Glimpses of grace seen in the everyday

Posts tagged ‘Moses’

Four Hundred Years of Waiting

How long is 400 years?  Just about that long ago the Mayflower set out with its load of pilgrims to settle the New World.  A long time!

As the Advent season begins, we step back into the sandals of the Israelites 400 years before Christ.  The last Old Testament prophet, Malachi, had finished his work, and no word came from heaven during those four long centuries.  How dark!  Were they still expecting the promised Messiah to come?  Had they given up hope?  Maybe some did, but from people’s response to Jesus when he did come(“Could this be the Messiah?”) we know that many were still watching for Him.

Another period of 400 years in biblical history was the Israelites’ time in Egypt, much of that under slavery.  What a long time!  By the time God sent Moses to rescue them, had they forgotten God’s promises to Abraham to make them a great nation?  If they had, God certainly hadn’t, and He fulfilled that promise.

Still another 400-year period stretched from the beginning of the Israelite kingdom under Saul until the northern half of it toppled to the Assyrian army.  (The southern half lasted for 125 years longer.)  What were God’s people doing during this time? Following God at times, but drifting farther and farther away until the predicted punishment for their treachery against God was upon them.

At the end of each of these 400-year periods came a sudden, climactic event.

–After the Israelites’ slavery, they were suddenly freed, through the Red Sea on dry ground, and on their way to their own homeland.

–After the 400-year kingdom, during which they thought the threatened punishment would never happen, they were suddenly destroyed by Assyria and taken into forced exile.

–After the 400-year “silent period” between the Old and New Testaments, suddenly came to live among them as a man, fulfilling the hopes and promises of millenia!

Which is why we celebrate this time of year.  These hopes and promises are for us today.  And while we celebrate Jesus’ coming as a baby and then dying a horrible death to provide forgiveness for our sin, we look forward to the day when He comes in awesome power and glory to set everything right.  May we never get tired of watching for Him.  Let’s be ready whenever He makes His appearance!

Just doing our thing…

The ancient book of Judges in the Bible is so contemporary–everyone “doing what they considered right.”  Does this sound familiar? 

Moses, who had given the people God’s commands for a godly and orderly life, was dead and gone. 

Joshua, who had victoriously led them into the Promised Land and urged them to continue to follow the Lord, was dead and gone.

The generation who had lived under the leadership of these men and experienced God’s amazing miracles was dead and gone.

“After that generation died, another generation grew up who did not acknowledge the LORD or remember the mighty things he had done for Israel.” (Judges 2:10 NLT)

And that’s when society broke down.  With no personal commitment to God and his standards, everyone decided what was “right for them” and lived accordingly.  This meant…

…failure to push ahead with their occupation of the land God had given them

…”forgetting” God who had done everything for them, doing what He considered evil

…intermarrying with the pagan peoples around them, producing children who no longer knew right and wrong

…worshiping and serving false gods, participating in their violent and obscene rituals

…infighting and treachery, sexual abuse and butchery

What was the result?  Were they happy and fulfilled? 

God allowed them to experience the natural consequences of their choice.  They were oppressed, ravaged, and impoverished by wave after wave of neighboring nations, for over 300 years.  At the height of each wave of misery, they would appeal to God, who would mercifully rescue them through a powerful figure such as Gideon.  But as soon as things settled down again, they went right back to their rebellious ways and the cycle repeated itself.  What a horrible existence! 

And for us today–
–Are we who know the Lord effectively passing our faith to the next generation? 

–Are we who follow godly generations also genuine in our faith, making it our own—               or just taking the easy way down the mainstream of society?

–What can we expect if we continue down the same path of defining and                   doing what we think is “right for me” instead of what God says is right?

A Long Wait

Another workweek has come and gone, and before we know it, the weekend will be gone, too.  Time doesn’t wait for anyone, and that can be scary.  (Except for the day when Joshua asked God to make the sun stand still, and it did–for a whole day to allow the Israelite army to finish an important battle!  See Joshua 10:18.)

On the other hand, time can drag interminably if you’re…

…languishing in prison as Joseph was on a false charge.  (Genesis 39 & 40)

…or serving as slaves in Egypt for 400 years as the Israelites were (Exodus 1)

…or exiled to the desert for 40 years as Moses was (Exodus 2)

…or dodging a mad king for years on end as David did (1 Samuel 18 to 29)

…or…you fill in the blanks for the worst times of your life!

But their stories didn’t end there!  Those long periods of seemingly wasted time were part of God’s plan for building character and for getting ready the next step in the life of each one and as benefit to myriad others:

Joseph suddenly became governor of Egypt and supervised a strategy to save them all during a seven-year famine. 

The Israelites became a large nation through which God displayed his glory and power to the world.

Moses was used to liberate some 2 million people from slavery lead them for 40 years.

David became the greatest king of Israel and the composer of scores of Psalms that have encouraged God’s people for thousands of years.

What is the end of your story and mine?  I admit that I get tired of waiting as
     day follows day,
          week follows week,
               and year follows year. 
Is anything happening?  Yes, God has amazing plans. And when he says it’s time, things could change very suddenly and decisively.  Are we ready for God’s next act? 

