Day 10– December 10
Ornament – Tablets
Today, within our story, we find the Israelites in a turbulent land between emancipation and the fulfillment of a promise. Truly, the turbulence in not in the land, but in those who were journeying through it. In their wilderness, we find them restless, resistant and on the edge of rebellion.
Though they were greedy with grumbling, Pappa came. Shallow demands were met with sustenance for deep need. From the frame of Heaven’s window, flakes fell and they were fed. Each morning, the Israelites woke up to a glorious treasure hunt. Daily bread, lightly laid. They were to glean portion for only the day that lay ahead. If they gathered only what they needed, they might experience the truth that He was enough. Shabbat’s substance dropped doubled, that they would rest, remember and realize, He satisfies.
Heaven’s dew came as ‘manna’, which means “What is it?” In this context it expresses utter surprise. Oh, that it had been awe. For there was mystery in the manna. It tasted to each one, according to how they felt for the Father. Within every fleck, was buried treasure. A root word for manna is ‘krupto’ meaning “concealed” or “to escape notice.”
This broken bread wasn’t meant to just be collected, but revealed as it dwelt inside them each day. Life-giving food from the Living God. They were not partaking of something He gave, but of who He was.
Daily, He was releasing to them the provision to get to the place He promised. He really doesn’t leave anything out.
The wilderness is not a place of war, but is where a war within us is ignited. A war that love creates. The wilderness is a place of invitation that leads to a dance or a wrestling match. Either way, someone must lead. It is the place where we begin to tell the difference between the whip that tears the flesh and the voice that pierces our heart. It is a place to choose and become unrecognizable or to decide to let a stony heart become a memorial to “our way.”
The wilderness teaches, in a wild and wooly way, rest, though we may war to find it.
Wrapped in miracles, fed and watered, the Israelites stood at a precipice, frantically reaching for tangible things, instead of the invisible Hand outstretched and waiting for them to take hold.
Pappa invited them to ascend the mountain before them, instead of walking around it over and over. On the peak of His Presence, they would see His face. But without awe, the people turned to the imaginings of fear. They whispered and wailed about what God might do to them when He isolated them upon the summit.
Focused on their fearful hearts, they could not see their faithful God. And so, they rejected His invitation and remained at the base of the holy hill, quivering instead of cresting with Moses and being shaken free of every hinderance that kept them from drawing as near to God as they could come.
Moses waited upon Pappa, while completely surrounded by Him. Breathless, he watched as a love letter was written upon the stone that would cry out to a people desperate for love, though terrified to receive it. Once more, a relentless God would seek to roll the stone away from entombed hearts.
It is said that God gave the law on mountain’s edge. But misunderstanding is not enough to thwart His mission. He released love fully on that day and it hovered as a cloud and lingered in words supernaturally written. Without the help of man, but for the hope of man, He gave Himself to mankind.
The love letters He wrote that day are often seen as a list of don’ts and requirements to be met, instead of invitations to responded to. Yet, traced in every letter is the immensity of love for a people willing to open the note He wrote.
The prose of His poem read:
Come to me for the truth and a lie will not be able to invade your heart and mind.
Wait with me as the intangible becomes tangible, the impossible becomes possible. The things you can make real for yourself will become idols you will struggle to let go of. Their glare will keep you from seeing me clearly.
*When you are pierced by me, you won’t wound others.
*Stealing will keep you from being able to receive and prohibit you from giving freely.
*If your eyes are on what another has, you won’t see my hand outstretched, full of what I have kept for you.
*If you take the life of another, you will not be able receive the life I will give for you. Shedding blood, you will cloud your clarity and you won’t recognize the power of the Blood soon shed.
When Moses arrived at the top of the mount, he was weary and burdened by all that was stirring among the people down below. How quickly those thoughts dissipated in the deluge of God’s Presence.
In moments, long days and nights were washed away and the hope of God’s heart for His people invaded. Love invaded. An about-faced love that softened the stone of the tablets to receive the words of a relentless heart. Moses’ invitation was to deliver this tender love to a hard people, so they might soften as soil for the seed of this wild love.
