January 24, 2023
“The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: ‘The Israelites are to camp under their respective banners beside the flags of their ancestral houses. They are to camp around the tent...”
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“The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron: ‘The Israelites are to camp under their respective banners beside the flags of their ancestral houses. They are to camp around the tent of meeting, at a distance from it:” Numbers 2:1-2
As we learned in Leviticus, God is very concerned with order. The Lord wants things separate, set apart, and holy. Also, He is as interested in FORM as He is FUNCTION. The “way” Israel worshipped was as important as the fact that they were worshipping at all.
This idea of “form” is somewhat lost on our generation. Ours is the generation that rejects formality. (perhaps, rightly so in some cases) Our parents and grandparents lived in a culture where women wore white gloves and hats, and men almost always wore suits and ties. We live in a generation where people wear t-shirts, jeans & sandals to church.
For many folks from the older generation, dressing up for church became more important than why they were attending church in the first place. The formality of religion trumped a personal relationship with God in many instances. It was dry and stiff, especially compared to the “If it feels good, do it!” mantra of the Hippie movement. Eventually, their children rebelled.
Today, I sometimes wonder if the pendulum hasn’t swung too far toward the casual. In its efforts to create a comfortable, laid-back environment, has today’s church lost too much of its reverence? Is there a level of formality that is essential? Where is that balance between reverence and relevance? Know this: The balance can only be found in the Bible.
As for Israel, God wanted to maintain the individuality of each tribal family while at the same time maintaining the unity of the nation. How was that accomplished, and what could we do to foster that balance of individuality and corporate unity in our congregations today?
Paramount, at the center of Israel’s national life, was the ark of God’s covenant. Inside the ark were the tablets containing the Ten Commandments. Above the ark, God Himself met with Moses. Promise, Precepts & Presence: these three constituted His relationship with His people.
Believers in Messiah Jesus may congregate as varied denominations, expressing their worship and gratitude in different ways. Yet, unity exists among ALL true believers as long as they share the same central focus: salvation through faith in Jesus alone and the authority of His Word to govern our intents and actions. Unity exists when we share the Promise of His Covenant, the Presence of His Spirit, and the Guidance of His Precepts, the Bible.
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