This week in "The Story" has to do with Moses and the escape out of Egypt. I like to think of it more as "God redeeming his people from the bondage of slavery" than a simple exit strategy.
God first revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. Moses answered God's call reluctantly. He and Aaron went into Egypt to face the people he once knew well. God wanted to send a strong message that HE and HE alone was God. So, he sent plague after plague combating the gods of the Egyptians. He turned the Nile into blood. This sent a message to there god and goddess of the Nile [Hapi & Isis]. Only Moses could turn the blood back into water. Each plague challenged one of their gods. Finally God knew that to get his message through he would need to do something that would send his message loud and clear. So, that is when Moses warned him that God would take the first born son of anyone that does not smear the blood of a lamb over the doorpost of their house. Every Israelite did this and the Lord passed over those houses. Ultimately it took the life of Pharaoh's oldest son. Pharaoh's oldest son would someday be heralded a god [just like his dad]. However, Yahweh is the only God.
So, Pharaoh let the Israelite people go. The Passover has been celebrated ever since. This was the redemption of the Jewish people and God reminded them to never ever forget what HE did for them.
So, fast forward to Jesus. Jesus is celebrating Passover with his disciples when he changes the Passover rituals. He said the unleavened bread represented his body and the cup represented his body broken. He is letting them know that the redemption they celebrate through the slaughter of a Passover Lamb is done. He is now the once-for-all Passover Lamb. 1 Corinthians 5:7 says "For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed." It is that Lamb that took our sins away (Jn 1:29). He also made a similar statement commanding us "This do in remembrance of me".
So, we still remember our redeemer, who redeems us from our slavery to sin every time we take communion.
Have you noticed that we have this insatiable need for details? We can't function without everything being laid out. I understand this is a generalization for all of society. This isn't completely fair. But, I know the overwhelming part of society struggle with "not knowing". I would assert that Facebook feeds off this desire. It is why Facebook is SO addicting.
But, it is also the case when something bad happens. We have this insatiable need to define the exact cause and fully understand why. Now I am not suggesting not exploring it and learning from it. After all, in manufacturing, I taught the Japenese notion of "Poka-yoke". The idea that you fix something so that it doesn't ever happen again!
But, with life it isn't always that simple. I believe that by living by biblical principles, you set yourself up to succeed. However, sin still exists and evil can still have its way.
Joseph's story in the Bible is a clear example of where faith should enter our lives. Joseph didn't know the Upper Story, God's intentional will for Joseph's life. Joseph just kept his faith in Yahweh and over time, God continued to reveal himself. Pretty soon, it was clear that what his brothers intended for evil, God worked in for good. Joseph's brothers failed, but God still prevailed.
So it is in our life. I fail often [unfortunately], but God still uses me to accomplish his will. My prayer has always been "Lord, let me work where you are working. Let me get out of your way. Use me to be an instrument of your love, grace, and mercy. Amen"
In the end, where I fail, God will INDEED prevail.
When you think of Abraham, you should think about grace and faith. I cringe every time that I read about him taking Isaac up on the mountain! But, this event served several purposes: first, it showed God that Abraham had what it took to lead God's nation! Second, it proved to Abraham that he had the faith to lead. But, this week in my study, it hit me that it is possible that Isaac displayed as much faith! Isaac noticed that his dad did not bring a sacrifice. He could have ran, but didn't. He could have fought when Abraham put him on the altar. But, he didn't.
Remember that God needed the right leaders of his nation. Though the covenant was with Abraham, God still utilized Isaac to build the nation! In Matthew 1, Abraham is the first person listed and then Isaac. The Messiah's lineage stems from Abraham and Isaac fulfilling the covenant.
Abraham was NOT perfect! He decided to take matters into his own hands and have a child with Hagar. This did not please God. BUT, where we fall short, our faith overcomes. We must strive to put our whole heart into where God leads us. Faith will overcome.
So we have begun the epic adventure that will last 31 weeks. "The Story" will take us through the major elements of The Bible. It is my intent that everyone reading the book and listen to the sermons will gain a deeper understanding of Scripture.
Our first week was actually about three weeks ago, but I want to get this blog caught up and then I will work diligently to stay up to date! So this post will be from the story of Adam and Eve.
It is important to read in the story of Adam and Eve that God's original intent was the way it was in the Garden of Eden. Think about that for a moment: Everything that Adam touched blossomed and grew! There were no weeds and thistles. Farmers in the heart of Iowa would love to have ground like that. Also, there was no sin. No broken relationships, no hurt, and no pain. The best part? Constant companionship with him. Also, they would live forever. The only stipulation? DO NOT eat from the Tree of Knowledge of Good & Evil. Sounds easy? It must not have been because Adam and Eve ate from the tree.
Now the whole world groans because of the choice of these two people! (Romans 8:19)
If I stop there, this would be a downer of a blog. But, it is important to remember a couple of things: first, remember that the idea of grace has always existed. God could have killed the original characters. But, he let them live. He also protected them. This is grace. It was offered to the first people and it is still offered to us today!
Second, God's original intent suddenly became his final intent. Because of love, he gave Adam and Eve the choice. When they failed all subsequent generations, the human race entered into this epic adventure of redemption. God's original intent sure sounds like heaven doesn't it. God's original intent IS His final intent!
I had a prof in seminary (Dr Dongell) that told our class that the continuous learning of the Bible is a little bit like this analogy: you begin to read scripture and it is like you are listening to your favorite garage band. But, then you learn about literary techniques that the writers used and your band begins to add symbols and bass drums to your band. Then you learn about the culture of biblical times and your band begins to add woodwinds. Then you continue to learn maps and geological information of the middle east and your band adds brass. Before you know it your garage band is playing a rich and deep musical score. You had no idea that it could sound so great.
So, it is with the Bible. You can read the Bible and get something from it with little training. Just as the garage band sounded good. However, the more you read and the more you get to know about the Bible and the culture it was written in, the richer and deeper the meaning of the text. The Bible becomes ALIVE. If you don't believe me, just try it!
I am a man on a journey...