Summer of The Leviathan

God often prepares His children before something happens. Revealing a key part of His Truth so that we can be ready for when the storm hits-or for being thrust into the icy, isolated, darkness, which is a more fitting description in this case. Several things that were my biggest dreams in life were stripped away around the same time that we left the tropical island of Okinawa and moved to Alaska, a week before the snow hit. This on top of me never having lived anywhere where the snow actually stays longer than a day. The psychological shock of being thrust against my will by the military into an environment that felt like an icy trap mirrored the trauma I felt in my soul.

During that first year of trying to have a baby, while we were still in the tropical “paradise” of Okinawa, God laid on my heart an urgency to read the book of Job. Even though I was beginning to realize that there was indeed a problem with my fertility, I really had no idea and I thought we could just get help after the first year and have our baby soon after that. Oh, how little did I know that 5 years later there would still be no cigars, no sweet baby coos, no staring in wonder into the eyes of my baby. No baby.

God knew though. He knew all the different emotions, all the different parts of my heart and soul that would be laid bare under his refining fire. He knew this, and He knew that a lot of it would hurt and that I had to be ready. I had to know that He was God and that I was not. God knew that I was going to have to hold onto this key, foundational Truth in order to submit to Him and let Him fully have His way in me. Even when it felt like “all my dreams” were being taken away.

 Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Declare to Me, if you have and know understanding. Who determined the measures of the earth, if you know? Or who stretched the measuring line upon it?…

…Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, saying, Gird up your loins now like a man; I will demand of you, and you answer Me. Will you also annul (set aside and render void) My judgment? Will you condemn Me [your God], that you may [appear] righteous and justified?

Have you an arm like God? Or can you thunder with a voice like His? [Since you question the manner of the Almighty’s rule] deck yourself now with the excellency and dignity [of the Supreme Ruler, and yourself undertake the government of the world if you are so wise], and array yourself with honor and majesty…

…“No one is so fierce [and foolhardy] that he dares to stir up Leviathan;
Who then is he who can stand before Me [or dares to contend with Me, the beast’s creator]? “Who has first given to Me that I should repay him?
Whatever is under the whole heaven is Mine. [Who can have a claim against Me who made the unmastered beast?]

Job 38:1-7, 40:6-10, 41:10-11 AMP

These passages from Job deeply impressed upon my soul. I cannot stand before God. God alone has the power and might to create, to give or to take away. God does not “owe me” anything. Like it says in Job “Who has first given to Me that I should repay him?”-no one. No one has given anything to God so that God owes them. In fact God has richly blessed us, the undeserving, by sending His son while we were still in rebellious hostility toward Him. Even if literally every dream and everything that I love was taken from me I would still have Jesus, and I would still be rich because I am His. He is my Redeemer. Like Boaz who redeemed Ruth out of destitution, shame, and sorrow into wealth, love, and joy. God redeems us out of sin and death into eternal life as His adopted children, purchased by the precious blood of His Son, and that is the only gift that we need.

It was vitally important from the beginning that I set my mind on the task of trusting God. Jesus said His burden is light and His yoke is easy. He desires to clothe us in His righteousness and strengthen us with His joy, but first we must entrust Him with our life and trust Him wherever He leads. To desire nothing-but Christ alone, is to have all that you need. He is more than enough. I remember forcing myself to sing “Enough” by Chris Tomlin after we’d moved to Alaska and began to become more acquainted with the reality of infertility. He is more than enough. With a tightly constricted throat, and tears forcing their way down my cheeks, “All of You is more than enough for all of me / For every thirst and every need / You satisfy me with Your love / And all I have in You is more than enough”.

Sometimes the rocky mountain paths or the dark valleys don’t make sense from our perspective, but we can be like Habakkuk, who after He asked God “why” He resolved:

I will stand on my guard post
And station myself on the rampart;
And I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me,
And how I may reply when I am reproved.

It’s ok to ask God why, as long as our heart is right. Are we asking Him so He can reprove and correct us, or are we challenging Him? There is a distinct difference.

God wanted me to be in a posture of submission so that He could transform me according to His will, not mine. So that He could bless me with the portion of His presence that is reserved for those that declare, no matter what, that He is all that we need, and that He is more than enough. And, believe me, I needed that presence, because it was Him, my Father, my Anchor, that I was clinging to; hiding in the Cleft of the Rock.

To choose to trust in God and let Him take the lead means being able to abide in His presence. To be blessed with His ever comforting Spirit. He is the Good Shepherd, He does not push us into the valley, He walks ahead of us and protects us. But in order to be satisfied as with the fatness and marrow (Psalm 63:5) of His presence we have to be in close proximity and that means following Him right on His heels. When we enter the valley of the shadow of death we must press in closer ’cause it is harder to see. Maybe the death in that valley means the death of our dreams. But we can trust Him with the thoughts and the plans that He has for us, He Who is the Author and the Perfecter of our Faith.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. – Hebrews 12:1-2

 

But, there is a Redeemer

God is a master redeemer. He specializes in redeeming (or making something new and beautiful out of) the messes we are so good at making in our lives. From time to time we’ll find ourselves feeling like we don’t have a purpose, things may all seem to be going nowhere, or just plain going all wrong. The plan that God has for us may seem hazy, or even maybe a complete mystery. It’s time likes these that its good to stop and remember that God didn’t make a mistake when He knit us together in our mother’s womb. We are fearfully and wonderfully made, we are placed into space and time, into this specific point of space and time, with our unique abilities, appearance, personality, and everything about us for a reason.

