2. We are holy?

Meditations in Colossians: 2:  We are holy?

Col 1:2   To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse:

How often, I wonder, do we pass over words in the Bible and accept that we really don’t know what they mean? The word ‘holy’ comes up over 580 times in the Bible but what does it mean and what are its implications?  Paul writes to holy people at Colosse, so why are they holy? What does that mean? We’re going to have to do a study here rather than just ponder on the word.

Essentially holy means to be utterly different.  But how?  The first (and only) reference to the word ‘holy’ in Genesis is, God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Gen 2:3) i.e. he made it special and different which in that case meant a day of rest, a day without work.

But then we find in Exodus it is used over 30 times, the first one being at the place of the burning bush where the Lord tells Moses, “Do not come any closer. Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” (Ex 3:5) That is interesting because what we know of that was that God’s presence was being manifest there so He could talk to Moses, and something strange was happening – a bush was burning without being destroyed. The presence of God seemed to make that place holy and because of His presence almost anything could happen!

Later at Sinai, the Lord said to Moses, “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” (Ex 19:5,6)  Again the implication is at the least, a different and special people, but it is only when we get into Leviticus that we find, “I am the LORD your God; consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am holy,” (Lev 11:44) and we realise that holiness is a description of God and wherever He manifests Himself in our midst, that place is also holy.  This is repeated in Lev 19:2 and then a little later on is expanded: “Consecrate yourselves and be holy, because I am the LORD your God. Keep my decrees and follow them. I am the LORD, who makes you holy.” (Lev 20:7,8) and if we hadn’t got the message, “You are to be holy to me because I, the LORD, am holy, and I have set you apart from the nations to be my own.” (Lev 20:26) and then, “Consider them holy, because I the LORD am holy–I who make you holy.” (Lev 21:8)  This idea of making people, places or things holy is conveyed a number of times more in Leviticus especially.

But is not only the Lord Himself who conveys holiness, it is also His angelic representatives: “The commander of the LORD’s army replied, “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy.” And Joshua did so.”  (Josh 5:15) Later in the incident of the ark being returned from the Philistines, we find, “the men of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God?” (1 Sam 6:20) Now if it hadn’t come through very clearly before in the verses we looked at, at least, the sense comes through now that because He is holy, there is an ethical or moral dimension added that implies He is perfect morally and anyone who gets close to Him to should be the same, complying utterly with His Law or His will, His design for mankind.

Yet when we start looking at the character or nature of God we find that His ‘utterly different-ness’ is more than just moral perfection because Jesus taught, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect,” (Mt 5:48) and the word ‘perfect’ means complete or whole. God is complete and whole and lacks nothing. He is also love and He is also good (those are also attributes spoken of Him in the Scriptures). This is brought into New Testament teaching by the apostle Peter, “just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” (1 Pet 1:15)

Now let’s ponder on all this because of course we need also to remember that we are now those who are indwelt by the Holy Spirit. It is His presence within us that makes us utterly different and we find that we are being changed by Him into His likeness (2 Cor 3:18). Thus He seeks to work His wholeness into our lives, His love, His goodness, His ethical perfection. Put like this there is no room for dodgy dealings, bad language, questionable relationships or whatever else the rest of the world might be into.

But even as we noted with the burning bush incident, where the Lord’s presence is (and He is within us), then anything is possible!  Do we limit Him I wonder by our unbelief, by our not realizing or taking hold of these things? I AM holy. He DOES live within me. He IS changing me into His likeness. Anything IS possible with Him.  These things do not apply just to one or two very special people, the Mother Teresa type of people; this applies to all of us who call ourselves Christian. All the people who formed the church at Colosse were holy. All of your church are holy. If only we will realise it!

11. God of Initiative

Meditating on the Gems of the Bible:  11. God of Initiative

Ex 3:1-3  Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.”