Moses turned and went down the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand. They were inscribed on both sides, front and back. Exodus 32:15
This scripture demonstrates to me the power of true love and our invitation to carry it. Moses was burdened when he arrived, but there was no labor on his return journey. He didn’t struggle to hold on to the tablets that weighed heavy in his arms. Scripture says Moses carried the two tablets in his hand. Singular. It actually says he carried the table. A feast of love, prepared and ready to be consumed.
What Moses experienced in his mountaintop cathedral was utterly supernatural, as the finger of God wrote upon stones made by His hand. This vivid imagery, we are invited to see everyday. For each time we come into His presence on behalf of another, Pappa engraves a love letter for us to deliver. When we receive that feasted table and embark to deliver it, we become the supernatural beings we were meant to be. There is no more burden. We easily carry love in our hand (covenant) to end the famine of those we pursue His heart for.
There is one things that interrupts this adventure. Condition. As Moses carried love down, he heard singing. Was that a song of war? No, it was a song of victory. Were the people celebrating the victory of meeting with God. For even on the fringes, it must have been an incredible experience. Oh, had they only been! No, they were celebrating the victory of their rebellion. Armed with idols made from their precious metals, they frolicked in the facade of what they had created for themselves.
When Moses came into the presence of their condition, he gave way to his anger. He forgot that he carried the supernatural solution to the problems their condition created. Had he paused for a moment, he might have realized that the love he carried hadn’t been delivered yet. Instead, anger overtook him and he threw love down, shattering it. His valiant words for the people were quickly forgotten and replaced with the impoverished thoughts he nurtured for far too long. And he was supernatural no longer.
The Hebrew word for rock is ‘even’ spelled aleph-bet-nun. Aleph, the first character in the aleph-bet represents Pappa. Bet combined with nun, means “Son”. So, rock is Pappa and Jesus. How I love that combination!!
In Luke 6:48, it speaks of building our house on rock, not sand.
Rock as a descriptor of God is used in many of the Old Testament songs. Moses, Hannah and David all sung of Him so.
This name reminds me that hearts aren’t meant to be hardened and I’m supernatural enough to soften soil!
When I call out to the Rock, I remember that Jesus is here to open the way for the Pappa to be known. Stones split and roll all throughout our story. I’m undone that the foundation we stand on never shakes and shifts. Upon the Rock, we can do absolutely anything He invites us to with stones!
Photo credit: <a href=’https://www.freepik.com/photos/celebration‘>Celebration photo created by Racool_studio – www.freepik.com</a>
Our unfolded history is sewn through with the contrast of light and darkness. Not once within the story, has darkness had equal power or the ability to overpower the light.
In Genesis 1:2 it says:
In response to the darkness that was over the surface, God spoke and light came into being.
In response. That truth feels me with zest and zeal. No need is there for reaction to darkness. For our first gift of ligh, brought the rendering and readying of response.
Chanukah’s days are for the “let there be”. Its candles clear cobwebbed eyes and heavy hearts that we can see beyond chaos into the ever created. In these days, we brood, bring and birth the history of hope into all that is yet to be hoped for. Chanukah reminds us of all Heaven yet holds.
Over 2100 years ago, the Land of Israel came under the rule of the Syrian-Greek Emperor Antiochus. He issued a series of decrees designed to force his Hellenistic ideology and rituals upon the Jewish people. Study of the Torah was outlawed along with every observance of its commands. The Temple in Israel was desecrated with idols.
A small and vastly outnumbered band of Jews called the Maccabees entered into battle with the Greek armies and drove them out of the land. When the Temple was reclaimed on the 25th of Kislev, they desired to light the Temple’s menorah, only to discover that the oil had been contaminated. All that remained untouched was one cruse of pure oil, enough to last only one night. It would take eight days to procure new, pure oil.
Miraculously, the one-day supply of oil lasted eight days and nights and the holiday of Chanukah was established.
