Earlier this year the Lord visited me, told me something, and suggested I study it out for more revelation. It was His gentle way of redirecting me, a bit short of a reprimand, but clear enough to redirect my focus.
What He said
“I AM. Therefore I am always present. So, to be in my presence you must be in the present.” When I asked for more He simply said: “Think about it, study it out, and you’ll receive more revelation.”
So much of modern church culture is fixated on the future – from prophecy to blood moons to cycles of debt and release, to trying to figure out who the anti-Christ is – we’ll gladly spend time and money searching these things out while ignoring the present - Family life, finances, thoughts, emotions and habits in order and more Christ-like. It is SO much more fun to speculate about future events than to deal with the here and now.
And part of the body of Christ is fixated on the past. Looking over their shoulders at events that happened when they were x years old, or what demons have followed the family line to make their lives miserable, or just needing that 1 touch from the Lord for their ‘inner healing’. Should we live in the past, present, or future?
The culture of ancient Egypt was like our culture in many ways
Ancient Egypt was obsessed with both the past and the future. From their tombs we see a painted history of that person’s life on the walls while also burying them with items needed in the afterlife. Moses and the future nation of Israel was surrounded by a culture that worshipped the past while making sacrifices to appease the gods for blessing on future crops, livestock, business transactions, and life after death.
And around the region at that time various gods and goddesses kept other nations focused on both the past and future as well in a never ending cycle of honoring or worshipping the dead while making sacrifices to the gods and goddesses for a favorable future. No culture was focused on living in the here and now.
This cycle of the gods kept people from being accountable for their lives as they could always blame their behavior or emotional trauma on spirits from dead relatives or their failure in life on the gods not blessing them.
They could excuse why they had done something wrong on the gods – I can’t pay my taxes because the gods sent a fire that burned part of my crop, rather than admitting they were asleep at home that night rather than on their watch, so they slept through the fire that was ravaging the fields.
Today a Christian might say they can’t enter into healing or their call and destiny in Christ because x spirit from grandpa or grandma went to dad and mom and then to them and has hindered them their whole life. They might also be in constant fear about the future because they feed on web sites with spirits of fear attached or are just plain goofy.
God made Israel live in the present
When the Lord gave Moses the 10 Commandments it was the first time a god (God) had ever issued absolute commands. Other cultures had elements of the 10 Commandments, but no god had ever issued 10 absolute rules before. And consider this; No other god had ever told his subjects to take a day off from work. This was not a merciless god, but one with empathy, the very nature of including a day off in an absolute Command demonstrating He was compassionate and living in the here and now.
The 10 Commandments and law of Moses brought into the open the fact that the past was the past and could not be changed, but could be repented of and forgiven, and the future was in God’s hands. Therefore man cannot change the past nor control the future – but the 10 Commandments said man can control his actions in the present. No god had ever treated his people that way before.
The 10 Commandments brought the focus to the here and now, the present, which is where God is at I AM - ever present that we may deal with the issues before us.
If someone stole a sheep from their neighbor, there was no blaming a god like “Baal demanded a sacrifice, but my flocks are grazing far away so I had to steal your sheep to have an animal to offer in order to appease him.” God said ‘Do not steal’ – period. Deal with your character issues right now in the moment!
What God did in the 10 Commandments was make everyone accountable right now, at this place and at this time, for their lives, forcing a person to deal with their heart, their soul, their body – in the NOW.
When He commanded NOT to have sexual relations with the neighbor’s wife, it empowered the individual to decide right then, ‘Do I go over to her while her husband is in the fields, or not?’ He was telling individuals to deal with their lust right now - no blame on a family god, no blame on an unknown future so have fun while you can. By issuing 10 Commands God empowered each Israelite to live in the moment.
His commands made them live in the present. Isn’t it amazing how far from living in the present so much of church culture has become?
Why so vague?
While there are a total of 613 laws in the Law of Moses, most of them had to do with rules relating to the priests and how to make a sacrifice, or dietary and sanitary laws. When talking about ‘the law’ in the New Testament the authors are usually talking about the relatively few moral laws, which were surprisingly lacking in detail.
For instance, when He said in Exodus 20:8-11 to take the Sabbath off from work, He gave no instructions other than to make it clear that everything from work animals to employees to sons and daughters were not to work on that 1 day each week.
The Pharisee initiated tradition of gathering on Saturday to worship first started in home gatherings* in about 200 BC. Down through the years this vagueness has led to numerous religious laws to the point that today in modern Israel on the Sabbath, elevators stop at every floor because pushing a button to stop at your floor is considered work. *(Hebrew for ‘gathering’ is synagogue).
By Jesus’ time leaders had decided the distance of what became known as a Sabbath’s Day Walk, which is mentioned in Acts 1:12 – a distance of roughly 3/4 of a mile (1.2km) - any walking up to that distance was okay, but if you go over that distance, well, that is work and is forbidden!
Why would God be so vague to Israel about these all important 10 Commandments? Because by being vague it required each person to walk with Him in daily life, in the here and now, to understand the spirit behind the command. To remove the relationship from the Commands leaves only rules and regulations resulting in not being able to push an elevator button on the Sabbath for fear of offending God.
What Jesus commanded
And that is why when Jesus said in John 15:12: “This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you.”
He didn’t tell us how to do that – He just said do it. Why? Because He must be found in the vagueness of the command. He must be found in the intensity of the moment. To be clear: When someone lies about you and you are reminded to love one another as He loves us, the past nor future mean anything. He must be found in that moment in time. Not as a ‘now I pick up my relationship with you and run to you for help’, but as a continuation of fellowship you’ve been having together, as a friend who never leaves and is always there to give wise guidance to apply the vague command to love one another.
Jesus told me to be in His presence I had to be present in such a vague way to make the exact point I’m making here – He wanted me to search out the deeper meaning WITH HIM, receiving revelation from Him via the Holy Spirit – not as a command ‘to be present’ but He was purposely being vague that I might seek Him and find Him…and that’s where we’ll pick it up next week.
Until then, blessings,