Struggling tonight. Emotionally. I’m not really keen on emotions.
Today I went to my first service at the new Energizer location out at New Norfolk, it was quite good. Went to church this morning in Bellerive, hung out with a few great youth from Energizer, had church tonight, overall it was a lot of fun.
I’ve been struggling with feeling like God’s calling me to move on, though. Energizer’s been my home (even if I haven’t always been there) for over a decade now, so I’m very connected to it, and when I got there this morning there were a few things that happened, interactions with people that made me wonder. The thing that God really said quite clearly this morning, though, was that the main reason I’ve been finding it so difficult to step away hasn’t been about him, but has been about the other people.
It’s a difficult balance, I know. There’s a lot of strong arguments for the whole ‘be planted’ idea; but I was talking to someone Saturday night who told me about a cartoon they saw once, of these people who were ‘planted’. They were humans in a church, and instead of feet, they had roots, the roots were deeply implanted into the church, wrapped around the pews and the pillars, etcetera. They were so planted they literally couldn’t go anywhere.
God’s really laid on my heart, especially over the past month or so, the great commission. He really has pointed out the first word of what Jesus commanded the disciples to do.
I really feel a strong urge not to get settled. Not to let my roots get so deep that I can’t actually get back out. I’ve always had a bit of wanderlust running through my soul, and perhaps it’s finally becoming clear why. We’ll see.
Here comes the reality check.
You know, it’s one thing to actually be told not to do something; but that’s really only half of the lesson. The conclusion of the lesson is the consequence, the responsibility factor.
Think of a wet paint sign. It’s almost an impossibility for most of us to pass a wet paint sign without actually touching it, isn’t it? I know from my own experience that if I see a sign like that, I just have to touch it to see if it really is still wet. Sure enough, the consequence is that if the paint is wet, I end up with paint all over my fingers.
The consequences here are a little more dire.
We’ve already been through where God says not to do many of these things in this chapter, it goes through a lot of the sexual behaviours from chapter 18, as well as some others – pretty much, it focusses on the actions that related to defilement again, actually. The point is though, that here’s the list of consequences for the actions. Most of the consequences are death – either by stoning, or in one case, by burning. Others are a little less fatal – sort of – being cut off from their people.
I wonder what would have been worse. In a family-based community, being cut off from their people may perhaps even end up worse than actually just being killed.
God, though, again wants the Israelites to stand apart. He concludes the list of consequences with an explanation as to why this is all so important.
It’s amazing, I don’t recall ever really noticing this in the past, when I was growing up in the church, but as I’ve read through Leviticus so far, I can still feel God’s love. He’s not just being judgemental, high-and-mighty and so on (although he does, obviously, have the right to do so – he is, after all, God), but he’s about loving the people. His laws that he lays down aren’t for him, but they’re for the people, to live holy and righteous lives. It still comes down to God’s desire to have a relationship with the people.
And he wants them to be noticeably different.
“But I said to you, ‘You will possess their land; I will give it to you as an inheritance, a land flowing with milk and honey.’ I am the LORD your God, who has set you apart from the nations.” ~ Leviticus 20:24
“You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” ~ Leviticus 20:26
God set them apart, he wanted them to be distinct; so that they would reflect and shine his glory to the nations. Sound familiar?
Well, with each day that goes by things seem to get easier.
On the tiredness front, that is. I’m still feeling very emotional about no longer being on the other side of the country. I’m managing, and doing my best to keep my eyes and heart on God, but it’s not always easy. Going over there and coming back again wasn’t meant to be this difficult; at least it wasn’t going to be in my head.
It’s a weird combination of peace and pain, really. Like, I do know that everything’s under control, that God’s got everything in his plan and in his timing, and all I have to do is keep my eyes on him; keep following his ways, and things will work out. Still, though, there’s an emotional pain at having said goodbye. I don’t think that’s a bad thing, as long as – like with most emotions – it doesn’t actually take over. It’s okay to miss people, it’s okay to love them, it’s okay to feel that you’re a little lost without them. What isn’t okay is to let those emotions take over your life and dictate you. If you’re being dicated by your emotions, following them, then you’re not following God.
So I can acknowledge the pain, the feelings of loss, the love – but I will continue to walk in his path, and in his guidance. When I follow his plan, and am walking in his light, then everything works out for good.
This is a whole heap of not good.
First of all, God talks about being a people set apart.
He’s not silly. He knows that when the Israelites walk into the land of Canaan, there are going to be things that are attractive to them. I can definitely vouch from personal experience that the road away from God sometimes seems so bright and welcoming. The Israelites had shown themselves throughout the journey so far, just how easily and quickly led astray they could be. Moses was up Mt Sinai for a few weeks, and they decided to make a golden calf to worship instead. It’s not that far-fetched to think that as soon as they entered Canaan, they’d look around all wide-eyed and vulnerable, and very quickly fall prey to the temptations that were the gods of the land of Canaan.
