Monday, August 31, 2009

More than music.

las_vegas_welcome_sign_large (1)

These are the records of the tabernacle, the tabernacle of the testimony, as they were recorded at the commandment of Moses, the responsibility of the Levites under the direction of Ithamar the son of Aaron the priest.

Exodus 38:21

Current evangelical culture tends to see Sunday morning church service worship more like a Las Vegas show than anything else. Some churches have a band of professional musicians, an orchestra, professional vocalists, lighting, fog machines, perfectly quaffed pastoral staff in the latest styles, and full-blown video graphics that rival a television network production studio. Some churches even have dancers. Really. All that for an hour a week. When I ask most people what constitutes worship, they say something along the lines of “music”. Big battles get waged over musical style, preference and volume. It never ends.

But taking a look at the construction of the tabernacle shows a different story. It shows common people who worshiped God by giving what they had to contribute. And they were so willing to give that they eventually had to be told to stop because more than enough material was given. That’s worship. And a group of skilled craftsmen (see the complete list in Exodus 38:22-23) gave their skills to the construction of the tabernacle to the exact specifications God gave to Moses. That’s worship. Funds were collected from the nation as well (see Exodus 38:24-29) in the form of gold, silver, and bronze. That’s worship. A team of administrators faithfully recorded the gifts and the materials and the construction of the tabernacle. That’s worship. And not one single service has yet to be performed in the tabernacle. The picture of true worship emerges from this text. It is about everyday action, not special convocation.

I worship God when I honor Him and submit to Him at my computer keyboard. I worship God when I honor and submit to Him behind the wheel of my car. I worship God when I honor and submit to Him in my conversations throughout the day. I worship God when I honor and submit to Him by serving the people God has put in my life on the job, in ministry, in my day-to-day business, or in my family. Worship is really what happens outside of a sanctuary on Sunday. That is where real worship begins.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Mercy Seat

mercy seat

The cherubim spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings, with their faces one to another; toward the mercy seat were the faces of the cherubim.

Exodus 37:9

Mercy needed:

born a sinner

and choosing to rebel

living with the damage

of what hurt when Adam fell

I need mercy.

Mercy provided:

God reached out to sinners

who did not have a prayer

and those who could not be holy

at the cross found forgiveness there

God gave mercy.

Mercy received:

by one such pardoned soul

mercy is forever my miracle -- life obtained

through Jesus’ death born anew forever

God’s mercy is how I am sustained

I found mercy.

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Outgiving the need: some questions for me.

pile of money So Moses gave command, and word was proclaimed throughout the camp, "Let no man or woman do anything more for the contribution for the sanctuary." So the people were restrained from bringing, for the material they had was sufficient to do all the work, and more.

Exodus 36:6-7

This is a rare occurrence (unfortunately), but a definite high-water mark in the health of Israel’s spiritual journey. As the craftsmen and materials came together for the building of the tabernacle in the wilderness, a problem came early one. The builders had received too much to work with! They were oversupplied by the people. Imagine that! God’s people had given a surplus. All that stuff was just starting to get in the way of moving forward with construction. Moses had to issue an order to STOP giving.

The eagerness with which Israel approached this project must be put into perspective. This was the very first such project in the nation’s very brief history. They were ready nationally to do it as a result. Secondly, they had just been spiritually through a LOW point. They had been judged for idolatry and purged of the most flagrant of idolaters. After the execution of 3000 idolaters followed by a disease in the camp, those left were left with a fresh fear of the Lord. They were ready spiritually. This is also the generation that had known slavery and had nothing until the Exodus. Then God made the Egyptians so ready to let them out of the country that the Egyptians showered them with wealth on their way out. It was Egyptian gold and precious materials that build the tabernacle. The country was ready to sacrifice materially, and they had opportunity because of God’s provision through Egypt.

Am I ready to give in this way? The questions are clear for me: 1) In what ways has my culture prepared me to give to God’s work? 2) In what ways has God spiritually prepared me? Finally, 3) what do I have that is clearly not my own that can be given in service to the Lord?

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Freely given.

All the men and women, the people of Israel, whose heart moved them to bring anything for the work that the LORD had commanded by Moses to be done brought it as a freewill offering to the LORD.

