Monday, February 29, 2016

the ten: an introduction (part 1)

For the next two weeks, I have decided to share my Bible Study series on The Ten Commandments. However, before we actually start this study, I think it is important to ask each of you, dear readers, to stop and review what the Lord actually said to Israel in advance of handing out these necessary "life rules" of His Ten Commandments.

I've been praying about this particular blog series for several weeks now, because I think that too often many of us fall into the trap of looking at God as a prude judge when it comes to His commandments. We envision Him as this harsh, rigid old man sitting on His throne up in the sky... an angry being who's only desire is to impose legalistic rules upon mankind and make us miserable. As such, we begin to question His love as we find ourselves focusing on all the restrictions and parameters He has set before us.

Moreover, I think we easily take out of context the whole story - the complete picture of what actually "went down" when God presented these commands to His chosen people. As a result, we fall into the same trap that man has always fallen into by believing Satan's lie that we are somehow being negated our freedom if we follow God's Word. But the truth is that God's Word gives us freedom! His desire is for us to live refreshed and renewed in His loving grace. Because of this, every single command that God presents to His people offers much love and consideration as to how we can live freely from sin and avoid the corruption that it brings into our lives.

So, in advance of reviewing these ten commands, I wanted to make sure that you know about the prior conversation that existed between God and Moses before the commandments were administered to Israel.

"What?" you say. "A conversation? Wait, there's more to the story than just these rules listed on some stone tablets?" The answer is YES! Before handing over "the ten", God wanted to make sure Moses told His people something very important... something dripping with the proof of His unquestioning passion for us! God wanted to make sure that His reason for giving these commands was understood because they are each based in His boundless, unending love. Read with me what He told Moses:

Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, "This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 'You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles' wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites." (Exodus 19:3-6)

When I first read this passage, I must admit, I was confused. I mean, what the heck did God mean when He said, "I carried you on eagles wings and brought you to myself." I couldn't understand the context of it. When did God carry Israel on eagles wings? What exactly did that mean?

As I studied more, I began to see that the children of Israel who directly heard these words, would have definitely known and understood what the Lord meant. For many BIG events had occurred where God had continually proven His love and provided for them. What occurred? Well, let's see... He did redeem them from four hundred years of slavery in Egypt. He did save them from the clutches of Pharaoh and his army. He did create a stream in the desert so that they may always have fresh water to drink. He did cover the wilderness ground every morning with manna so they would be nourished with food to eat during their journey to the promised land. Oh, and yes, He did promise them a new land filled with milk and honey... a land where they would be restored as His people and become a great nation. Hmmm. But what did it mean that He carried them on eagles wings?

Did you know that a mother eagle will assemble a nest for her younglings that measures at least eight feet high and eight feet wide? She constructs her nest at a high altitude and furnishes it with animal fur, leaves, and the down from her own chest to insure that her chicks will be warm and protected. For the first part of their lives, these innocent babies know only the luxury and care of their mother and feel safe and secure within their enclosed haven. Their mother feeds them, cares for them, watches over them, protects them. Then, on an unannounced day, the mother eagle will pick up her baby and fly it up up up... and drop them!

WHAT?!!

As the poor baby plummets to the earth, the mother watches as he struggles in fear, trying to figure out how to use his wings before smashing into the quickly approaching ground. Just before the baby eagle hits earth, his mother swoops in and flies underneath him - picking him up. She repeats this process over and over as her baby becomes more acquainted with the art of fluttering his wings. It is a scary, but necessary, learning process for the chick.

Each and every time it seems that the little bird has no hope of surviving the fall, Momma swoops in and carries the youngling on her wings. This is how an eagle learns to fly. Mind you, it isn't an immediately learned process... but it is an important and necessary process for the bird to learn how to survive and flourish and LIVE.

Equally, God wants to teach us how to survive and flourish so that we may LIVE! But, before teaching His children how to fly, He wanted Moses to remind Israel HOW MUCH He had already loved His people and continued to watch over them. This assurance was necessary before dropping them into an open sky full of deathly terror. First, God wanted Israel to understand that His intentions were for their own good and would promise them a happy, healthy and holy life as they prepared to enter into His promised land.

We too are preparing for a promised eternity in the presence of our King. We too are new creatures who must learn how to LIVE as God's redeemed, equipped people. This is our new life in His grace, after all!!!