There is always a danger with spiritual matters in thinking that we have to take the initiative and yet the Biblical testimony is that God is ALWAYS the one who takes the initiative.  He created the world to start with. He initiated a relationship with Adam and Eve, He reached out to a pagan called Abram and started off a long-term relationship. And then we come to the verses above where a failed prince of Egypt who has been looking after sheep for forty years comes across a burning bush that is not burning, and finds himself in a conversation with God that will mean life will never be the same again. What we see in those verses is the start of the revelation of the plan of God for the deliverance of His people from Egypt.

The day before I would guess that Moses had no thoughts for the life he had forty years ago, the memories had probably dulled. He is, after all, eighty years old, a time when most of us today would consider we ought to be in retirement. But God has His plans and they include using this man for another forty years.

That is the trouble with the will of God, it stretches out in ways beyond our dreams. We may have had ideas once upon a time of what we might like to become, but the ways of the world, the knocks of life got all that out of us, and so we opt for settling in a quiet lifestyle that upsets no one and allows me to drift on through life. But God looks down and sees a need and sees me and sees what He can do with me, and suddenly there is a burning bush, something that catches my attention and breaks into the hum drum of life. God has plans to do things with me. I would have considered them presumptuous but He simply sees the potential of His child that His child fails to see, and suddenly He creates a burning bush, and I pause and look.

Recently we considered the angel coming to Mary, the same angel that had recently come to Zechariah. Both were instances of God taking the initiative, of God moving His plans on, plans which include human beings. It will be thirty years before the next phase of His plan for salvation comes into being, but then He has waited over four hundred years for the time to be ripe for this phase to come. And so we start to realise that what appears to us as a unique taking-the-initiative is, in fact, just the next phase of a plan that had been thought out from before the foundation of the world – but each stage is brought on by God Himself when He sees the time is right.

So I wonder, perhaps, can I see this life as a plan being rolled out by God and somehow He has a part for me to play in it: For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Eph 2:10) The ‘good works’ that God has got for me are things He knows I can do with the gifts and enablings He gives me, and they are all part of that bigger long-term plan that He has on His heart.  Now if this is so then it changes me from being someone who either wonders if he is ‘good enough’ to be used by God, or berates himself for not doing enough, into someone who simply says, “Lord, show me what you want of me today, and if you need me to change to fit more fully your plans for my future, please show me what you want of me.”  May my response to what comes be the same as Mary’s,  “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said.” (Lk 1:38)

So what is happening when someone seems to be so burdened that they pray their heart out to bring about the will of God? Surely if God has it all mapped out already they don’t need to be interceding like that? Well that intercession is simply part of the process that God uses to bring about His purposes. Prayer is always a mystery but it seems that sometimes God waits upon our praying, as if our praying actually brings about changes in the heavenly realms. As we say, it is a mystery and so when we catch a sense of what ought to be and start praying for it, we suggest that it is God putting the burden on our heart. Without doubt He does seem to burden some people more than others to become intercessors and that to bring about His purposes, but even in that we suggest He takes the initiative.

What happens when someone moves to bring a word of prophecy or a word of knowledge or pray for healing? The are being prompted by the Holy Spirit – God is taking the initiative to intervene through what we now call gifts of the Spirit. ANY ministry should, we would hope, be a response to the prompting of the Holy Spirit and in each case it is God taking the initiative to bring about a change here on earth. Moses’ burning bush was just one classic example of what God does in a variety of ways again and again as He acts into our lives and works in cooperation with us – He initiates and we respond. Good isn’t it!

5. God of Signs

Lessons from Israel: No.5 : God of Signs

Ex 3:12 And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

My daughter, now happily married and mother of two, was confessing the other day how useless she is at navigating around the country in a car. The fact that she had a qualification in geography didn’t help her reading maps and so out of exasperation I eventually said, “Well you could at least just follow the signs.” The signposts on Britain’s road are generally good and all you need to do is follow the signs and you’ll get there but my daughter, like many, obviously doesn’t like following the signs. I think this must be her equivalent to the male ‘thing’ of not wanting to read the instructions on the flat pack until we are desperate! Why are we blind to signs?

Well the Bible has a lot to say about signs and Moses is being given a sign at the moment (perhaps not a very helpful one you may think but we’ll come to that later). Probably the classic ‘sign-demander’ in the Bible was Gideon (Judges 6:36-40) with the famous fleece incident. The amazing thing is that the Lord went along with it.

