17 Moses

17.4 Moses 17, Day 4

Being poor is a situation not a station

The first time the word poor shows up in the NIV version of the bible is in Exodus 23.  This is the chapter where Moses is giving instruction to the Hebrews that he received from God, and the chapter where he says, in verse 11, “but during the seventh year let the land lie unplowed and unused. Then the poor among your people may get food from it.”  In other words, the same dialogue we are studying today in Leviticus.

Even in the promised land, the land flowing with milk and honey, there would be poor people.  These people would likely be believers in God.  Some of them were clearly from the ranks of Hebrews.  There was no indication that they were poor because these people were being punished, nor that they were inferior.  They were just poor.

As we read these chapter of Leviticus, it is easy to fall into a “prosperity gospel” mindset.  God, the creator of everything, has unimaginable abundance and a love to pour that out upon His people in grace and great bounty.  And, all of that is actually true. But, there will still be people who are economically poor.

However, the other thing we see from this is that being poor, at least as used here, is not a station, it is not a position in society or a caste, it is just a situation.  During someone’s life, there may be times when they are economically wealthy and other times where they are economically poor.  Again, they have not “earned” either situation and both situations can bring us closer to God.  We can be on the right path of faith and still experience highs and lows, both spiritually and economically.  God can use these times to teach us and help us grow.

On one hand, this is refreshing and encouraging.  On the other, it can really challenge us, too.  For example: understanding poverty in this way draws us to approach helping the poor in a different way.  We are called to give and help the poor in what they need rather than in what we have in abundance.  Stop and read that last sentence again.

This is not “drive-by charity”.  This is a lot more challenging, it means interacting with and getting to know people who are experiencing a time of poverty.  This means not only giving stuff, but giving of ourselves so that we can give the message of a relationship with God.  It is a lot, lot, lot messier.  It is a whole lot easier to just load up a basket of food or clothes and drop them off at some collection center.  We can still do those things, they are good, just not sufficient.  Mostly because they provide a hand-out, but not a hand-up.  If these are the only approaches to charity and the poor that we take, then we need to ask “are we giving to help others or because it makes us feel better about ourselves?”

The fact is, drive-by charity is not how God approaches me or you.  God listens.  God knows us.  God shows compassion.  God gives us what we need.  Sometimes what we need and what He provides is an easy road.  Sometimes, however, it means being bent over picking up the left-overs of the field.  Both are compassionate, because, in both situations, God knows us well enough to know this is where we need to be to have the opportunity to become spiritually rich.  God is compassionate enough to allow us to be economically poor at times if it will help us to become eternally spiritually wealthy.  He is also compassionate enough to allow us to be economically wealthy to test our commitment to our faith walk.  “it is far easier for…”

When you are thinking this week about how God’s treatment of you can influence your treatment of others, think first about God’s patience and how many times He has heard you repent the same thing and how many times He has held your hand and been with you even when you were not paying attention to the fact that He was there.  Food, money, shelter, clothing, are all things we should give, but the greater gift we can give is the present of actually being present.  Through this relationship, others can see a true relationship with God.  Even in these chapters in Leviticus, God isn’t just discussing providing for the people, He is talking about dwelling among them.

 

My Answers:

8.
Do not treat outsiders better than your own, help them, provide for them without interest, Do not withold food for profit.

9.
a.
38. I am the Lord, 42 the Israelites are my servants…, fear your God 55. they belong to God as servants, He brought them out of Egypt.  “I am the LORD your God.”

b.
Today – safety, shelter, food, fellowship, a ministry, love, family, care for family, provision, a church, the bible, a relationship with Him

c.
My help to others should reflect God’s love.  I belong to Him.  They belong to Him.

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17 Moses

17.3 Moses 17, Day 3

Mine

If you have spent time around toddlers, then you have seen mankind at its most natural state.  They can be loving and caring and adorable, but they can also be, well, let’s say – challenging.  No parent teaches their child to go and snatch something from an innocent sibling or playmate and scream the word, “mine”, to them.

But that is what toddlers do.  That is what you and I did.  It is what children did decades and millennia ago.  It is who we are.

But it isn’t mine.  No matter how you play the game of life, as John Ortberg wrote, “when the game is over, it all goes back in the box.”

