THIS SERIES: LIVING IN THE OVERFLOW
In first century AD, Jerusalem was thronging with pilgrims, all assembled for the Feast of Pentecost, the Greek name for the Jewish ‘Feast of Weeks’. This was the time of the year when Jews from all over the Greek world remembered the story of how Moses received the Law (or Torah) from the Lord on Mount Sinai.
Their ancient ancestors had been delivered from slavery in Egypt and had been led to this mountain in the desert. The Lord appeared to Moses gloriously in cloud, fire and thunder, scared the Israelites to death, and gave His commandments, along with accompanying rules and regulations, written in stone (613 in all!) You can read the story here [Exodus 19-32].
The deal was clear: obey all these decrees & the nation would be blessed, break them and they would be judged……. Before the inaugural period was over, the Law was broken and 3000 people died in consequence [Exodus 32:28].
The trouble with external rules and regulations is that it’s like the old variety act of keeping plates spinning – eventually one falls & smashes. We can keep some of the rules some of the time, but not all of the rules all of the time.
The bottom line is you can’t legislate for goodness – it has to flow from inside out. Legislation keeps wrongdoing in check, but doesn’t change hearts, and somewhere unlawful behaviour always leaks out - as we have seen in recent terrorist attacks.
But we humans insist on trying to live by rulebooks, systems and procedures. It is part of the consequence of the Fall: Adam & Eve wanting to be like God, chose to eat from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil, instead of the Tree of Life. One path pointed to independence from God & the domination of external laws, the other to Life flowing from within, in partnership with the Source of Life. The Law was given to showcase the futility of mankind trying to be good, or trying to reach God, by his own efforts.
The prophets saw the problem & prophesied the solution:
I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.
And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws." [Ezekiel 36:26,27]
"This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time," declares the LORD.
"I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people."
Fast forward to the Day of Pentecost…. The Holy Spirit fell in power on a group of nervous disciples & transformed them into lions of faith. He came with the sound of mighty rushing wind, and tongues of fire appeared on each head. (Remember the fire that accompanied the visitation at Sinai?) And listening to their anointed words, 3000 people responded by repenting (changed their way of thinking) and were saved [Acts 2:1-41], each receiving their own gift of the the Holy Spirit.
‘"In the last days, God says,
'I will pour out my Spirit on all people.'"
The Law-giver Himself had come to take up residence in people’s hearts.
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