Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Doomed from the Start: Dt 6 (Part 1)

"Now this is the commandment, the statutes and the judgments which the Lord your God has commanded me to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you are going over to possess it, so that you and your son and your grandson might fear the Lord your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you, all the days of your life, and that your days may be prolonged. O Israel, you should listen and be careful to do it, that it may be well with you and that you may multiply greatly, just as the Lord , the God of your fathers, has promised you, in a land flowing with milk and honey... So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us." (Deuteronomy 6:1-3, 24-25)
Throughout the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses lays out the conditions of the covenant between God and the Nation of Israel. A covenant which, if they would be faithful to observe, would grant them long life and prosperity in the new land into which they were about to enter. This was a covenant not based upon their relationship with God but rather upon their faithful and strict observance of the laws and ordinances established by the covenant. As excited as they must have been, standing ready to possess the Promised Land, it was a covenant doomed from the start.

It was not that there was anything wrong with the covenant or its laws, for Paul reminds us, "So then, the Law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good." (Romans 7:12) Rather it was the inability of the law to produce righteousness within them that was the problem. "Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life , then righteousness would indeed have been based on law." (Galatians 3:21) Though the people didn't know it, they were entering into a covenant that they were completely unable to keep.

I believe that there are at least three reasons why the Mosaic covenant failed.

"These words, which I am commanding you today, shall be on your heart." (Deuteronomy 6:6) External pressures and reminders to observe the law will never server to create in us a heart to observe the law. Moses counseled the Nation of Israel never to forget the requirements of the law. "You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates." (Deuteronomy 6:7-9) But for all their external reminders, symbols, and exhortations, their hearts were rebellious and they consistently failed to keep God's law. For example, it is not enough to have the Ten Commandments prominently displayed in your house, unless they are written on your hearts, we will most certainly fail in our attempts to keep them.

We need to let God write His laws on our hearts. "For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and I will write them on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be My people." (Hebrews 8:10) When God wrote the Ten Commandments, it was said, "He gave Moses the two tablets of the testimony, tablets of stone, written by the finger of God." (Exodus 31:18) In the same way, as we grow in our relationship with God, He will write, with His own finger, His laws on our minds and our hearts. Without a relationship, they are just external laws, laws we are unable to keep, but with a relationship with God, then His laws become a part of us and His Spirit empowers us to keep them and to live Godly lives.

More to come... David Robison

Saturday, October 06, 2007

His acts and His ways: Dt 5:23-27

"And when you heard the voice from the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders. You said, 'Behold, the Lord our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice from the midst of the fire; we have seen today that God speaks with man, yet he lives. Now then why should we die? For this great fire will consume us; if we hear the voice of the Lord our God any longer, then we will die. For who is there of all flesh who has heard the voice of the living God speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go near and hear all that the Lord our God says; then speak to us all that the Lord our God speaks to you, and we will hear and do it.'" (Deuteronomy 5:23-27)
I was struck by the difference between the people's and Moses' response to the presence of the Lord. Moses responded by going up into the presence of the Lord to receive His word while the people responded with fear. Moses was drawn closer to the Lord while the people drew back. Why does the presence of the Lord cause some to draw near and others to shrink back? I think the key difference was that the people of Israel knew about God, but Moses knew God. Consider the observation that David made:
"He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel." (Psalms 103:7)
The son's of Israel saw God's acts, deeds, and miracles. Moses, however, knew God's ways, character, and nature. The people knew what God did, but Moses knew God. Moses had a relationship with God. Moses knew His nature and His character and was not afraid of His presence. The people, however, only knew of what God did, they didn't have a relationship with God. Because of this, when God came, they're response was fear.

It is important that we do not become content with the substance of God's gifts, blessings, and miracles and fail to acquire a relationship with the giver of those gifts, blessings, and miracles. As exciting as our experiences in God may be, they should never become a substitute for a relationship with God. God describes the difference between His relationship with Moses and that of even the other prophets of his day.
"Hear now My words: if there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, shall make Myself known to him in a vision. I shall speak with him in a dream. Not so, with My servant Moses, he is faithful in all My household; with him I speak mouth to mouth, even openly, and not in dark sayings, and he beholds the form of the Lord." (Numbers 12:6-8)
There are many people today who are seeking for an experience, a dream, a vision, or a manifestation, yet, as important as those may be, they can never compare to a "face to face" relationship with God. Visions are one thing, but an open, "mouth to mouth" relationship with God is another. Visions and experiences will one day cease, but our relationship with the Lord is eternal. Let us receive with gladness the experiences we have in the Lord, but let be willing to go beyond experience to have a whole hearted relationship with Him.

David Robison

Monday, October 01, 2007

Reason and Revelation: Conclusion

A little over three months ago I started this adventure in examining the relationship between reason and revelation. One of the primary motives for writing these nineteen articles was to attempt to change the discourse when discussing which mode of learning was preferable: Reason or Revelation. I wanted to show that it is not one or the other, either your given to reason or your given to revelation, rather that both are needed and necessary. Revelation is necessary because it is how we obtain new knowledge, but reason is also necessary because it is how we assimilated that revelation into our everyday lives. Without reason, revelation would come and go but we would never be changed, and with out revelation, we could reason all we want within ourselves, but we would never come to know the sublime and the hidden truths that are all around us.

When we run into problems, it is usually not because we have drifted too far to one side or the other, towards reason or towards revelation, but rather it is most often caused by a problem that is deeper and more systemic in our lives. Our problem is usually not that we have too much reason or too much revelation, but our problem is most often a problem of the heart. The primary factors that affects our learning and our growth in knowledge and understanding is the condition of our heart and the depth of our relationship with God. If we focus our attention on these two areas, then most of the rest of our lives will automatically fall into place.

Each one of us learns and processes information differently, but what we all have in common is our need for relationship with God and our need to be cleansed by Him in our hearts. I hope these post have been helpful. I would greatly enjoy hearing what you think. Drop me a line or leave a comment.

David Robison