Wednesday, May 15, 2013
In Search Of Truth, Exodus 13:1-2 and 11-15
To "consecrate" the firstborn meant to devote them entirely to the purposes of Yahweh. This was the default intention for all the firstborn among human males and livestock in Israel. In the short term, it seemed they could be "redeemed" (purchased at a price) from a life of service to Yahweh by the sacrifice of a lamb, if one assumes the lamb was the prescribed method of redemption for both human males and donkeys. (Donkey's being given the option of "redemption" likely due to their value as pack animals.)
However it is later established that the consecration of all firstborn human males is replaced by the males of the tribe of Levi, who became specifically purposed to serve Yahweh in the various religious services and ceremonies. (Numbers 3:11-13)
This idea of devoting the firstborn to Yahweh originates when he claims the nation of Israel as his firstborn son.
Exodus 4:22(ESV)- Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD, Israel is my firstborn son,
It is then dramatically solidified when Yahweh saves the firstborn sons of Israel from the plague in Egypt.
Firstborn sons in the ancient world had a special purpose and role in the family, and God referring to Israel as his firstborn son indicates that of all the people in the world, the Israelites had a special relationship to Yahweh and a special role to serve.
Even further, Yahweh claims Israel's firstborn sons and animals as his. From this we can observe that the things that normally would have had a special role in serving the purposes of the people of Israel (firstborn sons and the first profits of Israel's livestock resources) instead were to serve the special purposes of God.
One of the things that makes us geeks who we are is some degree of passionate devotion to something. We may collect things, or devote considerable time to some nerdy pleasure. And of course we can take that too far and dip our toes into the realm of obsession. I can't tell you the number of times I've suspected that God was calling me to set aside some "me time" to better serve him and I instead ignored that suspicion, satisfying myself by calling it "legalism" or something else.
I had a small victory one night this week when I strongly suspected that God was presenting me with an opportunity to do some extra study that would help me be more effective in conversing with a friend about some faith struggles they're going through. I didn't want to spend that extra time studying. I'd had a long day with some unexpected productivity loss that left me ready to put the workday behind me and just get completely lost in Neverwinter Nights 2. But I decided to stop giving myself time to think about the decision and just recklessly obey... "at least for a few minutes", I told myself.
I got out my study resources and kept NW2 on pause on the computer next to me. I figured I'd get back to it in a few minutes after dealing with whatever "guilt" I might be feeling. But a funny thing happened. I slowly started to realize that I was more interested in studying than in playing my game. Eventually I turned the game off and kept reading and studying well past my bedtime. In the end I didn't feel like I missed my "me time", and I felt more equipped to be used by God the next time I connect with my friend.
Although I don't take the position that the church has replaced the role of the nation of Israel, believers are likewise chosen by Yahweh for a very special purpose.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. Therefore remember that at one time you Gentiles in the flesh, called "the uncircumcision" by what is called the circumcision, which is made in the flesh by hands-- remember that you were at that time 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. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (ESV)
The things in life we geeks consider of special value, such as our time and our money(which enable us to pursue our geek passions), are part of what God is calling us to give to him to serve his purposes. That's not to say that geeky things can't be enjoyed in ways that serve and honor God. But we have to admit that a number of times our geeky hobbies are just serving us, when we should be looking for ways they can give pleasure to others.
Paul instructs the wealthy in this regard. (And if you have any time or resources to enjoy geeky hobbies, you are wealthy) He says,
As for the rich in this present age, charge them not to be haughty, nor to set their hopes on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share, thus storing up treasure for themselves as a good foundation for the future, so that they may take hold of that which is truly life. (1 Tim. 6:17-19, ESV)
This passage in Exodus reminds me that God had a special purpose in mind when he designed each one of us. And if I want true and lasting fulfillment, I need to grow in my ability to trust God with how I use my time and resources. Like Israel, Yahweh has called and rescued believers for a special purpose. And though he has given us geeks many awesome, geeky things with which we can honor him by enjoying them, we are first and foremost made to channel our time, resources and energy into serving his agenda.