Sometimes it seems that God gets just a little bit radical . . .
Take his instruction for Aaron and his sons to wash before going to church (entering the Tabernacle) in Exodus 30:17-21 as an example. God tells them if they don’t wash they will die. Now, I don’t know about you, but I usually take a shower before heading out to church. I’m not concerned, however, that should I not take one that I would drop dead the second I entered the building.
Is God just being an ol’ fuddy-duddy, giving stupid rules without any explanation behind them and then ruthlessly enforcing them? If you’ll read the rest of the chapter and the next, you’ll find that he “lays down the law” again about the Sabbath. Literally, keep it or die! He also gives the recipe for some incense and says if anybody else uses it out side the Tabernacle that they are to be banned forever from the community. Some pretty stout penalities for some rather trifling laws.
I love to digress; bear with me as I do so now.
I’ve been impressed with how many times God himself talks about “holy” in this book (Exodus). On the surface it seems quite lame; but if you would look at it in a way that is not this-is-so-boring, it is amazing how it jumps off the page at you. It reminds me of those funky stereoimages that look like nothing until you allow your eyes to go out of focus and you see a fabulous three-dimensional scene. God appears to be using Exodus (and Leviticus) as a stereoimage. Not everyone will get it. You have to look behind the scene to have that “ah ha” moment.
Why would he do that?
Because he wants those who really want to chase after him to find him. He doesn’t make us into robots who’re programmed to obey him. He made us with our own minds and with choice. We do not have to follow or obey him. We all want the benefits but without what the benefits require of us. That’s fine, except he won’t accept that. You want him, you’ve got to chase after him.
He tells us that he is different, unique. Those who want what he offers must also be unique, “set apart” as he says over and over again in Exodus and Leviticus.
Back to our story.
Why is God so intense with the bathing, the Sabbath, the incense? Because he loved me so much that he wanted me to have access to all the really neat stuff of heaven. He had to show me that it’s real and that he’s serious about it. He is literally dying (more correctly, died) for me to join him, hang out with him, spend time with him, chat with him. He made me unique — there is not another like me in all the universe — and now he wants me “set apart,” holy for some serious “face time” with him.
Is taking a bath or resting on Saturday what it’s all about? Nawh. Its about coming into the presence of the Creator of the Universe. “Doing church” has no value, “being” church puts you among the holy ones who will do incredible things after this life is over!
If God being a bit radical gives me that, start calling me Mr. Radical!