Sunday, September 22, 2019

Rhetorical Question on Mercy

Rhetorical Question on Mercy
September 22, 2019
Romans 9:15  "For he says to Moses, 'I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.'"

I was listening to a radio station on my commute to work, and the pastor on-air asked callers to bring difficult theological questions to the forefront.  He was attempting to be the expert and answer all the ponderings of Scripture. One caller brought forth a question I've never heard asked. He wanted to know why in the Old Testament that stoning was the mandate for being caught in adultery, and yet King David did not get stoned when caught in his affair with Bathsheba. Good question. The pastor did not actually have an answer that was satisfactory, other than suggesting it was David's own privilege at the time. Who would have dared to bring up a stone against a king, and rather the Lord dealt with David for sins anyway. David did not escape discipline, but he certainly escaped being stoned to death. In short, the Lord had mercy on David and did not require David's death.

But what does it take to get the Lord's mercy and compassion? In looking at David, he had a great history with the Lord. He represented the Lord before the world at the time, in his triumph over Goliath. David, in everything he did, honored the Lord with his life, until he didn't. That is, David was as perfect a "Christian" as possible until he fell into sin.  His sin was a point of failure in life, after years and years of service to the One True King. David had a great history with the Lord, maybe the Lord reviewed that history before requiring the stoning. Maybe the Lord decided there was enough good in him worth sparing, or that a different course of action would work rather than taking him out. Regardless of the Lord's thinking, He never enforced the stoning. David received the Lord's mercy and maybe it was out of compassion. Whatever the reasoning, David benefited; the situation could have been far worse. 

The Lord says He will have mercy on whomever He has mercy and compassion on whomever He has compassion. In essence, the Lord is saying its none of our business  on the formula for receiving mercy and compassion from the Lord. The reason there is no formula is because man would try to manipulate Him instead of honoring Him from pure motives. The Lord says He cannot be mocked, that a man will reap what he sows. David had sown goodness and mercy and that's what he reaped. You cannot fake sowing goodness or mercy or compassion; it has to come from your heart. The Lord will show you mercy and compassion if that is what is in your heart, otherwise you are likely to get the stoning. 

Feel like you're getting stoned on a daily basis? Maybe you did not sow enough mercy and compassion, maybe your history with the Lord does not warrant grace right now from Him. Before you suggest that the Lord is full of mercy and grace and it is  a right to be received, you might want to refresh yourself on the Bible. The Lord is the one who determines when you get mercy, not you. You don't get to forgive your own sins and you don't get to apply the Lord's mercy on yourself.  David did not escape the Lord's discipline, just the stoning. Do not mistake mercy from getting out of discipline. You might feel like you're getting beat up, but maybe the punishment would be far worse right now if the Lord wasn't administering mercy. The rhetorical question is not why the Lord had mercy on David, rather why do you deserve the Lord's mercy today.

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Rom 9:1-24, Gal 6:7-8

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Bloody Husband

Bloody Husband
September 16,  2019
Exodus 4:24  "Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death."

After Moses argued with the Lord at the burning bush, giving Him all the excuses as to why Moses was not the right man for the job, the Bible says the Lord's anger burned against Moses. Yes, everyone knows that Moses and the Lord ended up having a good relationship, but Moses did not start things off too well. Moses truly argued and talked back to God, even frustrating the Lord and enticing His anger. Moses could have been a little bit more humble, but he was brazen enough to argue with the Lord.  Nonetheless, Moses finally agreed, and he took his wife and his son and headed to Egypt to do what the Lord asked of him. But before Moses could reach Egypt, even for the first encounter, the Lord sought to kill him.

Why on earth would the Lord pick Moses and then seek to kill him before he even got to the first part of his destination? In reading Scripture, it is actually unclear as to whom the Lord wanted to kill. The Bible says, "him" but it could have been referring to his son Gershom, who had not been circumcised. The verses before this, the Lord talked about the nation of Israel being a covenant relationship as a first born son, with also Pharaoh having a first born son, who was eventually going to pay with his life. Gershom was Moses' first born son and Moses had not circumcised Gershom; Moses had not brought Gershom into the faith covenant with the family of the Lord by circumcising him. Moses' wife feared for the life of both Moses and Gershom, so she took it upon herself to circumcise her son. Moses was on the Lord's short list already and Gershom would not make it forward in Egypt unless he was part of the circumcision covenant.  It was not the mother's job to perform the circumcision either, it was the husband's job to bring the son to be circumcised. Moses was negligent in his responsibilities and jeopardized his own relationship with the Lord and possibly his own life and the life of his son. The one who was not circumcised was not part of the family of God, and Gershom was outside that family protection. 

