Reverence
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Do not come any closer, God said. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Exodus 3:5, NIV

The opening chapters of the book of Exodus represent a low point in the history of God’s people. From calling upon the name of the Lord in the early chapters of Genesis, they had come, after 400 years in Egypt, to the point where many had adopted the customs and patterns of worship of the Egyptians.

Entering the country as free men during Joseph’s time, they had devolved into slaves under Egyptian taskmasters.  God had endowed each of His children with a divine destiny.  He had called the sons of God to be more than mere slaves whose daily existence had become little better than the animals around them.

The Bible tells us, “What is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas.” Psalm 8:4-8, NIV

The Egyptians worshiped the very creatures they were created to have dominion over. They honored animals more than the people that they enslaved. As sons of men, they had willingly exchanged their divine destiny for a humble and depraved existence. Man, created for great things, had chosen instead to dwell in the gutter. The Egyptians had chosen to look no higher than their own desires for purpose and meaning. As those desires became more and more degenerate, so did their sense of purpose.  After four centuries of living with the Egyptians, the Israelites had spiraled downward as well.

They had forgotten the lessons of Lot and Sodom. Lot felt that he would be well cared for and would find prosperity if he chose to dwell with the Sodomites.  When he and Abraham parted company, he perhaps congratulated himself on his shrewdness in choosing the “well-watered” cities of the plain (See Genesis 13), but it led to his capture in battle, and eventually even cost him his wife. Lot and his family had become so attached to Sodom that God’s angels actually had to grab them by the hand and pull them from the city.  The fast-paced allure of city life had captured Lot and his family to the extent that even when God warned him to flee, he lingered, unwilling to leave it all behind.

Hundreds of years later, He would have to pull Israel out of Egypt with a strong hand as well. Lot bonded so deeply with Sodom in only a matter of years. How much more was Israel bonded with Egypt after centuries? What is remarkable is that apparently a remnant continued to cry out to God for deliverance, for the Bible tells us that He “heard their cry.” (See Exodus 3:7 & 9) God was about to work a mighty work of deliverance for His people, and Moses was to be the instrument in God’s hands to bring forth the Israelites from their captivity.

Strangely, God’s first words to Moses were not about deliverance, but He spoke instead of reverence. He commanded Moses to remove his sandals because he was standing on holy ground. This would indicate that the greatest need for His people at that point in history was to restore a reverence for the holy. Perhaps this is because man was made in God’s image and whenever man is degraded, his concept of God becomes degraded as well. If man is lowered to the point of worshiping animals, then God seems of little more significance than an animal Himself.

Mankind needed to understand God’s true holiness before he could understand his own special destiny. This is why if is so very difficult even today, for a man or woman to rise to his or her true place in creation until there is first an encounter with the person of Jesus. Once Jesus is allowed into the life and heart, all else becomes obvious and willingly the “reborn” person casts aside that which defaces God’s image and seeks to rise to their true place in God’s loving plan.

A vast multitude responded to God’s call to come out of Egypt. For various reasons, many chose to cast their lot with Moses and leave for Canaan. But whatever their reasons, too many sought freedom but not relationship with God. Their route through Sinai was marked with grumbling and outright rebellion. As a result, the bodies of almost an entire generation were left by the way, never reaching the “promised land.” Only Caleb and Joshua of that generation surrendered completely to the Lord’s leading. They alone survived to lead the next generation into Canaan.

Things today are no different. Even when Jesus walked in Galilee, He remarked about it in that day. He told his disciples, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” Matthew 7:13-14, NIV

With so few finding the path of life, should we wonder that it is necessary for God to first introduce His people to reverence? Lot went astray in Sodom. The Israelites went astray in Egypt. Are we somehow stronger than they? Or do we need to consider our way lest we go astray as well?

Some might feel that Jesus inoculates us against this. But the Israelites lived with the very presence of God in their camp in a pillar of cloud by day and fire by night, yet they went astray. While the power of God thundered from Sinai, they chose to make a golden idol in the image of a calf.  Having thus degraded the image of God, they immediately reverted to the degraded partying and licentious behavior that the Egyptians considered worship. Any idea of reverence had gone out the window. No wonder God wanted to start all over. (See Exodus 32)

Just as God called his people from Egypt long ago, in these days He calls His people from Babylon. Both nations were steeped in idolatry and defaced the image of God. Today, that image is also defaced by the sons of men. Denying the very existence of God, they replace reverence for God with all forms of depravity. Then turning from what they believe to be a non-existent God, they look to animals for an understanding of man. The life and death of a man or woman becomes no more significant than the death of a four-footed beast. Like beasts of burden, men are reduced to being no more than tools for those who crave power and wealth.

God calls His people from this confused image of man and God. He wants to restore them to their divine destiny. Like in ancient Egypt, many are responding to that call for various reasons. Some bring the practices of Egypt and Babylon with them. Some, like Caleb and Joshua, seek that small gate on the narrow road that leads to salvation and restoration. The first step on that path is reverence. I want to see God’s divine destiny fulfilled in me. I want to have God restore His image in me. I pray that through Jesus, God will give me a reverent heart so that as my relationship to Him is restored, my understanding of what God’s plan for me is and who I am can be restored as well. Wouldn’t you like that, too?

 

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Reverence — 7 Comments

  1. Oh yes! I'd like that too. We are not much stronger than Lot or the Israelites. Infact, we live in a more perverse generation and the devil is working even harder for he knows the end is nigh. But one thing gives me hope; that Jesus promised to be with His disciples to the very end of age...and that promise still holds today. Only He can give us the wisdom to discern temptations and the strength to overcome them. If we only surrender all to Jesus and abide in him.

