Saturday, 17 October 2015

Skate-boarding... In flip-flops.

"There's that word again - heavy. Is there something wrong with the earth's gravity in the future?"  Doc Emmett Brown - Back to the Future.

So there they were, the great company of those - Hebrews and many others - camped at Mount Sinai, watching as the peak became touched with the overshadowing of the presence of God. Assembled before this foreboding sight, Moses goes forward to hear God before them, and returns, telling the people to consecrate themselves, so they to might draw close to the Almighty, as a people called to be His.

And so, the day comes when God descends before them, and they are shaken by the awe of His presence. Fire and smoke, tremors and trumpet blasts, but the people cannot truly draw close - the sight of God would kill them.

Filled with fear, they keep their distance, and call for Moses to go into the thick darkness that has shrouded the mountain and speak to God alone (Exodus chapter 19).

God amongst us. 

What it must have been like on that day, or the day when Ezekiel (Ezekiel chapter 1)  sees God's throne, or Daniel (Daniel 7) sees the Ancient of Days.

Seeing the radiance, majesty and splendor of the Lord by peaking into heaven.

Except, of course, that all these moments happen on earth.

The response of the Children of Israel at Sinai - to keep God at arms length, if not further - is telling. By the time that Ezekiel sees the Lord, the nation is under judgement (2 Kings 17:7-23 gives a good summation as to why), and when we get to Daniel, God is speaking through pagan Kings and using foreign lands. The severance, seen so clearly in the forming of the golden calf, seems complete, but Israel had to learn that their Lord was not just another 'god' to be plicated from afar by oblations and offerings. The 'throne' He holds, above the ark of the law and between the cherubim (surrounded by the reminders of Eden) is a mercy seat, where the blood of one far better than any levitical sacrifice, has covered the sins of many (Hebrews 10). The heart of the true temple (in Eden and in the New Earth) is the very presence of Him who descends to be among us.

This isn't, of course, just an 'old covenant' problem.
It's easy for us to 'draw close with our lips' (our external activity), whilst being far away in our hearts, and so often, we can devise formulas which seek to impose rather than bridge the distance. Like skate-boarding in flip-flops, it won't get us very far.

God seeks to draw closer than we often wish through His spoken word, and the broken bread and poured wine of the sacraments. He comes to our hearts, in the glorious splendor of His grace in the justifying work of His Son, to reside there, and to be truly present amongst us, and so we behold His glory, full of grace and truth. Do we embrace the life which flows here from the living one on the throne, or do we respond by seeking to 'qualify' what can and cannot be permitted? The Lord, our redeemer and life (Song of Songs 2:4, Hosea 2:14-20) is here amongst us (Matthew 18:20), and it is sweet indeed (Luke 24:30-32).

The call for us is to intimacy (1 John 1:7) - a profound union which stems from a genuine handling of the word of life (verses 1-4). If we are to truly grow together in Him, this must indeed be the longing and the joy of our fellowship.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth (Ephesians 1:3-10).

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