Exodus 35:29

Photo of a Collection Plate Israel now proved their love for God through this exceptional period of sacrifice and giving. They gave materials for the construction of the tabernacle in the wilderness. And they gave it to the LORD. This was voluntary and it was meaningful. It crossed family boundaries. It crossed gender boundaries. It was a freewill offering.

And the very fact that Moses issued the command to give and to build at this time was evidence of God’s grace. God had at one point in response to Israel’s idolatry been ready to wipe out the entire nation and start over with Moses. But now, in response to Moses’ intercession, mercy came to the nation. And God graciously gave them this opportunity to respond to Him in commitment. And they did so with zeal and fervor.

Grace freely given to us by God should lead us to freely offer what we have back in return. There should be no strings attached. Offering our goods and our service to Him is a natural response of worship. God’s overwhelmingly generous mercy frees us to be generous people. And that is the way I should approach my gifts to God’s work… even in an economic downturn that has hit home.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Mature Marks of Spiritual Leadership.


And Moses quickly bowed his head toward the earth and worshiped.
And he said, "If now I have found favor in your sight, O Lord, please let the Lord go in the midst of us, for it is a stiff-necked people, and pardon our iniquity and our sin, and take us for your inheritance."

Exodus 34:8-9

There are three marks of a mature spiritual leader exhibited by Moses in these two verses. They are worth consideration. First, Moses possessed a heart that was sensitive to the worship of the Lord. When he ascended the mountain to again have God write upon stone tablets, he went up expecting to worship God. As soon as God pronounced His own name, Moses fell down and worshiped. Leaders need to be sensitive to the presence of God and the response should be humble worship above all else. Spiritual leaders are really lead worshipers. This is true in a Sunday worship service. This is true in a small group meeting. This is true in a leadership forum. This is true in private time with God.

The second clear mark of maturity was that Moses knew the people that he was leading. He did not kid himself into thinking they were so great because he was their leader. He had just had to reprimand them for idolatry. God had brought consequences into the camp for Israel’s sin. Moses knew he was leading an idolatrous nation. And he did not fool himself. Honestly before God he confessed the sin of the people and asked for God’s pardon. The story of the leadership of Moses would be one of God working with a stiff-necked and disobedient people. Leaders who know their people know their task. And when they know and admit the sin, they are open to the grace and mercy of God to mark all that they do. It takes humility to worship God and it takes humility to work with sinful people. Moses had it in both categories.

A third mark of mature leadership goes with knowledge of the people. Moses knew what God’s heart was and His request shows that. He knew that God wanted to use Israel for His glory. He knew that He wanted to make of the nation His inheritance. And after begging for forgiveness, Moses asks God for what God wants. Mature spiritual leaders know what God wants. They are close enough to God to align their own hearts with the desires of God. They not only desire to worship God, but they begin to desire the things that God desires in their leadership. This is where Moses really shines. He began his journey being an impulsive, emotional, self-driven man who murdered to get what he wanted. Now, he is a humble (though still flawed) leader who wants above all else what God wants for His people. That is what God does in a person to develop mature leadership.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

Show me Your glory.


Moses said, "Please show me your glory." And he said, "I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name 'The LORD.' And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.”

Exodus 33:18-19

Is Moses being presumptuous with this request? After all, hadn’t God been manifesting His presence constantly since Israel left Egypt? A pillar of fire and cloud had been with the nation since God had freed them. That in and of itself had to be awe-inspiring. I know it is not what I see in church visibly every day. But Moses knew there was more. The cloud and the fire were manifestations, but not the entire picture. Moses longed for more of God.

God grants the bold request of Moses. Even after all of Israel’s struggles, Moses is faithful. And God is faithful to Him. God answers the desire on His own terms. Moses would see the good glory of God, but God would hide him in the crack of a rock face, cover the leader with His hand, and only allow the back of God’s glory to pass before Him. That would suffice. God was allowing this because He chose to be gracious and merciful to Moses. Moses did not somehow deserve this. God was being gracious in allowing Moses to live through this experience.

At the heart of Moses’ request is a desire for intimacy with God. He did not seek to gain from the experience. It wasn’t so that he could manipulate Israel with it. He longed to be closer to God. He met with God in the tent of meeting. He received God’s revelation on the mountain. He saw God lead through fire and cloud. And all that revelation left him wanting more! That is the way it is with the heart that longs after God. It always needs more.