We live every day with this concept of scarcity.  There is only so much of (insert item here) so I need to get mine.  If things keep going like they are going, we are going to run out.  For me to have more means someone will have less and I would rather be on the more side than the less side of that equation.

But that is a lie.  Historically, it doesn’t even prove out.  Each time we form decision on a scarcity mindset, something changes and our strategies no longer work.  A famous example of this was the London Crisis of 1894.  At that time there were enough people living in the city of London that a lot of transportation was required.  The transportation of that day was horse, either individually or in carriages, wagons, etc.  The problem wasn’t the horses themselves, per se, but what need to go into the horses and what came out of them.  There was tremendous concern over enough land to grow feed as the city swelled into the countryside and whether that land could sustain both human and horse needs.  There was concern over the growing piles of horse manure in the streets and the impact and costs it imposed.  But, as we know, this entire problem simply went away with the advent of the motor-car.

The God who created everything out of nothing does not have a scarcity mindset and, if our focus is on the right things, we won’t either.  If you start thinking about scarcity instead of abundance, remind yourself about love.  Remind yourself about freedom, liberty, happiness, peace, joy, goodwill, praise, faith, hope, beauty, grace.  Remind yourself about God.

Should I be focused on these things?  Can society or a nation?  It might be worth doing a search and seeing what is engraved on the Liberty Bell.  It might ring true for today’s scriptures.

My Answers:

5.
a.
7×7=49, +1= 50th is another sabbath year.  proclaim liberty throughout the land.  All purchased farm land returned, all go home

b.
Freedom – freedom from slavery.  Honoring of a covenant.  The gifts of inheritance belong to the family of the King

6.
a.
to identify fairness in pricing of the selling of land since it would be returned in the Jubilee year – basically you are buying the output of the land, not the land itself

b.
Follow my decrees and obey my laws – safety, crop yield, blessings of abundance

c.
A sabbath year of rest for the land, yes – it has benefits for the land.  A period of forgiveness of debts and return of property would not work as well because it would inhibit development, also our land was not a covenant land

7.
a.
to be the kinsman redeemer.  Abraham rescued Lot.  Boaz with Naomi and Ruth

b.
We have incurred debts we cannot pay and have become impoverished to sin.  Jesus came as our kinsman and redeemed us by paying our sin and bringing us into His household as His family.

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14 Moses

14.5 Moses 14, Day 5

(Side Note: Before I begin – I was sad to look ahead and see that it does not appear that BSF will cover Leviticus 23.  I’m hopeful that it is included as background in the Revelation study because understanding the feasts is very useful as a prophecy/foreshadowing of God’s plan for the future of mankind.  I recommend taking a few minutes and reading the information on Feasts on Hebrew4Christians.com for a quick overview).

Defiling the Land

We think of land as, well, dirt and rocks.  It is not alive, inanimate.  It is neither good or evil, it is just land.

But then we turn around and have hold the consecration of places, rooms and buildings.  We pray over and annoint a church building to consecrate it, to literally join it “with sacred”.  We set it apart for holy use.

So if a place can be consecrated (joined with the sacred), it can also be desecrated (separated from the sacred).  This is not done by something the land does, it is done by the actions of those in the place.  They leave a stain, a mark on the land.  They take a sacred place and treat it with “violent disrepect and violation”.  They act of descrating a place is to defile it.

God warned the Israelite people about their sin.  He provided specific rules and laws concerning moral, civil and ceremonial behavior, but the moral code was the one with impact on the land.  Acts of immorality separate a place from God.

Many in our time like to believe “I can do whatever I want with my body as long as it doesn’t hurt someone else.”  But God is very clear – (1) your body doesn’t belong to you, you didn’t make it, it was a gift from God and (2) immorality always does hurt someone else.  We may not see it, but the consequences of immorality permeate the very land we stand on, defiling it and separating it from being joined with God.

Too often the response of Christians is to simply ignore the immorality – live and let live.  But Leviticus 5:1 taught that if anyone is a witness and refuses to testify, that is a sin.

So, what should we do?  Organize pickets?  Hold up signs? Scream and shout?  I don’t see that as the model that is set forth for us to follow.

