It Hurts, Doesn’t It?

31 01 2009

Scripture:

Exodus 29:1,4-9  –  Dedication of the Priests

1“This is the ceremony you must follow when you consecrate Aaron and his sons to serve me as priests…

4 “Present Aaron and his sons at the entrance of the Tabernacle,[a] and wash them with water. 5 Dress Aaron in his priestly garments—the tunic, the robe worn with the ephod, the ephod itself, and the chest piece. Then wrap the decorative sash of the ephod around him. 6 Place the turban on his head, and fasten the sacred medallion to the turban. 7 Then anoint him by pouring the anointing oil over his head. 8 Next present his sons, and dress them in their tunics. 9 Wrap the sashes around the waists of Aaron and his sons, and put their special head coverings on them. Then the right to the priesthood will be theirs by law forever. In this way, you will ordain Aaron and his sons.”

Observations:

As God was giving these instructions it is clear, to me, that he wanted the people to have respect and reverence for the tabernacle, the priests who served, and the ceremonies associated with the tabernacle.  There is clearly nothing ordinary about this situation and God is quite clear as to who these men represent and how they and the ordinances are to be treated.

Yet, as I read the New Testament, I don’t see any parallels between the apostles and these ceremonies.  The apostles were regular men, often with side-jobs, who happened to have been called by God to serve, preach, and lead.  There were no priestly garments; there was no tabernacle; and there wasn’t any great deference given to these guys – except for the fact that were respected for their obedience and character.

In today’s society we have created an odd blending of the old and the new.  We don’t do a seven day festival, the priests are not supported directly from the offerings, and our modern spiritual leaders don’t wear and ephod that receives direct communication from God.  On the other hand we do bestow a special title and hold them up on a pedestal.

The same with our “tabernacle” – our “tent of meeting.”  We no longer slaughter animals in the tabernacle, God’s shekinah glory no longer dwells in a building, and our “priests” no longer present sins directly before God as mediators for the people.

I’m not sure where we got our current structures, but most of it seems based on tradition, not biblical guidance.  While respect and reverence are always important, it must be understood that God does not dwell in a physical building.  If anything, He dwells in our hearts.  This is why our bodies are considered the temples of God.  he dwells in our church body too – not the building.

My role as a spiritual leader is not put above any of the other spiritual gifts, it is just one more part of the body that keeps the body alive and thriving.

Applications:

Yesterday I had an interesting encounter with a man who is apparently suffering from mental illness.  So many times things like schizophrenia and other diseases take on religious and spiritual connotations, as they did with my friend yesterday.

As my friend shared with me, I was struck by the confusion and cacophony of logic that was coming from him.  He apparently believes that he is either God, Jesus, a prophet, more than a prophet, or a special messenger from God.  As I listened to him, I prayed.  And I just listened.  There was no need to argue, no need to correct him, nor was there any reason to provoke him in any way.  I just listened.  I was sad.

After he left, I began to work on today’s scripture.  I remember this moment clearly.  I walked out to my truck to get my reference Bible – I was at Starbucks.  The text for today has to do with the “hate” we will experience from the World, the culture, the society of unbelievers.  As I reached into my truck I felt something powerful in my soul.

It was as if I had this tremendous compassion for a lost world.  Not just lost people, though that too, but for a society that is careening off the edge of God’s original plan.  I suddenly felt courageous and bold.  I felt a need to stand up for what is important.

It is one thing to be tactful and to build relationships, but it is quite another to speak out, in season, and out of season.  It is important to be wise and gentle, but it is also important to speak the word at all times.

Last week while having lunch with a friend, the conversation turned to our new president.  I expressed some excitement at the integrity and forward progress that his administration is making.  But my friend wasn’t excited.  He talked about how bad things are and how its going to be very rough in the near future.

It was right at this moment that I made a compromise.  I was caught off gaurd and not prepared.  It was a golden moment to talk about human solutions versus God solutions.  But I remained silent.  I wasn’t ready.

Yesterday, I knew I needed to be prepared to speak up, in season and out.  I know I need to be always ready.

Prayer:

Father God, thank you for insight in this area.  Teach me how to always be ready.  Teach me how to reach out to an unbelieving and hurting world.

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