Last week our pastor was challenging us to learn from the Israelites’ spiritual amnesia. What a tragedy it was that the same generation that walked through the sea on dry land lost their faith and was prevented from entering the Promised Land.
It’s easy to judge their foolishness. They had seen extraordinary deliverance, and yet, as the years passed, they forgot.
I was challenged as I realised how true this is in my own life. In fact, the parting of the red sea was only a precursor to a far greater deliverance that was to come. Thousands of years later, God in the flesh hung on a cross, and as he uttered those final words ‘It is finished,’ the curtain in the temple was supernaturally torn in two. This curtain had long divided the people from the God who was their deliverance. Then, suddenly, without warning, the curtain was parted, so that anyone who desired to know God, could enter, covered by the blood of Jesus’ sacrifice.
I first walked through that proverbial curtain as a child, just as many of the Israelites walked through the red sea as children. And just like them, how many times have I forgotten since, what miracle God performed in my life? Too often I approach my creator with such flippancy that it is clear I have forgotten how divided I once was from Him, and how graciously he has made the way for me.
I was reading the other day in the Old Testament about some of the offerings the Israelites were required to bring before God. Not just animals, but bread and olive oil and incense and all sorts of seemingly trivial things. I found myself wondering: ‘Why on earth did God want them to bring bread with olive oil?’
I’m sure there’s a deep theological answer about its significance and symbolism, but just as I was pondering it I was suddenly hit by something profound: it’s not that hard to make bread.
God had many reasons for instituting the sacrificial system. The minute details that had to be executed with perfection emphasized God’s holiness, but I also found within his decrees an amazing degree of grace. His requirements were detailed, but they were all doable.
It didn’t require great skill or wisdom. You didn’t have to be the smartest or the bravest, you just had to obey and be faithful.
God could have required his followers to scale the highest mountain or walk through fire to demonstrate their devotion to Him, but he’s not that kind of God.
He’s the kind of God who sees that we are dust, but wants us anyway. He does not require more than we can give, and He sacrificed himself because He knew that the blood of bulls and goats would never be enough.
He is full of grace, right down to the bread and oil.