Today and today and today

A stroke left my beloved uncle Leonard with a vocabulary of three words, one of which was “today.”  In his attempts to communicate, sometimes he’d say, “Today and today and today…”

Life is a series of todays.  That was the case also for the Israelites as they traveled through barren wilderness under Moses’ leadership.  Every day for 40 years God provided food for them—manna that appeared miraculously on the ground to be gathered enough for one day’s needs.  Every day for 40 years God guided them by His presence, visible in the form of a cloudy pillar (fire at night).  Wherever it stopped, there they stopped and set up camp—no mean job for two million people!  They never knew whether the pillar was going to stay for one night or a year, but whenever it moved, they pulled up stakes and followed.  No long-range planning on their part, just living today—and today—and today!

Just now I heard about someone who is planning to celebrate a significant anniversary two years early, because one cannot know what will happen by that time.  I don’t know what’s going to happen tomorrow either.  Though some advance planning is needed, I want to focus on living in the present with my Lord, not worrying about whether He’s going to provide, guide, and protect me. (He will!)         I want to savor every moment, every blessing, and seize every opportunity He offers to bless someone else. 

Day by day,
Dear Lord, of thee three things I pray:
To see thee more clearly,
Love thee more dearly,
Follow thee more nearly,
Day by Day.

Divine Tryst

Moses had two places where he would go regularly to meet with God:

1.  Up on Mount Sinai. God’s appearance on the mountain was announced by fire and billowing smoke, thunder and lightning, earthquake and a crescendo of trumpet blast.  The people were scared out of their wits, but Moses didn’t hesitate to go up whenever God called him to receive instructions on behalf of the people.  He had courage in the presence of the One who loved him and had chosen him for service.

2.  In a temporary “tent of meeting” that Moses set up outside the camp before the Tabernacle was built.  Moses spent a lot of time in there.  God met him and spoke to him personally, “as a man speaks with his friend.”  (Exodus 33:11)  How amazing is that–to be considered God’s friend!!!

But fast-forward.  I do have a “tent of meeting”!  It’s a rocking chair in the corner of my living room.  Or the kitchen where I sing as I prepare food.  Or deep in my heart as I give thanks and express my love to this Heavenly Friend.  When I curl up in my chair in the morning with my Bible and a cup of coffee, how I wish he’d have a cup, too (would He take sugar and cream?)—and that I could hear his voice and see his face.  But I know He’s there with me, and one day I will see His face. (Revelation 22:4)  Imagine his smile of delight as He welcomes me home! Smile

There is a quiet place
Far from the rapid pace
Where God can soothe my troubled mind

Sheltered by tree and flow’r
There in my quiet hour
With Him my cares are left behind

Whether a garden small
Or on a mountain tall

New strength and courage there I find
Then from this quiet place
I go prepared to face
A new day with love for all mankind  (by Ralph Carmichael)

You can listen to the song at this website:  http://offthesanctuarywall.blogspot.com/2010/11/lyrics-there-is-quiet-place.html

That Special Glow

They say that couples begin to look like each other the longer they are together.  Well, my husband and I definitely don’t, after 39 years of marriage.  But I would agree that people who hang around together tend to start thinking, talking, and acting like one another. If I hang around Jesus, will I start looking like Him as well as smelling like Him (cf. my last post)?

When Moses came down the mountain after talking with God in person, his face shone so brightly that he was forced to wear a veil for the sake of the people who were overcome by that light.  (Exodus 34:29-35)  When he went back to speak with the Lord, though, he removed the veil.

What a privilege Moses had, both to interface directly with God and then to represent Him to the Israelite people he was leading.  And amazingly, I have that same privilege! 

As all of us reflect the Lord’s glory with faces that are not covered with veils, we are being changed into his image with ever-increasing glory. This comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.  (2 Corinthians 3:18 NLT)

As my last post dealt with the fragrance of Christ blessing the world through His people, here (one chapter later) we see the light of Christ doing the same.  The challenge for me is, do I let Him show?   Sun

Christ, the Transforming Light, touches this heart of mine,
Piercing the darkest night, making His glory shine.
Oh, to reflect His grace, causing the world to see
Love that will glow till others shall know Jesus revealed in me!  (by Gipsy Smith)

Where was the Baby?

When I was a kid, we four siblings would take turns planning our family worship time in the evening.  Occasionally one of us generated an impromptu quiz in which two questions were inevitable (to give our younger brother and sister something easy to answer):  “Where was baby Moses?”  and “Where was baby Jesus?”  

NH 0166

Both of these babies were in quite unlikely places—a basket floating in a river, and a feeding trough. 

Both of them had to be rescued from kings that wanted to kill them.  Both of them rescued their people.  Both of them served as intermediaries between God and people.  Both of them lead/led their people through many hard experiences before finally reaching a wonderful destination.

My father-in-law is about to reach that destination, having walked with the Lord all his life.  As he lies there getting weaker and weaker, we anticipate the joy he will soon experience upon seeing Jesus’ face, feeling His arms around him and hearing His voice saying, “Well done, Son.  Now enjoy your new eternal home.”

Meanwhile for me still wandering around on this dangerous and difficult earth, I want to keep my hand tucked securely in that of my Shepherd.  Hmmm…mixed metaphor!  Imagine a sheep holding the shepherd’s hand Smile

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