RSS

Tag Archives: love

The Ark of God Captured

And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. In those days the Philistines mustered for war against Israel, and Israel went out to battle against them; they encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek. The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. When the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, so that he may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.” So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, the Philistines were afraid; for they said, “Gods have come into the camp.” They also said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before.Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, in order not to become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.” So the Philistines fought; Israel was defeated, and they fled, everyone to his home. There was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. The ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died. (1 Samuel 4:1-11, NRSV)

I sit and wonder what one can say about this? Is there good news here?

And I’m struck with no. There is no good news here for the people of Israel. The Philistines have taken the Ark of the Covenant and those who brought it to Ebenezer have died.

It seems as though all is lost. But if you know the song Come Thou Font, you know the second verse is here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I come. And an Ebenezer is a good thing so our story here today is obviously not the end of the story.

And that is the hope we have every day. That in God the story of this day is never the end of the story.

Advertisements
 

Tags: , , , ,

The Golden Calf

When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered around Aaron, and said to him, “Come, make gods for us, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.” Aaron said to them, “Take off the gold rings that are on the ears of your wives, your sons, and your daughters, and bring them to me.” So all the people took off the gold rings from their ears, and brought them to Aaron. He took the gold from them, formed it in a mold, and cast an image of a calf; and they said, “These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt!” When Aaron saw this, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation and said, “Tomorrow shall be a festival to the Lord.” They rose early the next day, and offered burnt offerings and brought sacrifices of well-being; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to revel. The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once! Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely; they have been quick to turn aside from the way that I commanded them; they have cast for themselves an image of a calf, and have worshiped it and sacrificed to it, and said, ‘These are your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt! The Lord said to Moses, “I have seen this people, how stiff-necked they are. Now let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them; and of you I will make a great nation.” But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever.’“ And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people. Then Moses turned and went down from the mountain, carrying the two tablets of the covenant in his hands, tablets that were written on both sides, written on the front and on the back. The tablets were the work of God, and the writing was the writing of God, engraved upon the tablets.When Joshua heard the noise of the people as they shouted, he said to Moses, “There is a noise of war in the camp.” But he said, “It is not the sound made by victors, or the sound made by losers; it is the sound of revelers that I hear.” As soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses’ anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets from his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made, burned it with fire, ground it to powder, scattered it on the water, and made the Israelites drink it. Moses said to Aaron, “What did this people do to you that you have brought so great a sin upon them?” And Aaron said, “Do not let the anger of my lord burn hot; you know the people, that they are bent on evil.They said to me, ‘Make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’ So I said to them, ‘Whoever has gold, take it off’; so they gave it to me, and I threw it into the fire, and out came this calf!” When Moses saw that the people were running wild (for Aaron had let them run wild, to the derision of their enemies), then Moses stood in the gate of the camp, and said, “Who is on the Lord’s side? Come to me!” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. He said to them, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side, each of you! Go back and forth from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill your brother, your friend, and your neighbor.’“ The sons of Levi did as Moses commanded, and about three thousand of the people fell on that day. Moses said, “Today you have ordained yourselves for the service of the Lord, each one at the cost of a son or a brother, and so have brought a blessing on yourselves this day.” On the next day Moses said to the people, “You have sinned a great sin. But now I will go up to the Lord; perhaps I can make atonement for your sin.” So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people has sinned a great sin; they have made for themselves gods of gold. But now, if you will only forgive their sin—but if not, blot me out of the book that you have written.” But the Lord said to Moses, “Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book. But now go, lead the people to the place about which I have spoken to you; see, my angel shall go in front of you. Nevertheless, when the day comes for punishment, I will punish them for their sin.” Then the Lord sent a plague on the people, because they made the calf—the one that Aaron made. (Exodus 32:1-35, NRSV)

What is this about?

Us seeing someone else who didn’t wait for what God was giving them?

Or is the story here of the Golden Calf, of a people who found it hard to wait for Moses to come off of the mountain from meeting with God and created what they wanted, a story for us to see in ourselves the very thing that caused the golden calf?

