2 Peter 1:12 So I will always remind you of these things, even though you know them and are firmly established in the truth you now have. 13 I think it is right to refresh your memory…
This year my Advent plans had a very different ending. This was the first Christmas of my life I’ve actually been physically alone, thanks to a positive Covid test on December 22. Alone by definition is “to be separated and isolated,” not words anyone would purposefully connect to Advent or Christmas. The whole point of observing Advent has always been God’s reminder of His intervention to correct the condition of humanity; being “alone or isolated.” I’ve remembered that so many times over the years.
What I will remember about Advent and Christmas 2022 is the very physical way I was reminded of the truth I already knew. In the midst of the unpleasant, worrisome and murky details of Covid, family and friends used every opportunity and technology known to man to remind me I wasn’t “alone and isolated” and God chose their kindnesses to refresh my memory of His truth about the birth of Jesus Christ. I will remember this week in between 2022 and 2023 because I tested negative for Covid…AND was reminded of so many reasons I have to be positive about the truth of God!
Exodus 19:1 On the third new moon after the people of Israel had gone forth out of the land of Egypt, on that day they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2 And when they set out from Rephidim and came into the wilderness of Sinai, they encamped in the wilderness; and there Israel encamped before the mountain. 3 And Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my own possession among all peoples; for all the earth is mine, 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.”
This is my poetic representation of God’s word using verbatim phrases from this portion of Exodus 19 with the goal of seeing the place God is creating for Jesus. I have the advantage of hindsight and knowing the reality of God’s desire is to make a place for Himself within the people of His own heart. Moses hoped the Instructions God gave him to give to the people he’d led to this mountain would become a convenient working arrangement between them, but God had something greater in mind. He intended those Ten Words to become the promise of direct priestly access.
The third new moon after
the land of Egypt,
they came into the wilderness of Sinai.
There Israel encamped before the mountain.
Moses went up to God.
The Lord called to him
saying, Thus you shall say –
You have seen what I did
how I bore you on eagles’ wings
and brought you to myself.
if you will obey my voice
and keep my covenant,
you shall be my own possession among all peoples
you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. RSV
It’s taken three months to get to this place of wilderness at the foot of the Mountain of God. “The word conventionally translated ‘wilderness’ is not a sandy desert, but grazing country, not settled by man.”a Some scholars believe God has brought Moses back to the same place of the burning bush where He first spoke audibly to Moses. Now Moses has heard the voice of God for a second time and been given the Ten Commands from God that are meant to offer tired, hungry, irritable and lost people a place of worship where they will finally have direct access to God within their memory, their mind and their heart. Come, Lord Jesus!
aEnduring Word commentary
Exodus 13:3 And Moses said to the people, “Remember this day, in which you came out from Egypt, out of the house of bondage, for by strength of hand the Lord brought you out from this place; no leavened bread shall be eaten. 4 This day you are to go forth, in the month of Abib. 5 And when the Lord brings you into the land of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Hivites, and the Jeb′usites, which he swore to your fathers to give you, a land flowing with milk and honey, you shall keep this service in this month…9 And it shall be to you as a sign on your hand and as a memorial between your eyes, that the law of the Lord may be in your mouth; for with a strong hand the Lord has brought you out of Egypt…18 But God led the people round by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea. And the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle…
“by strength of hand the Lord brought you out.”
Memory of the Lord walking with us is still “the road out” of bondage! The Israelites began their journey with the promise of an oasis, a land flowing with milk and honey. But between their bondage in Egypt and that land of freedom lay a vast wilderness with other less obvious adversaries they would have to conquer. Remember, their battle wasn’t just with an Egyptian army, a sea, a lack of water, unfamiliar food, dietary restrictions and years in a vast wilderness, but with themselves. The Lord’s plan was to equip their memory by His faithful presence for an ongoing battle against the unrelenting, hidden influences of the other enemies that must be met and overcome along the way: the Hittites, broken and fearful, the Amorites, bitter, broken and babbling and the wicked Hivites. “And the Lord went before them” leading them by day and by night. Remember!
John 2:13 The Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. 14 In the temple he found those who were selling oxen and sheep and pigeons, and the money-changers at their business. 15 And making a whip of cords, he drove them all, with the sheep and oxen, out of the temple; and he poured out the coins of the money-changers and overturned their tables. 16 And he told those who sold the pigeons, “Take these things away; you shall not make my Father’s house a house of trade.” 17 His disciples remembered that it was written, “Zeal for thy house will consume me.” 18 The Jews then said to him, “What sign have you to show us for doing this?” 19 Jesus answered them, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” 20 The Jews then said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?” 21 But he spoke of the temple of his body. 22 When therefore he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken. 23 Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs which he did; 24 but Jesus did not trust himself to them, 25 because he knew all men and needed no one to bear witness of man; for he himself knew what was in man. RSV
What is the general theme of the passage?
Jesus confronts the “legal” preparations, obligations and rationalizations for the Passover market that has made the Temple a place of diversion instead of a place to prepare yourself for true Worship. The focus of worship must be changed from a place to a person. “And I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb.” Revelation 21:22 ESV
What does it say about God (or Jesus or the Holy Spirit?)