I must continue to commit to regularly looking to God’s Word. It is when I see His glory in its pages that my heart is pulled toward Him. It is when I know Him leading me in that way that I long for more. All too many times I am content with just a couple of minutes in my morning. God wants to graciously give me more. And my heart needs to be burned with the desire for more. The passion of Moses for the glory of God should become my desire as well.


Burn me up with the strong fire of wanting You! May I look and long for Your glory until it is all that I want in my life!


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Wednesday, August 19, 2009


golden calf

And as soon as he came near the camp and saw the calf and the dancing, Moses' anger burned hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands and broke them at the foot of the mountain. He took the calf that they had made and burned it with fire and ground it to powder and scattered it on the water and made the people of Israel drink it.

Exodus 32:19-20

This is the more unsavory part of the Exodus story. Moses has just spent forty days on the mountain with God. He comes down from Sinai with the law of God, represented in the tablets of stone, in His hand. And he comes down to find Israel in complete pagan idolatry. We know from Paul’s New Testament commentary that sexual idolatry was taking place. Israel was ruining the precious relationship with God even as Moses had just spend forty days establishing the terms of the covenant that would make that relationship unique.

Moses’ response was one of anger (he was a hothead after all). He stormed into camp, reduced the calf idol to powder and humiliated their New Age spirituality by forcing the people to consume the gold dust that had been their “god”. The remnants of calf worship literally ended up in the latrines of the Israeli camp. This was not just symbolic. It made the point of the pointlessness of idolatry. Then Moses rallied the troops and the Levites sided to him. They were commissioned to take down the worst of the idolaters, and 3000 men died by the edge of sword for their sin.

Then Moses confronted Aaron… the priest of Israel. He sheepishly acted as if he had played only a passive role in this sin. He mixed paganism with the worship of God (Exodus 32:4-5). And he was going to pay the price. Moses quickly returned to God on the mountain to intercede with the people. God withheld immediate punishment, but did not relent from “visiting” this sin on them in the future, which came immediately with a plague of sickness on the camp. (Exodus 32:34-35)

Sin has its consequences. Even if it is playful sin. Just ask Israel who sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play. Sin has consequences, even if it is partial sin. Just ask Aaron who mixed a little bit of paganism with a little bit of truth. Sin has sin, even if it is personal choice. Just ask the three thousand families who lost their fathers to a commitment to idolatry. Sin has consequences, even after you have turned from it. Just ask the Israelites who got sick from the plague of judgment that fell on their idolatry. Sin has consequences. Say it. Believe it. Know it. Fear it. Turn from it.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

God’s Craftsmen

carpenter_handy_2 See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.

Exodus 31:2-5

God chose Bezalel and Oholiab (Exodus 31:6) to be the main artisans in charge of building the tabernacle and its furnishings according to God’s blueprint given to Moses. They were gifted by Him specifically for this purpose. They were filled with God’s Spirit for the task. Beyond that, there where certain natural gifts that come into play: ability, knowledge, intelligence. artistic design, metallurgic skill, wood-carving, jewelry, and general craftsmanship. These were hard-working men with skills that God called and used.

How many times have we really considered that God needs these kinds of skills for His worship and work? We tend to focus on theological training, personal charisma, or business acumen. But God needs good-hearted people who will work hard. He needs people He can fill with His Spirit and use for His purposes. And that is really it.

God called Moses to lead the people. But Moses could not build the tabernacle. For that task He wanted Bezalel and Oholiab. They were the men that God could use. They were the men who would build the tabernacle where Israel would sacrifice to God. And the result would be a place where God’s presence would visibly rest in the camp. It took more than Moses and Aaron to bring the worship of God to the tabernacle. It took hard-working craftsmen and builders. God wants calloused hands to worship Him.

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Monday, August 17, 2009


anoint_head_with_oil_fromhorn You shall anoint Aaron and his sons, and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

Exodus 30:30

Serving God is a holy task,

Consuming fire around His throne.

No selfish concern could I ask

to beg off His service for my own.

When priests in the wilderness were called

holy oil on their heads and robes

showed Whom they served enthralled

in commitment pure of soul.

