Author Topic: Our spiritual journey  (Read 808 times)

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Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #40 on: May 31, 2017, 08:48:13 PM »
Holiness (Numbers 5:1-4)


The Israelite camp is where God manifests His presence on earth, and like any 'sacred space' must be kept holy. And so the final stage in its re-organisation is to exclude all those individuals who are seriously 'unclean', either temporarily (such as through contact with a dead body) or permanently (the lepers). Although still members of the community, they have to live separately in order not to 'pollute' the main body of the camp. For many Israelite families, this purging of the camp will be a distressing experience; but they nevertheless obey God's command.

The end result of these instructions is a camp made up of concentric circles. At the very centre is the Tabernacle, the holy presence of God. Immediately around it are camped the priests and Levites, forming a 'buffer zone' between God's dwelling-place and the rest of the camp. Then come the tents of the ordinary people, forming the main circle. And on the outermost edge, like orbiting satellites, are the 'unclean'.

For us, such enforced exclusion seems unbearably harsh; but we have to understand how completely pure God's dwelling-place must be - and will be, in the age to come. "Nothing impure will ever enter the city, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life." (Revelation 21:27) How should the Church (the current dwelling-place of God on earth) reflect this in the present age, bearing in mind that we must also copy Jesus' willingness to associate with sinners? We have to be welcoming to all outsiders, without discrimination; but at the same time we ought to deal strictly with our own members and discipline anyone whose behaviour is glaringly incompatible with their Christian profession - such as the Corinthian believer who was living openly in an incestuous relationship (I Corinthians 5). This will never be a comfortable task; but the alternative is to allow the distinction between the church and the world to become blurred. It's worth remembering that 'excommunication' in the Biblical sense is neither permanent nor total; such people are merely 'on the fringe' until they come back to their senses, at which point they can once again become full members of the church.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #41 on: June 03, 2017, 05:10:57 PM »
Guidance (Numbers 9:15-23)

The pillar of cloud that has accompanied the Israelites all the way from Egypt is now located over the Tabernacle. It is a reassuring sign of God's continuing presence, and is visible even during the hours of darkness because of the fire within it.

This same pillar of cloud will determine all the Israelites' movements for the next forty years. When God moves, the people will move; when He stays put, so will they. They must learn to submit the course of their lives (both in timing and in direction) to His will. Some of their camps will last only one night, others many months. The lack of any pattern means that they will soon get into the habit of being always ready to move at short notice.

Many Christians worry about 'missing' God's guidance; but actually, this is far less of a problem than you might think. Most of the time we should stay where we are and carry on doing whatever it is that we are doing (I Corinthians 7:20). If and when He wants us to make a change, He has ways of letting us know. We have to learn to be patient and follow His leading, rather than acting on our own initiative. Waiting is often a necessary prelude to making progress, and God's timetable allows for delays. Even if we do make a mistake (and the Israelites were to make many), His overall purpose will not be frustrated.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline John

Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #42 on: June 03, 2017, 05:39:34 PM »
That habit of following the pillerof cloudbecame just that, a habit. They became desensitised to the awesome nature of what they were seeing. As it became 'normal' so they dared to grumble about god, to doubt his care and to have no faith in him.

We too are at risk of losing the awe of God, he is our heavenly 'buddy' a 'supernatural suger daddy!'
and we expect him to answer our petulent demands about what should we do.

It is almost as if many Christians expect God to say, ' Don't do what you are good at or what you enjoy doing. Do what you're worse'd at or what you loath doing!'

Yes we need to thing, get advice and pray about important issues, or every issue, but how we pray
shows the depth of our spiritual maturity and understanding of our place in the relationship beteen us and the Awesome Creator God.

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #43 on: June 08, 2017, 03:40:36 PM »
'Come with us' (Numbers 10:29-32)

As the Israelites prepare to leave Mount Sinai, Moses invites his Midianite in-laws to come with them. "Come with us and we will treat you well, for the LORD has promised good things to Israel." (verse 29) Initially, Hobab refuses; he is reluctant to leave his own territory (for it is only natural to cling to what we know), and perhaps is also unsure whether he, as a non-Israelite, will be able to participate in Israel's covenant.

