"You were still naked and bare when I passed by you and saw that your time for love had arrived. So I spread my robe over you (an act symbolizing espousal) and covered your nakedness, and I entered into a covenant with you by oath, thus you became Mine.
You grew more and more beautiful, and became fit for royalty. Your beauty won you fame among the nations, for it was perfected through the splendor which I set upon you - declares the Lord."
"As long as a man is thinking of God as an examiner who has set him a sort of paper to do, or as the opposite party in a sort of bargain - as long as he is thinking of claims and counterclaims between himself and God - he is not yet in the right relation to Him. He is misunderstanding what he is and what God is. And he cannot get into the right relation until he has discovered the fact of our bankruptcy." -cs lewis.
A mentor of mine once taught me that in Biblical times, if a family didn't want or felt they couldn't support a baby, there were designated fields where newborns could be left to die. It was an ancient form of abortion - after birth, the babies would be left lying under the sun until the heat of its rays did its brutal work.
Death by exposure.
I remembered this yesterday as I read the following passage in Ezekiel 16;
"On the day you were born, you were left lying, rejected, in the open field. When I passed by you and saw you wallowing in your own blood, I said to you: 'Live in spite of your blood.' I let you grow like the plants of the field; and you continued to grow up until you attained womanhood."
God the Father rescued us.
He passed us by in the fields and in love decided to pick us up, take us out of the sun, and call us His own. He adopted us.
And now, instead of unwanted children, we are sons, daughters, and heirs of a King.
1. an object regarded with awe as being the embodiment or habitation of a potent spirit or as having magical potency. 2. any object, idea, etc., eliciting unquestioning reverence, respect, or devotion. 3. any object or non genital part of the body that causes a habitual erotic response or fixation.
"Thus said the Lord God: If anyone of the House of Israel turnshis thoughts upon his fetishes and sets his mind upon the sin through which he stumbled, and yet comes to the prophet, I the LORD will respond to him as he comes with his multitude of fetishes. Thus I will hold the House of Israel to account for their thoughts, because they have all been estranged from Me through their fetishes."-ezekiel 14.
"continually be transformed by the renewing of your minds so that you may be able to determine what God's will is." -romans 12.
"we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Messiah." -2 corinthians 10.
"more than all that you guard, guard your mind, for it is the source of life." -proverbs 4.
"Above the expanse over their heads was the semblance of a throne, in appearance like sapphire; and on top, upon this semblance of a throne, there was the semblance of a human form. From what appeared as his loins up, I saw a gleam as of amber - what looked like fire encased in a frame; and from what appeared as his loins down, I saw what looked like fire. There was a radiance all about him. Like the appearance of the bow which shines in the clouds on a day of rain, such was the appearance of the surrounding radiance. That was the appearance of the semblance of the Presence of the Lord. When I beheld it, I flung myself down on my face. And I heard the voice of someone speaking..." -ezekiel 1.
this portion of ezekiel's vision fascinates me.
look at the words he uses; sapphire, amber, fire, radiance.
these are powerful descriptors, conjuring up images of a form and a being that is beautiful and mighty beyond our understanding.
and this is merely a retelling of the appearance of the semblance of the Presence of the Lord. all that radiance and gleaming amber and framed fire is just a limited, far off, layered version of what God truly is. the reality of God is far too pure and holy for any man to look on in full.
the mere appearance of the semblance of the Presence of the Lord caused ezekiel, God's own prophet and priest, to fling himself down on his face in reverence and fear.
And this is the God who is mindful of us?
this is the God who chooses us?
this is the God who speaks (!) to us and calls us by name?
"Here is the thing about God. He is so big and so perfect that we really can't understand Him. We can't possess Him, or apprehend Him. Moses learned this when he climbed up Mount Sinai and saw that the radiance of God's face would burn him up should he gaze upon it directly. But God so wants to be in relationship with us that He makes himself small, smaller than He really is, smaller and more humble than his infinite, perfect self, so that we might be able to get to Him, a little bit."
"God is love. That is why he suffers. To love our suffering sinful world is to suffer. God so suffered for the world that he gave up his only Son to suffering. The one who does not see God's suffering does not see his love. God is suffering love.
So suffering is down at the center of things, deep down where the meaning is. Suffering is the meaning of our world. For Love is the meaning. And Love suffers. The tears of God are the meaning of history.
But mystery remains. Why isn't Love-without-suffering the meaning of things? Why is suffering-Love the meaning? Why does God endure his suffering? Why does he not at once relieve his agony by relieving ours?"
"all the broken and dislocated pieces of the universe - people and things, animals and atoms - get properly fixed and fit together in vibrant harmonies, all because of his death, his blood that poured down from the cross."
"Six days you shall gather it, and on the seventh day, the sabbath, there will be none then."-exodus 16:26.
"The Sabbath - the word means "cessation time" - has not yet been enjoined in the Ten Commandments, but it is assumed by the story (with the Creation story behind it) to be part of the very structure of nature. Thus, the double portion of manna gathered on the sixth day is preserved through the seventh, and no manna is to be found on the seventh day." -commentary, robert alter.
I have been reflecting upon this passage all week.
The idea that God did not merely command that we rest each week, but that he sewed the need for that rest into the very fabric of our natures, is fascinating to me.
This concept, if true, implies then that when we do not take time to cease from our constant movement to worship the Lord with stillness, we are not being our true selves.
That without rest, we are missing out on a key and central thread to the pattern of our souls.
Even God Himself, the Complete and fully Satisfied One, rested on the seventh day, so who are we to think that our small and vulnerable selves do not need to do the same?
