Tuesday, January 26, 2016

God Gives Moses His Own “Handwritten” Instructions



Exodus 31:18: And when He had finished speaking with him upon Mount Sinai, He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God.
I wanted to deal with this last verse of Exodus chapter 31 all by itself as it contains significant information.
First we all need to realize there comes a time when God is finished speaking. While His love for us continues, there is no more He can say to us at that point. The ball then shifts to our court and we have to play it or drop it. If we haven’t got His message by that time, on the particular subject He is communicating with us on, there is nothing more He can say or do, short of hitting us with the consequences. He often chooses to just stop talking for our own sake. Those of you who are parents of older, perhaps even married children, may feel that way sometimes.
A relationship with one’s adult children, especially if they are married, is much different than a relationship with one’s minor-aged children who must obey, or even with one’s employee who ultimately must carry out the wishes of management. Adult children have freewill and need to make decisions for themselves. A parent can tell them what he/she believes is right, but ultimately, the decision to follow the advice is theirs. So, it is with God. But in both cases, there is the risk of consequences. There is somewhat of a risk in disregarding the advice of an older, more experienced, individual such as a parent, although we need to keep in mind that parents too are human and prone to error, even when trying to give wise advice to one’s children.  However, the consequences of disregarding advice given by God are most definite, as after all, He is God.
The second thing we remind ourselves of here is that Moses had gone to Mount Sinai to hear the words of the Lord. You can’t hear God easily amidst the din and clamor of the valley.  It’s not that God can’t get your attention in the busy circumstances of your life if he wanted to; believe me, He can – and it’s not always pleasant. But you need to go to the mountain (your own solitary space) where it’s quiet and you seek out God’s message to you personally. He wants to have your undivided attention to what He is about to tell you. When was the last time you had a totally private and planned date with God and not a double, or a triple, or a congregational one? If we want to hear a personal message from God, we need to be in a private space with God.
Thirdly in this verse we note that God gave Moses two tablets of the ‘testimony’ or law. They had been promised to him back in Exodus 24:12. God now delivers them to him as He sends him down from Mount Sinai to the people. They were to be properly put into the Ark. Not only were the ten commandments spoken by God, but they were now written down. There is something added to the binding power of words when they are written down. That’s why we often ask someone who feels another person is reneging on a promise, “Do you have that in writing?” That’s why we advise people to get things in writing.
[An aside: Interestingly, as I was writing this section, the daily paper carried an article about an indigenous university professor who lost her job because she refused to submit any articles or research whatsoever for peer review – something all professors are required to do.  She claimed “that peer-reviewed research is contrary to indigenous oral traditions and that (the university’s) research standard effectively discriminated against her ‘race, color, ancestry, place of origin . . . and sex.’” Strange how even God Himself wanted to write things down rather than rely totally on His ‘oral tradition’ to get His message out.]
Not only were the laws written down, but they were written in tables of stone. It is clear here (and from Exodus 24:12) that he found them all ready prepared by God. Matthew Henry suggests that the law was written in tables of stone to denote its perpetual duration. The idea being nothing lasts as long as something written in stone.
The text says they were written with the finger of God. Henry suggests that this means by God’s will and power directly, without the use of any tangible writing instrument. He indicates that some consider this to have been carried out through the ministry of angels.  He believes the implication of this ‘handiwork’ of God symbolizes that only He can write His law in our heart, utilizing 2 Corinthians 3:3 as his source. God gives us a heart of flesh, and then, by his Spirit, which is the finger of God, he writes his will in the fleshly tables of the heart.
There is no definitive explanation as to why there were two tablets and what exactly was on each one. There are basically two options that would fit with Jewish interpretation represented in the Midrash (which according to Wikipedia is a method of interpreting biblical stories that goes beyond simple distillation of religious, legal, or moral teachings. It fills in gaps left in the biblical narrative regarding events and personalities that are only hinted at). Either the two tablets had five commandments on them each, or they both contained all ten commandments and were a copy of each other. The idea here being that as in all covenants, each party got a copy. If this were the case, God’s copy would be stored in the Ark of the Covenant that He had ordered built. But what about the Israelites’ copy? The Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange website gives us this possible answer:
Since the Israelites had the status of vassal vis-à-vis G-d and were the lesser partners to the Covenant, it was reasonable for them to file their copy of the Pact in the Holy Ark of the Lord their G-d. Thus we conclude that both Tablets were placed together in the Ark in the Tabernacle, and later in Solomon's Temple: "There was nothing inside the Ark but the two tablets of stone which Moses placed there at Horeb, when the Lord made [a covenant] with the Israelites after their departure from the land of Egypt" (I Kings 8:9).
So, again, Scripture helps to answer Scripture. We know for sure there were both tablets in the Ark, even if we cannot say with absolute certainty as to what was written on each. Henry suggests that what was on them was indeed called tables of testimony, because this written law testified both the will of God concerning them and his good-will towards them, and would be a testimony against them if they were disobedient.

