Open Your Eyes

“… they beheld God, and ate and drank.”
(Exodus 24:11)

It is no secret that I love the Scriptures, and that I encourage everyone I can to read the Scriptures as often as possible.  If you want to know God, if you want to be reminded of his love for you, of you want to know how to live a life that is pleasing to God, if you want to know why everything else in this world is so messed up: look to the Word of God.  As 2 Timothy 3:16–17 teaches us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.”  There is nothing you need to know in this life or for the life to come that cannot be found in God’s Word.

I encourage my friends to use Bible reading plans as 1) a means of discipline, daily coming to the Word, and 2) a plan to take in the whole counsel of Scripture.  I am reading through M’Cheyne’s reading plan right now, but there are countless other quality reading plans out there, take your pick.

The problem with reading plans, however, is that sometimes you read the passage just to get it read, and then move on, without letting it really sink in.  We come to Scripture sometimes acting like the Cat in Dr. Seuss’ I Can Read With My Eyes Shut; but, as the Cat says, “if you read with your eyes shut, you’re likely to find that the place where you’re going is far, far behind.”

Take for example my reading this morning.  In M’Cheyne’s plan, I was scheduled to read from Exodus 24.  Now in that chapter God tells Moses to come up the mountain and to bring Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and the 70 elders of Israel to meet with God.  Obeying the Lord, these elders ascend the mountain and we are told that when they went up, “they saw the God of Israel.  There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.  And he did not lay his and on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank” (Ex. 24:9-11).

What!?!  Wait a minute, did I just read that?  I must have read this passage a hundred times before, but I’ve never seen that before.  They saw God, they beheld him, and ate and drank!!!

Now, there’s a lot more to the chapter, but I haven’t gotten there yet. I don’t know if I will today.  My reading plan isn’t important enough that I should just gloss over something so monumental.  They beheld God and ate and drank.  It’s very hard to express in writing just how verklempt I am over this.  They beheld God and ate and drank.

See, normally, that doesn’t happen.  Later in Exodus, Moses asks to see the face of God, to which God replies, no man may see the face of God and live (Ex 33:20).  Manoah and his wife, after their encounter with the angel of the Lord, are pretty sure they are going to die because they have seen the face of God (Judg. 13:22).  Isaiah, when he sees the Lord seated upon the throne in glory, cries out, “I’m a goner,” knowing his sinfulness cannot stand in the presence of God (Isa 6:1-5).

But what we read here in Exodus is that God called these men up the mountain, they saw God, and they were not killed, but were instead, fed a meal… they ate and drank.  Does anybody else hear the 23rd Psalm here, “You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies, my cup overflows.”  Immediately my mind jumped to the story of the Emmaus Road, the two disciples, leaving Jerusalem depressed and discouraged because of the crucifixion, encountering the resurrected Jesus along the way, who taught them from Scripture everything concerning himself (Luke 24:27), and how after he blessed the meal their eyes were open.  Even now I think about our worship services, how in the reading and proclamation of the Word of God we see God and hear his voice, and still he gathers us around the table to feed us in his presence.

This one little line from one verse in Exodus has completely wasted me for the day.  I don’t know that I will recover.  I don’t know that I want to.

So what should I do next, check my email?  Really?

Honestly, some people get more out of reading the New York Times than they do from reading the Bible.  They may read an article in the paper and that’s all they talk about the whole day, while they are hard pressed to remember what they read that morning, or even 5 minutes ago, from Scripture.

Friends, when you are reading God’s Word you need to allow it time to penetrate and permeate your life.  Don’t just “buzz the tower;” read it, hear it, meditate upon it.  Pray that God’s Spirit will give you ears to hear the Word of God, to see the grace of Christ.  Let us not be like the Pharisees of old who searched the Scriptures thinking that in them they would find eternal life, but never realizing that all of Scriptures were, in fact, pointing to Christ (John 5:39).

We need to read with our eyes open, and our hearts prepared for impact.

