The Sanctuary Downtown / Relentless Love Peter Hiett
- Religion & Spirituality
Courage (And Where Joshua Found It)
We sing: “One thing I ask, and I would seek: to see your beauty; to find you in the place your glory dwells. Better is one day in your house than thousands elsewhere...” We sing that song because David sang that song in Psalm 27. It’s all a little weird for we’re singing about “The Bug Zapper of God;” and David had already seen his friend, Uzzah, get zapped.
In Exodus 25, and as we saw last week, God instructs Moses to build the Ark of the Testimony and place it in the Tabernacle; it’s how Moses knows which way to go. About a year later, Moses and Israel find themselves at the edge of the Promised Land. Moses chooses twelve spies and sends them to spy out this land. In Numbers 13:20, he says, “Be of good courage.” “Courage is almost a contradiction in terms,” wrote GK Chesterton. “It means a strong desire to live taking the form of a readiness to die. ‘He that will lose his life the same shall save it.’”
At the end of 40 days, the twelve spies return. All agree that the land is good, but ten are terrified to enter because of the people that dwell there, and two—Joshua and Caleb—are encouraged to enter for they believe that God delights in them and that giants are not giant next to the Lord.
The people of Israel decide to stone Joshua and Caleb with stones. This makes some sense to me: The people knew that God was all-powerful and wise, but they didn’t know that he was good, and not just the “go to the dentist” kind of good, but the chocolate cake kind of good; he’s beautiful. “This is the knowledge of which we are most ignorant; for many men and women believe that God is almighty and has power to do everything, and that he is all wisdom and knows how to do everything, but that he is all love and is willing to do everything - there they stop. And this ignorance is what hinders those who most love God,” wrote Julian of Norwich.
Perhaps you feel that God has some land for you to occupy?
The Last time I preached on these verses was June 1st, 1997. I recently looked at my old notes and thought, “I never want to preach on those verses again.” But like a bug drawn to a bug zapper, I suppose I can’t help myself.
Twenty-six years ago, I preached on Numbers 13 and 14 and introduced our new building program: “Where the World Drives By.” I shared that real estate is not the Promised Land, but our lack of courage is the giant we face, and I shared that I thought the Lord wanted us to occupy some land. Our church had grown about ten-fold in four years. We had found land by the freeway (where the world drives by). Within six years, we had moved into our new building. But in four more years, I was tried and defrocked for publicly stating that I hoped that all things would be filled with the Glory of God... and we all lost the land.
For fifteen years I’ve wondered if I was wrong on June 1st, 1997. A big part of me did think, “How cool: ‘Where the world drives by’—a monument to Peter’s success.” But for fifteen years now, I’ve been thinking, “How ironic: ‘Where the world drives by’—Peter gets crucified.”
Well, the Glory of the Lord protects Joshua and Caleb from public stoning. The Lord then threatens to destroy Israel. Moses says to the Lord, “The nations... will say that it is because the Lord is not able to bring this people into the land that he swore to them, that he has destroyed them (same ‘them’) in the wilderness... please pardon the iniquity of this people.” The Lord says, “I have pardoned.” And then he swears saying, “As I live and as all the earth shall be filled (or ‘is filled’) with my glory, none of the men who have seen my glory shall see (or ‘do see’) the land that I swore to give to their fathers.”
If he sends these people to Sheol in the depths of the earth, it’s the same earth that he just swore would be filled with his glory, or is filled with his glory. And in Deuteronomy One, Moses reveals that he is o
How Moses Made Decisions and Decision Made Moses
“Oh Lord, what do you want me to do?” I ask that question all the time.
We have the Ten Commandments, but we appear to want more; there are at least 30,000 federal laws, alone.
Recently I said to my wife “What do you want me to do? What is it that you want from me? Do I have to give you a kiss, buy you flowers, and listen to your stories about the day?” She said “Yes!” But she seemed perturbed. And then she said, “If I died, you wouldn’t even miss me!” I said, “Yes, I would. I don’t know how to pay the bills or the location of all our important papers; I don’t even know how to work the washer and drier. Of course, I’d miss you!” She screamed, “Look! I’ll write down all the instructions and when I die, you can keep them in a box along with my bones and carry them with you wherever you go!” And I said, “Thanks, you’re the best!”
I didn’t actually say that . . . at least not to Susan.
Adam wanted to know what to do. Isn’t that why he took the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden at the edge of time and eternity? He wanted knowledge of the Good in flesh, who is also the Life. On the Holy Mountain of Eden, humanity took knowledge of the Good from a tree and everything died. On the Holy Mountain of Sinai, that no longer looked like a garden, God gave knowledge of the Good, written in stone, to Moses; he gave the law.
