17. Appreciating Values

‘Appreciation’ Meditations No.17: Appreciating Values

Psa 119:37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word”

So to recap: we have been appreciating the word of God, how it is God-given, God-inspired, how it can change us for the good, and how it can show us God’s ways, how He works, but may I for a moment make a general sweep with some general comments about it.

I come on comments about the modern biblically-illiterate church but have seen afresh the shear wonder and value of this book, the Bible, which tells us so much about God. I’ve seen again the communicating God – warning Cain (Gen 4:6,7), fellowshipping with Enoch (Gen 5:22,24), instructing Noah (Gen 6:13-21), calling Abram out (Gen 12:1), interrupting Jacob’s sleep (Gen 28:12-), giving Joseph dreams (Gen 37:5-) and that’s just the first book! Our God loves to communicate.

I’ve also seen how God interacts with us foolish human beings and instead of destroying us, works to change and bless us. Cain with his jealousy (Gen 4), Abram taking the cowardly path with Pharaoh (Gen 12), blind old Isaac and conniving Rebekah (Gen 27), tricky Jacob (Jacob Gen 27) an unwise father (Gen 37:3,4), spoilt brat Joseph (Gen 37), do-gooder Moses (Ex 2:11,12), careless father Samuel (1 Sam 8:1-5), religious manipulator Saul (1 Sam 13:7-9), adulterer and careless father David (2 Sam 11,13-15), and so on! This isn’t to say they were disasters for some of them even appear in the ‘Gallery of Faith’ in Heb 11. Perhaps this previous list should be called the ‘Gallery of those with feet of clay’ and of course that would include every one of us!

But does this catalogue of bumbling-faith-people mean that God doesn’t care about what we do? Most definitely He does. In the Old Testament we find Him giving Israel the Law through Moses, a series of ‘do this’ or ‘don’t do that’ instructions. We should understand that these are not God’s original-design mandate, but His mandate for that group of fallen people, a people called into existence to reveal Him, and to manage their fallen, imperfect lives. The Law sought to hedge them off from doing wrong, for example the Ten Commandments (Ex 20) but also ‘contingency plans’ for how to deal with life when it ‘goes wrong’ e.g. murder versus manslaughter (Ex 21:12-14), violent quarrels (21:18,19), what we today call ‘strict liability (21:28-36) etc. In other words, God has standards, ways of working to sort us out in this fallen world. Jethro counselled Moses how to teach this (Ex 18:20) and the priesthood was instructed to do this (Lev 10:8-11). The word ‘teach’ appears some 360 times in the Bible and so we need to appreciate the fact that, in both Old and New Testament, these values were made clear, Old often only for Israel, but New definitely for us. 

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