Thursday, April 4, 2019

Beyond the Mountain (part IV)

Continuing to explore the wilderness journey of our ancestors, and by implication ours too, we find that one of the reasons that we seem not to be able to move beyond the mountain, is that we are still stuck on a major issue; the disappearance of our leader. “Now when the people saw that Moses delayed coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him’” (Exodus 32:1). This was the response of the Sons of Israel when their leader went up into the cloud and disappeared for what turned out to be a forty day period. They, therefore, took matters into their own hands. Today as messianic believers, we too have a Leader who went up into the clouds over two thousand ago, with the promise to return. Are we responding to this ‘delay’ in a manner similar to that of our forefathers?

Over the two millennia of Christianity there has always been an expectation of Yeshua’s imminent return. Generation after generation of believers have turned to their leaders in an attempt to resolve the dilemma, or question, regarding their Lord’s promised return to set up His kingdom. At such times of expectations, clouded by uncertainty, doubt and unbelief can easily set in
and cause major disappointments. Leaders, like Aaron, must somehow preserve the faith of their flock, either in man or in Elohim. In the case of the Israelites, one would have thought that all the signs and wonders that YHVH performed during the first part of the Exodus would have been sufficient to carry them through each of the future stages of their journey. A careful reading of the words used when they cried out to Aaron is very revealing: This Moses, the man who brought us up out of Egypt” smacks of cynicism, bitterness and unbelief.

Apparently all the miracles that they saw firsthand did not sustain their faith, nor cause a deep reverence and fear of YHVH.  In the land of their sojourn they were accustomed to tangible, material gods/idols, like Aaron’s rod (that no doubt left a deep impression upon them). Aaron, knowing this about the people and in order to maintain unity, order and his leadership position, responded to their need by asking them to hand over their most precious possessions, articles made of gold. Those items were the jewelry with which they adorned themselves, being part of their own (self) image. Thus, in a sense, they corporately produced a golden calf, an Egyptian god, which they now perceived as the god that took them out of Egypt.  The irony of this situation speaks for itself. But to make things worse, Aaron made a proclamation, saying: “Tomorrow is a feast to YHVH” (Exodus 32:5). Moses’ brother dared to name an image of a calf, Yod Hey Vav Hey! Or at least, described it as being a representative of Elohim. “Then they rose early on the next day, offered burnt offerings, and brought peace offerings; and the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play” (Exodus 32:6).

A mere 40+ days had elapsed from when they first heard the voice of Elohim, establishing the fact that He was the One who had brought them out of their bondage in Egypt. Moreover, He emphatically commanded them to have no other gods before Him, especially graven images which were absolutely forbidden. To that He added not to take His name in vain (see Exodus 20:2-7). Yet, in such a short time the people of Israel violated every one of these commands. Paul makes mention of this scenario, and its relevance to his generation (and all others): “Now these things became our examples, to the intent that we should not lust after evil things as they also lusted. And do not become idolaters as were some of them. As it is written, ‘the people sat down to eat and drink, and rose up to play...’” “Now all these things happened to them as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed lest he fall” (1 Corinthians 10:6-7, 11-12).

The greatest threat to our relationship with an unseen Elohim and a Messiah who is not physically present, but yet is working in us by His Spirit, is “religion”. Religion is a spiritual system imported from Babylon and Egypt, which our ancestors reverted to in exchange for the faith and genuine relationship with their Creator and Savior. Religion keeps us in this world’s reality and traditions, worshiping the works of our hands or our intellectual abilities, all of which can produce pride and self-righteousness. This type of worship is in fact a form of humanism, being centered on Man. The gold and silver is handed to leaders in order to build adequate edifices and to offer peace offerings to the media gods. We gather together to be entertained by the most charismatic and dynamic expositors, and love to listen to predictions of future events that will produce what is deemed to be the scenario of Yeshua’s return. Would-be prophets keep us in hope and faith that their predications will help us remember and not forget our Messiah, as He waits in the heavens.

Being steeped in this type of atmosphere, our love towards each other grows cold, as the religious mind set propels us instead into focusing on being ‘right’, while others (by inference) must be ‘wrong’ regarding prophetic or theological matters. We look for an ‘Aaron’ who will build us a golden calendar to follow, so as to prevent us from falling into error, thus making it easy to judge our brothers and sisters and, again, break relationships with those who will not bow down to the Aaron of our choice. Religion uses the plum-line of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil for its temple building, while ignoring YHVH’s instructions as to how He desires to be worshiped.   (To be continued)