I think our appropriate response is in the instructions that God gave to both Abraham and Joshua about the promised land.  Walk through it.  Cover the breadth and width of the land.  Every where the sole of your foot steps will be given to you.  (See Genesis 13 and Joshua 1).  While we are walking we need to be praying.  Only God has the ability to make something sacred because only He is sacred.  Only God has the ability to renew a place.  Only God has the ability to redeem a place.

Where will you start?  Your home?  Your neighborhood? Your kid’s schools?  Your church?  What if we all showed up 5 or 15 minutes early this week to BSF and walked the halls and classrooms and sanctuary of the church in which we are meeting, asking God to reclaim the land we stand on from the consequences of sin.

I don’t know about you, but the thought of being “vomited out of the land” is really not appealing to me!

 

My Answers:

10.
The life of a creature is in its blood.  Blood is life.  Blood is required because loss of life is required.  The original gift of God in the first covenant between God and Adam was life – in return he required obedience of 1 law.  When mankind chose disobedience, we forfeited any rights to the gift.  Atonement is not possible without the return of what was given to us – life.

11.
a.
God has high standards about sexual relations

b.
Listen to God, not what they have observed others doing.  “I am the LORD your God.”  (my daughter said this sounded like me – “do it because I’m your parent – that is sufficient.”)  If you defile the land, it will voit you out as it vomited out the nations that were before you.

12.
a.
Use honest scales – conduct self and staff not with an goal of maximizing possible gain but of being honest and fair and forthright in every business dealing

b.
God’s decrees for a consecrated people are very serious

 

 

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13 Moses

13.3 Moses 13, Day 3

Within Tolerance

Moses was called on to inspect the work of the craftsmen.  God had provided very exact standards in terms of measurement, materials, forms, function and structure.  Moses was uniquely qualified to inspect the work. First, because he had heard the specifications first hand.  Second, because he, and he alone, had been given a glimpse at the glory of God.  While you and I may be enamored with the beauty of the craftsmanship, any handiwork would pale in comparison to the glory of God.

But, what if the craftsmanship was a little off?  What if something was a quarter of a cubit short?  What if the bronze was just a bit tarnished?  What if one of the rods was a little too long?  How big of a deal would it be, really?  What level of tolerance to the standards was there?

What we see over and over and over again is the work was done “just as the Lord commanded.”

Do we apply this standard in the work we do for the Lord?  There is a difference between being perfect and being exact.  We are not perfect, no human but Jesus has been.  But we can be exact.  We can exactly honor the commitments we make to God.  If we commit to give a certain amount, we should give exactly that amount (or more).  If we commit to spend time in the bible every day, then that should be every day. Once we make that commitment will we immediately face trial and tribulation – Yes – but there are no new trials, just the same old ones that God has helped people overcome since the beginning of mankind.

The people of the church are the building blocks of the church.  Each time we give ourselves an extra level of tolerance for inexactness, we cut a corner, slant an edge, or round an end.  When others use our work or example to build upon (either with our intent or not), the structure of the church is weakened.

What should we do instead?

  1. Pray and be patient before making commitments.  Sometimes we do what we think and then pray for support.
  2. Seek training.  The craftsmen were skilled, but they still received training.
  3. Execute exactness – not perfection, but exactness.  Why would you give God less than your best work?
  4. Ask God and fellow Christians to hold you accountable and to help your contribution to the church be square and level.  When you seek this feedback and accountability it is not a criticism of you, it is a recognition that you want to delivery the best work you can.

Finally, our group got into a discussion about the tent of meeting.  The term has 2 different meanings.  First, there was the tent of meeting that Moses built outside of the camp where he would go and meet with God.  In this regard, you and I may have a “tent of meeting”, a special place where we spend time with God in prayer or praise or study.  This may be a place in your home or work, inside or outside.  It’s purpose is not to constrain God, but to remove outside distractions.  The second is the Tent of Meeting.  I’ll call this Big-T Tent.  This is the tent inside the tabernacle that contained the table, the lampstand, etc. and had the curtain separating a space in it as the Holy of Holies, the place where the Ark of the Covenant Law was placed.  The priests were required to properly wash and prepare before entering this Big-T Tent.