Chanukah is called “The Feast of Dedication” or “The Festival of Lights.” At this time, we celebrate the miracles of our story, but even more, our God who created them within our stories fabric. We celebrate those who would not let God’s dream die and rededicated the Temple and their hearts. Those before us, those that border us and those that bind us. Bygone and burgeoning. For Chanukah is not simply a commemoration of the introduction of light, but its increase.
Chanukah invites us not only to the remembrance of this portion of our story, but to the reminisce and recollect of the advent of Light from seed to surplus.
As we pull candles and holders from drawers, just waiting to answer Chanukah’s call we are evoked to the truth that Pappa provides. Hidden is not the same as held back.
From sundown December 8 through sundown December 18(2020), we will linger in light and bear the beauty of the beatitudes.
Sundown 1 – HOPE
The ‘hanukkiyah’ is a special nine-branched menorah. Eight candles represent the eight days of Chanukah. Sundown brings strike for the first candle, Shamash. It holds the ninth place in the Menorah, the center, which is the only candle elevated within. Shamash means “servant”. Nine represents choice. The One who serves, chooses to do so. Standing in the midst of the other candles, we are reminded that the signature of the servant is knowing what is precious to those surrounding Him.
And so the Shamash candle receives flame first, that there would be fire to give to others. It stands steadfast each night and burns, silhouetted by the other candles. If one of their lights should go out, it’s positioned, at the ready to reignite what was always meant to be. For the other candles’ purpose, role, design and destiny are fulfilled because the light of the One was given. The One who serves by giving all.
This candle reminds us that Jesus came as a servant and became the light of the world. It reminds us that He gave that light to us, so we would not only carry light, but be light.
It reminds us that we were created to be faithful. Our very story is filled with the perfect faithfulness of God and the impossibly possible faithfulness of a people. His people. Like the Macabees. Though most around them were succumbing to the decay and demands of Alexander the Great and his empire, they refused to become defilers. They would not sacrifice the profane on the false altars created, or worship any other god. They wouldn’t let go of truth because it would mean proclaiming the testimonies of their God as ineffective and unimportant.
When He called their name, they responded with a wild yes and made their way back to where He always intended them to be. Restorers, redeemers and reconcilers were among the ragtag army of Macabees. Those who stand in awe of Him will never be removed from Him.
On this first night of Chanukah, the Shamash, the Servant, leans to light the first candle to the right (Hope). This taper tells tale of Jesus as Light of the world.
I Am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. John 8:12
Right before Jesus spoke these words, the scribes and Pharisees interrupted him mid-message in order to bring a woman caught in adultery. They did this to test Him. Jesus ignored the accusers, as if He hadn’t heard them. I love that so much! How often has He done that for me when the enemy comes accusing?!
Jesus then stooped as a servant would and drew something in the dirt. We know not what, but we know that it caused the accusers to leave. When Jesus stood, he saw no one but the woman. Can you even?! He just wanted her to know He only saw her as she truly was, redeemed. She just needed hope.
Having handed her hope, Jesus began to speak again and said those words, “I Am the light of the world” quickly trailed by the invitation to follow.
If a man could travel with enough speed to follow the sun, he would ever be in the light. Jesus knew, those listening would consistently be hunted by darkness, but in chasing Him, the fullness of light, light could establish its claim, even of the darkness. Possessed by light is far better than pursued by darkness.
You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden Neither do men light a candle and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick and give light to all that are in the house. Matthew 5:14-1
BEATITUDE (Let this be our attitude)
The beatitudes introduce us to a different kind of life. Where Jesus made these statements to the disciples they were quite profound, not simply because He said them, but because He had already lived them before those He loved so dearly.
How blessed are the poor in spirit, for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs. Matthew 5:3
The word used for blessed throughout the beatitudes is the Aramaic word ‘toowayhon’. It’s meaning is “abundant, delighted, content.” Blessed is also defined as “supernatural or God’s joy.” This is the kind of joy we were all created for. The presence of this word in the poignant passages is an invitation from Jesus, our Jesus, to live a life that brings this deep, Heaven-held joy.
The “poor in spirit” are those that have surrendered will and way, releasing so completely that Heaven opens windows wide.
This first of the beatitudes reminds us that we have the capacity to enjoy fully communion with Christ.