Before I went to the Holy Land, the kosher laws of Leviticus seemed mere words on a page. For example, Exodus 34:26 says not to boil a goat in its mother’s milk. When have you last applied that?
The verse has been misunderstood to mean people shouldn’t eat meat and milk during the same meal. Yet, even if that meaning was true, the truth isn’t timeless. Abraham himself had no qualms in serving both together—even to God (take a peek at Gen. 18:8)!
Although all of the Bible’s commands for dietary laws aren’t represented in modern Israel, the fact that any are observed serves as a powerful illustration of what God first intended the diet code to accomplish.
Even in the Garden of Eden, with the first dietary law given to eat from any tree except one (Gen. 2:16-17), God’s command centered around one question.
Would they obey?
But food also had another purpose.
It’s always great when God replaces something painful with something wonderful. Or when He provides for a need in a context of desperation.
But what about when God takes away something we enjoy—or even something we need? Or when He allows something bad to invade something good?
Can we then say what Job said?
Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will depart. The LORD gave and the LORD has taken away; may the name of the LORD be praised. —Job 1:21
During the times when God takes something away from you, it’s easy to feel duped, as if God was some kind of pusher, giving free samples and then removing them after the cravings have their hooks in your heart.
The Lord’s generosity can be misunderstood as cruelty.
Rather than praise God for the time we enjoyed His blessings—we tend to resent His sovereign prerogative to confiscate them.
Here’s some perspective that can help when God takes something away from you that was a blessing.
Abraham saw the acreage. David bought the lot. Solomon built the house. Nebuchadnezzar tore it town. Zerubbabel rebuilt it. Herod the Great expanded it. Titus flattened it.
Before these temples stood on Mount Moriah, it was nothing but a hill used for threshing wheat. Hardly worth noticing.
But today, the Temple Mount remains the most precious piece of real estate in the world. And the golden shrine that graces its crest has become the icon for the Holy City of Jerusalem itself.
How did this ordinary hill become holy? Not through battles or land bartering or by popular vote.
God chose it.
Everybody sins. But when we Christians do it, reactions vary. The world points to us as hypocrites—and often uses our sins as justification for their own. Other Christians tend to view our sins as reasons to suggest we aren’t even saved.
(Photo by Bigroger27509. Own work. CC-BY-SA-3.0, via Wikimedia Commons)
But the people who offer the most brutal judgment against our sins?
Very often, it’s ourselves.
That’s because Christians struggling with sin tend to believe four lies.
Early one morning I hopped in my car and inserted the key in the ignition. When I cranked it—I kid you not—the car made the sound: “Ugh.”
So I figured it was just the weather, and I pulled out the jumper cables. But two days later, the car sang the second verse of the same song: “Ugghhh.”
(Photo: by Monkey Business Images via Vivozoom )
Later that day, my auto mechanic gave a simple diagnosis: I needed a new battery.
Now, I could have said: “Hey, you know, a car starting every other day isn’t so bad. It sure beats walking. I guess I don’t need a battery.”
Guess again. I bought a battery—a big one. If my vehicle runs inconsistently, it’s of little value to me. At the same time, keeping the car running reliably comes down to one thing: it costs me.
The same is true of our spiritual lives.
Tucked away among the steep sandstone formations in Israel’s Arabah Valley sits a place most visitors never see.
Timna Park’s best-known attraction is called “Solomon’s Pillars”—beautiful Nubian sandstone formations that have nothing to do with King Solomon. But they’re fun to climb. The park also features relics from Egyptian idol worship as well as interpretive signs about ancient copper mining.
But the best part of Timna Park is its least-known exhibit. Or perhaps, it’s the least-mentioned.
A full-scale replica of the Tabernacle stands in the very wilderness where Moses and the children of Israel wandered for forty years.
It is like entering a doorway to history—and viewing a picture of your salvation.
Ask five people on the street, “How can I find my way to God?” and you’ll likely get five different answers. They may not even believe in God. Or your God.
As I’ve thought about this question, I think it requires we ask another question first.
This one question boils down the issue like nothing else can.
I read an article that surveyed what adults rank as the most important thing they learned from their father. A few mentioned skills, like how to change a tire, or drive a car, or play sports. Saving money ranked even higher.
(Photo: Monkey Business Images, via Vivozoom)
But the highest category adults ranked? Their father taught them to tell the truth.
That’s great. But these days, what is truth?
Part 3 – “Faith in Times Like These”
- 1 Peter 1:22-2:10 -
Once the attitude of holiness has begun in an individual’s heart, he or she should display that holiness in selfless love for God’s people and in an unflagging desire for God Word. Only through Scripture will anyone grow in respect to salvation, and only through love displayed will that salvation be shared with others. Only two things last forever–God’s Word and God’s people. So love what lasts.
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(c) 2008 Wayne Stiles
We could sum up most sermons in two words: “Be good.” But why be good? Why does the Bible tells us that? The answer lies in God’s character.
(c) 2008 Wayne Stiles