My Answers:

6.
a.
Just as the Lord commanded

b.
Attention to detail – a loving heart for God

c.
Obedience and boldness

7.
a.
14 days before the passover – God announced that He would soon deliver the people from Egypt. This commitment by God was so important that He set it to be the date of the 1st day of their calendar.

b.
They had seen God’s faithfulness and that 1 year to the day He would pick to renew His covenant and live with them

8.
a.
The ark of the covenant law

b.
God’s presence is what made the tabernacle more than a tent

c.
God’s guidance and love

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11 Moses

11.5 Moses 11, Day 5

Take off the ornaments

We have been blessed to have had the opportunity to support and serve an organization in our town that helps bring homeless women and men in off the streets.  Many of these men and women have exhausted every other support option.  They have been to jail.  They have drug addictions.  They are prostitutes.  They have lost hope.

The Christian woman who founded and runs the organization came out of that same environment.  She knows and her ministry is built on the fact that these individuals do not have the strength to get out of their situations on their own.  It is only with the strength of Jesus Christ that their lives can be turned around.  She will take them in, feed them, shelter them, care for them, teach them, help them find work, make them birthday cakes, share life and love and the good news with them.  In return they simply need to accept this gift and submit to follow a few house rules.

One day we were talking with the founder and discussing what rule was the hardest for people to follow.  I was surprised to learn it was the rule about cell phones.  She has a requirement that someone new to the house must give up their cell phone for 60 days and must agree to allow them to erase all the contacts on the phone.  This is the single biggest hurdle.  The reason they require this is her time proven belief that you cannot continue to play in the same playground with the same playmates and think you are going to play a different game of life.  She said that, despite the fact that it breaks her heart each time it happens, they have learned to not bend on this rule.  If someone who needs their help refuses to cut ties with their old life, they fully intend to go back to that old life.

The Israelites didn’t have cell phones, but they had jewelry and ornamentation.  Is jewelry and ornamentation bad?  Are we restricted from wearing earrings?  I don’t think that is what this is trying to say.  Instead, the message was to remove the temptations.  If wearing earrings causes your mind to return to the golden calf, get rid of the earrings.

You may not have a drug dealer on speed dial or a penchant for golden calves, but you may have ongoing repetitive sin in your life.  Are you so foolish to believe that you can expose yourself to the same playground and playmates and not keep doing the same things?  Clear out the ornamentation in your life that pulls you back into the same old things that you regret.  It is OK to let it go, Jesus has way better things in store for you, but He needs you to grab ahold of Him with both hands – not one while you refuse to let go of your old way of life with the other.

 

My Answers

10.
a.
They sought to seek God’s forgiveness for others by offering themselves as an atonement for their sins

b.
Jesus

c.
His was innocent blood, He was God, He gave Himself as a ransom

11.
Self responsibility.  (also that there is punishment for sin and a book of life to be blotted out of)

12.
a.
Before He said the angel would protect them along the way, they angel would wipe out the inhabitants, God’s blessings on their food and water, no sickness, no miscarriage, a full life span,

b.
stiff-necked people

c.
they mourned and took off their ornaments

d.
be humbled in my sin, repent and seek God’s forgiveness.  Make restitution where possible. – Leave the old temptations behind.

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11 Moses

11.2 Moses 11, Day 2

Idle spirits, idol worship

Waiting is hard.  It is one of those things that seems like it should be easy.  You aren’t doing stressful work.  You aren’t fighting battles.  You aren’t doing anything.  You are waiting.

But, we grow impatient.  We don’t like to wait.  We want to do something now.  We want immediate satisfaction and gratification.  We don’t know what we want, but we want something.

While Moses was communing with God, the people were waiting.  Clearly they knew that escaping Egypt and arriving at the base of this mountain was not the end-all be-all objective.  But they didn’t have a leader to take them further.  Aaron was not their leader, he was filling in as a substitute – more like a baby-sitter.  So they grew impatient. They were idle and instead of focusing on what was ahead and preparing for it, they focused on themselves and their wants and needs.

They wanted fulfillment.  They wanted gods that would move it along.  They wanted to go now.

They should have been drilling and practicing.  They should have been sharpening their weapons and honing their skills.  They should have been fasting and praying.  They should have been growing stronger: physically, mentally, spiritually and mechanically (tools/armor/weapons).  Instead, they were building idols and preparing for a party.