And consecrated now are those

who follow Christ into their days

with gospel orders pure and bold

anointed by the Spirit in all His ways

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

God’s Holy Tent

Wilderness_Tabernacle_1 I will consecrate the tent of meeting and the altar. Aaron also and his sons I will consecrate to serve me as priests. I will dwell among the people of Israel and will be their God. And they shall know that I am the LORD their God, who brought them out of the land of Egypt that I might dwell among them. I am the LORD their God.

Exodus 29:44-46

This summary from God at the conclusion of a lengthy description of sacrifices and consecrating ceremonies for Aaron and his sons is full of intent and meaning. God was going to make holy the work of human hands and lives of the men called into His service in the tabernacle in the wilderness. Humans would do the work and the volunteering. God would do the sanctifying. Both needed to happen for a satisfying relationship with God.

The results of such service were profound. The tent of meeting and the altar of sacrifice would be holy places because God’s presence dwelt there. The Aaronic priesthood would be set apart to unique service, called holy by God. Israel would gain access to God through the Levitical sacrifices. And the knowledge of God would be readily available at the tent of meeting. Israel would know God.

The self-disclosure of God to Israel in these ordinances is really quite amazing. We tend to focus on the detail of the Law and miss the big picture: a fire and a cloud covered the tabernacle and it was the holy locus of the presence of God. That was something entirely new on the face of the earth. And God was choosing to make Himself known this powerfully to an imperfect nation of people who would slip easily into sin throughout their history. Yet He had chosen Israel as a light to the world, and would use them to reach the world.

God has also powerfully chosen to display Himself today. Not in a tent, or in an altar, or in an elaborately garbed priesthood. He has chosen, through His Holy Spirit, to indwell each individual believer. Christians are each a place where God has pitched His tent. And though we are made of fallen clay, and we occasionally sin against Him, we are still all a peculiar people, a chosen priesthood to proclaim the uniqueness and glory of Christ to a world that God wants to change similarly one life at a time. This is a great, glorious calling!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Set apart to serve

illustration-high-priest For Aaron's sons you shall make coats and sashes and caps. You shall make them for glory and beauty. And you shall put them on Aaron your brother, and on his sons with him, and shall anoint them and ordain them and consecrate them, that they may serve me as priests.

Exodus 28:40-41

This entire chapter in Exodus goes into great detail about the attire for the high priest and the priests who would serve under him. There was a huge symbolism to what the high priest wore. Some of the symbols were meant to draw attention to God, others were to draw attention to the people of Israel. This dual symbolism visually defined the role of the priest as mediator between God and Man.

What I notice from these two verses has to do with what God expected. He expected Moses and the nation to set these mean apart through three things: anointing them, ordaining them, and consecrating them. Each has a slightly different meaning. The way they were anointed with oil symbolism God’s calling and power upon them. They received as a special call and designation from God that was being recognized in the ceremonial anointing with oil. They were ordained which really emphasizes the calling of God upon them. This let the nation know that God had a special, unique purpose for the priests and the work of the tabernacle. Not everyone was to do it, but only those specifically called by Him and ordained by the people. And finally they were to be consecrated. The hugely detailed levitical laws would ensure that the priests would be set apart with a different lifestyle. They were uniquely priests to God. They were consecrated to His work and worship alone.

And all these three means of setting apart the priests emphasized their task: to serve God. There would always be a place among the Israelites were God was being worshiped, served, and exalted as Holy as Israel humbled themselves before Him. Sin would be atoned. Grace would be extended. All of this came about because God called a select group, and the nation responded with recognition and provision for that call, so that those set apart to serve God could do so to the joy and delight of God and man.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Give me oil in my lamp, keep me burning

"You shall command the people of Israel that they bring to you pure beaten olive oil for the light, that a lamp may regularly be set up to burn. In the tent of meeting, outside the veil that is before the testimony, Aaron and his sons shall tend it from evening to morning before the LORD. It shall be a statute forever to be observed throughout their generations by the people of Israel.

Exodus 27:20-21

olive-oil-bottle-2 In the midst of a long list of supplies and an elaborate blueprint for the construction of the tabernacle, Israel is instructed to donate the simplest and most common of household resources for the worship of the Lord. An oil lamp would be built, and kept burning before the Lord’s presence. And Israel would provide the olive oil to fill its reservoir. This was a contribution any Israelite could make to the worship of the Lord.

