Scriptural Gem for August 2015

In Exodus 25, we find three interesting references. First, in verses 10-11, we read: “Have them make an ark of acacia wood—two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high. Overlay it with pure gold, both inside and out, and make a gold molding around it.” Next, in verse 31: “Make a lampstand of pure gold. Hammer out its base and shaft, and make its flowerlike cups, buds and blossoms of one piece with them.” And finally, in verse 36: “The buds and branches shall all be of one piece with the lampstand, hammered out of pure gold.” (all NIV, emphasis added)

The above verses make reference to a concept described in the original Hebrew by the word “echad,” often translated ‘one’ and suggesting ‘unified whole.’ This word is used to describe the Ark of the Covenant. It had gold on the inside and the outside and a molding connecting both, making it ‘one,’ with the inside and outside ‘unified.’

Not long ago I had a conversation with a dear brother who had grown up in what he described as a “religious” home and he made a profound statement: “Religion always produces two people... one on the outside and another on the inside." He then went on to explain that the person his father was when in ‘church’ company was completely different to the person he was at home, hidden from public view.

This lines up with my own experience of what I term “Religious christianity,” the pseudo-christianity which is based on a person’s mental assent to doctrines and the outward keeping of ordinances, but the person’s heart remains unchanged and full of filth. Often, this filth is only revealed away from public view or by way of the pressures of life. Jesus describes this situation very well in Matthew 23:27-28, “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.” (NIV) Jesus omnisciently observes that the Pharisees were not “echad.”

On the other hand, there is the true Christianity produced by the Living God actually indwelling a person by His Spirit. Only then may a life be “echad,” looking the same both inside and out, in public and in secret, and in and out of pressure.

How about you dear friend? Are you one (“echad”) or are you two? Perhaps that question is better posed not to ourselves, but to our spouse or children... What will their answer be?

Paul offered a beautiful prayer on behalf of the Thessalonians that we can make our own this very day: “May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 5:23, NIV)