The problem with being human is that we often mess that up, taking our eyes off Jesus and follow/worship something else that promises to satisfy without having to say no to the desire of our flesh. Sometimes we make life altering decisions that are disobedient towards God and we violently hurl ourselves off of the tracks God laid for us when we were just a babe.

We’ve been doing it since the beginning. Before the fall of mankind in the garden, God’s plan for us was being perfectly fulfilled. We were perfectly glorifying Him and in perfect fellowship with Him because we were free from sin. It would have gone on forever, except just as we do today, Adam and Eve took the gift of freewill that God gave humanity and used it to throw the muck of sin all over God’s masterpiece. We messed it up so royally that it could never go back, the darkness of our sin was so deep that it could not be scraped away to reveal what it once had been. The curse of sin (death) hovers permanently over all of us, the darkness of that original free will rebellion spans the centuries, dooming us to separation from God.

But, there is a Redeemer.

Each of us does the same thing that Adam and Eve did. Although we are born into a life leading to physical death because of the original sin, we are born with a clean slate for our souls. We each have the choice to either live in obedience to ourselves, or to live in obedience towards God. It doesn’t take us long in life to start sinning though, satisfying the desires of our sinful nature and dooming our souls to the second death. As we grow we begin to make decisions that affect the trajectory of our lives here on earth; and the thing is, every decision we make is either one that is God Honoring, or one that is self-honoring and each has its own set of consequences. It doesn’t take us long to start using our free will to not only coat our souls in sin, but to also hurl sinful decisions into the path of our life, altering the direction and our future. We derail ourselves. There was no undo in the garden. There is no undo here and now.

But, there is a Redeemer.

Some of us can look back at our lives to the specific age, place and rebellious decision that threw us literally off the tracks. We can see how this decision of disobedience marred the masterpiece that God had intended for us into something that we could never go back to. We can never go back and follow those tracks that God had laid out for us. We are left crashed into the dirt, stuck in the mar of our sin, with a feeling like we have no purpose left. That one decision becomes the greatest regret, the regret that hangs heavy on us, weighing us down deeper into the mar as we begin to rust.

Some of us look back at our lives and we don’t see a single moment, we see a whole life where God’s intentions or plans for our lives were a mystery. A life where we’ve done nothing but serve our own desires, and yet here you find yourself feeling lost and without purpose. All that is left is disappointment, and the futility of grasping satisfaction that all too quickly fades away into emptiness.

Whichever it may be, we have used the free will God gave us to mar the original masterpiece of a plan for our lives. We’ve allowed ourselves to think for a moment that the brush was in our hands, when in reality the Creator simply allowed us to sink our hands into the darkness of sin and to throw it all over His handiwork. We think we are triumphant in overrunning God’s authority, taking control, but really we are not in control, we are being allowed to sin, allowed to use our free will to rebel. We’ve given birth to sin, and the wages of sin is death. Death of our bodies, of our souls, of relationships, of dreams, of purpose.

But, there is a Redeemer.

The beauty of our complete brokenness is that we cannot mend ourselves. Sure we can choose to go our whole life spinning our wheels in the mire of sin until we sink into the grave we’ve dug, sealing our eternal fate. But because we have free will, God gives us the option on this side of eternity to stop living in regret or rebellion and to set our eyes on Christ. The Redeemer can become our Redeemer.

The Redeemer builds something new out of what has been destroyed in death, a new set of tracks in an impossible situation. Although we cannot go back and undo that one decision, we can move forward today. Although we cannot go back and give our lives over to Christ when we were but a young one, we can today.

There is a Redeemer.

The beauty of that deep sense of regret, of the groping in the darkness of our sin, is that it allows us to be deeply acquainted with how much we need a Savior and it leads us to repentance. God doesn’t give us a magic redo at life, He doesn’t take away the consequences, He uses them to lead us to our true purpose, to the reason why He created us: to be Redeemed by the power of God, for the glory of God, through Christ. To be satisfied in God through Christ, passionately in love with Him, bringing glory and honor to Him through the Holy Spirit.