We can also assume Moses was required to show these to the people before laying them in the Ark. This way they were seen while being read, and thus, hopefully, better remembered. But did the Israelites remember and have we remembered?

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Sunday, January 24, 2016

Shaking Us Out of our Dream Complacency


Crazy Is A Compliment: The Power of Zigging When Everyone Else Zags
Linda Rottenberg, Penguin Group, New York, 2014

I bought this book because some well-known business magazine recommended it as must-reading for our current ‘world of work’. They were right. What this book did for me was drive home with vivid examples and more realistically what so many of its predecessors only tried to teach. Bottom line, “Don’t be afraid to zig when everyone else is zagging even if they call you crazy; in fact, if they don’t, you aren’t zigging enough.”
Linda Rottenberg speaks from experience, both her own and also hundreds of her clients, as the Co-Founder and CEO of Endeavor, whose claim to fame is that they are leading the high-impact entrepreneurship movement around the world.  She also speaks (and writes) as a wife and mother of two young daughters whom she loves very much.
The book is divided into three main sections – Get Going, Go Big, and (not or) Go Home. Read between the lines on that one. Throughout it are sprinkled practical tactics and examples of their implementation and impact. There are also gems like the quote from Sam Walton, “If everybody else is doing it one way, there’s a good chance you can find your niche by going in exactly the opposite direction.”
In its pages, you’ll discover the formula for ‘entrepreneur’.  Here’s a little hint: It’s a mathematical combination of heart, mind, and fear.
There were also some big surprises. For example, Rottenberg is not a big fan of ‘market research’ and ‘formal business plans’ if it means you aren’t ‘getting going’ and the data is there to back her up.
You’ll also learn about how some very famous name brands and multi-billion dollar businesses got started – in circumstances really not that different than yours and mine. Spanx, now sold worldwide in over 50 countries, is one such example. There are many others.
And if you’re counting on your friends and family – forget it, for the most part. They’ll only hold you back as they tried in Linda’s case.
And becoming successful does not count in Linda’s eyes if in the process you lose your family. Her advice in that area, near the end of the book, is well worth the purchase price. It’s of the same caliber as her advice throughout on how to be successful in pursuing your ‘entrepreneurial’ dream.  Go for it.
Afterthought: In the last few weeks, I have once again been made aware of friends, relatives, and clients that have lost their ‘job’. My advice remains the same. You can improve your chances against being let go 100% by working for yourself. Don’t wait until you’re forced to.  Don’t wait until you get the golden kick out the door.  Find the right dream, the right opportunity, the right timing, and start to work for yourself.  Rottenberg gives you some great “how-to” action steps in that regard. This is a book I would buy every close relative and friend that is in high school right now. The age when my grandfather, my father after him, and even I, never had a day of unemployment in our lives is over. The very educated, the very energetic, the very smart keeners still get laid off if the economy and the sector they’re working in require it. Just consider the oil industry in Canada recently. Get the book and give the book.
  • You can read the book right here now: http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 
Ken B. Godevenos, Accord Resolution Services Inc., Toronto, Ontario. 16/01/24  

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Saturday, January 23, 2016

Now that we're under Grace and not the Law, what about the Sabbath?


