Monday, March 10, 2014

R.E.A.L. Women Devotional - Silver and Gold

The phrase “silver and gold” often makes me think of a song sung by Beryl Ives in one of those Christmas clay-mation movies.  But instead, this phrase was something I read in Exodus about God telling Moses to tell the Israelites to go and ask the Egyptians for clothing and articles of gold and silver (Exodus 11:1-3).  God was going to strike the Egyptians one more time with a plague and after that Pharaoh would let them go. Exodus 12:35 & 36 says And the people of Israel did as Moses had instructed; they asked the Egyptians for clothing and articles of silver and gold. 36 The Lord caused the Egyptians to look favorably on the Israelites, and they gave the Israelites whatever they asked for. So they stripped the Egyptians of their wealth!” (NLT)

I’ve always heard that the Israelites left Egypt wealthy and had everything they needed for their journey.  I’ve wondered about some of the items they received from the Egyptians, silver and gold.  What would they need with silver and gold in the desert? Maybe the silver and gold could be used when they reached the Promised Land to buy and sell with.

I began reading and looking at the scripture in more detail and it was soon after they reached the wilderness and Moses was up on Mount Sinai getting the Covenant or Law that they used that wealth to build a golden calf (Exodus 32:1-7).  What I really find interesting is that Aaron told them to remove their "gold earrings." Imagine how many earrings were piled up? What caught my attention was that it was gold earrings, not "jewelry." I realized that the gold earrings had been what marked their slavery in Egypt.  In ancient times, slaves were marked by a ring in their ear or nose. In their ignorance, they must have thought they were doing something good. 

When Moses returned with the law, the first two commandments had had already been broken, no other gods or images. The people may be broken the law, but Moses was so angry he literally broke the law.  God was angry and wanted to destroy this stiff-necked people, but Moses pleaded with God not to destroy them.  In Moses anger with them, he in turn melted the gold down into dust and had them pour it into the water and drink it.  I know God must have been angry that they made an idol out of it to worship, but they didn’t yet know about the law that Moses had been working on with God.  So to some degree they were ignorant.  Yet, I wonder if God was angered because that gold was for something else.  Kind of like when He blesses us financially and we spend it on our own pleasures before we give Him his portion. With God it’s all about sharing.

As I read on, I realized that God had them get these precious minerals for the building of the tabernacle. In Exodus 25 God gives instructions on what to use to build the Ark of the Covenant which is where the Law would be kept and the tabernacle that would hold the Ark and for His presence to dwell.  It was important for God to be able to come down and dwell among the children of Israel.  I’ve heard that gold represents “diety” in the Bible.  God being the great I AM would require a dwelling place that represented who He is.

After reading about all this silver and gold, I was reminded of Peter and John going to the temple and meeting the lame man there. Interesting that it was at the temple (formerly the tabernacle) where this event happened right after the Holy Spirit had come to them in the Upper Room.  Acts 3:6-10 says “Then Peter said, “Silver or gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk.” Taking him by the right hand, he helped him up, and instantly the man’s feet and ankles became strong. He jumped to his feet and began to walk. Then he went with them into the temple courts, walking and jumping, and praising God. When all the people saw him walking and praising God, 10 they recognized him as the same man who used to sit begging at the temple gate called Beautiful, and they were filled with wonder and amazement at what had happened to him.” 

These two stories, I think are divinely connected.  Under the Old Covenant, God was restricted to live in a building that He instructed man to build for His presence to dwell.  And even then, only the Priests were allowed to even go into the tabernacle and temple.  God needed the silver and gold to physically show them who He was and to give Him a dwelling place.  But after Jesus died and rose again, God was no longer bound to a building, but instead released to dwell in man.  Because of that no longer was silver and gold a necessity.  God’s spirit was now able to dwell in man and there was no longer a need for the temple.  Instead we are the temple (2 Corinthians 6:16 & 19 ). Interesting that the first act that Peter and John did after receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, they demonstrated God’s power in them by healing a lame man.  They were now living under the New Covenant which Jesus bought and paid for with his own blood that every one of us has the opportunity to receive. A gift of eternal life which more precious that silver and gold.

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