This past Sunday we went through Exodus to better understand the Holiness Relationship. While preaching, it was as if the Holy Spirit was illuminating something to me in the process that I wanted to share with you. For me, it has taken the content of scripture and impressed it deeper upon my heart. To clarify, the thought is somewhat stretched between the past few messages, but unravels a unique aspect about the Holy Encounters we’ve looked at.
Let’s start with this…and it is an incomplete illustration, but might help us understand the concept. Have you ever dated someone? The purpose of dating someone is to discover whether or not the relationship is worth pursuing for a life-long commitment. Or it least that’s how I viewed it.
It was March of 2006 and I took my “now wife” to Texas to meet my parents for the first time. I believe we had a good time, and I liked her a lot, but we had not started anything official yet. On our way back to college in Missouri, we stopped at a Pizza Hut to have dinner. After we sat down, I looked across the table and said, “So, I really like you. And I’d like to have a relationship with you that is deeper than friendship. But I’m not interested in having a relationship just for ‘fun’ or to date for the sake of dating. I think it’s a waste of time. I’d like us to approach our relationship as a potential ‘forever’ thing…what do you think?” Looking back, I was bold! Her response, “I agree (she paused). Wow!” LOL! Needless to say, we started our “dating” right then and there.
It did not take much longer for us to see that our relationship was meant for a lifetime. We dated for three months, got engaged, and entered into covenant relationship six months later. Now we are about to celebrate our twentieth anniversary. We experienced proof through our dating that we would be faithful to one another, love each other, and adjust ourselves from our past to become what God desires of us. We still do that!
In some ways, God did something similar with the Israelites…
The week before, in Holiness Has A Plan, we opened to Exodus 3 and read through Moses’s encounter with God through the burning bush. Moses asked God about His Name. God introduced Himself as “I AM” in that moment. God’s response indicated more than His existence, but His present existence within all time. As Schild observed, “Ex. 3:14 ought to be translated and interpreted as ‘I am the one who is’ or ‘I am he who is,’ the ‘am’ expressing identity and the ‘is’ expressing existence.” Another scholar said, “The ‘eternity’ of Yahweh, the ‘being’ of Yahweh, involves an ongoing-continually-acting God. Yahweh does not just exist; he is ‘busy’ in his existence.” God introduced Himself to Moses and began demonstrating His faithfulness to the Israelites as He worked toward freeing them from slavery.
When we made it to Exodus 20 and began with God’s introduction of Himself to the people of Israel, it was very similar to the one He gave to Moses, but this time He included His name: Yahweh. The literal translation reads in verse 2, “I, Yahweh, am your God who brought you forth from the land of Egypt, from the house of servitude” (slavery). It is here that it struck me. God no longer established Himself as one who existed, but as one with whom the Israelites had experienced. His name was inserted within the phrase and then recalls the experience and ties His name together with it. God fulfilled His plan and promise to Moses and the people were now worshiping at the mountain, the very place He first introduced Himself to Moses as the one who exists. The depth of His faithfulness now not only proven, but established for the covenant relationship with Israel. And they then entered into a covenant relationship!
Here’s the question I asked myself and want to ask you…in the relationship you have with God, how has His name been inserted into the experiences you have or had with Him? How has He established His name in your life? Sometimes this isn’t always as good as we think it should be. Remember, the Israelites were terrified when God introduced Himself to them. They stood a long way off, and after God gave them the Ten Commandments, they wanted Him to stop talking to them.
I want my relationship with God to be more like Moses. He didn’t cower away from the darkness, lightenings and earthquake, or tremble when God spoke. He drew near. Sometimes we need to recognize that the glory is through the fire and thick cloud. It is not something to avoid but to approach in faith. Moses experienced the faithfulness of God’s promise and went up through it to meet with Him. And here’s what I know and have experienced myself. Throughout my lifetime, God has constantly proven Himself to be faithful to His promises. Ask me about it and I will share those experiences with you!
God established His name through an experience of freedom from slavery. He wants to do the same with us today! He wants to establish His name in your life through the experience of freedom from slavery to sin through faith in Jesus. Let’s not cower in fear when the fire arrives. Let’s move toward it because that is where God is! Receive His freedom from slavery! Approach Him in faith…because He can free you and wants a relationship with you. Let’s experience a new life of adventure that moves out of the safety of what’s familiar and into freedom!
And I know the picture may be a little cheesy, but it gets the point across. 🙂