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  2. We are leaving in the last days and we are about to enter into the promised land that our Lord Jesus christ went to prepare for us. We have to be very prayerful so that we must enter in that hevenly city. Remember what happened with the isrielites, when they were about to enter cannan. They fall in temptations.

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  3. Stephen, I agree with you on many points, some I am not sure of and a few I disagree with you on.
    First, I think scripture is clear that Lot was not like the Sodomites! He interceded on behalf of travelers to the city and protected them (Gen 19:1-9). It is interesting that when Abraham discussed the situation with the Lord he didn't take the righteous count below ten (Gen 18:32). Perhaps he understood the problem that Lot faced and knew that the tide of evil was against him, possibly to the point that Lot was beginning to conform to some of the principles of the Sodomites as we often do. Obviously, Lot's wife was attached to the city along with his in-laws but Lot still had enough righteousness that the Lord got both he and his family out before the destruction began.
    As far as the angels pulling Lot and his family away goes, the situation was urgent, they needed to get out NOW in spite of the fact that the rest of his family needed salvation and yet not willing (Gen 19:14). Lot was pleading God's case with them and not willing to give up but there comes a time when further pleading is useless and needs to end. So it was for most of Lot's family and for the cities of the plain.
    Second, we often seem to think that God didn't quite know what was going on and that when things happen He looks scornfully down at His people with burning wrath apparently caught by surprise that such things happened. Doesn't scripture say that we are like sheep (Isa 53:6), that we are born in sin (Gen 5:3; John 3:6; Rom 5:12; ) and that we are unable to extricate ourselves without God's power (Jer 13:23; Job 14:4; John 15:5). In spite of our pitiful state God still loves us (1 John 3:1; 1 John 4:10; Mat 5:45). Yes, all that you say is true Stephen, but if we lose our focus on Jesus, the God of love; if we forget what He has done in the past for his very undeserving people then we would not only have missed the boat but also the pier and everything else around it.
    Third, there are many questions that arise that we have no answers for. Many of them won't be answered until we are in Heaven. One of them is why God didn't pull His people out of Egypt before the enslavement began. Certainly He knew what was going to happen (Isa 46:10) didn't He? Why does He allow so many bad things happen to His people through the ages?
    For one, if His people didn't go through the Egyptian slavery and the exodus didn't occur all future generations wouldn't have that very powerful example of salvation to reflect upon. If God's people didn't go through the period of the middle ages then the universe wouldn't have that history that confirms what they saw happen on the cross. They wouldn't have as clear of an understanding of the issues of the great controversy as they now have. The main issues were settled on the cross but needed clarifying. The stories in the Scriptures are for our benefit (Rom 15:4; 1Pet 1:12) and we in turn become witnesses to the universe for their benefit (1 Cor 4:9). So God does things that may seem strange to us now but when the curtain is pulled aside and we see the big picture everything will make perfect sense.

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    • Thank you for your thoughtful comments, Tyler. I agree that much of what we don't understand is for our benefit. To exaggerate the point you have brought out, God could have slain Goliath without using a shepherd boy named David, but it was a necessary obstacle in David's path to prepare him to rule Israel. David became what he was in part because of his experience with Goliath. God has created each of us to fulfill a divine destiny. If we choose to accept Jesus and with Him that destiny, we will find that He created us with everything necessary in our being to accomplish it. He also places everything in our path, people, resources, and guideposts to aid us in becoming all He intended for us to be. We are not orphans. We are sons of God and joint heirs with Christ. (See John 14:18 and Romans 5:17)

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  4. oh yes i'm really relieved to understand that i'm not an orphan.i used tell myself that i know that one day i'll be a garden boy in heaven,but now its crystal clear my heavenly wont allow that
    thanks so much guys for giving me some confidence
    Lets hold on i can feel its only a matter of some hours before HE comes with our crowns

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  5. brothers & sisters i would like to highlight this. In Exodus [3:2] the Angel of the LORD appeared to Moses,(i found that this 'the Angel of the LORD' means something which if we can not elaborate can lead us into not understand what we are talking about. The point is, the are two angels appearing(The Angel of the LORD & the angel of the Lord ).there is a difference from the angel that appeared to Zacharia(Luke 1:11) & the one that appeared to Moses . In Exodus we see GOD Himself appearing to Moses unlike the angel that was sent to Zacharia. To see this difference, critically read the two bible books of Exodus 3:2& Luke 1:11. Then the difference comes from their immediete responce after the angels had spoken to them, remember these instances occurered at different occassions
    be blessed

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    • Thanks for your comment, Mhlongo. Perhaps the difference between "angel of the LORD" and "angel of the Lord" should be attributed to the fact that the Old Testament is initially Hebrew and the New Testament is Koine Greek. The all capital "LORD" is a translation of the word we get "YHWH" from. But the word "Lord" in Luke 1:11 is translated from the genitive form of the Greek word for Lord: "kurios." Since the New Testament is Greek, the phrase "YHWH" is never used by the apostles, nor is it found elsewhere in the New Testament. Even the well know passage in John 8:58 which is often associated with the divine name is actually first person singular of the Greek verb "to be." Transliterated, that would be "ego eimi."

      If we surmise differences based solely on the reactions of the people involved, we would have to see a difference between Moses' response and Gideon's as well (See Judges 6). Does this mean two different angel's spoke to each of them. Perhaps, but I would hesitate to state that with any certainty based solely on their reactions.

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