Putting Us in Our Places
March 07, 2017
Pride can be pretty destructive to our perspective, especially when it leads us into complacency and superiority.
When we travel the road of self-righteous blindness, we forget what righteousness is. We sugar coat our failures. We gloss over our sins.
Then, our feelings of manifest destiny and entitlement trigger attitudes that evoke injustice and misuse of privilege.
God told the people through Moses that they had better not make too much of their feelings of righteousness. It was never about them. In fact, they had been pretty rebellious.
The world was a mess that needing some cleaning. The people of the covenant were instruments for that season of correction and for a purpose in that bigger plan. Their ongoing participation in the covenant of God was about Him, His grace, His work, and His desire to be exalted in all the nations.
Nothing releases any people or person from the call to submit to the will of God and remain true to the Covenant God who calls us by His grace to be His instruments of justice, peace, and truth.
But we so quickly turn away in our nationalistic fervor, chauvinistic pride, and misguided expressions of superiority.
When Jesus cleansed the temple, it was because the money-changers, with the approval of the religious power brokers, had desecrated the Court of the Gentiles. They had obstructed the path of prayer dedicated to the people of the nations. They were saying, in their hearts, "These people do not matter. We are the only ones that matter."
Whenever that happens, we need to be reminded of our origins.
We need to be put in our places.
"When the LORD your God thrusts them out before you, do not say to yourself, "It is because of my righteousness that the LORD has brought me in to occupy this land" it is rather because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is dispossessing them before you. It is not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart that you are going in to occupy their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the LORD your God is dispossessing them before you, in order to fulfill the promise that the LORD made on oath to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. Know, then, that the LORD your God is not giving you this good land to occupy because of your righteousness; for you are a stubborn people. Remember and do not forget how you provoked the LORD your God to wrath in the wilderness; you have been rebellious against the LORD from the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place. Even at Horeb you provoked the LORD to wrath, and the LORD was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you. When I went up the mountain to receive the stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant that the LORD made with you, I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights; I neither ate bread nor drank water. And the LORD gave me the two stone tablets written with the finger of God; on them were all the words that the LORD had spoken to you at the mountain out of the fire on the day of the assembly. At the end of forty days and forty nights the LORD gave me the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant. Then the LORD said to me, "Get up, go down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought from Egypt have acted corruptly. They have been quick to turn from the way that I commanded them; they have cast an image for themselves."
"Therefore, brothers and sisters, holy partners in a heavenly calling, consider that Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, was faithful to the one who appointed him, just as Moses also "was faithful in all God's house." Yet Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses, just as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that would be spoken later. Christ, however, was faithful over God's house as a son, and we are his house if we hold firm the confidence and the pride that belong to hope. Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, "Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, as on the day of testing in the wilderness, where your ancestors put me to the test, though they had seen my works for forty years. Therefore I was angry with that generation, and I said, 'They always go astray in their hearts, and they have not known my ways.' As in my anger I swore, 'They will not enter my rest.'"
"The Passover of the Jews was near, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple he found people selling cattle, sheep, and doves, and the money changers seated at their tables. Making a whip of cords, he drove all of them out of the temple, both the sheep and the cattle. He also poured out the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. He told those who were selling the doves, "Take these things out of here! Stop making my Father's house a marketplace!" His disciples remembered that it was written, "Zeal for your house will consume me." The Jews then said to him, "What sign can you show us for doing this?" Jesus answered them, "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up." The Jews then said, "This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?" But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this; and they believed the scripture and the word that Jesus had spoken."