Thursday, August 4, 2011

Going Outside the Gates

I need to get this down so I will remember...so that perhaps, when God gets us outside the gates, I will remember how it all started...

While in Key West in June, I was struck by two different passages.  One was Isaiah 45:2-3  "I will go before you and level the exalted places, I will break in pieces the doors of bronze and cut through the bars of iron, I will give you the treasures of darkness and the hoards in secret places, that you may know that it is I, the LORD, the God of Israel, who call you by your name." 

God is speaking to Cyrus, who will be his instrument in bringing down the Babylonians so that the Israelites can return home to Jerusalem.  But, why was it jumping off the page at me?

The other passage was Hebrews 13:12-13  "So Jesus also suffered outside the gate in order to sanctify the people through his own blood.  Therefore, let us go to him outside the camp and bear the reproach he endured." 

What does that mean for me...to go outside the camp to where Jesus is?

About a week ago, I found another passage (Psalm 107:16) that says "For He has broken the gates of brass and cut the bars of iron in sunder."  Bible Gateway told me that Isaiah 45 and Psalm 107 are the only two places that specifically mention God breaking down gates of brass and cutting bars of iron.

It had me in fits because I had no idea what it meant...what it meant for me and our family.

Struggling with shoulder and neck muscle tension one night,  I took a muscle relaxer.  I took a whole one instead of a half because of the intense pain.  I usually am knocked out within about thirty minutes after taking one.  You can imagine my surprise when I was still staring at the clock at almost midnight while my husband was in dreamland.

My soul was restless and I think the Holy Spirit was ready to show me what all of this was about!  It came to me quickly...I think our American church today somehow resembles being inside of the city gates. In Bible times, after Nehemiah had helped rebuild the city, the gates provided protection and security.  They were the means of entering the city...just as Jesus is our means of entering the salvation and the heavenly city.

I am not here to bash the American Church.  I believe that the gates of hell cannot prevail against the true church of God.  Do I think we have some things messed up?  Yes.  Do we often use attention getting/seeker friendly tactics?  Yes.  Do we have soul searching and system questioning to do?  Yes.

I think that being part of an American church is like being inside of a privileged city.  It is very comfortable.  We each have access to a Bible, even if it is located in the lost and found.  It doesn't cost us anything.  Even a tithe isn't required by the preacher before we enter the big glass doors.  We get fed and aren't held responsible to feed others. 

It is easy.  It is comfortable.  Goodness, church even looks good on us.  But, I think we are bored out of our minds.

What if Jesus wants to come into our protected little city called the American church and break down the city gates of brass and cut the bars of iron in sunder? 

Just to free us?

Luke 9:23 tells us to deny self.  take up cross.  follow Him.  Follow Him where?  Hebrews 13:13 says that we are to go to Him.  He is outside the camp.  Outside the gates.  Outside the place of privilege.

The Greek word for camp there is "parembole" which means to put between or interpose.  We often want the lost to come into our camp called church...but what if God wants us to go to them? The word camp implies that there is a wall that has been put between us...will we go to them so they can become part of the heavenly city?

What on earth does this look like?  There has to be some sort of quitting of the world.  How do we as Americans quit the world when we look just like it?  Clarke says we have to leave the city and the system and take refuge in Jesus alone. 

I am not telling you to quit church.  God calls us to be part of a community of believers.   What a joy to live in a country that can worship The Beautiful One freely and without fear of being hauled to a dark place of imprisonment!

But, what if we decided to forsake the privileges?  Moses did this!  Hebrews 11:24-27 says "By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharoah's daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.  He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.  By faith he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king, for he endured as seeing him who is invisible."

I think God spiritually cut down the gates of brass and the bars of iron of Pharaoh's house that held Moses from his God-given purpose.  He set him free.

What a sad life of not knowing the One True God...had Moses not left the gates and the privileged camp of royalty.

What if we can know Him, enjoy Him, and worship Him on a whole new level if we will simply go to Him? 

Outside the gates.

2 comments:

Kelli said...

You are speakin' to my heart.

Bugs and Sunshine said...

Me too Kelli! Thanks for sharing your Word from the Lord Becke'!