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Everyone has different beliefs. There is such a wide spectrum. From people who believe that everything under the sun has a spirit, to those who have no God, to those who believe in the One True God. You can have two self-proclaimed atheists believing two very different things, and two born again Christians sitting side by side in a church that, while yet part of the family of God, do not view even the simplest things in the same color.
Many people seem to stumble about, not putting thought or effort into the what or why of their beliefs. Although this is a very serious matter, these are not the kind of people this blog is about.
Who I would like to consider are those who have taken the time to at least put into words what it is they believe. Interestingly, I have found that many of these declarations of faith are less about what they actually believe and more about putting qualifiers on that belief. In this PC (Politically Correct) day in age there is a great deal of "fear of man" lurking about, and people are wary of being misunderstood.
There is a profound focus placed on the right to choose. While tolerance is something to thank God for in this society, it has the flip side of making everything ok and almost non-essential. The attitude in making the choice of what to believe or not believe is akin to that of someone choosing an outfit. As if the belief system chosen has as much importance as whether to wear plaid and polka dots, instead of the weight given to something that will determine guiding life principles and eternal consequences.
I have also found that many view their religion (or lack thereof) as an expression of who they are, much in the same way as someone could be described as being "straight laced" or a "blue jeans kinda gal." Please do not misunderstand me. Of course our faith influences our every thought and action, or else it is not true. But please note the difference. One is doing the guiding and directing, the other is being acted on. We make the choice daily to take up our crosses and follow the Lord Jesus, but not what following the Lord entails for that day. That is the Almightys job. However, in this worldly world we live in, there are many that do not change or allow a change to be wrought upon them because of their belief. Instead they pick a belief that fits them, even honing it down to suit them even more exactly much in the same way a man has a suit tailored to fit him.
There, but for the grace of God, go I.
Goodness but there are a lot of "fashionable" things to believe right now, and variations and addendums to those beliefs.
Let us switch gears.
I am currently reading through the tail end of Exodus and just getting into the beginning of Leviticus. Now, there is some dry reading in there. Dont get me wrong, it is important because it is the Word of God, and as such there is much to be drawn from even the most arid of accounts. And there is a lot of really astonishing bits in there. Its just that some parts read like an instruction manual for putting together a bicycle. Not exactly riveting, if you know what I mean. (Excuse the puns .)
These sections really are an instruction manual to the nation of Israel on how to construct the tabernacle, how exactly to give different kinds of offerings, what actions are acceptable and what arent, and interestingly, what the priests clothing should be made of and what it should look like, right down to the undergarments.
A great deal of what they wear is blatantly symbolic. An ephod was made, covered with 12 beautiful (and specific) stones to represent the tribes of Israel. Two onyx stones with the names of the tribes of Israel inscribed on them were put on the shoulders of the garment. Both of these, the ephod and the shoulder stones, were to remind the priest that he was a representative to God of his people. Also carried on the priests chest were divination stones used to determine Gods will. On the hem of their robe were gold bells and woven pomegranates. A medallion with "HOLY TO THE LORD" printed on it was tied to Aarons head. They wore a robe, a tunic, a sash, a turbin, and undergarments. The fabric was of the finest linen, and the threads used for the embroidery were of beautiful, rich, and specific colors in specific designs.
Now, heres something about writing a story. You dont write down things that do not have bearing on the overall story. In a good book, and in the Good Book, every word has some importance. Whether it is to give facts, convey a style, add depth, create layers of meaning, etc., there is not a word in the Bible that is not there for a reason. And I believe that with these instructions, they are in the Bible for more of a reason than just to say how and when these things did or didnt happen. It was more than just telling them what these clothes should look like. One additional meaning for us who believe in reading these conditions are that they demonstrate the seriousness of the matter of obeying God. Of the extreme perfect detail and attention that must be lent to all aspects of the lives of the people in the twelve tribes of Israel. And ultimately, our absolute incapability of being able to meet the high standards of Gods holiness without Christs work on the cross.
So what beliefs should we put on and live in? What does our suit of religion look like? There are many suggestions in the Word. Perhaps sackcloth and ashes? The beautiful and heavily jeweled woman who leads to the grave? Ah, perhaps we will choose to be clothed in righteousness. If that is the look you want, inside and out, may I suggest this get-up?
Ephesians 6:11,14-17 NLT
Put on all of God s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil...Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of Gods righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.