But Moses doesn't take 'no' for an answer. He wants Hobab's help (for God usually meets our needs through the ministry of other people). Hobab's intimate knowledge of the area they are about to travel through might well be part of God's provision. And although his family are not Israelites, they can still put their faith in God's promise and share in His blessings.

We often think of the old covenant as being restricted to the descendants of Jacob; but that is an over-simplification. Jacob's household had always included servants of other nationalities, and when the Israelites escaped from Egypt many other slaves took the opportunity to escape with them (Exodus 12:38). So there was always a certain ethnic mix - but all who were willing to make a spiritual commitment to Israel's God and enter into Israel's covenant (by being circumcised, in the case of the men) were granted full rights under that covenant. Hobab did accept Moses' offer - and although his descendants (the Kenites) retained their own cultural traditions, they settled in the Promised Land and played a part in Israel's later history (e.g. Judges 4; Jeremiah 35).

How much more eager should we be to invite outsiders to join us on our pilgrimage! "Since we know what it is to fear the Lord, we try to persuade others." (II Corinthians 5:11) We need to be realistic in what we offer: there is a journey to make through the wilderness before we reach the fullness of God's blessing. But God will give us many 'good things' along the way. If we have confidence in His promises, others will be encouraged to trust Him as well.
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

Offline davetaff

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #44 on: June 08, 2017, 04:10:26 PM »
Hi Deborah
Thank you for your post a good read I just wanted to ask do you think there is a difference between allowing other nationalities into Israel before the law was given and after the reason I ask is because I have bean reading the book of Ezra and it says.

Ezr 10:10  And Ezra the priest stood up, and said unto them, Ye have transgressed, and have taken strange wives, to increase the trespass of Israel.
Ezr 10:11  Now therefore make confession unto the LORD God of your fathers, and do his pleasure: and separate yourselves from the people of the land, and from the strange wives.
Ezr 10:12  Then all the congregation answered and said with a loud voice, As thou hast said, so must we do.


Do you think that in keeping with your subject this would indicate that once we have received the spirit that we do not associate with the things of the world but keep ourselves separate.

Love and Peace
Dave

 

Offline Deborah

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #45 on: June 08, 2017, 05:37:38 PM »
Good question, Dave.

There has never been an ethnic barrier as such, only a religious one. Mixed marriages (between believers and unbelievers) were always forbidden, even at the beginning (Deuteronomy 7:3,4). Marriages with foreign women were 'OK' if the woman converted to Judaism (as did Rahab and Ruth). By Ezra's time, the nation of Israel had dwindled to a very small remnant that were struggling to maintain their distinctive identity. Ezra saw a need to enforce the law more strictly, in order to safeguard the Jewish faith.

So I don't think there's a 'before' or 'after' here - just applying the same principle to different situations. It's still the case that Christians are advised not to marry non-Christians (II Corinthians 6:14).
"God has saved us and called us to a holy life - not because of anything we have done but because of His own purpose and grace." (II Timothy 1:9)

confused22

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #46 on: June 08, 2017, 06:20:14 PM »
Hi,

Actually, sorry, I'm so tempted to rant, but won't.  If i could have worked out how to delete this I would have, I will say this though, this kind of unjust, judgement and treatment is exactly why my poor Christian husband will always be married to a non Christian.

Confused22

Offline davetaff

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Re: Our spiritual journey
« Reply #47 on: June 08, 2017, 07:50:20 PM »
Hi,

Actually, sorry, I'm so tempted to rant, but won't.  If i could have worked out how to delete this I would have, I will say this though, this kind of unjust, judgement and treatment is exactly why my poor Christian husband will always be married to a non Christian.

Confused22

Hi C22
Its not all bad news we have this good advice from St Paul.

 12  I (not the Lord) say to the rest of you: If a brother has a wife who is an unbeliever and she is willing to live with him, he must not abandon her.

 13  And if a woman has a husband who is an unbeliever and he is willing to live with her, she must not abandon him.

 14  For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified because of his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified because of her husband. Otherwise, your children would be unclean, but now they are holy.

 15  But if the unbelieving partner leaves, let him go. In such cases the brother or sister is not under obligation. God has called you to live in peace.

 16  Wife, you might be able to save your husband. Husband, you might be able to save your wife.

Hope this helps.

Love and Peace
Dave