In the New Testament, the Gospel writer, John, referred to Jesus’ miracles as signs (see Jn 2:11,23, 3:2, 6:2, 26, 7:31, 9:16, 11:47, 12:37, 20:30). For him, you had to be blind not to realise who this was that was doing all these amazing things which were like signs pointing out who Jesus was. Now the interesting thing there, was that the things that Jesus did were ‘signs’ for those who had eyes to see, whose hearts were open to him. In fact Jesus chided them sometimes that it was only the miraculous that would get them to believe (i.e. they couldn’t believe the character or the teaching, they had to have the impossible done in front of them): “Unless you people see miraculous signs and wonders,” Jesus told him, “you will never believe.” (Jn 4:48)  Signs, therefore, as seen with Jesus, were miraculous things but which would only be seen as signs by those with hearts open to him.

On the day of Pentecost, the apostle Peter, under the inspiration of the Spirit, spoke of Joel’s prophecy, part of which had God declaring, “I will show wonders in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood and fire and billows of smoke,” (Acts 2:19) before the last day and the return of Jesus. In other words there will be catastrophes on earth which will be signposts to the days nearing an end (there are other signs given in the New Testament as well), and one might ask, do we have eyes to see the things that are happening in our day and do we see the truths that they are pointing to?

So let’s now look at what the Lord is saying to Moses. Remember, these are very early days in Moses’ relationship with the Lord. Moses hasn’t actually asked for a sign and so the Lord simply volunteers this information: this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” I think, in all honesty, if I had been Moses at that moment I would have been thinking, “Well excuse me Lord, but that is not very helpful. If you’re going to give me a sign could I have it as a means of reassurance before I go off and do what you want me to do? Signs come to show the way ahead, don’t they?”  Having been around for some time and having observed the prophetic gift working quite extensively, I have learnt that so often prophecy (like God is giving Moses) is considered by the Lord sufficient to encourage. “How will I know if this is the Lord?” sometimes comes the question. Well follow it and then when it’s happened you’ll know it was Him, is the reply.

If you’re struggling with this, stop and think about what is happening to Moses. He’s standing before a burning bush that isn’t being consumed and he’s clearly hearing a voice coming out of it that is clear, coherent and understandable. What more do you need to convince you that this is God? Aren’t these things sufficient in themselves? And when you read on you’re going to see the Lord show Moses how to perform the miraculous with his staff and then, when he starts out, everything he says to Pharaoh is going to be fulfilled as they go along. Won’t all these things be sufficient signposts?

Look back on your own life. Hasn’t the life transformation when you were born again been an incredible sign of God’s love for you? Consider the answers to prayer or the things that the Lord has done for you. Aren’t they sufficient signs of God’s love for you? When that prophetic word was brought to you, didn’t the Holy Spirit within you give you a ‘buzz’, didn’t it come with a sense of authority and blessing? Hey, if you’re still not sure, know that God loves you, understands your hesitancy and will probably speak it again if you’re still being slow.

This ‘sign of completion’, for that is what it will be, is just going to be a further bonus from the Lord and He’ll no doubt remind Moses of it when they get back to Sinai with all the people. But don’t think negatively about it. Really Moses has and is going to get so many signs along the way, that this is just the icing on the cake. If you want to pray, “Lord, open my eyes,” He’ll show you the incredible number of things He’s already done for you which, when you have eyes to see, will be more than enough! Go on, risk it, pray it!

2. God of History

Lessons from Israel: No.2 : God of History

Ex 3:5,6 5“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” 6Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.

These studies, we said in the first meditation, are to learn from God’s interactions with Israel, right back from the time when Moses first encountered the Lord. So here we are at the burning bush where the Lord attracts Moses and then starts to talk to him. It is at the beginning of the conversation that the Lord identifies Himself. If we have been Christians any length of time this is perhaps a familiar episode in the life of pre-Israel, and so maybe we take it rather for granted. But put yourself in Moses shoes. He is an Israelite refugee, who fled from his people forty years ago, has lived with a Midianite priest and his family and has probably lost all contact with the stories of his people. So who or what, he might legitimately think, have I got here? Whatever is going on? Am I hallucinating?

