I'm excited as the Word of God is being absorbed and studied on a daily basis by those members of our congregation who, like me are sharing this spiritual journey. The church 'home groups' are discussing what they are reading, and members of the congregation are also talking about it in their work place, the halls of schools and universities, offices and homes – it's a large congregation.
These people, like me, are experiencing this 'reading together' and 'asking questions'. Yes, I thought, this is very fertile ground for God to work in and through us?
This is an admission - I have previously perceived the Old Testament as out-of-date, irrelevant, unnecessary or just plain uninteresting. We are only into February and I am already rejoicing in the Revelation of God's purpose in these Old Testament character's lives. The teaching is certainly being made applicable to our lives.
I am not afraid to admit that reading the Old Testament laws, rules and regulations, I was beginning to some despair for the Israelites. As a former Youth Group rebel, I wondered how I would have responded to Moses as he was leaving for what seemed to be strangely long periods of time so as to meet with God to receive the laws associated with dietary, ceremonial and sacrificial procedures that God required of His people.
Perhaps if I had been living in those times, I'm the type of adventurer who would have entered the forbidden Tent of Meeting, maybe I would have offered incense at the Tabernacle, certainly with a wrong heart motive. I may have even eaten unclean food or put on holy clothes before I bathed or some other scandalous thing which may have led to God to strike me dead - right there and then.
Even if I tried to follow all these rules I can't help but imagine that I would have slipped up somewhere, even if unintentional. No, that's not me, it would have been from my rebellious (human) nature.
This is the story. God had given instruction to Moses that his brother Aaron and Aaron's family were to be Priests. God says in Exodus 30:30 "Anoint Aaron and his sons and consecrate them so they may serve me as priests."
Two chapters later, when Moses was absent, Aaron listened to the people of Israel. They request a god they could see, so Aaron tells them to take off their gold (earrings, necklaces whatever) and bring it all to him. Aaron subsequently makes an idol in the shape of a calf and announces a festival to the Lord. They bow to the calf and sacrificed burnt offerings to it.
We may scoff at Aaron and say how silly that was of him, but as I reflected on that I asked myself how often have I done this in my own life? One moment, through His Word, I sense that God has asked me to listen to Him and in the next breath I have turned and placed something ahead of, or in place of God.
God had just delivered the Israelites out of hundreds of years of slavery under the Egyptians (the actual number of years is debated by Theologians - www.apologeticspress.org/article/796).
The teaching I've received to date has focused on the difference between God's Revelation and man's attempt to be relevant to the world.
God was helping His people determine between clean and unclean, holy and unholy, right and wrong, YES to God or NO to God. A clear line.
Similarly, a bit like the way we guide and discipline our children. Here are some everyday examples: "Don't touch that, it is hot, it will burn you and it will hurt you.", or, "Don't go there, it is dangerous, I can't protect you when you go over there."
God is also guiding and showing me. "Don't go there my child, don't do those things. It will burn you, it will hurt you. I am the Lord your God. I love you. I have your best interests at heart, I am in control."
This is a revelation to me, of God's character and His love for me. I believe He is showing me who He is, yet also revealing how much he detests sin and the things in my life that is not good for me (others in our congregation are likewise seeing this teaching).
Growing closer to and learning more of God's character helps me to identify the way of life He has planned for me, as He slowly revealed His ultimate purpose and plan, by bringing His people closer to Himself.
David sums it up in Psalm 73:28, "But as for me, it is good to be near God. I have made the Sovereign Lord my refuge; I will tell of all your deeds."