I’ve read through Deuteronomy. In chapter ten Moses described the ark he built of acacia wood to hold the second set of stone tablets. After reviewing the Ten Commandments with the children of Israel; Moses got to the essence of the Law. It all boiled down to – wait for it – love.
Doesn’t it always boil down to love?
The ark of acacia wood held God’s love notes to us. I’m referring to The Ten Commandments. I know, laws are inherently punitive. And Moses warns the people more than once that they must fear God. Wise King Solomon tells us in Proverbs that fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge. How can we both fear and love someone at the same time?
I’ve also read through the next book, the book of Joshua. It’s a change from the first five books of the Bible. Basically, the Pentateuch gave the chosen people the law and a promise. These next twelve books will tell how they attempted to live out that law and embrace the covenant God made with them.
So how does this apply to us? If you ask a believer what words come to mind when you say “God” they will respond with: creator, protector, savior, and father. If you ask a non-believer they may say words like: judge, intolerant, and condemnation.
In truth, God fits all of these descriptions. In the book of Joshua, the Israelites are commanded to claim their promised land and take no prisoners. Joshua is on board with this plan, and with God, conquers all 31 kings and their kingdoms are brought into submission. We are all familiar with how he brought down the kingdom of Jericho.
Ruins of Jericho Quilt Block
God required complete annihilation of all foreigners in the promised land. Joshua was going to each kingdom and destroying them one by one. But there were bumps in the road. When some of God’s chosen army strayed from God’s commands, the penalty was swift and severe. For example, when Achan hid forbidden loot in his tent after conquering Ai, he was stoned to death along with his entire household. God was not messing around.
So how does this apply to us again? The way I see it, God hasn’t changed. He’s still not messing around when it comes to His law. So then how am I to behave in this modern humanistic society of tolerance?
I am to love. They will know we are Christians by our love. Jesus tells us to be fishers of men. We are not responsible for cleaning the fish. The Great Commission sends us out to be witnesses of the truth. So I won’t apologize for the black and white truths of God’s word. I will confess them with my mouth and leave the consequences to the One who wrote those words. I both fear and love the Lord, and can trust Him as I live in the gray areas.
This is the third ark I’ve described in this blog. The first, of course, is Noah’s ark. The second is Moses’ basket, and now the third: the Ark of the Covenant, which holds the stone tablets, Aaron’s rod, and the pot of manna. All three arks carry salvation for those that will take the offer of the free ride.
A song written by John Fisher ends with these lyrics:
“I’m not one who’s got it all in place, telling you what you should do,
No, I’m just one old hungry beggar, showing you where I found food”.
I believe he was inspired by Martin Luther. On his deathbed, this handwritten note was found in his pocket:
“Wir sind bettler. Das ist wahr”. “We are all beggars. This is true.”
I have nothing to add to this. Its power guided a Reformation that changed the world.