First, thanks for all the birthday wishes yesterday--I had an amazing day! Now on we go. =)
Sometimes reading the Old Testament can be baffling. We're told that the Lord our God never changes, that He's the same yesterday, today, and forever. Yet when we read about all that transpired in those early days with Israel, all the times He lashed out against someone for what we would deem nothing...well, that makes us go "Huh?"
I recently read the portion where Aaron's sons lit a profane fire to the Lord, and He struck them down, three of them. Because it was there, I read a note on it--the note simply said that God wanted to be very clear about the rules of the Tabernacle, and they had disobeyed them.
|Rembrandt - Balaam and his Ass|
I had to shake my head on that one. Because you know, in all these confusing places--where someone was commanded to be stoned for picking up sticks on the Sabbath, where Moses strikes the rock instead of speaking to it, where Balaam's donkey has to talk because Balaam keeps trying to force the creature past an angel that came simply because he rose too early--there's one obvious thing in common.
People are disobeying the letter of God's word.
But beyond that, I think it's this--that people are disobeying the spirit of God's word.
Very rarely do the Old Testament writers provide us with motivation, beyond "they grew discontent" or "His anger was roused against them." That's all we hear. But what do we know? That God doesn't change. And that God sees not our outward actions, but our inward heart.
My first realization of this was in Genesis, when Cain's sacrifice is unacceptable to the Lord. Why, when we know He does in fact except produce as offering later? The only answer I see is that Cain didn't give his best. It specifies that Able did, but just says Cain brought "some." Some isn't good enough for our Lord.
When the sons of Aaron lit a fire the Lord had not told them to light, what were they trying to do? And what would that fire have meant to the gods of the lands around them? Where they trying to take or conjure power not meant for them?
Was Moses too angry to follow the instructions God gave him? Did he think it not enough of a show to speak to the rock, even though the Lord then says he ruined the point with his outburst?
Motivations are what I allow myself to change and interpret when writing historicals, so I give them a lot of thought when reading these examples.
And I need to give them a lot of thought in my own life. Is my heart right when I'm performing the small tasks set before me? Do I turn astray even a degree with the thought that I want to do it my way instead of the way I know He wants me to do it? Do I greet clear, precise instruction with a "No"?
Maybe right motives aren't always enough if we fail to do something--but wrong motives can destroy us. So Lord, cleanse my heart anew today...that I might hear those detailed instructions and obey them precisely.
Is there a particular Old Testament passage
that has always baffled you?