SDG

Theological musings on Seussical the Musical

“Having no hope and without God in the world…
(Eph 2:12 ESV)
 

Around this time last year I offered to you my theological musings related to my character analysis of Daddy Warbucks for the Cherokee Community Theatre Production of “Annie.”  As today is opening day for CCT’s production of “Seussical: The Musical,” allow me to continue the tradition.

First, some background.  Seussical is a musical story that blends elements of over 15 different Dr. Seuss stories into one great, exciting, thrill ride of a show.  Inviting the audience to “follow their hunches” we journey with JoJo as his “thinks take him places where no one has been.”  JoJo meets Horton (who hears a who and hatches an egg), gets sent off to fight in the great Butter Battle, and, most importantly, learns the irrepressible power of thinking and dreaming.

In the show, I play the Mayor of Whoville.  Who, as you may already know, is a tiny planet that floats through the air.  Horton hears the Whos calling for help, and saves them, placing their speck of a planet safe on a clover.  Horton vows to save Who, to watch over and protect them.  But His vow is quickly challenged.  No one else in the Jungle of Nool can hear the Whos, so they ridicule Horton for “hearing Whos who are not.”  They arrest Horton, put him on trial, and rule that he is insane, and that the clover should be boiled in “Beezlenut Oil.”

For Horton’s part, there is much to commend.  He makes a promise to save the Whos, and nothing will keep him from fulfilling that vow (“I meant what I said and I said what I meant: an Elephants faithful one hundred percent”).  He travels far and wide, risks life and limb, to save the helpless Whos.  He sees value in every person, even those he cannot see (“a person’s a person no matter how small”).

Still, to be a Who must be a terrifying thing.  Imagine knowing that you live on a tiny planet, floating randomly through the sky, at the whim of every gust and breeze.  At any given moment they could crash or be drowned, hitting the ground (“oh my”).  When the clover on which their planet rests gets dropped, “things smash and tore, their town is a mess, and their planet is at war.”  We first meet the Whos as they cry out for help, never knowing if their pleas will be heard, never knowing if they’ll ever be saved.  Until Horton hears them, their situation is hopeless, and even then, it is not sure.  The clover is stolen from Horton, lost in a sea of clovers, and even when found, they are threatened once again with annihilation.  Is it any wonder then, that their philosophy is, “things could get worse”?

Imagine going through life like that.  In fact, according to Ephesians, that is how we all once lived.  At one time we were “separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world” (Eph 2:12).  When I think of what it would mean to be without God and have no hope in the world, I think the Whos are a vivid example.  I read somewhere that studies of Paul’s time show us that a “great cloud of hopelessness covered the ancient world.  Philosophies were empty; traditions were disappearing; religions were powerless to help men face either life or death.  People longed to break through to heaven and get some message of hope from the other side, but there was none.”  They were, as Paul said, “without God.”  The Gentiles of Paul’s day had plenty of God’s, but in their futility of thinking, they had “exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things” (Rom 1:23).  They had plenty of God’s, but they did not have knowledge of the one true God.

And so they were without hope.  All they had was what they could see in this life.  There was no hope for a greater justice to prevail, for hope for a life beyond this mortal existence.  That is the context of Paul’s comments on the resurrection in 1 Thess. 4 when he writes, “But we do not want you to uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do, who have no hope.”

Isn’t it wonderful to know, then, that we can hope and trust in our faithful God?  We do not have to give a great “yopp” to break through to the heavens and be heard, for He has come to be with us, to bear our burdens – He hears our cry.  We do not have to worry that once He has saved us, God might lose us later.  Our salvation is sure, for it is from God.  He does not sleep or slumber (Psalm 121), and nothing can pluck us from the hand of our Savior (John 10:27-30).

If you are in the Cherokee area this weekend, make it a plan to come and see Seussical.  The cast is wonderfully talented, the orchestra is fantastic, and the lighting will take your breath away.  And I hope and pray that the message will encourage you to trust and rely on the salvation found in Christ Jesus our Lord. 

The show opens at 7:30 Wednesday through Saturday (the 22 through the 25) with matinee shows at 2:00 on Saturday and Sunday (the 25 and 26).  You can visit http://cherokeect.org/ for ticket information.

SDG