And now it gets weird. He didn’t tell Moses to post it at the Courthouse (like we’re always trying to do); he told him to put it in a box that couldn’t be opened, in a tent inside of a tent, guarded by an utterly complicated set of rituals. God told Moses to put the Law in a “coffin,” an “aron,” also translated with the English word, “ark.”
When Joseph died in Egypt, hundreds of years before, he made the Israelites swear to put his bones in a coffin and carry them with them to the Promised Land. Now God basically tells Moses, “Just as you made a coffin for the bones of Joseph, which you carry with you this day (Ex. 13:19), make a coffin for me.”
Exodus 25 goes into elaborate detail about this gold-plated coffin for the Law—the coffin that we now call “The Ark of the Covenant (or Testimony).” On top of the coffin, Moses was instructed to make a solid gold “kapporeth,” translated as “Mercy Seat” or “Place of Atonement.” On Yom Kippur, the High Priest would make atonement for the sins of the people by sprinkling the blood of sacrifice on top of the coffin between the two cherubim in “the Most Holy Place.”
Exodus 25:22 “There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim (Last we heard of these guys, they were guarding the way to the Tree of Life along with a flaming sword, literally, a butcher knife . . . designed to cut flesh.) ...from between the two cherubim that are on the top of the ark of the testimony, I will speak with you about all that I will give you in commandment for the people of Israel.”
In other words, “There I will tell you what to do. Do not look to the laws in the box; look to the living Mercy on top; not a map, but a presence.” Exodus 33 informs us that it was in this “tent of meeting,” that the Lord used to speak to Moses “face to face, as a man speaks to his friend.” It also informs us that God told Moses, “Man cannot see me and live.” As we saw last time, the Burning Bush and the Tabernacle were like giant bug zappers. I suspect that Moses died and lived. When I speak to a truly good friend, my flesh, my ego, does not get in the way—I lose my “psyche” and find it.
In Exodus 40, the Fire and the Glory Cloud descend upon the Ark in the Tabernacle. It was how Moses knew which way to go.
When Moses looked behind the veil to the top of the ark, what do you think he saw enthroned above the Cherubim? I bet he saw the God/man on the burning thorn bush/tree; he saw that the glory on the mountain was now in their midst; I bet he saw
Following the Mother Heart of God
The Messiah’s Complex
God is a bit like a bug zapper. “Harry no! Don’t look at the light!” said one bug to another bug. “I can’t help it; it’s so beautiful.” Those were the last words of Harry the Bug in the movie “A Bug’s Life.” The Tabernacle was definitely a Bug Zapper, and God was the Fire in its midst.
In Exodus 3, an 80-year-old shepherd “turns aside to see a great sight.” He sees the Angel of Yahweh, the Word of God, the God/man, in a thorn bush (or tree), burning but not burnt. When the Lord sees that this shepherd turns aside to see this sight, he calls to him, “Moses, Moses!”
The Story of Moses immediately follows the story of Joseph. Joseph was a shepherd who became a prince of Egypt and so saved Israel. Moses was a prince of Egypt who became a shepherd and so saved Israel. Their stories are exact opposites, and yet just the same: to save Israel you must believe that “God is Salvation” and you . . . are not.
When Moses was forty years old and a prince of Egypt, he visited his Hebrew kinsman as they labored for the Egyptians. When he sees one of them being oppressed, he comes to his defense and ends up killing the Egyptian oppressor, alienating his kinsman (Hebrew and Egyptian), and fleeing into the wilderness of Midian. In Acts 7, we learn that Moses supposed that the Hebrews would understand that “God was giving them salvation by his hand.”
Moses had a messiah complex. He must’ve thought: #1 I’m the man for the job. #2 I have (or will have) a plan—I’m “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians.” #3 I have the tools—I’m “mighty in words and deeds.”
Maybe you have a messiah complex. Are there people that you think you must save? Some people actually think they can use knowledge of God to save people from God, including themselves. That sounds a little like me, which would mean that I have a messiah complex and I’m a victim of a false messiah (anti-Christ); “I” am in bondage to “me.”
Fifteen years ago, because I refused to confess that God couldn’t save all and that God didn’t want to save all, I was removed from the large church that I pastored. Some said that I had a “messiah complex.” I’m sure I did, and still do! But I don’t think it fully explains why I would not recant; it might explain why I was tempted to recant—to remain a prince, to work my plan, and to keep all my equipment, my tools.
Well, Moses had been herding his in-law’s sheep for forty years (And it had been 400 years since the time of Joseph) when the Lord called to him out of the bush saying, “Come I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel out of Egypt.”
Moses must’ve thought, “You can’t be serious! I used to be the man for the job. I used to have a plan. I used to have all the tools.”