There are times in our life when we feel like we are parked.  We know we are not where God ultimately has planned for us to go, but we also know that God hasn’t moved us forward, yet, either.  So what do we do?  Do we use the time to grow stronger in our relationship with God?  Or, do we grumble and complain and fill our body, thoughts and soul with junk to try to satisfy our wants and desires?

Waiting is hard.

 

My Answers:

3.
a.
Moses was so long in coming down, didn’t know what happened to him, turned to other gods

b.
He asked for their gold jewelry, he cast the idol and finished it with tools, he praised the idol instead of God, he built an altar, he participated in sacrifices to the idol, he called for a festival

c.
The Egyptians – bounty from the Lord’s conquest

4.
a.
Talents used for impropriety and wickedness, wasted or misused resources.  Focus on self satisfaction, greed

b.
there are no new temptations, just common ones, God is stronger and in charge, no reason to yield.  Use past lessons to learn

5.
a.
“your people” have become corrupt, quickly turned away from commanded and have made idol, stiff-necked, destroy them

b.
Destroy the people and start over with Moses – I will make you into a great nation

c.
As a witness to the Egyptians, out of memory of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, God’s covenant to them,

d.
relented and did not bring on his people the disaster He had threatened

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10 Moses

10.4 Moses 10, Day 4

Priests, Present, Prayer, Patience, Passing the Torch

Are you called to be an active part of the ministry of your church? Yes.

1. Priests: When you become a Christian you are clothed in Christ.  Just as the priests of the tabernacle wore special clothing to designate them as part of a unique group, set apart for special work before God, we wear Christ inside and out.  All Christians are priests, with an expectation of being part of the ministry of the church.  That ministry can take on many forms, such as teaching, counseling, caring, feeding, praying, supporting, etc.  When the priests put on their clothing, it was like a uniform.  In the same way, when we ask for Christ to be the center of our life, we take on the uniform of that faith.  There are no spectators, no one sitting on the sidelines, if you are a Christian you’re place is in the field.

2. Present: The priests were present at the tabernacle every day.  They had days of rest, but a big part of what they did was show up every day.  The incense was lit twice a day, the candle wicks were mended, the bread was placed on the table, the sacrifices were made, the cleansing took place.  In the same way, we are called to show up and do kingdom work every day.  Every day we are called to cleanse our soul.  Every day we are called to break bread with God.  Every day we are tend the light to the world that our candle shines to those to whom we influence.

3. Prayer: When we decide we need to become more active in church, we often start with an assessment of what we are good at or what we are comfortable doing.  But, that is wrong.  Our approach should begin with prayer.  If we trust God and know that He has a plan and calling for our work in His church, we need to also begin by asking Him to reveal that plan to us.

4. Patience: After we pray, we need to wait patiently and continue to pray.  A few years back I read Tony Dungy’s book, Quiet Strength.  He said, “I needed to do my current job well, keep preparing, and wait on God’s timing. I needed to trust His leadership rather than try to force an outcome I wanted.”  He explained that every time he jumped ahead of God in his career, things did not go well.  We need to have the same patience in our work and our job in God’s church.

5. Pass the torch: God did not only appoint Aaron, He also appointed his sons.  I was visiting with a lady recently who asked about the church we attended.  She and her family had attended a church for the past 2 years, but she explained that it was an older, established church and they had not found a place to plug in and serve in the church.  Each time they had attempted, they found themselves trespassing on someone’s established turf.  People serving in roles in the church are often heard to complain that they have to do too much themselves because others aren’t stepping up.  Could it possibly be that we are not actively developing the future leaders to step in?  Could God have something else in mind for you that you can’t step up to because you won’t let go of your current position?

 

My Answers:

7.
a.
God

b.
If try to take an easy, comfortable job, it is blocked or not successful – called to serve in area that would not have been my initial preference, such as working with kids instead of adults.

8.
Titus: We are washed in the saving blood of Jesus and rewed by the Holy Spirit

Galations: those baptized into Christ have clothed themselves with Christ

2Cor: Anointed us, seal of ownership, put spirit in our hearts

Rom: Christ as a sacrifice of atonement – righteousness

1 Peter: the church is a chosen people, Kingdom of priests, holy nation, God’s possession

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