We have each disobeyed God. We have lied, we have dishonored God’s name carelessly or even as a curse, we have looked at someone we aren’t married to with lust, or even acted out those thoughts, we have coveted what belongs to someone else, we have all sinned. When we stand before God when we die, we cannot hide our sin behind good deeds, there is nothing good enough that we can do to hide our sin from God. There is only One who Has the power to redeem our soul and bring it from death into life, Jesus. Jesus, took on flesh, although being fully God, faced temptation and through the Holy Spirit’s power did not sin. He took our punishment on the cross, obeying God and allowing Himself to be separated from God by our sin. All of mankind’s sin from all of history was heaped upon Christ at Calvary, cloaking Him in darkness, separating Him from God the Father. But Christ, in the power of God overcame death, and was resurrected. All who trust in Him, who repent of their sins, and follow Him instead of themselves are saved from the second death. We, the redeemed, are covered and protected then by His righteousness, just as our sin covered Him on Calvary. In Christ we become new, our souls are reborn in Christ our Lord. Our hope is complete in Him, knowing that our born again souls will not have to taste death and can be in perfect fellowship with God in Heaven. The Redemption of each us, for all who say yes to Christ here on earth, becomes the Redemption of humanity after the fall.

There is a Redeemer.

Stop looking back, stop spinning your wheels. Turn to and follow Christ. Look to Christ and rest in Him. When we put our trust in Him and obey Him, He lifts the burden and the weight of our regrets. He builds a new path for us in the wilderness, a path that leads us to Him. The Holy Spirit strengthens and transforms us, who belong to Christ, and empowers us to do God’s will in peace. So seek first God’s Kingdom and God’s righteousness. Be transformed by the entire renewal of your mind and fulfill your purpose: to know Christ and to make Him known.

“The LORD redeems the soul of His servants,
And none of those who take refuge in Him will be condemned.”
Psalm 34:22

“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness,
and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
I Corinthians 1:13-14

Ark of the Covenant | God’s Design

Exodus 25:9-22

Observation
God, the master artist and designer of the universe, was very specific with the pattern for the ark. Artists and designers do tend to be detail oriented! In fact before laying out the pattern God commands Moses in verse 9 saying:

“Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you.”

Then in verse 40 God repeats:

“See that you make them according to the pattern shown to you on the mountain.”

When God says something once we’d better listen, when He says something twice…well it is really important! (:

The Specs:

  • Made of acacia wood
  • 2.5 cubits long / about 3.75 feet
  • 1.5 cubits wide / about 2.25 feet
  • 1.5 cuts high / about 2.25 feet
  • Overlaid with pure gold inside and out
  • Inside: put the Testimony that God was going to give Moses

The Description:

  • Gold Crown:
    (rim/border) around the top
  • 4 Golden Rings:
    attached to the four feet
  • 2 Poles:
    made of acacia wood
    overlain with pure gold
    inserted into ring to carry ark with
    never to be removed
  • A Mercy Seat
    overlain with pure gold
    2.5 cubits long / about 3.75 feet
    1.5 cubits wide / about 2.25 feet
  • 2 Cherubim:
    (winged angelic figures)
    solid hammered gold
    on the two ends of the mercy seat
    cherubim to be made of one piece with the cover
    wings spread upward, overshadowing the mercy seat
    facing each other
    looking toward the mercy seat

Application

Exact Pattern
A quite simple observation is that God has exact patterns, plans and results in mind. Since God is perfect, His plans our perfect. This reminds me of Jeremiah 29:11, of Romans 8:29  and the many other verses throughout scripture where God tells us that He has plans for each one of us. The many verses where God speaks of those plans come to mind too. The plans of His desire for us to know Him, where He commands us to seek Him, to live for Him. He is very specific in the “how” as well: Romans 12, Matthew 16:24, Matthew 5, 6, and 7, John 15, Psalm 119, I Peter 3:1…so many more! That is why it is so important to read and study the word, so we will read of God’s plan for us and then read and apply how to live for Him. Not only that but be literally transformed by God’s truth and spirit living within us. God is detail oriented about your life, if you let Him be your Shepherd then He will lead you according to His will in your life and you will never be more satisfied than when you are living in obedience to God!

The Mercy Seat
The most astounding and amazing application that God touched my heart with from this passage is in Exodus 25:22:

“There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim, I will speak intimately with you of all which I will give you in commandment to the Israelites”

God commands us intimately.

The implication of that sentence should blow us away. It stirs awe in my heart before the Almighty God. That the King of Kings and Lord of Lords does not stand afar and command us like a stranger. Even though He has the complete right to command us that way and the power to make us obey. Although we don’t deserve and literally cannot be in His presence without instantly dying (apart from Christ) because of our sin. In spite of all of this, He chooses instead to command us to come to Him. His desire is to teach us His commands in a very loving, affectionate and intimate manner. God through the sacrifice of His Son Christ longs to meet with us from the Seat of Mercy….not the seat of judgement which is what we deserve. He, Who ALONE has the right to judge – no one else has that right cause we have all failed. He Has come in mercy…how beautiful…how wonderful is that?

Come to the mercy seat today, do not delay. There is a day coming for each of us when this window of opportunity will be no more. The day we draw our last breath will be the day our fate is sealed based on this critical decision, will you repent before the mercy seat and let God command you intimately? God desires for you to come to Him now.

I find humor in the fact that when I first read Exodus 25:9-22 it wasn’t until six days later during my time with God that He revealed to me the wonder for verse 22. It just goes to show how blind I am to God’s truth apart from the illumination of the Holy Spirit! (: It is so exciting when God shows us a nugget of truth too, it is like pure gold, it is Him, He is truth, God is THE treasure!