But that wasn’t God’s purpose for them. God’s purpose was for them to walk apart, to be noticeably different.
God wanted them to be pure, and so he goes into a list of behaviours from a sexual perspective that are forbidden. As we go through all of these things – which all seem to be pretty much common sense – God finishes the list by saying that any of these behaviours mean that people defile themselves in committing them. That’s a pretty intense choice of word.
There are a couple of different definitions according to Merriam Webster, but the one that I really notice is number 4:
To violate the sanctity of: DESECRATE
Pretty heavy if you ask me. There’s no light meaning for defile; It’s about breaching purity, violating chastity. To defile is to take away the purity of something. The punishment is just as bad.
“Everyone who does any of these detestable things – such persons must be cut off from their people.” ~ Leviticus 18:29
Not every law in Leviticus, not every rite and custom that has been looked at so far has been specifically pointed out as being for aliens as well as the Israelites. Non-Israelites were also forbidden from eating blood, and now they’re also forbidden from defiling themselves as per God’s instructions on sexual behaviour. These actions are things that God takes extremely seriously.
God wants his people to be pure and distinct from the rest of the world. He doesn’t want his people to be just like the Canaanites, who were defiled and driven from their lands. He wants people who will reflect him; not only back in the Old Testament, but now. God’s desire is to be reflected in the actions of his people. His desire is that the world would see him, and recognise him through his people.
Sometimes I wonder why we have emotions.
Over the past few years until this one, I found that one tactic I could use to keep myself from feeling too bad about things, was simply to close myself off to everything. Not completely, I could still function, I just didn’t let many people get too close. It was easier to deal with being let down, particularly by people, if I didn’t care about them. If they weren’t important enough to me to actually care what they did, then when they did something that hurt or left me feeling let down, well, I was expecting it wasn’t I?
I knew the reality of the world – we can’t rely on each other completely. We’re not actually going to be able to survive that way because somewhere, somehow, some day everyone we know will let us down in some manner.
I read a page on Facebook today – entitled something like: “You said you’d never hurt me, well you lied.”
I’m sorry, but yes, that’s a ridiculous promise to make – but it’s also a ridiculous promise to believe. Everyone is going to let you down at some point in your life.
Except for one: God; Jesus – He won’t let you down no matter what. I can think of several people I know right now who would disagree with me on that, but the truth is, he doesn’t. He never left me, even in the darkest points of my life. I didn’t see him there, but when I look back on my life now and think of where I could have ended up? Well, I can’t deny that even though I wasn’t listening, wasn’t following, was completely ignoring and turning my back on God – he was still doing what he could in the background to make sure I stayed safe.
Anyway though, on to Exodus:
This is – wow – an exceptionally intense chapter; with a whole lot to draw out of it.
First of all, how impatient were these Israelites? Moses is gone what – a few days? Maybe a month? Was there food up on the mountain? Water? I’m sure God would have fed him if it was needed, though. Listen to the Israelites, though, they’ve lost sight of Moses, and straight away they’re looking for something new to focus on.
I’ve heard our generation being called “the ADD generation” in the sense that we don’t focus on things for very long. We’re always looking for the next big thing, something new and exciting to entertain us. We get bored so quickly and so easily – and the opening to this chapter makes me think the Israelites were a bit the same way. Apart from the fact that we’ve already seen the way they start whining as soon as things don’t go their way, now they’re just going: “We’re bored with God! He’s not doing anything exciting! Give us a new god!”
Wow, sound familiar? Why do our TV shows need to be so quick and consistently exciting? Because otherwise we’ll change the channel. This was the Israelites looking at Channel Sinai and going, “There’s nothing on… Let’s go check out that new Golden Calf show on Channel Idol!”
Perhaps there’s not really an ADD generation – perhaps it’s more that we just are able to notice it more these days because we have so many things to turn our attention to. Perhaps we’re not all that different from the Israelites in all their whining and complaining. Perhaps we’re looking for the new idol too.
Look at verses 7 to 10; though.
The first thing that struck me as I read this, was God’s pronoun usage. He says to Moses “your people”; he calls them “They” over and over. God separates himself from the Israelites in this passage, he actually implies that he’s done with them. They aren’t his people any more, they’re Moses’ people. God’s been patient with them all this time, he’s fed them and cared for them and rescued them and so many things, and yet now, once again, they’ve decided they’d rather do things their way.
So God – for a moment at least – turns his back on them and says that he’s had enough.
Thankfully they had Moses there – once again – to actually plead their case with God.
Parallels again. Moses is pleading the case of the Israelites with God; not only that, but he actually says to God in verse 32:
“But now, please forgive their sin – but if not, then blot me out of the book you have written.” ~ Exodus 32:32
Moses actually went to the point of offering his own life on the altar, if it would mean saving the Israelites. Sound familiar?
Moses wasn’t able to carry the sin of any others; his death would have meant nothing, and God knew that. Jesus’ death, however, was different. He was God incarnate, human, holy, pure, and the sacrifice that was able to carry the sins of all others.