Thursday, July 6, 2017

The Exodus: Seeking the City of God

Before commencing, I must admit - I am hard of hearing.  The preacher last night in Bible Study said it was another Mashed Potato study. For a second I wondered aloud, "Mashed Potato?" Then it struck me: Max Lucado. Lucado is a fine man and an exemplary Christian. I read his first book many years ago. His every word is filled with love and reverence for God.

Last night's subject was "The Glory Days" about the Exodus, thus leaving sin and traveling to the promised land. Canaan was the physical promise finally at hand which God promised Abraham. However, the spiritual part of the Abrahamic Covenant was some time distant, lying in the future. In God's time it was "quickly"; in ours distant.

The Exodus was a three location interval spanning forty years: Egypt. the Wilderness, and Canaanland itself. Symbolically, in my opinion since this is commentary, those three steps were: sin, deliverance, and glory. Mr. Lucado failed to see Canaanland as symbolic of Paradise because he looked at it as it was. It was filled with sinful people, and many battles with much killing was about to be fought.

I see the Exodus not so much as deliverance from bondage, but a return "home". As such, it may be a return trip to paradise, and by that I mean two things: the Garden of Eden and Paradise, as in the Kingdom of God!

Mr. Lucado looked at Canaanland from Christian eyes. We never, since Jesus ascension, have verbal communication with Almighty God. The patriarchs did. I propose that our adventurers knew that Canaanland was already, and will be again, a sacred place. To this day many Jewish people, as I do, believe that Israel is the Holy Land, not because it was where Jesus died, but because it was where Glory was and will be! Glory means "fame" and is from the Latin gloria. From a Christian perspective, Glory is the presence of God. Glorification is when Christian people return to the innocence in which they were created. They again become as God in the likeness of the One in whom they were created. Along with that goes immortality, perfection in living, and love without bounds.

In spiritual symbology, the Exodus is also a three-step process for Christians: (1) living in sin, (2) the Christian walk in life, and (3) eternal life; aka glorification in the Kingdom of God. The new life at the time of the Exodus was even granted by the shedding of blood on the cross of the doorway. The Jewish people who had faith were saved by the blood from death by the angel of destruction.

Let us look at Adam's and Eve's being cast out of the Garden. They were born glorified: they lived in the Kingdom of God in Glory because God's very presence was there. He walked in the cool of the evening and communed with them. The Garden was without sin because God will not cohabitate with sin. Because Adam and Eve had yet to sin, they were living in a state of glorification, and were as such immortal, both physically and spiritually. With their innocence they were spiritually free, but obviously not free from temptation. That is where their free will came in. Even Christian people retain their free will, and can sin whenever they choose. This, even life itself, is a battle of wills: our own against God's. Satan's job is the waylay Christians with temptation. God allows that as a test of whom we love. The wandering in the wilderness was representative of life itself.

So originally, Adam and Eve were glorified, and those were indeed the glory days! When they failed to love God by disobedience, essentially the destroying angel killed them spiritually, and yes, they surely did die! Not at that moment, but quickly. The penalty was a sort of reverse Exodus, allowed because of their remorse. God covered their sin, but they suffered the consequences. God threw them out of Glory into the wilderness to fend for themselves. They were still God's people, but for a time they and their descendants, even today, walk in the wilderness. The wilderness is nothing more than life itself. It's mortals walking from birth to death as Satan's angels continue to pursue them.

In our Exodus, of which the story of Job is representative, although we're headed for Glory, we still grumble and complain about what once was. It's unfair that mankind doesn't have an easy life, so being malcontents, we seek pleasure in sin. (I've always thought it ironic that sinful Jews were in the wilderness of Sin because our very lives are in that same wilderness). Our destination is Paradise rather than Canaanland, because that's where we will return to Glory! (Someday all Christians will inhabit New Jerusalem at the very location of Jerusalem)!