It is into this possible scenario that the Lord speaks. “Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Note for the record that the One speaking is simply referred to as ‘God’ here. That is about to change but for now the writer (whether Moses or some later scribe) simply identifies Him as ‘God’. The first thing Moses gets from God is a warning: “Take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Why take of his shoes? Presumably because the inference would be that his shoes would be dirty and nothing dirty should come into the zone of this burning bush. The inference must also surely be that if he defiled this holy ground he might not live! So the first real lesson that comes out from this interaction with God is that God is holy and we need to be careful how we approach Him.

Having given this initial warning we then come to the crucial part of God identifying Himself to Moses. Now He will do this in more detail in a few minutes, but for the moment He simply says, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” Immediately this puts the Lord in context. He is the One who has been revealed by His dealings with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He is the God who has history, personal history! There is content to this history. This is something most of us take for granted and think little about, but it is crucial. Our faith is not built on clever ideas; it is built on history, on what has happened, that involved God interacting with mankind. The Bible is full of history – history about God – as someone has put it, it is all about “His-story”.

When the Lord starts out with “I am the God of your father,” He reminds Moses of his ancestry.  He may be a wandering shepherd, but he’s also a Hebrew and the Hebrews had history that took them back to the land of Canaan. It was a history that started with Abraham: “I am… the God of Abraham.” It is probable that the stories about Abraham, that we find in Genesis 12 onwards, were conveyed down through the family, so God’s call on Abraham and the subsequent story about how God enabled them to have Isaac, would be known by Moses, as would God’s helping Isaac to have twins, and of His subsequent dealings with Jacob (“I am….. the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”)  It is all this knowledge that produces the reaction that we find in Moses:At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.”

So why was that? Well stop and think about it. You have heard the stories throughout your childhood about this ‘God’ who wasn’t just ‘out there’ but who came and invaded your private space and who said and did things that changed the course of your life. It’s one thing to hear about it in childhood, but it’s another thing to find that He is real and He’s here!

I believe that the more we read and study the historical accounts of God’s dealings with Israel, the more we will come to see His reality and the more we will come to see His ‘other-ness’, His holiness. There is no one like Him. He is unique; He is almighty God, creator and sustainer of the universe and He can speak into and change His world as and when He wants to. As long as He seems to stay ‘out there’ we can cope with that (and this applies to many Christians today as well) but once He seems to come near and make His presence known, that gets a bit scary – and understandably so!

Jesus’ disciples had this same experience once or twice. Much of the time they seemed to be able to cope with him – until he did something that took him onto another realm. Peter was scared out of his life in his boat when Jesus produced a massive shoal of fish and we read, “Simon Peter saw this, he fell at Jesus’ knees and said, “Go away from me, Lord; I am a sinful man!” (Lk 5:8). Later, when Jesus calmed a storm at sea, “In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.” (Lk 8:25). Yes, this is the God, (THE only God) who has history, who we can read about in His book, but who still lives today and delights in coming and making His presence felt. Expect Him!

1. God of Initiative

Lessons from Israel: No.1 : God who Takes the Initiative

Ex 3:1-4   Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush. Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. 3So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.” 4When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” And Moses said, “Here I am.”

The purpose of this new series is to examine the life and activities of the nation of Israel as they related to God and see what we can learn about God and about ourselves. Our starting point is, in fact, before they were constituted a nation and we go right back to the time of their slavery in Egypt and will watch them being delivered and then escorted to Sinai and then on into nationhood.

Our story starts with Moses who, for forty years has been a shepherd in the wilderness. They aren’t even his sheep because he was, “tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian.” Moses had once been a prince in Egypt but now he was a nobody, looking after someone else’s sheep with no hope for any change in the future. If you look at a map you will see Midian is located to the east of the stretch of water that separates off the Sinai peninsular. It is a very long way from Egypt and a long way from anywhere. More than that, “he led the flock to the far side of the desert and came to Horeb, the mountain of God,” and Horeb, it is thought, is another name for Sinai, which means he was now right on the other side of that water. He’s about as far from anyone as he can be. This is not the most hospitable of places on the earth. This is the last place you would expect anything special to happen, but how wrong can you be!

