June 2011

The reason for two tablets

“See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.” Hebrews 8:5 (God speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai)

Most people mistakenly think that the reason God used two stone tablets for inscribing the ten commandments was because all ten of them would not fit on one. This assumption is not only erroneous but it robs us of the true meaning and intention of God extending His covenant to humankind.

In Mel Brook’s 1981 movie The History of the World we have a comedic rendition of Moses and the Ten Commandments. We see Moses coming down the mountain with three stone tablets. Just as he is in the process of presenting them to the Israelites he accidentally drops one of them. “Hear me, oh hear me, all pay heed, the Lord, the Lord Jehovah has given unto you these 15 …. (a tablet slips from his hands and shatters on the ground) . . .These 10 . . . .10 commandments for all to obey.”

The truth is, and Biblical scholars agree, God instructed Moses to chisel two stone tablets because His intention was to create two exact copies. We know from the scriptures that the very finger of God inscribed them “on both sides, front and back.” (Exodus 31:18 & 32:15) What isn’t specifically communicated, but is commonly understood in the context of Biblical times, is that whenever a covenant was made, duplicate copies of the agreement were created so that both parties would have a copy. That same principal of course continues to this day with every legal agreement. Both parties are supplied with exact copies for their reference and compliance.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word for covenant, berith, is used nearly 300 times. There are basically two types of covenants: covenants between equals and covenants between a greater and a lesser. God’s covenant with humankind is the latter. It is a covenant initiated and extended by Him as the ultimate greater, to His creation, the lesser. It can be accepted or rejected but it cannot be changed. This is typical of most greater to lesser covenants, like that of a ruler to a subject. However, as with all God’s promises, His covenants are initiated primarily to benefit of the lesser, for the purpose of protecting and prospering them.

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Stairways can be costly!

“For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God.” Hebrews 11:10

God is the consummate architect and builder. In this verse we are given insight into the mind of Abraham, the great father of our faith, as he envisions God’s masterful plan for the heavenly Jerusalem. That will be a building project to end all building projects. Imagine the politicking, drawings and building permits required for a project of that magnitude here on earth. The price paid to build earthly things should give us a deeper appreciation for the cost of heavenly things.

One of my goals this year has been to add a stairway on our deck. I have been working on this project for several months now and have not yet dug a footing or driven a nail. Now I am talking about simply building a four foot square landing attached to the existing deck and fifteen steps to the ground. When it comes down to it, it is really not that big of a deal.

Deciding on a design configuration that works well with our plans for the back yard took some time. I enjoyed the thought and planning that went into doing that. Dreaming about and anticipating a home improvement project is always more fun than actually doing the work

What I did not take into account was the extensive approval process required to make such a minor addition to my home.

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Believer Geriatrics

“Which of the two did what his father wanted?” Matthew 21:31

The longer a person is a believer the more susceptible they become to the diseases of an aging faith. This fact is observable in real life and evidenced throughout the Bible. These diseases attacking sustainable faith, like complacency, hypocrisy, self-righteousness, judgmentalism, cynicism and yes, even self-deception, rob the mature believer of a healthy and productive faith life. Anyone who has been a believer for some time and honestly reckons with these type of temptations inherent in a long term faith would readily admit it is true.

An appropriate term to describe this effect is believer geriatrics. It is interesting that the word geriatrics comes from combing two Greek words meaning “old man” (geron) and “healer” (iatros). The term geriatrics is used to describe the branch of medicine that focuses on preventing, diagnosing and treating the diseases of old age. Believer geriatrics then should focus on preventing, diagnosing and treating the diseases of an aging faith.

Having been a believer myself for many years I have noticed both in my own life and the lives of others how the initial conversion zeal to trust and obey God can wane. When I first surrendered my life to Jesus I committed to making Him Lord of every aspect of my life. I thought it was a one time decision. I sailed through the next couple of months with great joy and enthusiasm in obeying God and serving Him wholeheartedly. But eventually as He began to deal with some untouched areas in my life it dawned on me that yielding to His Lordship was an ongoing process.

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Faith the Divine Exchange

“Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.” Psalm 2:12

Faith is a divine exchange.
We exchange the visible for the invisible. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
We let go of what is tangible to obtain what is intangible. (2 Corinthians 4:17-18)
We forgo trust in self, in order to trust in God. (Proverbs 3:5)
We relinquish what we can control, to give God control. (Proverbs 3:6)
We surrender our will so we can live in His will. (Luke 22:42)
We give up doing it our way to do it His way. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We renounce self-centeredness for God centeredness. (Mark 8:34-35)
We confess our unrighteousness to receive His righteousness. (1 John 1:9)
We risk temporal loss for eternal gain. (John 12:24)
We exchange the ashes of our lives for the beauty of His. (Isaiah 61:2)
We ignore what we can see to discover what He can see. (Romans 4:17)
We set aside what we know in order to learn what He knows. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
We exchange the unpredictable for the predictable. (Hebrews 11:1)
We give away what we have, so He can give us all He has. (Luke 6:38)
We forego our time-table for God’s time-table. (Ecclesiastes 3:11)
We disregard the natural to appeal to the supernatural. (Romans 4:19-20)
We silence the negative to speak the positive. (1 Thessalonians 5:18 & 2 Corinthians 4:13)

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