God delights in both the common sacrifice, and the wildly generous gift. Gold and silver are nice. Exotic skins for the tabernacle tent and highly crafted textiles for the curtains were only one part of the supply list. Other materials were readily available in the home of any family among the camp. And the olive oil was the simplest and most available for ready supply (though perhaps only through trade at the time of the desert wanderings).

I like the thought that individual families could all donate some olive oil, and that this was kept in a common supply. Did the oily gifts of all the different families mingle into one common supply jar, or did individuals drop off a daily ration so that it was always fresh? Either way, each family could have contributed their own part of what became the flame the burned before the Lord. There are no insignificant gifts. Poor families might think, “Maybe I have no gold, but I do have cooking oil. I can give that!” And God will be worshiped with that.

In a time of economic thrift, Joni and I have begun to feel huge sacrifices with our increasingly smaller gifts. There was a time in my life (about a decade ago) when we could routinely give away nearly a quarter of our income and not feel challenged by it. But the kids have grown into really hungry teenagers, inflation has grown, cost of living increases (it never decreases),  and unanticipated medical expenses have shown up as we have aged, even as salary has shrunk. And now to give even the simplest of gifts to the work of the Lord is felt. To give over and above a simple amount feels impossible (even though I know it is what we should do if God has asked it of us).

The lesson of the olive oil is that there are no small gifts. And I take comfort in that. In the past we have easily been able to provide much larger gifts. But for whatever reasons, God has placed us in the olive oil category for now. I know that we can provide those sort of things, and as we sacrifice further, we can find God helping us to be generous in many small ways with what we have been blessed to share. And that is really the whole point of the matter. It humbles my pride. If all I have left is olive oil, will I see it as an item with which I have been blessed in order to share in ministry and worship God? The choice is mine. I can see the present circumstances as an economic downtown and lock away my chances to serve God with what we do have. Or I can see it as a challenge to find new ways to be generous in my worship of the Lord. I really believe God is asking me to grow during this time to practice the “olive oil” alternative.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Veil

And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy.

Exodus 26:33


From the earliest dictates of corporate worship, God insisted that the place where He would locate the manifestation of His presence be kept distinct from all other areas of public worship. That is why the “Most Holy Place” existed in the tabernacle, and then again in the permanent temple, as the locus of the Holy Presence of God. In it was placed the ark of the testimony. And the High Priest only entered there ceremonially once per year on the Day of Atonement.

But when Jesus died, it was this veil, and the concepts it represented that were ripped away. With redemption complete and justification and forgiveness found in Jesus, the need for the veil disappeared. God’s presence, through the sanctifying offering of the Son of God, would now make the hearts of believers His temple, His Holy Place. The Holy Spirit now indwells those who come to faith in Christ. There is no more curtain or distinction.

This is significant fact. God has changed the way He will be worshipped and the way He will be known. Instead of being approached behind a veil, He is now openly approachable in our own lives, at the very center of them, with our bodies as His temple.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Voluntary giving is worship.

The LORD said to Moses, "Speak to the people of Israel, that they take for me a contribution. From every man whose heart moves him you shall receive the contribution for me.”

Exodus 25:1-2


It can get lost in the excruciating details of God’s design for the tabernacle, but the project of building a portable sanctuary for the worship of Yahweh happened because people chose to give the materials for the tabernacle. The remarkable phrase is “from every man whose heart moves him”. This was voluntary generosity. The Lord wanted people to want to give.

Why? Isn’t it true that Moses could have come down from the mountain with a fully built ark of the covenant, as well as all the furnishings for the worship of God? God had a design in mind, so it is evident that God knew what was needed. But God wanted to worship from His people. And that can only be given voluntarily. And it was His desire to receive personal, willing worship. Material provisions were part of that worship.

This is still God’s desire. He wants people to willingly worship Him through praise, prayer, heeding His word, and giving to His kingdom’s advance. This giving comes in various forms, but it is most noticeable in terms of personal financial commitment and sacrifice, as will be seen when Israel generously provides so much for the tabernacle that Moses eventually has to command them to stop!