For Adam,  God threw him into the wilderness. Outside Paradise was where he worked hard for everything he was to have. My bet is that Adam looked back to Paradise, and what he was missing, although the Jews looked back to Egypt - where sin was.  Once out, the gate was guarded by seraphim, and there was but one gate. No one could backdoor paradise and get back in. In order to regain entry, the sacrifice had to be by the blood only, but someday it was to be only by the blood of Jesus. That path to Paradise was straight: no other doctrine but God's, and no other way but by following Jesus in the wilderness of life. The Way to the gate of Paradise is by walking with Jesus.

Ironically, God saw fit in his mystery to use Joshua for the Jews to enter Canaanland. Just like Jesus, in Hebrew his name was Yehoshua. As such, Joshua was a type of Jesus and even shared His name! Moses couldn't enter the promised land because he did wrong in the sight of the Lord by bringing forth "living" water from the stone his way. As such, Moses didn't deserve entry to Canaanland, so the Hebrew people followed Yehoshua into the land of milk and honey. Those words signify the glory to be found there, and it's the land promised to Abraham. Why? Even today the Hebrew people accept the Kingdom of David as the one and the same Kingdom of God!

It took Yehoshua to lead the people into paradise, and it took Yehoshua to lead us Christians into Paradise. The imperfect Hebews who still longed for Egypt represent imperfect Christians who still long for sin. As Paul said, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. The Hebrew people could have turned back. That was their choice. They faced the temptation to do so every day just as Christians do. They were willing but they were weak. God washed the wilderness of the weak. Just a few of the most faithful made it because, although the wilderness was wide, the path was narrow. Moses maneuvered them through the wilderness to find them the way, but Joshua was the way!

The wilderness was a lifetime for the Hebrews. All those who had been in sin died. Essentially, Moses (water) washed them clean in preparation for salvation by the use of time. It wasn't by water they were destroyed that time, but by time itself. It was by the blood that they were saved, and those saved became new people as they passed through the divided sea.

Adam dwelt in the wilderness for the remainder of his life. He did make it into that single gate of the Garden but it was by grace when God covered his sin. God, who saved him, was pre-incarnate Yehoshua (Jesus). It was at the end of his life that he entered, when the wilderness was persevered. Adam could have looked forward to sin, but he looked back at Glory! We are not to look back at sin but look forward to Glory! That is our Exodus from sin and the opposite of Adam's.

My earlier writings, at the instigation of Hebrew belief, led me to place the Garden of Eden as the Kingdom of David - Israel. Archeology doesn't support that because of the four rivers mentioned in Genesis. However, with continental drift and the scripture of separation of the peoples, the Garden could physically be about anywhere in Asia. Scripture all points toward Israel. It is not only the promised land, but the Garden and Glory!

Where is the Garden, then. It is mostly gone. Perhaps, just as Jesus ascended to heaven, that the Garden did as well because it is no longer there. Likewise, we know that it will descend just as Jesus will!  Maybe some evidence exists but is has been replaced by things. The evidence may be in the old olive trees in the Garden of Gethsemane which still survive. Those intact are up to 2000 years old, but those hollow are timeless!

Jerusalem means foundation of peace. In the beginning was the foundation of the world. The destiny of the world is peace. In Israel, it was never achieved but in the end it shall be. Sin will be washed clean, not by water or by time, but by fire. After that, New Jerusalem will come down from its spiritual location, and peace will be where Jerusalem now stands. Indeed, it may be that since Jerusalem is the place of the City of God, when New Jerusalem replaces it, there again Glory shall be!

The Abrahamic covenant promised glory. The kingdom of David was indeed its glory days, but the seed - Yehoshua, had yet to be born. Jesus, from the seed of Abraham, is the promised glory, not only the kingdom of David. As such New Jerusalem is the promise since the covenant is everlasting!

With no disrespect for Max Lucado, I respectfully disagree -  indeed Canaanland was and is, not only symbolic of Heaven, but Jerusalem, the foundation of peace, may actually be the City of God, and at the place where it once was: in the midst of the Garden - Israel.

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