE THE WORK OF THE LORD- FOR IT IS AN AWESOME THING THAT I WILL DO WITH YOU. OBSERVE WHAT I COMMAND YOU THIS DAY- EX. 34:10.
In our Exodus study we are actually in chapter 23, but these past few weeks I have been reading thru some key passages and before we get too far in the study I want to make sure we hit them. In the above verse God is telling the people that this deliverance- an actual historical event that took place around 1400 years B.C.- that this Divine change taking place- was a world changing event that had greater implications than what they presently understood. In chapter 23 the Lord tells the people that he is sending his messenger [angel] before them- and they need to pay close attention to the words he is speaking. In the bible [especially the Old Testament] the angel of God at times is associated with God himself. In the book of Revelation God is communicating a prophetic vision to the apostle John thru angels [messengers]. Basically God is telling his people that they need to stay on message- and that the message needs to be in line with his character [my messenger- the things I have/will say]. In another chapter we will hear God tell Moses ‘put the words/law I give you into the box’. God tells Moses to put the 2 tablets of the 10 commandments into the Ark of the covenant- as opposed to what Moses might say or think. The point being all of us [Christian ministers, Jewish leaders, Imams] we need to make sure we are speaking the words of God, not man.
At this time [as I write] I have friends reading these posts from all over the spectrum. Many have been reading straight from the blog site- others from various other spots where these posts show up. As a Christian- I of course hold to the biblical teaching that Jesus is the Messiah- the ‘Son of God’ who came to redeem man and died and rose again for the sins of man. Now- why the emphasis on the term ‘Son of God’. In Islam- many good Muslim people are taught- from their youth- that to even read/say this term is blasphemous. Why? In Islam many believe that using this term means that God ‘had sexual relations’ with the Virgin Mary- and many good Muslims sincerely will not listen to a Christian teacher because they are taught that to even hear the term is wrong. So as Christians we need to explain that in Christian teaching this term does not mean that- the Christian faith teaches that the Holy Spirit did a miracle with the Virgin Mary and Mary became pregnant with Jesus- not by a sexual act- but by a Divine miracle. So some bible versions- in an effort to overcome the obstacle that Muslims have about the term ‘Son of God’ [because they see this term in a different way than Christians] have substituted the words ‘Son of God’ with ‘the one who originates from God’. There is a debate among Christians on whether or not this is right [many Christians do not think this interpretation is acceptable] but it seems to be an honest effort among Christian missionaries to introduce the bible to the Muslim people in a way that allows them to get past the first obstacle- of not even wanting to read the words ‘Son of God’. Okay- said all that to say this- in this study of Exodus- we are reading a real biblical account of what took place in time- an account that Christians, Muslims and Jews all believe in. So as much as I want to continue to make the case for the reality of Jesus as the Son of God, the Messiah- yet at the same time I want to also teach the biblical account in a way that all 3 faiths can learn from. And I want to be able to be a voice of moderation in the conversation
Often time’s radical voices from all 3 of the above religions are the voices that seem to get the most notice. Last night I caught an interview with the lawyer who went to the Supreme Court and won the case for the Christian church to protest at the funerals of dead soldiers. Here in the U.S. we have this Baptist church [Westboro Baptist church] that has been holding up picket signs at the funerals of soldiers that say mean- offensive things ‘God hates fags’ and stuff that should not be said. Yet they won their case because it is a free speech issue- and on the program I watched, they let this lawyer- who is also a family member of the preacher of the church- she went on and shared her view about God and the bible- and to be frank it is a very ignorant view- a bigoted idea of God and the bible, yet it is a view that prevails among many Christians [not the ‘God hates fags’ view- but other separatist ideas] and it leaves no room for having a moderate conversation among the other religions of the world. So as we progress in this study- we see the importance of the word of God- the commands and character of God. We see that God is up to something that is bigger- more important than the people understand at the time- and we see that things take time. At the end of the chapter God says as he brings the people into the land- they will not take all the land at once- lest the wild beats take over the land- but he will gave them a little land at a time, just enough territory to establish a functioning society- before gaining new ground.
I think we all need to re evaluate and take a look at the present landscape [both symbolically and geographically] and give things some time to settle in- to establish rule and order before we take too much area at once. Right now in Libya- there seems to be a standoff between the protestors [rebels- they don’t like this term] and Gadhafi. The country- though big in geographical terms- is relatively small in population [compared to Egypt- 80 million people]. Libya has 6 million people- 90 % live right off the Mediterranean coast- and the forces in the east [major city- Ben Ghazi] are up against Gadhafi’s stronghold in the west- Tripoli. As I watch all the reports we need to be careful that we don’t misread the situation—even though there were reports of civilian deaths- it does not look like Gadhafi has opened up his air force on the civilian population- not in a way it was reported at first. So even though we [the west] condemn the deaths that have taken place- I’m not sure that we are seeing what some have described as a Genocide [which I too said in the beginning]. So maybe the Middle East, Africa- and even parts of Asia- maybe it’s time to sit back and regroup some. I’m speaking to those who are wanting freedom- NON VIOLENT protestors who are protesting to gain human rights- I’m not talking military strategy here! And in today’s chapter [and the verse I quoted at the top] God is saying to the people ‘I am doing an awesome work in the world right now- obey me- listen to my words- I will give you bread [instruction] every morning [the Manna on the ground] I have given you my words [WORDS THAT HAVE SAID- DON’T KILL! TO ALL SIDES] make sure you organize your new found freedom around these things- don’t use this freedom for a chance to sin- to release anarchy/lawlessness [read Galatians chapter 5] but instead use this new freedom to serve God and love your fellow man’.