Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Scary Hebrews - Shadowfeet

I have been studying Hebrews over this past year and honestly I haven't liked it because I can't fully understand many of the difficult passages. I told Hubby, 'I don't like Hebrews, it's scary.' He and I joked that I could be like Martin Luther and just take Hebrews out of my Bible like he did with James. Some of the passages seem really harsh and there are many strong warnings. In some of them God seems so far away and so wrathful. "Our God is a consuming fire" isn't a verse you often see hanging on plaques in Christian homes.

Then a series of small bad events happened in my life that made me further see that I and others are far from perfect. I made a bad choice here, or someone wronged me there, it all makes me realize that I'm not going to ever be perfect until I'm with the Lord. I so long to be with him, to be done with my sinful self and having to deal with the sinful world we live in.

Then a series of big difficult events happened, like a friend's two year old boy passing away suddenly without warning. We had three funerals in one month's time and other hardships to struggle through personally. About this same time we had a lot of bad weather, severe thunderstorms and tornado watches at night. I felt like the weather really reflected the storm going on in my own life and how I was viewing God. Very threatening, powerful, not very personal. Listening to the storms at night scared me, but thinking about a powerful God who was causing those storms was even more frightening.

So fast forward to now and I've been studying Hebrews 12. In this chapter it alludes to the time when Moses took the people to Mt. Sinai to receive the 10 commandments from God. Here is the passage from Exodus.

Exodus 19:18-25, 20:18-21

Now Mount Sinai was all in smoke because the LORD descended upon it in fire; and its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked violently. When the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and God answered him with thunder. The LORD came down on Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the LORD called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the LORD spoke to Moses, "Go down, warn the people, so that they do not break through to the LORD to gaze, and many of them perish. "Also let the priests who come near to the LORD consecrate themselves, or else the LORD will break out against them."

Moses said to the LORD, "The people cannot come up to Mount Sinai, for You warned us, saying, 'Set bounds about the mountain and consecrate it.'" Then the LORD said to him, "Go down and come up again, you and Aaron with you; but do not let the priests and the people break through to come up to the LORD, or He will break forth upon them." So Moses went down to the people and told them.

(Between these verses God speaks the 10 commandments to the people.)

All the people perceived the thunder and the lightning flashes and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled and stood at a distance. Then they said to Moses, "Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die."

Moses said to the people, "Do not be afraid; for God has come in order to test you, and in order that the fear of Him may remain with you, so that you may not sin." So the people stood at a distance, while Moses approached the thick cloud where God was.

Yeah. Um. That sounds a little scary to me too. I don't know if I'd get braver as Moses says 'Do not be afraid.' I can totally relate to the Israelites at this point, God seems pretty powerful and scary.

But I've also been reading The Peacemaker for my Sunday School class and the chapter for this past week was God's Sovereignty and God's Love. We have to hold both of these things together to trust him with our circumstances. If God is sovereign but not loving then he can be scary, but if God is loving but not sovereign then he is, like J.I. Packer says, "A heavenly Santa Claus, well meaning but not able to help." But if we believe that God is both sovereign and loving then the things that happen out of our control we can trust that they are not out of his control. Knowing that he loves us we can also trust that he will use them for good.

So this week's study on Hebrews 12 was encouraging because it talks about how we have come, not to Mt. Sinai, but to Mt. Zion (which is the heavenly Jerusalem). We have come to Jesus. It also gives another warning about how we should not turn away from him and then says that He will 'shake the earth.' The next verse explains that this means He will remove the things of this world, in order that the things that can't be shaken will remain.

That is why I go on. For the kingdom that can't be shaken. It's is the reason I run this race of life with endurance, with faith and hope. I know God better through these trials I've been going through. I know that he is both good and sovereign and that he knew about them.

But going through these trials is hard and I eagerly look forward to the day that I can see him face to face. Until then I will persevere and allow the trials to sanctify me and make me into who he wants be to me.

Recently this song, Shadowfeet, by Brooke Fraser has encouraged me. The 'You make all things new' is from a verse in Revelation 21:

"And He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new"

Ahh, no my tears, no more pain. A new kingdom. I can't wait!

Brook Fraser

Walking,stumbling on these shadowfeet
toward home, a land that I've never seen
I am changing: less and less asleep
made of different stuff than when I began
and I have sensed it all along
fast approaching is the day

when the world has fallen out from under me
I'll be found in you, still standing
when the sky rolls up and mountains fall on their knees
when time and space are through
I'll be found in you

There's distraction buzzing in my head
saying in the shadows it's easier to stay
but I've heard rumours of true reality
whispers of a well-lit way


You make all things new


When the world has fallen out from under me
I'll be found in you, still standing
Every fear and accusation under my feet
when time and space are through
I'll be found in you

1 comment:

Gopher Belle said...

Well said Lark...this was a blessing and encouragement to me!

Jennifer Landress