Saturday, January 26, 2013
For the Generations to Come
Exodus 16:33 So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.”
Acts 2:38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”
40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.
The children of Israel were provided with all that they needed for forty years. For six days a week they would step outside their homes and fresh bread from God was lying on the ground. All they had to do was collect it and use it. On the sixth day they could collect enough for two days and they could rest on the seventh day. The manna really was a magical food product! It must have had all the nutrients necessary to sustain human life for it sustained this entire community of people year after year. There had never been anything like it before or after here on this earth. It was so special and unique that God instructed Moses to save some and store it to show it to the future generations so that they could witness the miracle that God had provided. Moses did this and placed it before the Lord so that it could be kept for the generations to come.
Somewhere along the way the people lost it. Not only did they lose the jar of manna -- but they lost the faith that was to have been passed to the generations. They people who witnessed and tasted of God's daily provision failed to pass that faith on to the next generation and the people of God struggled with their faith.
God continued to be faithful to his children and through Jesus had provided them with a promise for the future. Jesus had told them to wait -- for a new type of manna -- which would fall from heaven. His followers weren't sure what they were waiting for but they went to Jerusalem and spent ten days in a prayer meeting when finally the new manna -- the Holy Spirit fell from heaven. Peter stood up and preached a message to which thousands responded and received the gift of the Holy Spirit. This was the new gift for the generations to come. No longer did the gift have to be saved in a jar for future generations, but all future generations would have the possibility of experiencing the miracle of God on a daily basis through the Holy Spirit.
I've visited numerous ancient churches in my lifetime and it's amazing to me how many different "left-over" pieces of "holy men" are out there. It's interesting how many human relics have been collected through the years. If you would put together all the pieces of Moses that are in churches you'd probably have a man with 20 toes and 15 fingers! Of course there are lots of collected hairs as well. Who is to say where all these pieces have come from but they sit, encased in glass in these churches, as a reminder of the holy men who have gone before us. Yet there is something similar about all of these church buildings. These items have been saved for the future generations so that we can understand the great ones who have gone before and be inspired to also be followers of God. However, the similarity is that all of these buildings are rather cold and empty. There is no sense of the presence of God in those places. Instead they most resemble a museum; a place to imagine the past.
Having a jarful of manna wasn't enough to convince the children of Israel to stay true to their faith. They could see it and they could hear the stories but unless they personally engaged in a relationship with God, it didn't mean anything for them. Therefore God found a way that they could experience him every single day of their lives and he sent the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit certainly became a way of God entering into communion with humanity on a daily basis. No longer would they have to look to the events of the past but they could commune with God now!
For those of us walking with God we have the choice to engage our faith in these two ways. We may either be enamored with the old and try to keep the faith from being contaminated by placing it under glass, or we may engage in personal communion with God. One will leave us cold and empty with very little to pass on to the future generations. The other will breathe life into us, transforming us and making our faith desirable to the following generations.
For the generations to come we must be willing to engage in the life-giving relationship with God that is only available through the power of the Holy Spirit. This relationship will challenge us to be engaged with our world in new and different ways -- never the same -- so that they too can experience transformation. We must allow ourselves to be vulnerable to the working of God in our lives and be transparent for others to see what he is accomplishing. This is for the generations to come.
Lord, may my life reflect you and may that draw the generations to come into a personal walk with you. Amen.