I sometimes have difficulty reconciling the God of the Old Testament, with the God I know. I’ve just read about this horrible string of events in Samuel:
Israel was defeated in battle
The Ark of the Lord was captured by the Philistines
Eli the priest and his two sons died.
The Philistine god Dagon was found bowing and broken before the Ark
They were tormented with tumours and ‘the Lord’s hand was heavy upon them.’
Cities were thrown into panic and they decided to send the Ark back.
On its return to Israel, seventy men were killed when they looked into the Ark.
Imagine the people’s fear as they said ‘Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up to from here?’
I was meditating on this question as I turned my music on and was captivated by these words:
“Before the Throne of God above, I have a strong and perfect plea, a great High Priest whose name is love, who ever lives and pleads for me… I know that while in Heaven He stands, no tongue can bid me thence depart.”
The fearsome God of Israel is no less the God of today, but while nations trembled and many died in his presence, we are invited into his very Throne room finding no condemnation, only grace.
The contrast is dramatic. How radically has Jesus Christ transformed the way we may relate to God!
Last night my church hosted our annual Carols by Candlelight. The event draws thousands of people and culminates with a large fireworks display.
This year the fireworks were spectacular, bursting into a clear sky in front of a full moon. I was standing at the back of the crowd, and wandered along the perimeter of the oval as the sky was lit by the dazzling colours. I must confess, my immediate instinct as they started was to get my camera out to take a photo, but as the thought registered, I looked out across the crowd and saw a sea of people with the glow of mobile phones reached out towards the sky.
Was it not enough just to see with their eyes?
I sometimes wonder how much we miss by being so consumed with capturing every moment. I once heard a story about a well-known musician who was giving a small concert. He announced at the beginning that there were to be no mobile phones, no recordings and no pictures taken; not only that, but this was going to be a one-off performance. The audience, knowing that they had this moment, and this moment only, to enjoy the performance, found themselves mesmerized by the music; engaged on a level that they otherwise never would have been.
How often do we view the world through the lens of a camera, and never really take the time to really see it with our own eyes?