It is at this point that the turning point of Moses’ life came, although he was not yet aware of it for, “There the angel of the LORD appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.” Now when God sends an angel it doesn’t always mean that he is seen in physical form and when the angel speaks it is as if God speaks and so often the two are referred to interchangeably, so all Moses sees  are flames of fire. Yet there was something strange about what he saw because normally where there are flames they burn up whatever it is that is burning, yet we read, “Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up.” That naturally brought a reaction in Moses: “So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight–why the bush does not burn up.” If that wasn’t spooky enough, it now really gets spooky: “When the LORD saw that he had gone over to look, God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!” Suddenly there is a talking bush, and what makes it worse this bush knows who he is! I suspect Moses was somewhat flabbergasted at this point, “And Moses said, “Here I am.” We have just heard Moses’ first words to God, and there are going to be plenty more of them before we finish the whole story as we progress through these mediations.

Now there is something so obvious about all that we have just noted that many of us miss it, but it is a crucial point in Scripture. Very simply it is that God is an initiator. The history of Israel – and indeed of the Church – begins with God. The existence of both has a little to do with man and much to do with God. Wherever anything significant happens in the Bible, it is because God has taken the initiative and God has acted.

The whole of Creation (Gen 1 & 2) is all about God acting and bringing everything into being. In Genesis 12 the story of Abraham starts with God’s call to Abraham. Getting the family of Jacob (Israel) to safety in Egypt, starts with God speaking prophetically to Joseph (Gen 37). Now, hundreds of years later, God takes the initiative with Moses to have Israel delivered out of Egypt. But it’s not merely to take them out of Egypt; it is also to take them in to the Promised Land of Canaan.

When we come to the New Testament, hundreds of years had passed since God last spoke from heaven, as He waited for just the right time to send His Son, but when the time was right, Jesus came. God initiated the plan of salvation. After Jesus returned to heaven, there were days of silence until the day of Pentecost arrived and God poured out His Spirit and the Church was created. Again and again, things happen because God initiated them. Christianity exists because God clearly took the initiative and brought it about. Yes, He used humans, but the real cause of transformed lives was because HE moved. Throughout the history of the Church there have been times that we call times of revival. These are simply times when God takes the initiative and moves powerfully on His Church and upon people and many are saved.

Do you remember what Paul said to the Philippians? “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Phil 1:6) Yes, they were the work of God. HE had begun it, HE had brought them salvation and HE was now working in their lives. When we read the Bible, see the hopeless state of mankind again and again, and then see God taking the initiative to bring salvation. We’ve just seen it with Moses, and we see it in the Church and in our own lives. Praise and worship Him!

19. A Sign


19. A Sign for You?

Luke 2:12-14 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, “Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favour rests.”

There is a desire in most of us that says, “Show me, give me a sign.” We feel sufficiently insecure that we desire to be able to see, to have our way ahead lit by a sign that says, this way, it’s all right. The strange thing though, when we come to the Bible, is that God isn’t very good with signs. The shepherds were offered a sign: a baby in a manger – but that meant they had to go down to the town first to find the sign: act then get the sign.

We come to God asking for clarity, light on the path ahead, and He tells us that we are to live by faith not by sight (2 Cor 5:7). Faith in the Bible is responding to what God says, so our light is His word and that becomes a lamp to our feet (Psa 119:105), that’s why we need to read it more and more. We’re also called to be led by His Spirit (Gal 5:16,25) which again is something that happens within us, not through our eyes.

When Moses was talking with God at the burning bush, the Lord gave him a sign to prove He was with him – the promise that when he had led Israel out of Egypt, they would worship at this mountain (Sinai). In others words, when you’ve done it you’ll know it was me with you! When God speaks words of prophecy it is so often like that: He says it, you look for it, but don’t find it, He then does it and you look back and realize that it was Him. So often, it seems, God’s ‘signs’ require us to move first.

