Today: Psalms 25:8-15; Mark 7:1-30; Exodus 33:7-23; Exodus 34
God is personal. He made each one of us unique. No one else on the planet is exactly like you. This tends to separate us from other people sometimes. We have to work to forge meaningful relationships. It isn’t always easy to find common ground.
But that isn’t true of God. He knows you intimately. Every thought, every struggle, He completely understands. The more you seek Him — spend time with Him in prayer and meditation, dive into His love letters to you in the Scriptures — the more you do those things, the more He will open up your soul to understand the glorious truth of Him.
Some would have you believe that the Christian life is just following a bunch of rules. That is what the Pharisees taught. But the God of the Bible, Jesus, wants relationship with us… deep, personal, unique relationship.
David describes this sort of relationship in Psalms 25. The LORD “teaches the humble His way.” (v.9) “The secret of the LORD is for those who fear Him, and He will make them know His covenant.” (v.14) “Who is the person who fears the LORD? He will instruct him in the way he should choose. His soul will dwell in prosperity.” (v.12-13) God Himself can, and will, guide us if we seek Him. He will tell us His secrets and prosper our souls. He will “rescue [our] feet from the nets” of this treacherous world.
Who are these people, these friends of God? David says they are “the humble,” those who “fear the LORD.” The meaning of “fear the LORD” is rather lost on us today. It doesn’t mean to be scared of God like you would fear something dangerous like a murderer or a venomous snake. The Hebrew word for fear that David uses, yare, has a positive connotation. It means to respect, to revere, to feel awe and wonder.
Humility compliments this. The more we understand God’s great power, His magnificent perfection, the more we respond with awe and wonder. We can’t help but understand how small we are when confronted with the enormity of God. And here’s the best part… He loves us. He wants to have relationship with us. It is the grandest love story ever told!
Those Pharisees sure loved their rules. They had a long checklist of procedures to follow just to eat! But Jesus didn’t care about all their tedious bowl and hand washing. He wanted their hearts.
Instead they focused on showy things, actions they could perform in front of others to demonstrate how holy they were. It was all just hollow meaningless show. Their hearts were “far away” from God; they were cold and empty. They didn’t even care for their own parents. All of the good deeds in the world are garbage if the people’s hearts are full of wickedness.
Moses and the Israelites met with God in a tent set up outside the camp they called the Tent of Meeting. It was a good distance from the camp. The Israelites had to hike a ways to get there. Jesus often climbed a mountain or retreated to the wilderness to pray. Time with God required hiking, climbing, distancing from every day life.
This is a good example for us. It is so beneficial to establish and separate an official time and place for God in some way… to differentiate it from normal life, make it special and unique. Maybe it could be a place in your house, a certain chair, a corner in a room, a bench in a park, a trail through the woods. Mark out a certain half hour each day that is your sacred time, your personal Sabbath, to spend with God.
Who is God? He tells us in Exodus 34. In His own words to Moses, God says:
“The LORD, the LORD God, compassionate and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in faithfulness and truth; who keeps faithfulness for thousands, who forgives wrongdoing, violation of His Law, and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, inflicting the punishment of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generation.” Exodus 34:6-7
God starts with compassion, mercy, faithfulness, and forgiveness. These are first and foremost, God’s default position. This is truth.
But the next sentence is also truth. God is perfect, pure, and holy. Perfect, pure, holiness cannot commune with darkness. But He provided a workaround in Jesus.
God is complex. He is ALL of these things simultaneously. You can’t have one without the other. But His compassion is first… Thank You, God!