If we really thought about it, we'd have to admit that everything we have in this life is a blessing that comes from the hand of our generous Maker. Only from man's choice to sin against God do we find ourselves falling downward into certain death and destruction. Yes, once sin entered into our reality, we became hopeless creatures needing to be rescued. So, rather than let us perish, Christ swooped in and provided a new way to save us. Sure, some will struggle against Him and continue to fall to their death. But for those of us who accept His rescued plan, we are given everything we need to survive and flourish in Jesus name. We must never forget this. No matter how afraid or abandoned we may feel, just like that baby eagle... we can rest assured that our Redeemer will always come to save us. He will always be right there overseeing our care and instruction. Sure, His response time to help us might not fit our desired way... many times we would like Him to show up sooner rather than later or at the last second. But usually, those critical moments are the times when He is teaching and showing us the most valuable of lessons. Those are the times when He is stretching us to become more like Him!!!

God gave us the ten commandments because for us to live freely we must also learn "how" to live holy. We must allow our Redeemer to teach us in every step of life, every trial, every test. He offered this loving outline to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan - before they faced many enemies and trials while moving into the promised land. By the blood of Christ, He offers the same outlined gift of holiness to us as we face the enemy today. He does this so our faith in Him will become stronger and we will be able to grasp our destinies as people of the living God!

"When I found Israel, it was like finding grapes in the desert; when I saw your fathers, it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree." (Hosea 9:10)

How good would a juicy grape taste in the desert? For sure, it would be refreshing!!! How pleasing is it to see the early fruit of a fig tree? It is encouraging and exciting!!! God knows that if we stay within His guidelines, we are free to enjoy the BEST that life has to offer and be showered with His many blessings. However, outside of His guidelines, we live with heavy burdens - lost in corruption and drowning in our own destruction and sin. Hmm. Does that sound like a God who wants to torment us? Absolutely not! That sounds like a God who wants to spare us from wasting our lives by the ravages of sin! That sounds like a Savior who wants to keep us on track during these perilous, terrible, dangerous, grievous, difficult times... the last days of this earth before our glorious King swoops down to save us.

These commands give us what is RIGHT in a world full of wrong. They are important. They remove confusion. They are truth. They are His Way!

Ladies, I don't know about you, but I have no idea what this world will throw at me from one day to the next... but God does.

"For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jeremiah 29:11)

Do you think that this world has plans for you to prosper and keep you from harm? I don't. I find that the world generally beats me up! Satan loves to tear me down and does all he can to distract me away from following God. This is why it is so critical to know and trust that God best understands LIFE... after all, He gave it to us. Satan only takes life away. But God knows how our existence is supposed to work. The only thing He wants is for us to live as healthy as possible in His presence.

I would not begin to assume that I know better than God. His ways are not my ways. I don't need to believe in "me" or my abilities... that would be foolish because I clearly am a mess without my Shepherd! Instead, I need to believe in Jesus and His certainties! This is why our loving Father gave us "the ten". He has plans for us that are greater than we could ever imagine. In Jesus, we have a wonderful, hopeful future!

In order to experience LIFE to the fullest, we must walk in His ways and follow these healthy commands. Of course, He gives each of us the choice to obey or disobey Him. In His unending love, He allows me to personally fumble and fail in my own stubbornness when I choose to look away from His law. But when I see how messed up life gets without Him... when I repent and return to His open arms... He is always there, ready to swoop down and carry me up to soaring heights! Praise His name! How gracious and exciting is my Master and the plans He holds for me!!!

In Jesus name, Lord, help me to overcome my selfishness, fear and uncertainty and trust that You are who You've promised... my Redeemer!!! Let me enjoy Your view and learn how to fly within the safety of Your perfect holiness!

Tomorrow, we will look at preparing our hearts to receive these life-giving commands as we seek to follow God's intended will. I hope that you will join me on this important journey.

I love you ladies, and I know for certain that Jesus loves you too!

Blessings!

~Victoria

© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

4 comments:

  1. I certainly needed to hear that today!!!! Oh how much God loves us......and how many times do we doubt it? Lord forgive me for doubting you goodness,and great love for me....for all of us!!!

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  2. What a wonderful story to learn more about! As always your choice of what to study is perfect...I'm so looking forward to this journey of discovery. Thank you Victoria for leading us all on such amazing explorations into God's Holy word. He has blessed us all so richly by putting the desire to lead us on your heart! All Praise and Honor and Glory are His forever! Amen! Amen!

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  3. How timely this word was for me today I have been battling some things in my life and dealing with some issues from my past childhood, and it's because God is once again healing me from things that had happened so very long ago. But when that happens it hurts once again as the pain that's been buried so deep comes up and out, satan would have loved to seen me destroyed but God did and is prospering me and everyday I become stronger, thank you I needed this word today.

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