You see all of us have a notion in our minds and hearts what God is like and what God is going to do for us. Yet that isn’t really God. That is what we want God to be, so we make a golden calf and don;t wait for God.

And when we make a golden calf, our Moses will come and burn it and grind it into dust and make us drink it.

It is better to wait on God than to drink burnt gold water!

 

Tags: , , , ,

The Ark of the Covenant

They shall make an ark of acacia wood; it shall be two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside you shall overlay it, and you shall make a molding of gold upon it all around. You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side. You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, by which to carry the ark. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. You shall put into the ark the covenant that I shall give you. Then you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its width. You shall make two cherubim of gold; you shall make them of hammered work, at the two ends of the mercy seat. Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other; of one piece with the mercy seat you shall make the cherubim at its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings. They shall face one to another; the faces of the cherubim shall be turned toward the mercy seat. You shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you.There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites. (Exodus 25:10-22, NRSV)

This is the resting place of the second set of stone tablets that Moses cut after he broke the first pair.

God gave specific instructions on the construction of items. And here is one for the place to keep the covenant that God will give to His people. And God said that this is the place where He would meet His people.

And of course, this is the item that the item that the Nazis are looking for in the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark. They believe it will give them immense power to have the covenant and the mercy seat of God. And so we wonder whatever happened to the Ark. Where is it?

Maybe and this is just my thoughts now, the ark will never be found because God said He would meet us over the resting place of the covenant. And the covenant is that which helps us live rightly with God and with others. So maybe the Ark is in all of us, and all around us, and can be found in the place where we are right with God and each other.

Live out the covenant, not as rules but as a way of life!

 

Tags: , , , , , ,

The Ten Commandments

Then God spoke all these words: I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; you shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments. You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name. Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it. Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You shall not murder. You shall not commit adultery. You shall not steal. You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor. You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor. When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.” Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.” Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.  (Exodus 20:1-21, NRSV)

 

The 10 Commandments.

Are there actually 10?

And how are they numbered?

You see there are at least 2 different numberings of the 10 Commandments, as you see in the 2 pictures on this post. The one on the left is the Lutheran/Catholic numbering and the one on the right is most others and the more widely accepted numbering. Why 2 different numberings? Probably because the commandments are found in Exodus (as seen above) and in Deuteronomy 5:4-20.

When I count in the reading above I get 13 things we are supposed to or not supposed to do. So why 10?

I honestly don’t know why. It is interesting though to see the emphasis put on these. They are a lifestyle that God invites all of us into. God gives the guidelines of a grace-filled life to Moses on 2 stone tablets. One laid out the way we are to interact with God and one the way we are to interact with our brothers and sisters here.

So follow 10 or 13 and use whatever numbering you like, but know these are rules we can not possibly keep, in their simplest form or the expanded form that Jesus gives us later, but are a lifestyle for us to live into to be in the right relationship with God and each other.

Love the Lord your God and Your Neighbor as yourself!

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,

Crossing the Red Sea

Then the Lord said to Moses: “Tell the Israelites to turn back and camp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall camp opposite it, by the sea. Pharaoh will say of the Israelites, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has closed in on them.’ I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so. When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed toward the people, and they said, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?” So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon. As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them. In great fear the Israelites cried out to the Lord. They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt? Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” But Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance that the Lord will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you see today you shall never see again. The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to keep still.” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry out to me? Tell the Israelites to go forward. But you lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the Israelites may go into the sea on dry ground. Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers.” The angel of God who was going before the Israelite army moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from in front of them and took its place behind them. It came between the army of Egypt and the army of Israel. And so the cloud was there with the darkness, and it lit up the night; one did not come near the other all night. Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea. The Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night, and turned the sea into dry land; and the waters were divided. The Israelites went into the sea on dry ground, the waters forming a wall for them on their right and on their left. The Egyptians pursued, and went into the sea after them, all of Pharaoh’s horses, chariots, and chariot drivers. At the morning watch the Lord in the pillar of fire and cloud looked down upon the Egyptian army, and threw the Egyptian army into panic. He clogged their chariot wheels so that they turned with difficulty. The Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the Israelites, for the Lord is fighting for them against Egypt.” (Exodus 14:1-25, NRSV)

Where there not enough graves in Eygpt that you brought us out here to die?