So when the plate makes its rounds on Sunday, or when a personal sacrifice is made to travel on a missions trip, or needs are presented for a ministry opportunity, it is all worship. It is sincere, real, visible worship and its most personal and meaningful, and we should not be shy of it just because some hucksters of the gospel have abused it in the past. They will suffer for their fraud. But God is real, and giving is real worship.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

a fire & a cloud & forgetful hearts

 cloud on mountain

The glory of the LORD dwelt on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days. And on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the midst of the cloud. Now the appearance of the glory of the LORD was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. Moses entered the cloud and went up on the mountain. And Moses was on the mountain forty days and forty nights.

Exodus 24:16-18

The repeated description of the glory of God as it is displayed among Israel is that of a fire and of a cloud. We get an even more interesting description of an encounter with God in this chapter in Exodus 24:9-11 where 74 men from among Israel, including Moses and Aaron, get a special audience with God. There the description is not of God at all, but rather of the “pavement” of clear sapphire-like stone under His feet. This description leads me to think that they just saw the feet of God upon the mountain, and that was awesome enough!

The nation saw the glory of God on the mountain. As Moses ascends the mountain to commune with God and receive the intense revelation of the Law of God, the people are amazed at the sight of the mountain. It has been transformed to a fuming, burning, fire-topped furnace at the approach of God’s glory. And this lasted the entire 40 days that Moses was up with God on the mountain. They had to be impressed, and we know from later accounts, both fearful and worried for Moses.

I saw a new insight from this chapter as well. It had never sunk in to me that ALL of the elders of Israel got to see God “up close” before Moses went all the way to the top of Sinai to receive the Law. This makes Israel’s lapse into idolatry in chapter 33 as Moses descends with the law all the more tragic. They could not hold on to a vision of God for 5 weeks! It faded in their minds so quickly.Their leaders failed to keep a vision of God and His commands before them. And human nature is the same stuff today. I can encounter God vividly in His word in the morning, only to feel and act like a miserable sinner by day’s end! And if I ever find myself in a visionless ministry… it is my fault as a leader because I did not point people to the glory of God. Oh how I need to look carefully at how Israel saw the glory of God in the desert. The lesson is for me.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

The Spiritual Disaster of Inclusionism.


You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. They shall not dwell in your land, lest they make you sin against me; for if you serve their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.

Exodus 23:32-33

When it came to God’s instruction for Israel for entering the promised land of Canaan, God was not big on toleration and inclusion. There were provisions, but they were for the individual, not for the groups of Canaanites around them. If find it interesting that at the first part of this chapter, God warns Israel to take care of the sojourner. This would be a person who was a refugee or traveler seeking refuge in Israel. This is what the New Testament would later call a “God-fearer”, a gentile who was drawn to Israel and her God. They were not to take advantage of that type of person. They were to welcome them and receive such proselytes. They were to instruct them in the ways of the Lord.

But this was not the same treatment they were to give to the large ethnic groups and nations of Canaanites once they reached the promised land. God told Israel that His plan was to slowly “drive out” the Canaanites because Israel would not survive well any contact with their idolatry. And history bears this out. Archeology has uncovered evidence of rampant infanticide, the worship of dogs, bestiality, homosexual prostitution, and all sorts of immoral perversion as the regular practice in the worship of fertility gods among the Philistines and other residents of the land God was giving the Jewish nation.

Even with these warnings, Israel still managed to get so enamored with the idolatry of the nations around them that they lapsed into apostasy and God had to bring them to ruin in captivity in Babylon before Judaism truly grasped monotheism and His people committed to Him exclusively. The Old Testament shows us an accurate record of how inclusion and tolerance lead to spiritual disaster.

More and more, secularism calls for the sins of Israel’s past to be the defining marks of morality in our culture. And we must not be deceived by it. It is one thing to live in a culture that practices religious liberty. It is another thing altogether to make every adherent to every religion agree that all religions are equally valid. And in our culture there is an insane push to make all moral judgments equally valid. To do so is to divorce religion from reason on a permanent basis, to make Christianity admit that it is a collection of logically disconnected dogma. And it is not! Inclusionism (the belief that any and all religions will eventually lead someone to God) is as dangerous today as it was for Israel. For them it was a national spiritual suicide. For us it is also individual intellectual suicide.