Moses said, “Who am I, that I should go...?” “You’ve got the wrong guy.” And God said, “But I will be with you. (You ask, ‘who am I;’ what matters is who I AM is).” Moses said, “They will not believe me or listen to my voice. (You’ve got the wrong plan).” God said, “I promise that I will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt.” Moses said, “But I am slow of speech. (I don’t have the tools).” And the Lord said, “Who made man’s mouth? I will be with your mouth.” Moses said, “Send someone else.” Exodus 4:14, “Then the anger of the Lord burned Moses.”
Moses is still standing in front of the God/man, in the thorn tree, burning and not burnt. But now Moses begins to burn. The Word of God is the Fire of God which Moses now feels as the Anger of God; he’s like a bug caught in the bug zapper of God.
To demonstrate, I brought my car battery and some jumper cables to church. There’s fire in the battery and I’m to speak the Word of God which is fire (Jer. 23:29). But if I attach the jumper cables to my lips, I’ll get burned. That’s because flesh is a poor conductor of electricity. And yet a
Predestined to Drama
When I was a child and had the flu, I’d lie on the couch and watch the only thing on daytime TV, daytime drama: “These Are the Days of Our Lives.” If I wasn’t sick, it would make me sick. Lots of talking and so much emotion; it was nauseating.
But I would be OK if I could just hang on until 4:30, for at 4:30 Star Trek came on. I now realize that it too was drama, but it was drama in space! And it had Mr. Spock. For Mr. Spock, logic was unemotional, and emotion was illogical.
In the Bible, “logic” is actually an easy word, or concept, to find. The Greek word “Logos” is translated as “logic,” “reason,” or “word.” “Emotion” is a harder word, or concept, to find, although folks in the Bible definitely have what we would call “emotions.” Yet there is one word group that comes fairly close to our concept of emotion and that would be the verb, “pascho,” and the accompanying nouns, “pathos” and “pathema.” They’re usually translated as passion or suffering.
In classical Greek, they refer to things that affect us and are not easily controlled—like a cross, or an “emotion.” Hence, we are confused by the English word “passion;” we’re saved by Christ’s “passion,” and yet wary of evil “passions.”
Well for us, drama certainly appears to be a problem. Listen to our prayers: “Lord may everything go according to plan—no drama please.” And yet Paul prays, “That I may know him . . . and share in his ‘pathema,’ his suffering, his drama, his passion.” We like passion plays but not actual passion!
Perhaps the most passionate of all stories in the Old Testament is the story of Joseph. Hopefully, it’s familiar to you. At the age of seventeen, he dreams that the sun, moon, and eleven stars bow down to him. He has eleven brothers: one younger and ten older and very jealous of Joseph. They throw him in a pit, sell him as a slave, and fake his death for their father.
Twenty-some years later, Joseph has gone from a life of slavery and abuse to a position of power as Pharaoh’s second in command over the Empire of Egypt. During a famine, his older brothers come to him attempting to buy grain. He recognizes them, but they don’t recognize him—quite a drama and this is just the beginning of all the “weeping.” Genesis 43: “ he turned from them and wept... [Joseph’s] compassion grew warm for his brother, and he sought a place to weep. And he entered his chamber and wept there.” After a series of extremely dramatic trials, Joseph reveals himself to his brothers. Genesis 45 “And he wept aloud, so that the Egyptians heard it, and the household of Pharaoh heard it... Then he fell upon his brother Benjamin’s neck and wept, and Benjamin wept upon his neck. And he kissed all his brothers and wept upon them.”
After an extremely emotional and weepy reunion with his father and an insanely emotional funeral several years later, the brothers worry that Joseph may pay them back for all the evil that they had done to him. And so, they throw themselves before Joseph (just as in the dream) and they beg forgiveness for their sin. Genesis 50: “Joseph wept when they spoke before him... But Joseph said to them, ‘Do not fear, for am I in the place of God? As for you, you meant it for evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today. So do not fear; I will provide for you.”
How did the dream come true? How did Joseph become such a beautiful vessel of Mercy? How did he come to look so very much like Jesus?
1. He must’ve had some faith in the dream.
2. And so he hoped; he knew that whatever evil might plan, it could only be part of God’s plan.
3. He wept... and wept and wept; he forgave.
Western Christians have turned forgiveness into a small thing regarding God’s response to our sin. In Scripture it’s not a small thing, but literally everything. In the New Testament the word “fo
I’m listening to the series on Revelation. Simply delightful. So good. What a wonderful and mysterious King we have. Thank you, Pastor Peter, for these sermons.
Love the messages i have heard but won't download want to listen when I have no wi fi