Thursday, December 21, 2006

Decaf coffee with a dash of Hebrew (Exodus 4)

For those of you wondering or curious about Moses’ relationship with God previous to and during the Exodus of the Israelites from Egypt…this is for you. Exodus 4:12 records the onset of their relationship and God utters these words to Moses,

“Now then go, and I, even I will be with your mouth,
and teach you what you are to say.”
(Emphasis added)

The word teach (Hebrew, yara) used here is of utmost importance. Anyone who reads the book of Exodus can depict that God and Moses were close. The Scriptures even teach us that Moses was like God to Pharaoh (see Exodus 4:16). In order for Moses to be like God, he had to first know what God was like, right? Yara gives insight into how Moses learned so much about God.

The Hebrew word yara used here sheds some light on Moses’ relationship with God. This word is in the Hiphil stem in the Hebrew language. Yeah, so what? Well, that’s important because word stems (along with their tense) give Hebrew words their meaning. The stem of this word reinforces God’s role in Moses’ life, He will be his teacher and master. Moses is to be a student under God, a learner, a pupil, and a disciple. So we learn Moses didn’t converse and receive orders every once in a while from God; he was God’s disciple. Which means Moses had to be constantly learning from God. He spent a lot of quality time with God learning from Him; his relationship with God wasn’t stagnant and dusty, it was alive and growing. (Could this be why so many Christians turn their backs on God and walk away from the faith, because their relationship with God isn’t growing? Whom do we blame for that?) Dare I say that there were probably numerous times Moses spent with God that we don’t have recorded in our Scriptures? It’s nothing to worry about because what’s recorded in our Bibles is absolutely trustworthy and all we need.

The New Testament picture of Moses’ relationship to God would be like Jesus with His disciples. We know from Scripture how Jesus discipled them; the rebuking, the parables, the sermons, the teachings, the examples, the Agape love exemplified by Jesus, the restoring of their wounded spirits. The beauty of Scripture and God is the harmony between everything (The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the New Testament). So, you bet God used the same general method Jesus used (a relationship) to turn Moses into His disciple. Though the times were different, the way God makes disciples (a growing relationship with Him) remains the same.

What do you think?
Have you ever thought of Moses as a disciple before?

Thursday, December 14, 2006

The Nativity Movie

We saw the highly anticipated Nativity movie last night. Here are some observations:

- Acting was superb. Mary, Joseph, Elizabeth, Zachariahs, Herod, the Romans, the wise men, all done extremely well.

- The movie did an excellent job of showing us why the Jews longed for a warrior Messiah. They were rough handled and tossed around like old shoes by the Romans. When Mary's father didn't have the tax money and the Roman soldier seized his daughter (to turn her into a slave of some sort), I wanted a William Wallace (Braveheart) type character to show up on the scene and beat the crap out of the Romans.

- The movie did a good job of portraying the reaction of the family and townsfolk to the virgin birth. They were upset at Mary and didn't understand, Joseph too (until he was visited by the angel). Imagine the shame they tried to force upon her?

- I thought the movie also did a wonderful job of portraying life and daily activities in 1 to 3 A.D. We saw what their jobs were like, houses were like, how they all slept together in the main room (compare that to what Jesus tells His disciples in Luke 11:5-8). Good visual picture of Jewish life.

- Music was tremendous! Kind of a mix of hymns with other new scores.

It's a great movie! Go see it, who knows, we may end up with an Old Testament movie about David and his life soon.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

God's Christmas Gift (Luke 2)

As I sit in my office sipping warm premium blend coffee, snowflakes tumble from the sky, only to be whipped across our parking lot by a chilling west wind; a physical reminder that Old Man Winter is peeking around the corner. From the warm indoors it’s a beautiful scene to watch. Soon Christmas will be upon our heels and people will be frantically searching for that last minute gift. Amidst the rush, the colorful array of Christmas lights, the loud relatives, the eggnog, and holiday spirit I hope you can take a few moments to think about the event that happened 2,000 years ago, the day when our planet was invaded. I guess you could call it a space invasion of the heart. I’m talking about God taking on human flesh and becoming one of us (John 1:14). An event so big, that it has forever changed human history, the hearts of men and women, and Christmas for billions of believers worldwide. If you would like to take a moment to reflect on the invasion, continue reading.

Last night in youth group we examined closely Jesus’ birth as told in Luke’s Gospel. The story can be found in Luke 2:1-20 if you’re interested in reading it for yourself. We looked at four different aspects of this story: the setting, Mary & Joseph, the shepherds, and the angels. Here’s what we discovered:

The setting – The birth of Christ happened in a small town named Bethlehem. Joseph traveled with Mary to Bethlehem for a census. Because Joseph is from the family line of David he has to register in Bethlehem. It was customary to return to your original hometown for a census. Bethlehem was busy during this time, which is why Mary and Joseph could find no hotel, guest room, or spare room to lodge in for the night. Verse 7 reads,
And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a feeding trough, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Mary & Joseph – Not yet married, but still engaged (v.5). Traveled together to Bethlehem to register for the census. While there, Mary gave birth to Jesus. Joseph stayed with Mary despite the absurdity of a virgin birth. He was visited by the angel Gabriel and told all about the virgin birth and that his soon-to-be wife would be the mother (Matt 1:20-21). Joseph believed in God’s message and stayed with Mary. Shortly after Jesus’ birth, some shepherds visited Mary and Joseph. They too had an encounter with angelic beings and told Mary everything they were told. Her response? Verse 19 reads,
But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart.

The Shepherds – Tending to their sheep during the night they are visited by an angel. Like everyone else, they’re terrified. The angel comforts them and tells them of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (v.8-12). The story gets better, because a army (literally) of angels appears with the other angel praising God (v.13-14). Inspired by the miraculous events they witnessed, they hurry off to Bethlehem to see for themselves this savior. They find Mary and Joseph and tell them everything the angels told them. I find it interesting that they leave the scene doing exactly what the angels did when they visited them in their fields, glorifying and praising God. The angels set an example for them as to how they were to respond to Jesus. Verse 20 reads,
And the shepherds went back, glorifying and praising God for all that they had heard and seen, just as had been told them.

The Angels – Make quite an appearance here. One visits some lowly shepherds and announces the Good News of Jesus Christ. Then the heavenly army appears to the shepherds praising God. That would have been a frightening scene. Why did they choose shepherds? Not sure, could have been direct orders from God. Could have been the only people outside and available at that time? Could have been the only people willing to listen and obey their words? Whatever the case, the angels appeared and brought the glory of God with them (v.9) and a special message for all to hear,
For today in the city of David there has been born for you a Savior,
who is Christ the Lord.

Hopefully you find some peace and calm this Christmas as we remember and celebrate God becoming flesh. Merry Christmas!