Thursday, May 6, 2010

Let My People Go, Part 8 (RVL)

This is the final teaching in the series by Ray Vander Laan. After this I will get back on the topic of how best to bring change to the Church with regards to its Hebraic heritage. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank my son-in-law John for helping me bring a new look and layout to this blog. I will endeavor to bring additional enhancements as time allows. By the way, I welcome your comments. Please click on comments at the bottom and tell me what you think about the blog or these posts.

Let My People Go - Final Session - Ray Vander Laan
Central Wesleyan Church May 2, 2010 From notes taken by Dennis Kananen
These and other sessions are available on DVD and accompanying teaching guides at and Focus on the Family. The titles are Let My People Go; Heard Their Cry; Fire on the Mountain; With All Your Heart.
Malchut HaShamayim: The Kingdom of Heaven: Where God replaces chaos with Shalom (Wholeness/Peace). The desert experience was a place where God hoped to get Egypt out of Israel. Think of it this way:
  • In Egypt, God turned good water bad; in the desert, He turned bad water good.
  • In Egypt, God rained hail and destroyed grain; in the desert, he rained bread.
  • In Egypt, locusts covered the land and ate the food; in the desert, quails covered the land as food.
  • In Egypt, Moses’ staff hit the water and made it undrinkable; in the desert, Moses’ staff struck the rock so that drinkable water came gushing out.
After 3 days they came to a place where the water was bitter, so it was called Mara. But Mara means more than bitter; it also means defiantly disobedient. Think of Naomi in the book of Ruth. Her troubled life caused her to give herself the moniker Mara. She left Bethlehem because of a famine. She did not go to Egypt because God had said do not go there again. Ray mentioned the oddity that Jesus went there. He said, as he did on several occasions, that maybe he’d cover that next year (Ray is scheduled to repeat this series next spring at Central). Anyway, 3 days later, the crowd lost heart and courage. Even Elijah, after having a magnificent victory atop Mount Carmel, ran for his life from Jezebel 2 days later. Ray has taken thousands of people on trips to the Holy Land and he’s seen plenty of complaining after they’ve been in the desert for just a few hours. 
This is why the rabbis developed the habit of reading from the Torah every 3 days in the synagogue (Monday and Thursday). 
After turning the bitter water good by throwing a tree into it, the people then complained about food. God provided manna and quail, but they continued to complain. Ray pointed out that they still had their flocks, so they were not completely without food - but what they craved was the food of Egypt. There, within sight of Sinai at Rephidim, the people were asking, is God among us or not? 
Testing God is a way of saying, “If you do such and such for me, I’ll do such and such for you.” This is a dangerous thing to do with God. We often point to Gideon’s fleece test as justification, but Ray felt that it was not a good thing; that God loved Gideon in spite of the test.
How do we test God? Before his heart operation, Ray prayed that God would bless his health even though he ate fast food all the time. I’ve thought the same thing. God has given us many wise commands for eating, yet we (Gentile Christians) have come up with the craziest circumlocutions that enable us (in our minds) to ignore those words of wisdom and eat whatever we want. And then we pray for healing when the body doesn’t get the benefit of good nutrition. 
In Exodus 17: 5-7, Moses leaves the assembly of people at Rephidim and takes a few elders to the foot of Mount Sinai. At God’s command, Moses strikes the base of the mountain with his rod and water comes gushing out. It then flows as a temporary river to where the people are. The Hebrew word for the rock that he hit is Tzur. It is as if God is saying hit me instead of the people. While at Rephidim, Israel was attacked by the Amalekites. As I mentioned in my Purim post several weeks ago, God had a particularly strong hatred for the conduct of the Amalekites. Ray said that they were cruel, barbaric slave traders. It’s as if God is saying, “so, you want to go back to Egypt where you were slaves - well, that can be arranged...” The Amalekites took advantage of the defenseless position of the tribes. The 12 tribes of Israel traveled in a certain order within the large assembly. The tribe of Dan was in the rear, so the defense of that perimeter fell to them; but they failed in their duty. The weak, poor, and needy were picked off first. Dan would continue this failure throughout Israel’s history. Their dereliction of duty resulted in them being left out of the list of tribes in the book of Revelation.
Ray then expanded this whole idea of God’s commandment to protect the weak, poor, widows, and orphans. An orphan in the Bible also includes a child who is without a father. One way to measure the morality of a community is to see how they care for the abused members of society.  To this we should add the unborn. Even the story of Sodom and Gomorrah bears this out. Their sin was not only sexual immorality, but the neglect and abuse of the poor and needy:

Ezekiel 16:49: “Look, this was the iniquity of your sister Sodom: She and her daughter had pride, fullness of food, and abundance of idleness; neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.”
Back at Rephidim, Joshua chose men who would fight for their families and nation and organized a defense. This is the famous story where Moses stands on a hill and raises his staff. As long as it is raised, the battle goes in their favor. When he grows tired other men help him hold it up. The Lord heard their cry of ze’ekah and delivered them yet again.
More on the Amalekites: 
1. Saul, from the smallest of tribes (Benjamin), was told to obliterate the Amalekites (and their king Agag), but he did not do so. When confronted by Samuel, the kingdom was taken from him and given to David. Chaos continues on, until the next deliverer arises...
2. Esther was born for “such a time as this”. She also was from the tribe of Benjamin, and confronts the remnant of Agag’s seed: Haman. 
God appeared in flashing lightning and rumbling thunder atop the pinnacle of Mount Sinai. He did this to instill fear of disobeying God and the commandments. "The fear of the Lord is the belief that God rewards righteousness and punishes sin." (from Torah Club Voice of the Prophets -Behar)
Exodus 19:4-6 “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and [how] I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be a special treasure to Me above all people; for all the earth [is] Mine.”
Exodus 19:6 “And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These [are] the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."
I Peter 2:4-5: “Coming to Him [as to] a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God [and] precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
Priests were intermediaries between God and the people. A priest:
1. put God on display. He made God known to those who are were in chaos.
2. mediated between God and man, especially when it came to performing the Temple duties
3. ministered to people’s needs. Many of the needs around us could be met by the church. Notwithstanding Jesus’ comment that the poor will always be around us, there are many opportunities for ministry.
4. was set apart for God. Holy/Kodesh. A people following idolatry give a distorted picture of the Biblical God. Holiness is everything. 

The Jews may have at times gone too far in observing this separation from unclean things, but their reasoning for strict observance was good. It is likely that we are on the other extreme. In the present age, individual believers are the Kingdom of Priests; and Jesus is our High Priest.

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