Monday, September 25, 2006

The Radiance vs. The Veil

After Moses met God, his face shone with brilliant radiance - and he did not know it. The radiance was the latent presence of God. It was the residue and after effect of being in communion with God. He had been with God and it showed. But when he came down from the mountain, the people feared the radiance and were reluctant to approach him. Hence, Moses veiled his face when he spoke to the people God's commands and unveiled it when he spoke with God in the tent.

Moses had the after glow of God's presence, and the people were taken aback instead of being drawn towards it. They did not understand the radiance. It was a hindrance and distraction to them. It made them afraid.

However, when Moses was in the tent with God, that veil came off. There was no need of it. In the tent, the veil became the hindrance and the distraction. Moses' own face resonated with God's presence. Moses felt at home.

Moses hated that veil. That veil was the veil of compromise. He wore for it for the people's sake - because they did not welcome the radiance. Just like the veil in the temple that hid God's presence from the people, the Most Holy from the holy. It was erected for the people's sake.

Interesting that when God came down and revealed His Glory and Name to Moses, that entire narrative is encased in law and commands such that there is hardly a separation between God's presence and God's law. So often we only want the presence of God, the experiences and feelings, but we do not want His law. Sheesh.

Sometimes the commands of God are simply not welcome. Preachers are responsible to be faithful in communicating the text of Scripture, but the people will not accept it. So, it is sadly veiled. Compromised. The people don't want to hear that God's hates divorce, that fornication is wrong, that Jesus is the only Way, so these truths get veiled and the glow loses its brilliance. But just remember, that veil is not the way it ought to be.

This week in class I'll be preaching on 1 Tim 2:11-12 (women are to be silent and may not teach or have authority over men in the church). Yeah, yeah, yeah, no one wants to hear this one. After my exegesis on the passage, I wish I could come to a different conclusion than the one I came to. The temptation to bastardize the text and preach the exact opposite is great, but then I will not have preached God's word faithfully and will have wasted everyone's time including my own. But my reflection on the "veil" confirms that it's time for the veil to come off. It's time to be judged by the Word of God instead of running away from It.

Friday, September 22, 2006

What's in a name?

What did Moses and God do on that mountain that day? Remember, it was the closest that Moses had ever come to God. It was their most intimate encounter. Maybe it didn't last very long. But during those moments, what did God want to reveal to Moses?

Two things: First, His glory. Second, His Name. The LORD the LORD, the Compassionate and Gracious God, Slow to Anger, Abounding in Love and Faithfulness, Maintaining Love to Thousands and Forgiving Wickedness, Rebellion and Sin.

To truly know someone means to know their name.

God even reassures that Moses that He is pleased with Him because He knows him by name (Ex. 33:17).

God and Moses were friends. They spoke to each other face to face. They beheld each other's form. They experienced hardship together. They knew each other's name.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

First Things First

When Jesus Christ calls a man, he does not first call him to "do" but to "be with" (Mark 3:13-14). We are called to be with him FIRST and to do something for him SECOND. He calls us to relationship, not task. Why? Because he is both the source and the purpose for whatever task we might perform.

The task is important, but without the person it means nothing. Martha cared only for the task which is why Jesus sighed her name. Mary chose what was better, or rather, she rightly discerned what was first in priority - Jesus.

The two must be balanced, but first things first. There comes a time when we gotta get the task done. Moses was on the mountain with God for 40 days. He could have easily spent another 40, but God commanded to go down and minister to the people who were corrupting themselves.

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Road of Life is long and complicated.
Along the way you meet people travelling a common path for a fraction of the journey
You share a story or two, a couple of laughs and a few drinks
They are your company for a while
And soon they are gone
You can't hold them back from pursuing their course
After all you have your own route to follow
You just say, "This is where we go our separate ways"
and bid each other "God speed"
and that's that.
Others will come along

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Cleft for Me

"Show me Your glory!" says Moses. Of course God doesn't show him right away. It's not so simple. If Moses truly beholds the full form of God, he'll vaporize. But there is a way and there is a place for Moses to be where he can behold God's glory: in the cleft of the rock.

How big was that space in the rock where Moses waited for God's glory to pass by? Indulge me to suggest that the cleft was small ... Just enough space for Moses. A cleft that God had nicely carved over the centuries through erosion and sand storms, preparing it for Moses to someday sit and wait for the encounter he'd never forget.

In this place he saw God closer than all the other encounters. The smoke, the burning bush, the pillar of cloud and fire, these were only emanations. Only within the rock did Moses behold the substance of God in all His glory. In this place Moses' face shone with its greatest brilliance; the glow would henceforth fade.

This was the highlight of Moses' life. The negotiation to spare the lives of the idol worshipping Israelites down the mountain had just occurred before this, and Moses was successful. But even persuading the Almighty was not the height of Moses' career. In light of this encounter, leading Israel out of Egypt was immaterial.

God's glory is the chief end of man. To glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. That is the point.

But where is the cleft of the rock for me? My space where I will find and experience God in His fullest?