September 6, 2010

The Movement of God - 15

Without question, Moses was God's best follower since Enoch or Abraham. Moses met God and obeyed Him. "Take off your shoes." Upon doing so, God's first order of business went as follows:  "Come now, and I will send you to bring my people out of Egypt."  That's Movement, four times.  For this supreme being to call Himself "I Am Who Am", may seem ultimate and monolithic to some of us.  To Moses, God was entirely dynamic.

When God acts, He's dynamic. When God IS, He's dynamic.  When God operates together with people, they'd better be ready to move, or to be moved.  Because even when moving means staying, it's still kinetic engaging.  That is, sometimes it takes more drive to stay in one place than to go elsewhere, because tearing up old ground is not easier than heading out to pioneer in a new place.  But Moses had to do both.

God moved Moses back to Egypt, and then back out again.  God turned the heart of the Pharaoh and God held the waters apart. God made a pillar of fire and smoke that Moved in the day and the night.  Except when it rested.  And all this was so that God might start training his dear, stiff necked Israelites Jacobites how to FOLLOW and trust God's direction.

In the midst of this grand training exercise, God then declared that his people, suddenly free, needed Law!  But in giving the Law, God did two seemingly contrary things.  God made that Law both an expression of his heart, his desire for ways that his people could please him, and God also made certain that no Israelite would ever be able to keep this Law completely.

Why did God do this?  Why raise up such an impossible standard?  That question may be as unanswerable as, Why did God pick Jacob instead of Esau?  But for some reason, it pleased God to do this.  Whatever else we might say, the Law was how God thought it best to express Himself to his people at that time.

The key point, however, is that God's prior motive had not changed.  As in Genesis, so in Exodus.  As with Adam, Enoch & Abram, so with Moses & the Israelites.  God still wanted to motivate human activity and walk with his people.  The Law was simply one part - one big part - of God's next step in his method for getting there.

Perhaps the Law - in a way - was just one giant struggle for the children of Jacob to each break their hips over.  And yet, although no one followed it perfectly, many descendants of Israel were deeply moved by the Law of the Lord.  Truly, deeply, the Law inspired God's people.  Despite all its hardships, they wrote songs about God's Law, for generations to come, about his tender desires for his people, as expressed in the Law.  In such people, the Law had successfully moved them to reach toward God.  For centuries, although this was always more consistently true for some than for others, the Law repeatedly kindled a desire (if not always the ability) to please Him.

But now, let's get back to the point.  And here is something surprising.

If we search the Torah looking specifically for its dynamic aspects, one odd phrase sticks out repeatedly.  "This shall be a statute forever."  That's not dynamic.  That's the very definition of institutional.  And yes indeed, indeed it was.  The law was not established so God could let it pass away.  It will NOT pass away.

Dynamic though most of its content may be, there was something about the Law that God wanted to see institutionalized.

To be continued...

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