Wow.

I mean the Israelites were told that Moses and Aaron were sent by I AM, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Their God. So are they asking Moses the above question or God?

But God continues to show the Israelites and us that He is always there for them. Allowing Moses to push the sea back and for all of them to walk across the sea bed on dry land. Watching the fish swim by in the waters right next to them. Blocking the advances of the Egyptian army and stopping up the wheels of their chariots to slow their advances.

The Lord is always with us and will provide a way even when we don’t see it, or can’t perceive what His plan might be.

Just follow where He leads and always trust in the Lord!

 

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Death of the Firstborn

At midnight the Lord struck down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the prisoner who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of the livestock.Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his officials and all the Egyptians; and there was a loud cry in Egypt, for there was not a house without someone dead. Then he summoned Moses and Aaron in the night, and said, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you said, and be gone. And bring a blessing on me too!” The Egyptians urged the people to hasten their departure from the land, for they said, “We shall all be dead.” So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls wrapped up in their cloaks on their shoulders.The Israelites had done as Moses told them; they had asked the Egyptians for jewelry of silver and gold, and for clothing, and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have what they asked. And so they plundered the Egyptians. The Israelites journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides children. A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds. They baked unleavened cakes of the dough that they had brought out of Egypt; it was not leavened, because they were driven out of Egypt and could not wait, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves. The time that the Israelites had lived in Egypt was four hundred thirty years. At the end of four hundred thirty years, on that very day, all the companies of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt. That was for the Lord a night of vigil, to bring them out of the land of Egypt. That same night is a vigil to be kept for the Lord by all the Israelites throughout their generations. (Exodus 12:29-42, NRSV)

430 years of slavery ends in the plundering of a nation!

They are sent out of Eygpt after the Lord had struck down the firstborn of every house that did not have blood on the doorposts.

Pharaoh saw that God was not kidding with His demands for His people to be set free. And in the freedom, God allowed them the plunder of the nation of Eygpt.

And as Pharoah sent the Israelites away he sent them to worship their God and to send him a blessing as well.

Oh that all would seek to be blessed by God and follow after His plans.

Then there would be no more death!

 

Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

Strong beliefs, loosely held.

I sit at my desk and put off writing this article because I don’t know what to write about. But I wonder today if any of us will actually listen to the other. If we will open our minds to the possibility that we may not have all for information and we could actually be misinformed.

I read an article today titled Facts Don’t Change People’s Minds. Here’s what does. It can be found here: https://heleo.com/facts-dont-change-peoples-minds-heres/16242/

It is a short article and worth the read. I read it and thought, “Wow that is spot on.” How many of us go looking for opinions on topics that are different than ours? How many of us will listen to/read an article that is opposite to our viewpoint?

We have friends that are the same thought process as us. We find people on Facebook that think the same as us. We follow people on Twitter that think the same as us. As I scroll through my Facebook feed today I am met with the opinions of everyone on the kneeling/sitting/standing for the National Anthem. And all of the articles and pictures and sound bites are just feeding the hysteria over this. We all have our opinions on what is the proper thing to do. But how many of us will change our mind because it is thrown in our face time and time again?

None of us will change our mind because someone is telling us we are wrong. We will shut down and not allow any fact to persuade us to change our minds. Until we can hear the other without trying to change their mind, and actually see things from their point of view with the possibility we might need to change we will not move out of where we are.

As followers of Christ, we are called to love all and seek justice for the least of these. We cannot do this by saying we are always right and everyone else is wrong. We are called to see things from the other point of view, not to lose our beliefs, but to be the hands and feet of Christ. The article says it this way:

Marc Andreessen has a saying that I love: “Strong beliefs, loosely held.” Strongly believe in an idea, but be willing to change your opinion if the facts show otherwise.

Can we be open-minded and show the world the love that Christ has for it?

 

Tags: , , , , , , ,