Bible Reading - February

Hey all, 

This is the second monthly post in a series of twelve that will take us through the bible in a year. Again, I will post all the videos in the recommended order, I highly recommend you watch them. If you are way behind don’t be discouraged, just keep reading. If you are way ahead, you are an anomaly and I’m not sure what to say to you. Remember, the point of this is to get to know God through Jesus. The plan is just a tool to help see that the entire bible is all about him, even the parts that don’t mention his name!

The readings took us on a roller coaster journey with the Israelites (you could argue it was more like a downward spiral). Each book acted like a magnifying glass that let us look closely at their hearts and at God’s heart; comparing the two in ways that were often not flattering. It was easy to think “come on, don’t you remember what God told you, just do what he says!” It was also easy to forget that we are following them on a long journey that spans centuries. It should be noted that they actually were diligent to believe and put into practice what God commanded at times but this was not consistent at all. So then I realized that this is a major problem both then and now: the failure to remember. 

What is behind not remembering? Why was Israel so rebellious? The answer to that could probably span thousands of pages if we were left to speculate but thankfully it can be summed up in a short sentence: it is because they exchanged their worship of God for the worship of false gods. A phrase often repeated in these stories and coupled with rebellion is “they did what was right in their own eyes,” this phrase is always used negatively. It means the people are overconfident in themselves and under-confident in God. So God began to fade away in the distance as they started pursuing their desires over and above everything else. Disaster is inevitable. This was so repulsive to God that he was considering destroying the people of Israel but Moses interceded on Israel’s behalf to spare them despite them deserving death. Pretty intense. We see in Deuteronomy Moses recounting that day. The people were to remember it so they did not repeat their actions. Who is the true God. which is tied to worship, is forefront both then and now. 

Interestingly, the bible assumes you will always be worshipping. No one is neutral. You were made to worship, so the question isn’t if you worship it’s what or whom do you worship? Deuteronomy 11:16 says to “take care, lest your heart be deceived, and you turn aside and you serve other gods and worship them” (ESV). This implies that if you just “go with the flow” that you will end up worshipping a false god! So how do we know what we worship? There are a few ways to tell: look at what you spend your money on, look at how you spend your time, consider what you most often day dream about. What makes you say, if I only had X I would be happy. Unfortunately, if we honestly answer these questions, it is not very flattering for us. Even the good things we do are tainted. Our mirage of being a good person is turned upside down. We will be tempted to look away or cover up. 

Like Israel we are often forgetful, rebellious, and ungrateful. We do what is right in our own eyes, we do not seek truth, we let our desires rule over us and pin us down in submissive worship to them. However, we still have hope because like Israel we have Someone interceding on our behalf despite our false worship and our failings. This Person keeps us from being destroyed and, not only that, he helps us to look honestly at our sin because we won’t be destroyed.

How did Israel (and us) avoid annihilation? Because Jesus took the bullet for us and was destroyed both physically and relationally on the cross. On top of this, we are treated like Jesus should've been: perfect, blameless, and holy. So much can be said about this. Nothing is more dignifying and nothing is more humbling. You don’t need to run from your failings and you don’t need to make up for them. Jesus acts as the greater Moses who will always intercede for you personally and for us as a community. We are safe in him. Jesus name wasn't mentioned here but can you see how this story is pointing to him? 

We don't live in a culture where we think we need God. Much less do we think that we are disobeying or rebelling against God. Often it is said "do what you want, just don't hurt anybody else," in other words just do what you think is right to you. Sound familiar? Of course it is tempting to do this because it makes sense in the moment but we know how this plays out, thanks to the Israelites. If we don't think we need someone to intercede on our behalf then we have to stand on our own. A scary place to be. Keep learning about holiness and the law. Jesus won't make much sense apart from it. It's worth your time!

 

Bible Reading - January

Hey, Eric here.

This is the first blog post in a series of 12 I plan to do in order to help keep us on track to finish reading the bible in a year. I will post all the relevant Bible Project videos throughout the blog in case you weren’t able to find them all. I kept them in the recommended order. If you’ve been diligent today is day 34 (Feb 3rd) , which should have you reading Leviticus chapters 14-15 along with Psalm 34. If you’re ahead on your readings I’d encourage you to slow down and reflect on what you’ve learned. Perhaps spending time to write in a journal or share with someone what stood out to you. If you’re behind, which is more likely, then I’d encourage you to “binge” read to get caught up. Also, just a reminder that you are not reading to “finish the plan” but to get to know God through Jesus. The plan is just a great tool to do so! Here are some of my reflections. 

    So far we have seen the splendour of creation: Its beauty, its purpose, its mystery, its goodness. We have also seen the tragic fall of Adam and Eve and, therefore, all of humanity. I wish they could’ve seen the consequences of their actions. Often, I find myself longing for the “original” world as described in Genesis. Every so often a waft of eden breezes by in the form of a hearty laugh, a close friend, or a mouth full of delicious food. It briefly drowns out the odorous stench of fallen creation, which makes itself known in the form of bitter tears, fractured relationships, and a famished world. This makes the promise of Genesis 15 potent. The promise of a coming saviour to crush the adversary, rescue us, wipe the tears, mend the fractures, and invite us into a feast.

    We then see God make covenants (promises) with Abraham (and Abram if you’re picky). He’s setting the scene for this mysterious future Saviour. We get to see how some of those promises unfold by watching Jacob get his name changed to Israel, Israel’s sons forming the foundation of the nation Israel, then Israel multiplying in Egypt because of the wild things that happened to Joseph earlier. After this God decides it’s time to leave. He calls Moses into an uncomfortable situation where he has to tell probably the most powerful person in the world that a huge portion of his workforce is leaving for good. God displays his great power in an almost theatrical way. Can you imagine living in the drama of the ten plagues? Can you picture leaving everything you’ve ever known? The rush of walking in the middle of the Red Sea?

     The Exodus story of Israel leaving Egypt and entering the wilderness I see as a good metaphor for us personally and as a church body. Both them and us are called to give up everything and embark on a journey toward the promise land that requires trust in God’s word. There is great hope at the end of the journey but we often get nearsighted. We focus on the hear and now rather than the future promise. We get frustrated and then grumble about others and God. The Israelites did this. The word for grumble could be translated as murmuring under one’s breath, sighing, groaning, or complaining; the word appears 32 times in the entire bible. Shockingly, 21 of those times the word was used regarding the people of Israel grumbling against Moses, Aaron (the head priest), or God. They almost immediately stopped trusting God after he rescued them and wanted to go back to their life of slavery! The first thing they grumbled about was not having anything to drink. How often is this true of us? We enter into God’s promise and begin the journey in the wilderness only to double back because at least in Egypt, even if we know it’s slavery, we can choose when we want to drink. Thankfully, God shows himself to be a God of justice and mercy. Not letting Israel get away with the grumbling but not destroying them either. 

That’s all for now. Keep reading, thinking, praying, wrestling, and applying the words of the Bible. “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise person who built his house on the rock” (Matt 7:24).

    PS. If you’ve never trusted God before then all this probably sounds crazy and far fetched. What would compel someone to “leave their comfort” and “enter into” a promise that makes their lives seemingly harder, especially since it seems like there is no guarantee of this future promise? Keep (or start) reading the scriptures and get to know the story. It all points to Jesus and starts to make more sense once you get know Him. Promise!