Vessels of Brokenness
The People Consecrated
When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it. Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.” So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. And he said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.”
On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently. As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder. When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.” Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’ ” The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.” So Moses went down to the people and told them.
For all who are led by the Spirit of God are children of God. For you did not receive a spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received a spirit of adoption. When we cry, “Abba! Father!” it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.
Dr. Robert G. Tuttle, Jr., a former professor of mine once told our class that the best way to find the truth of your own faith was to study other religions. I have not studied contemporary religions extensively, but I have always been a bit facinated by ancient forms of worship. I think I am not alone in this, and I have a suspicion that there is a divide among the spiritual that shares the boundary of Ancient vs. Modern religion. Somewhere in the birth of the Common Era (Anno Domini, traditionally) worship of external beings was largely traded in for the worship of self. I think you can probably look back over the milennia and find worship of self – particularly within the religious and political leadership of communities.
If we move back from the worship of human leaders and human ability, back into the age of honest idols, I think we begin to see another pattern emerging: Sex and Violence, Fertility and War, or more functionally, Provision and Protection. Should we be surprised that even if A community will acknowledge the existence of hundreds of gods, they will only worship one or two themselves… and that my money is on that worship going to a god who provides food (Agriculture, Hunting, Fishing, etc.) and protection ( War, Weather, Healing, etc.) or some combination thereof. There are gods of death – Hades from the Greeks for example – but he is far less popular to be worshipped than his counterparts, Ares, Zeus, Athena (all who have connections with military strength) or even wine and fertility gods like Dionysus. the capitol of Greece is named after a goddess who gives wisdom to soldiers. I’m unaware of any city named after a god of the underworld. We have always had our priorities, even in the creativity of our sin and idolatry.
The Hebrews likely expected YHWH to play by these same rules, and this is what makes our faith so intriguing. God did indeed show Himself to be a God of both Provision and Protection and even Jesus began his ministry around those kinds of functions. Howeue, the foundations of our faith are not built upon Jesus being the one who brings us food or protects us from our enemies (even though He does). Our foundations are of Jesus being the God who was broken, the God who died, and the God who takes other broken people who suffer even as He suffered, and makes them whole. He is the only God who truly redeems suffering.
Following Jesus means that sometimes we are called to be filled with suffering, brokenness, and tears. He is not the God that holds back the rainstorms of life. He is the God that goes through them with us. It makes Him very unpopular with the world, but it also sets Him apart as above and beyond every other object or person of worship – both real and imagined.
Where do you see brokenness in God?
How does God join you in your own brokenness?