Uncovering God

 

Exodus 34:29-35

2 Corinthians 3:12-4:2

Luke 9:28-36, [37-43a]

Psalm 99

In today’s reading, we learn that God placed a veil between Himself and his people. Only Moses could approach God. The Tabernacle and the Temple contained a veil to separate the resting place of God from the people. In Luke, we see that Jesus removes the veil.

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

The daily readings for Saturday of this week include Luke 10:21-24. Here is 21-22.

In that same hour he rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earthESV I thank you for hiding these things from the clever and the intelligent and for showing them to mere children! Phillips Yes, Father, I thank you that it pleased you to do thisCJB Everything has been entrusted to me by my Father; and no one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the SonNJB The Son can introduce the Father to anyone he wants toMSG

I was hung up on the last Greek word in this text, apokalupto, the one every text on my list translated as reveal, as in, those to whom the Son chooses to reveal himNIV Checking Strong’s, I found that the first part of the word, apo, means separation, departure, cessation, completion, reversal. The second part, kalupto, means cover, hide.

What is most interesting is that the two in combination mean to reverse the cover.

God, through His Son, has chosen to uncover Himself and has done it by coming to us as a human so we could see how He meant for us to live life.

After Pentecost, the disciples, all hundred plus, continued to spread Jesus’ Good News. In three of the daily readings for this week, Acts 10:1-33, we see Peter learning a powerful lesson about the extent of reversing the cover. In a trance, he was told to eat unclean animals.

But first, we should take note of Acts 9:44. Peter stayed in Joppa for some time with a tanner named SimonNIV

Joppa was a major port city for international trade. Jews living there were mostly involved in that trade, so came into regular contact with unclean gentiles. Jerusalem looked down on those Jews, even though most of them made regular trips to Jerusalem and the Temple for cleansing rituals. Peter had lived and worked in Capernaum, another place infested with gentiles, so Joppa probably didn’t bother Peter too much.

However, in Joppa, Peter lived in the home of Simon, the tanner. For Jews, there was a hierarchy of the less clean Jews. At the bottom were shepherds and tanners. A righteous Jew would much rather touch a gentile than a tanner. We don’t even know if Simon was a Jew, though the name would suggest he was (the same as Peter’s Jewish name).

It is important to know how reversed the cover was for Peter before the trance. We sometimes have Peter portrayed as a hard-shelled Jew, but he was open to people no Pharisee would get within speaking distance of.

Still, God needed to peel away the last of the curtain. Peter refused the command to eat, but God said, Stop treating as unclean what God has made cleanCJB Peter could be obtuse at times, but he generally figured it out eventually. At the end of this story, Peter was glad to enter the home of the Centurion Cornelius, a Roman and no doubt one who ate pork.

What is the reversing message for us?

God calls us to the unclean of today. To women who have abortions, AIDS carriers, homosexuals, illegal aliens, legal aliens, even politicians. God loves every human on earth. None of us is superior to anyone else. You may want to build a wall to keep the unclean out of the country, but God wants an open border.

Love is the hard choice.

 

Be righteous and do good.

Mike Lawrence

Should a Christian be Pro-American?

Song of Solomon 2:8-13

Psalm 45:1-2, 7-10

James 1:17-27

Mark 7:1-8, 14-15, 21-23

 

Ritual washing of the hands, the issue in Mark, involves pouring water over each hand at least twice and allowing the water to run off the fingers followed by the blessing for the bread. There are several other ritual washings, all done the same way, but not always with a blessing. Ritual washing today is generally done after washing normally with hand soap. The ritual has little to do with getting the hands clean.

This ritual has no Biblical basis, instead, created by rabbis a century or two before Jesus to encourage all Jews to be more involved in the Temple practice of purity. Jesus’ response to the critics was correct according to the law but violated the social norms of Judaism.

It is possible that Jesus, and almost certainly the Apostles, engaged in ritual washing throughout their lives. Here, they were out in the field with no water, so they ate their bread without washing. I imagine the four fishermen among them ‘washed’ their hands while hauling fish aboard by sticking them in the lake water before eating.

Jesus was not big on rituals. The Law, yes, but not man-made rules.

Which brings us to our roles as Christian Americans. Think about the social norms many of us follow that clash with the teachings of Jesus.

In 1954, the phrase, “under God,” was added to the Pledge of Allegiance. Few Christians even think about it, but is it proper? Are we excluding non-believers? Is that the Christian way?

The man who convinced President Eisenhower to push Congress to pass the change was a Scottish minister of the New York Avenue Presbyterian Church in Washington, D. C., Rev. George Docherty. The church is known as the church of Presidents since Abe Lincoln attended. (Yes, he did attend, but was not a member.)

Docherty worked tirelessly with the Civil Rights movement and later criticized the Viet Nam war. He believed in standing up for social justice. Saluting the flag had little to do with it.

What about voting and political party membership? Jesus was not a supporter of the government leaders, either Judaic or Roman, but does that mean we should not? Since the 1980’s the so-called Evangelical vote has always gone for the Republican Presidential candidates. Is that proper? That is, should I vote only based on my party preference? Should I have a party preference? (Before LBJ, that same bloc voted Democratic most of the time.)

Many Christians today are strong on the military, again, seemingly in contrast to Jesus. This is a tough one because there are enemies intent on our destruction. The problem is in the quality of support. Glorify or respect? Do we treat it as a necessary evil or do we take pleasure in killing our enemies? God loves them as much as He loves us.

God’s love is the issue. He loves every human and wants every human to love Him. He also wants us to love every human just as He does. If we love Him, we will do all we can to help our fellow humans in need. Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? ESV

The righteous in this parable from Matthew are those who fed as many as they could. They did not worry about where they came from or if they were scamming the system; they offered help. True justice is about taking risks. Even a Christian soldier in battle will do what he can for those in need, enemy or not.

 

Read my earlier comments on this theme here.

 

Be righteous and do good.