John in his Gospel speaks of the miracles that Jesus did as ‘signs’ (Jn 2:11, 4:54 etc.), but of course they were only recognized as such by those whose hearts were open and seeking. Others simply criticized and asked for more ‘signs’ (e.g. Jn 2:18). It seems again and again the Lord wants us to respond to what He says and then, and only then, it becomes clear. It’s when we step forward trusting, that a voice comes from behind us saying, “This is the way walk in it” (Isa 30:21). So if you’re looking for a sign from God, in His graciousness He may just give you one (e.g. to Gideon – Judges 6:36-40), but more often than not, He waits for you to act in faith before the sign comes.

So the angel tells them about the baby who will be God’s Chosen One, the Christ or Messiah (v.11). The fact that he’s there, as I said, will be sufficient for you to believe what I’ve said is true, is what the angel is saying. When you look, you will find – but you need to look first. That’s how it works with God – then and now!

Then it’s as if heaven couldn’t contain itself for suddenly there is a great company – very many – angels, all singing of God’s greatness. The Christmas story is littered with angelic appearances. It’s as if heaven is coming to earth to accompany the coming of the Son. Of course it wasn’t until much later that Jesus himself spoke about how he had always existed and had come down to earth from heaven (Jn 6:33,38,41,51,58). The glory that had been in heaven, now somehow compressed, was now on the earth (Phil 2:6-8). The presence of the singing angels is not the incredible thing; it’s the presence of the very Son of God who is the incredible thing, God on earth. This presence on earth of the Son was evidence of the wonder (glory) of God’s plans for mankind, peace that will be brought between God and man, through this Son. The angels are singing of the wonder that is possible for you and me – peace with God!

Another Walk to See


(We now pick up and continue this previous series about ‘Walking with God’)

1 Kings 10:1 When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the LORD , she came to test him with hard questions.

OK, the Queen of Sheba almost certainly would not have walked to see Solomon, but I want to include her journey to see Solomon in these stories that can be used as analogies about walking with God. When Solomon had a dream and the Lord promised him wisdom, we find that God’s promise was even bigger than ‘just wisdom’, “I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for–both riches and honor–so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings.(1 Kings 3:12 ,13). Time has moved on and that promise has been fulfilled. Indeed the description of him said, “King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift–articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.(1 Kings 10:23 -25). It was for this reason that the Queen of Sheba came. She had heard of his wisdom and wanted to come and test him. He exceeded her expectations: “Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard.(v.7). In a nutshell, the blessing of God on Solomon, His decree of goodness, was such that Solomon stood out in the earth, so much so that this Queen heard about him and wanted to come and check it out for herself.

This reminds us of the burning bush in the wilderness that Moses went over to see. That was something that stood out and required investigation. Solomon stood out and stirred kings and queens to come and investigate. The response of the Queen is obvious: “Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD ‘s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness.” (v.9) She acknowledged that this was a work of God. There was no other way to explain it.

It may not be quite the same, but we see a similar level of blessing on Abraham’s life so that king Abimelech could declare, “God is with you in everything you do. Now swear to me here before God that you will not deal falsely with me or my children or my descendants. Show to me and the country where you are living as an alien the same kindness I have shown to you.” (Gen 21:22,23). That king recognized God’s blessing on Abraham and asked him to enter into a peace treaty. An individual man making treaties with kings??? If you look at the way that Pharaoh of Egypt welcomed old Israel (Jacob) and was blessed by him (Gen 47:7-10), you realize how God had blessed him similarly. But then there was Daniel who came to be known as a mouthpiece for God (e.g. Dan 2:46-48). These are all instances of men who walked with God and whom God blessed in such a measure that they stood out so that the world came to them.

When we come to the New Testament we find Jesus telling his disciples, “let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.(Mt 5:16). Now this is not quite a promise of blessing that brings affluence and the attraction of the world, but there is an implied suggestion that we can shine in such a way that people will be blessed and as a result of that blessing they will praise God. What happens when people are blessed? They feel good and they tell others who then come to see and find out and get blessed. Jesus is the perfect example of that. The Samaritan woman was blessed by the way he treated her and she went and told all her friends who came out to see for themselves. (Jn 4:28,29,39-41).