What God Expects On The Sabbath

Exodus 31:12-17: And the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “But as for you, speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘You shall surely observe My sabbaths; for this is a sign between Me and you throughout your generations, that you may know that I am the Lord who sanctifies you. Therefore you are to observe the sabbath, for it is holy to you. Everyone who profanes it shall surely be put to death; for whoever does any work on it, that person shall be cut off from among his people. For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death. So the sons of Israel shall observe the sabbath, to celebrate the sabbath throughout their generations as a perpetual covenant. It is a sign between Me and the sons of Israel forever; for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed.’”
As I continue with this “layman’s look at the Bible” I must state to all reading it that I just came out of a conference with Andrew Farley, author of many books including The Naked Gospel and lead pastor of Church Without Religion in Texas.  I have a new appreciation of the Law of the Old Testament as a result, but have also come to realize what I believe to be more of its appropriate role in our passage from death to life.  You may be detecting some of my growth in that area in the pages ahead.
In this passage, God once again has something to say to the Children of Israel and He does it through Moses, their leader. The topic this time is how they are to treat God’s Sabbath.
God makes some pretty strong statements about the Sabbath.  First, that the Children of Israel were to “surely” observe it, primarily because it’s a perpetual sign of the covenant between He and them, but also because it is “holy” to them, and finally because if they do not, they will be cut off from their people through death. We also note that these days are “His” Sabbaths and the implication is clearly that we dare not keep from God what is rightfully His.
Now keeping the Sabbath is just one of the ten commandments.  And the ten commandments were only a very small percentage of the entire Mosaic Law that Jews were required to keep in their Covenant with God. The complete list included 613 commandments, taking into account both the “do’s” and the “don’ts’s” (yes, that’s how my computer says it is spelled).  Elsewhere in Scripture we are told that even breaking one law of those 613 makes us guilty of falling short in meeting the Law, period.  (James 2:10 reads, “For whoever keeps the whole law and yet stumbles in one point, he has become guilty of all.”) Since no one could keep them all, God had to provide another way (the sacrifice of His Son) to clear us once and for all, of all our sins – past, present, and future.  The problem was not the Law for it was good and pure and reflected the character of God. The problem was man. He couldn’t keep it.  But the principles of the Law while they no longer have to be kept in order for us to keep our salvation are still a reflection of God.  And once we have Christ living in us, we now want to reflect as much of that character as possible – only now it becomes volitional rather than compulsory.
So then, while no longer being bound by the Law, we want to consider how keeping them (not for the purpose of our salvation, but because God loves us and we love Him) will enable us to better reflect as much as His character as possible.
In the case of the Sabbath, there are also some beneficial benefits in keeping it. First of all, keeping the Sabbath reminds us, our text says, that it is the Lord Who sanctifies us. That is, we become holy by keeping the Sabbath.  What does that mean? Well, it’s not that by somehow not working on the Sabbath, something miraculous happens and the cells of our body turn ‘holy’. No, the intent here is to convey that by keeping the Sabbath, we are, to a certain extent, fulfilling the meaning of the word, ‘holy’.  And if you look that word up as used in Scripture, there are two meanings that apply here – apartness and separateness.  Keeping the Sabbath is just one small indication of how we are different from others in our desire to reflect God’s character.

Secondly, it provides our physical bodies a complete rest. For those well familiar with computer-talk, we are not talking about putting our ‘physical body computer’ to sleep, but rather a full shut-down when it comes to ‘work’. Recently my iPhone froze and I took it in to the repair depot. The technician asked me one question.  “When was the last time you turned it off?” I told him we had been going through some challenging times and we had to have it on in case of an emergency call 24/7 for at least a month.  He said, “That’s your problem.  These machines need a rest just like you do.” He did his magic (really one small technical step), and lo and behold, everything was fine, but he advised that I turn it off more regularly and let it rest.  Since then, no problems.  Similarly, our bodies were created with what Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church in Dallas calls a built-in drum rhythm that goes like this – ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, bang; ba-boom, ba-boom, ba-boom, bang; etc.  In case you missed it, each ‘ba-boom’ is a two-day cycle; there’s three of them; and then a new sound “bang” – the rest day.  Our bodies, as well as our minds and hearts need refreshing that keeping the Sabbath can give us.
And God, too, rested on the seventh day of creation. If we are to reflect His character, we would do well to keep this particular law (out of the 613) to the best of our ability.


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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.