God is a caretaker. He does not command in order to remind us of His power - He does so for our good.
Which means we can assume that this thing called the Sabbath, when obeyed and lived out in true worship before the Father, will usher into our hearts a fund of grace so vibrant and full as to be incomprehensible.
And in this way, worship and bless and show trust for the One who made you.
Which comes as no surprise to us, since from the very beginning we are shown that our God is full of order and plan.
Within these patterns lie powerful messages about God and His story, a truth I was reminded of recently by a teacher, who showed me the following:
Chaos. Ruach. Voice. Temptation. Sin.
watery chaos covers the deep. God's breath (ruach) hovers above the waters. God speaks: "let there be..." and a new creation comes to fruition by the power of His voice. Immediately following, the people God has formed are tempted to disobey Him, their Maker. And they fall into that temptation, eat of the fruit of the forbidden tree, and sin.
2. The Flood.
God sees that the heart of man is full of deceit, and He sends a flood to destroy the men of the earth. The flood waters come and fill the earth, and the land is filled with watery chaos once again. Only Noah and his family are saved. Once the rest has been destroyed, God remembers Noah in the ark, and He sends a wind (ruach) over the earth, and the water subsides. And by His voice the Lord speaks blessing over Noah and His family, charging them to be fruitful and multiply on the earth, establishing with them a new covenant and creation. But soon after, Noah's sons are tempted by pride, and Canaan his son gives way to that pride, disrespects his father Noah, and sins.
3. The Exodus.
God hears the cry of His people, and sends His messenger, the great prophet, to bring them out of their bondage. In their escape, they find themselves trapped and hedged in by the watery chaos of the sea of reeds. But God blows His breath (ruach) and the waters split, and the Israelites walk through the sea unharmed. And by God's mighty hand, the waters cover over the Egyptians as they follow, and destroy them. And the Israelites journey into the wilderness, and come upon the mountain of the Lord. And God, by His mighty voice, speaks, and gives Moses the great Torah, His very Word, a new covenant and creation for His people. And while Moses is with God upon the mountain, the Israelites are tempted by fear and unbelief. And the people of God give in to their temptation, create a golden calf idol, and sin before the Lord their God, their Saviour.
4. The Jordan.
The Israelites prepare to cross over into the land of promise. The watery chaos of the Jordan separates them from their journey into this land. And the spirit of God (ruach) goes with them, and the waters part, and the people pass through to the other side. And God, by His mighty voice, speaks, and charges Joshua to choose twelve men, to make an altar to Him there, standing stones as a witness to His power. And the men of Israel are circumcised before the Lord that day, and a covenant is established and renewed between the Lord and His people. And the people march on to Jericho, and Achan son of Zerah and his family are tempted by greed and possession, and Achan and his family give in to their greed and disobey the proclamation of the Lord their God, take for themselves silver and gold, and sin against the Lord their God, their provider.
5. Rabbi Jesus, Messiah.
Jesus comes to John to be baptized. John tries to deter Him. Surely Jesus should be the baptizer, not the baptized. But Jesus replies, "Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this to fulfill all righteousness." And Jesus enters the watery chaos of the Jordan, the waters signifying all the weight of sin, and plunges under. And then, Jesus went up out of the water, and heaven was opened, and the spirit of God (ruach) descended on Him. And a voice from heaven said, "THIS IS MY SON, whom I love; with him I am well-pleased." Immediately following this proclamation, Jesus is led by the Spirit into the desert to be tempted.
And Jesus is tempted. And Jesus says, MAN DOES NOT LIVE ON BREAD ALONE, BUT ON EVERY WORD THAT COMES FROM THE MOUTH OF GOD.
And Jesus is tempted. And Jesus says, DO NOT PUT THE LORD YOUR GOD TO THE TEST.
And Jesus is tempted. And Jesus says, AWAY FROM ME, SATAN! for it is written, WORSHIP THE LORD YOUR GOD, and SERVE HIM ONLY."
And this man Jesus, the gentle One, our great Rabbi and Shepherd, God's only son, and our MESSIAH,
DOES NOT SIN.
darkness driven back. sin conquered. righteousness fulfilled.
"Self is the opaque veil that hides the face of God from us. It can be removed only in spiritual experience, never by mere instruction. There must be a work of God in destruction before we are free.
Let us remember that when we talk of the rendering of the veil we are speaking in a figure, and the thought of it is poetical, almost pleasant, but in actuality there is nothing pleasant about it. In human experience that veil is made of living spiritual tissue; it is composed of the sentient, quivering stuff of which our whole beings consist, and to touch it is to touch us where we feel pain. To tear it away is to injure us, to hurt us and make us bleed. To say otherwise is to make the cross no cross at all and death no death. It is never fun to die. To rip through the dear and tender stuff of which life is made can never be anything but deeply painful. Yet that is what the cross did to Jesus and it is what the cross would do to every man to set him free.
Let us beware of tinkering with our inner life, hoping ourselves to rend the veil. God must do everything for us. Our part is to yield and to trust. We must confess, forsake, repudiate the self-life, and then reckon it crucified.
Insist that the work be done in very truth and it will be done. The cross is rough and it is deadly, but it is effective. There comes a moment when its work is finished and the suffering victim dies. After that is resurrection glory and power, and the pain is forgotten for joy that the veil is taken away and we have entered in actual spiritual experience the presence of the living God."
"Therefore we are duty-bound to thank, praise, glorify, honor, exalt, extol, and bless him who did for our forefathers and for us all these miracles. He brought us forth from slavery to freedom, anguish to joy, mourning to festival, darkness to great light, subjugation to redemption, so we should say before him, Hallelujah!"