Somebody wrote, “Part of the reason for Christianity’s rapid spread, historians have remarked, was simply that the early Christians were such nice people. The very kindness of the Christians and their service to the poor and downtrodden attracted new adherents.” The rigid, cold orthodox Christianity that many in the West know doesn’t do that. Dare we believe and experience a new form of Christianity that is more Christ-like that attracts people by its love and its joy? Dare we believe that the world will be attracted when we allow God to lead us to the needy of the world, from whatever class or group, and shower them with God’s love and goodness? If we can, then there will be many more people who will beat a path to our door on this walk of investigation. May it be so!

Walk of Investigation


Exo 3:3 Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight.”

This would appear to be a short walk but perhaps one of the most significant in history! In the Star Trek films there is one entitled, “First Contact”. Of course it is sci-fi but the idea was a story around the first time the human race truly encountered alien life forms from outer space. The film, “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” culminates in a similar encounter.

As always, to catch the significance of any verse we have to see the context. Moses is a Hebrew who has been brought up as an Egyptian Prince in the Pharaoh’s court. When he was forty, Moses went out into the land and observed that the Hebrews were slaves, and when he stepped in to help one of them, who was being beaten by an Egyptian overseer, he inadvertently killed the Egyptian. The word of this action got out and he had to flee Egypt to the land of Midian where, for the next forty years, he became a shepherd, tending his new father-in-law’s sheep. Wandering far and wide with the flock, Moses arrives at the mountain of Horeb, otherwise known as Sinai.

Now remember that Moses is a classical example of a failure, a man who threw away his inheritance in Pharaoh’s court and ended up as a lowly shepherd. He is now eighty years old and has no future. He has no prophecy over his life; he only has the memory of a major failure. To make it worse, his people, the Hebrew people, are still slaves in Egypt and he is powerless to do anything about it, even if he wanted to. Quite probably he has written off trying to help his people as a nice idea that was just founded in misplaced enthusiasm.

So here we find this failure, tending to sheep in the desert, when suddenly he espies a bush that appears to be burning but without being destroyed. Now this is the critical moment for the future of Israel. What will he do? Will he just say, “Oh that’s interesting” and move on, or will he go over to the bush and take a closer look?

What is strange about this story is why God had to speak out of a bush. Why couldn’t He have just spoken out of thin air? Perhaps it is that God wants to start introducing Moses to the concept of the miraculous, for that is going to play a major part in his future.

Moses sees the bush. Is he going to take the short walk of investigation over to it and seal his destiny? Yes! Once there, God speaks to him from out of the bush, and then starts one of the most amazing conversations with God that is recorded in the Bible. The outcome we know – God sends Moses to Pharaoh and uses him to deliver Israel out of Egypt. The Exodus follows.

Now we could speculate as to what might have happened if Moses hadn’t have walked over to the bush, but the fact is, he did! In the meditation about Joseph we made some brief comments about prophecy. What I have observed over the years is that the Lord uses a whole variety of ways to catch out attention. It is almost as if He wants us to stop what we’re doing and see what He’s doing, and then hear what He wants to say.

Very often these ‘interruptions’ are not miraculous (although sometimes they are!). Often these ‘interruptions’ are simply crises in life – an illness, an accident, being made redundant, and so on. At such times you can ignore the event or moan about it, but the wise person pauses up and asks the Lord if He wants to use this time to speak.

Prophetic people, particularly, are triggered by normal, natural events – consider Jeremiah in the Potter’s house (Jer 18), but God can catch our attention, the attention of all of us who call ourselves His children, by a whole variety of ways. Why does He like to do this? Perhaps because He knows we’ve given up inside because of past bad experiences, or perhaps He just sees that some of us are too busy, so He comes along and does something that pulls us up and makes us ‘walk over’ and have another look. Has anything like that been happening to you? Walk on over and have a closer look. It could be God wants to speak words of destiny to you!