Thursday, March 5, 2015

When Faith Becomes Tedious

Probably the most tedious part of the Bible is Leviticus and Numbers. I just finished reading through them. The names, numbers and details of procedures can be overwhelming. I often wondered why on earth would God have recorded all of this and preserved it to become a foundational part of our Bible. Then it hit me.

The manuscript of the Bible

God was taking a group of people who grew up in a foreign culture, shaped by a foreign society and influenced by a foreign religion and transforming them into the collection known as the People of God.
There were no instructions telling them how to transform or guidelines describing what the final product would look like. They were on the path to being in practice what they were by calling yet had no idea where the path would lead. Without direction, they would be left, each man, to his own opinion of how life should be lived.

God gave the tedious laws to provide boundaries to keep them bundled together while they learned how to live as People of God. The do’s and do not’s taught them there was a standard of right and wrong applicable to everyone. Society cannot survive unless the laws apply to everyone.
He also gave procedures for how to present themselves and their offerings. These were quite specific. He described the kind of offerings they were to bring so that people wouldn’t just give Him something of no value. He was establishing His preeminence. You don’t give left-overs to a King.

But the process of how the priests would do the sacrifice was very precise. I wondered why? Just kill the animal, drain its blood and burn it. Sounds simple, routine. Yet, God wanted an exact process followed because the process protected them from changing why they did what they did. The goal was to please God, not just simply sacrifice an animal.
Faith requires us to act according to a pattern. We believe in God. We encounter a trial. We declare God’s faithfulness. We trust in God. We act according to our confidence in God’s direction. We thank God for the outcome. Whatever we add to that pattern that doesn’t reflect upon God’s goodness is unnecessary and unwanted.

James says if we are acknowledging God for our needs and mix in doubt we have become double-minded. We have included something into the pattern that doesn’t belong. Adding something that doesn’t belong taints our faith—whether it’s our motive or our help.
That’s why God wanted the priests to carry out their procedures precisely, so that they wouldn’t include something that didn’t belong, changing an offering to God into a method to gain their own way. Trust means relying on God to accomplish His purposes His way.

As tedious as trusting God the way God wants to be trusted may seem, faith works best when it is unaffected by circumstances, the situation, the timing. God made it specific: cast your cares upon Me, for I care for you…and don’t let anything interfere with the simplicity of that process.
And all the names, tribes, chiefs…what’s that all about? It just shows that God not only knows what He wants to accomplish, but who He wants to accomplish it through. He knows His people and knows their circumstances. Knowing all those names means He knows our names, individually, and has intentions specific to us.