Monday, November 27, 2017

picky, picky

(by Pastor Joe)
The Word for Today: Exodus 39 & 40
How limited is your palate?
What I mean is, how many items of food will you simply refuse to eat?
Each of us have certain items that, rightly or wrongly, we will not consume.
There are myriads of reasons why we would automatically say no before we even try some form of food.
My son is that way. Describing his palate as limited would be an understatement. I couldn't bear to sit next to him on Thanksgiving and watch him reject dish after beautiful dish, most without even trying them. That kind of shameful treatment of cuisine cuts me deep.
You see, I have yet to meet a buffet that I didn't like. I love food, in all its various flavors and textures and spices and incarnations. If I won't eat it, chances are very good that its not worth eating (I'm talking about you, Hot Pockets!)
I suppose I pride myself on being not very particular. When someone asks, what do you want to eat? or what radio station?, or what board game should we play, or what restaurant to go to, I honestly don't have a huge preference. Most of the time, its all good. Don't make a fuss, don't be picky, don't make a big deal over something so inconsequential.
While this attitude may help one in life, it really cuts against everything we've been reading for the last two weeks. It seems to me that if anything has come through, its the message that Moses and the Israelites really did need to sweat the small stuff and the finer points of the Law. God was certainly particular when He said "Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you(1)." There was zero room for approximation or artistic interpretation. There was no rounding to the nearest number. Close enough was not close enough.
The measurements- "so long, so wide, so high" were precise. The details on everything from the Ark and Table and Lampstand (2), to the hooks and clasps for the curtains were spelled out (3).
Think about all the specifics that went into all the instructions that dealt with the Tabernacle in chapters 25-40; the word cubit is used 56 times! And yet, after the incident with the golden calf, the account of the actual construction of the Tabernacle and its related items is also included in the Word of God. Didn't we just go over this!?! As I read, it felt like deja-vu: five chapters that could have been summed up with a half verse. "The Israelites did everything just as the LORD commanded Moses (4)."
To all of us, removed some 3500 years from the events at Mount Sinai, it can seem a bit much. What is the big deal? Why was God so concerned with such minor details? What is He getting at?
I guess it boils down to this question:
Is God picky?
The answer: yes and no.
Certainly not in the same way that anyone of us might refuse to eat our vegetables. God is not some petty tyrant who makes up all sorts of strange and arbitrary rules and prohibitions. He is not a disgruntled IRS worker looking to confuse and humiliate us via arcane codes and procedures. After all, we know that this whole entire covenant with Israel was one of love (5), for their redemption and deliverance and blessing.
But God is certainly particular. There's lots of stuff we cannot grasp about God, but one thing is clear is that He is not a fuzzy, wishy-washy, sentimental and absentminded old grandfather type figure. God is exact. God is precise. God has no half-measures or "good enoughs". If you need examples, talk to Nadab and Abihu, or Uzzah, or Ananias and Sapphira (6).
Something that we must all fight is the tendency we have to water down that particularity. We love to soften His commands, to take away some of the rougher edges of His Word. We don't want to bother with the specifics, we don't want to sweat the details, we want everything smooth and non confrontational. That is a fatal mistake, because the God of the Bible is indeed particular, and He accepts no substitutes: "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men (7)."
(1) Exodus 25:9
(2) see Exodus 25
(3) Exodus 27:17
(4) Exodus 39:32b
(5) Deuteronomy 7:12
(6) see Leviticus 10, 2 Samuel 6, and Acts 5
(7) 1 Timothy 2:5-6

No comments:

Post a Comment