Moses' wife was afraid and she had to help jump in to make up for Moses' shortcomings. It was not a blessing for her to have to circumcise her son, it was a bloody mess because the boy was older, past the correct age to circumcise him and likely Moses had to hold him down. His wife was not happy about having to get blood on her hands; she was not likely raised with these customs and was only coming into her own relationship with the Lord. Nonetheless, she did it and threw the bloody flesh at the feet of Moses because he was not man enough to step up and lead from the start. She called him a husband of blood because of this, not realizing how many first born sons were going to die in Egypt very soon. Just because the Lord sent Moses to bring judgement on Pharaoh and Egypt, did not exempt Moses from the judgement of his own actions or sins. 

The Lord wanted Moses to be in right standing before he went in to ministry in Egypt, and this required the fulfillment of the Lord's covenant relationship through being circumcised. Moses did not get a free pass on anything and the Lord held him accountable. But Moses' actions, or lack there of, inflicted pain on his wife and son. They were collateral damage to Moses not following the law. Your life and relationship with the Lord does not effect you alone; it impacts those around you. And if you are moving forward, stepping out in faith to what the Lord asks of you, make sure you have all your affairs in order. What pain are you bringing on your family today because of your unwillingness to do the right thing?

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Gen 17:14, Ex 4:14-26

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Changing Face

Changing Face
September 9, 2019
Exodus 3:6  ". . . Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God."

When Moses met the Lord at the burning bush, the Lord was relatively unknown to Moses. Moses did not have any ancient text to go by in learning about the Lord; the Bible had not been written yet. He grew up in Egypt, knowing he was a Hebrew, but he did not truly know or understand who the Lord was to him. The Lord was a God, obviously the One True God, but Moses had a very narrow understanding of Him. The Lord decided to appear to Moses, having picked him for the task of leading the people out of Egypt, but Moses was not necessarily wanting to be used by the Lord. In fact, Moses was ashamed of his actions and life, now living on the backside of a mountain, hiding from his past, and possibly hiding even from the Lord. But the Lord appeared to Moses through the burning bush and spoke to Moses directly. The Bible says that Moses hid his face because he was afraid.

Why was Moses afraid of the Lord? Certainly the Lord is to be feared but if the Lord appeared as a small fire, not the Lord's direct image, then why would Moses need to hide his face?  We can only speculate as to why Moses was afraid of the Lord, but likely he realized his humanity was unworthy of the Lord's presence. Moses was ashamed of something, possibly his own sin. Moses did not really know the Lord; he knew of Him but that knowledge was extremely superficial. He did not know if the Lord was coming to smite him or punish him or what. All Moses knew was that a God, an unknown force, was appearing to him in the most unnatural way. It was not a normal thing, a common thing, for the Lord to be appearing to him or to anyone.

Fast forward nearly 40 years and Moses eventually developed a deep relationship with the Lord, a relationship so unnatural that it changed the face of Moses. The Bible says that as Moses met with the Lord, that the face of Moses was changed; it radiated from the Lord's presence. At one time, Moses hid his face because he was afraid but as he developed a relationship with the Lord, he was no longer afraid but changed, reflected the presence of the Lord, even. It took years and years of establishing a deep relationship with the Lord, but through all of that Moses became confident in the Lord's presence, not afraid. Moses was still human, that part did not change, but what did change was his relationship with the Lord, through spending time with Him, with the God he once feared.

Moses become so comfortable with the Lord that he asked to see his face directly, no longer afraid of the Lord's power and might, fully confident that the Lord desired only good things for Moses. Moses wanted to go deeper in his relationship with the Lord, to see Him fully, nothing held back, no fear. How is your relationship with the Lord? If He appeared to you today, would you hide your face like Moses did initially, or would you ask to see all of Him? How deep is your confidence in the Lord and His presence? It took 40 years for Moses to grow confident in his relationship with the Lord; where are you on that continuum? What are you doing today to deepen that relationship? What does your face look like? Does it reflect the Lord; does it radiate from spending time with Him? Is your face changed or do you hide from Him even today. 

Don't take my word for it; look it up: Ex 3:1-6, Ex 33:17-23, Ex 34:33-35