Jesus, “the Lamb,” is fully man so he knows how easily our minds, heart and souls can be diverted. Jesus is “the Almighty” too, so His heart is determined we must NOT get away with allowing even the legal props of faith to divert us from true Worship.
What does it say about people?
People love ritual! And preparation really is essential to worship. The first Sign of Jesus was the wine…and the disciples believed. This Sign of Jesus’s anger is going to be the memory prompt of their belief in what they have learned and remembered about the truth of walking, and working with Jesus.
Is there truth here for me?
These words of John reveal how different my experience with Jesus is to that show-stopping action of His anger in the Temple. But life with “the Lord God Almighty AND the Lamb” is the challenge Jesus and John have made me aware of today. It’s made me consider two unique truths: Jesus, the Lamb, is determined to love me AND Jesus, the Lord God the Almighty, sometimes has to whip up my conscience with guilt to remind me I don’t want to make His “Father’s house a house of trade.”
Do you not know that you are God’s temple
and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?
I Corinthians 3:16
Posted in 1 Corinthians, John, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament, Revelation
Tagged Conscience, Lamb, Memory, Preparation, The Almighty, Worship
2 Peter 3:1…I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder…5 by the word of God…9 The Lord is patient…that all should reach repentance…11 in lives of holiness and godliness…13 We are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells…14…without spot or blemish, and at peace…18 Grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
To him be the glory both now and
to the day of eternity. [ESV]
Almost two years have passed since I last posted about this chapter. How I happened to know that is interesting. It showed up as a Facebook Memories notification this week which was certainly a timely reminder. [read here] As I re-read that post and looked at other versions, verse 9 stood out…”The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” [v9 NLT] The Lord’s provision is bigger than “yesterday” which captures our memory or “today” which occupies so much of our daily experience. The Lord has given us His purpose for the recipe for tomorrow. “Bear in mind that our Lord’s patience means salvation.” [v15 NIV]
Remember the Image
I’ve been making these beaded memory wire bracelets for the Operation Christmas Child boxes our church will pack in November. They’re so pretty I decided to wear one to church last week. In an inspired moment I gave the bracelet I was wearing to a woman I know almost nothing about except she is a sister in Christ. I wanted her to know, and believe, I understood that about her. It made perfect sense to me to remove it from my arm right there in the church pew and place it on hers with a hug and the phrase “we’re a circle of sisters.” At that moment a simple piece of coiled memory wire with a lot of different beads became an object lesson for me. Memory wire is interesting because no matter how many times you test it by uncoiling it to put it on or take it off it remembers the shape it was created in. That’s both the basis and the beginning of my object lesson.
Memory wire is like the image of God created in us. It’s a shape we may forget but God remembers. We are the beads. The beads are only accents that make the bracelet a visible and beautiful reminder of that remembered shape. I hope that woman will wear her bracelet and let it prompt her memory: God remembers his image in her and so do I…AND….she’s a beautiful “bead” in the circle of sisters.
I’ll probably never see any of the girls who’ll receive one of these bracelets next winter but my heart is filled with that same hope for them. I know God remembers his image in each of them. My hope is that bracelet wrapped around their arm may help them remember too.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
We celebrate Advent as a season of Good Tidings of Great Joy, but there’s more to that reality. God purposefully chose to send his only son, Jesus, to live among us knowing the dark and painful realities that lay ahead. There would be no reason to celebrate at all if weren’t for God’s intervention – the birth of “The” Advent – into a world full of broken, “weary and burdened”…and desperate people.
That came back full force when I decided to look back at past journal entries for December 14 and found this startling and heartbreaking event from Advent, 2012.
“The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting occurred on December 14, 2012, in Newtown, Connecticut, when 20-year-old Adam Lanza fatally shot 20 children between 6 and 7 years old, as well as six adult staff members.”
Sandy Hook broke many hearts then, including mine. I wouldn’t have chosen the memory of that massacre for this Advent but sometimes it’s the gaps in a broken heart that make room for remembering the reality of why “The” Advent still matters today. Come into my heart Lord Jesus.
Psalm 27:14 Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.
• Psalm 27:4 “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to enquire in his temple. KJV
Verse 14 was the designated one to read but on the way to it I read verse 4. I’ve been waiting for the neon sign from the Lord to say “this is what you should be reading every day.” I thought reading the Verse of the Day was just a good fall-back plan to avoid wasting my time while I waited. I missed the whole point! It’s not “what” I’m reading but “that” I’m reading.
Realizing that about waiting not being wasting time was a lightbulb moment but it was verse 4 that turned out to be a personal reminder. God is always working his Plan Be. Nothing is wasted. There was a period in the ’90s when it was popular to take a verse of Scripture and put it to music as a way of memorizing it. That’s how I learned verse 4 of this Psalm. I was surprised to find I could still sing the song after all this time.
It was God at work through this technique called a Mnemonic device; a memory technique to help your brain encode and recall important information…Scripture set to music.
Click to hear song: