Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Shared Meal

A couple weekends ago, my mother-in-law and I attended a wedding of a family friend. While the ceremony, itself, was sparsely decorated with a simple arch and a few pre-lit candelabras, the reception hall was quite extravagant. I can't even begin to guess how many man hours went into creating the decorations and cooking all that food.

In the middle of the hall was an open-air arbor that stretched the length of a table large enough to seat the entire wedding party. Solid white lanterns of every shape hung in rows from the innermost wall. But most impressive were the four life-sized store-fronts positioned around the room, representing various eateries. Each was three-dimensional, hand-crafted of wood, and complete with signs, faux windows, flowers, lanterns, awnings, and other decorations one would expect at such an establishment.

In front of these buildings labelled "Sweet Shop" and "House of Good Fortune" were several tables literally overflowing with a broad selection of food found at that type eatery. In short, it was a sumptuous feast.

The ceremony, itself, witnessing two persons entering into a solemn marriage covenant--this was the reason I attended. Yet, as I've been learning, the celebration of that covenant, the marking of the occasion with some symbol of remembrance, seems to be just as important as the covenant, itself.

Over the past month, this space has looked into covenant in Scripture and how the trappings of the Old Covenant point us directly to the New Covenant in Christ Jesus. Old Testament covenants are all marked by some symbol to serve as a reminder. Two of the most memorable signs of covenant are the rainbow God put in the sky for Noah and Johnathan's gift to David of a robe and other gifts for battle.

One other interesting way to mark a covenant was through sitting down with one's covenant partner and sharing a meal together. Scripture shows this many times.

First was a covenant between Isaac and Abimelech of Gerar, these two coming nations making peace after much fighting over who owned a certain well dug in the desert. Scripture says, "he made them a feast, and they ate and drank. In the morning they arose early and exchanged oaths; then Isaac sent them away and they departed from him in peace" (Gen. 26:30-31). In this instance, the meal preceded the covenant.

A few chapters later, Jacob and his father in law, Laban, are parting ways. The two men covenant together, Laban promising not to not trespass into Jacob's land and Jacob promising to take care of his wives, Rachel and Leah, Laban's daughters. To mark this covenant, the men erected a pillar of stones, "Then Jacob offered a sacrifice on the mountain, and called his kinsmen to the meal; and they ate the meal" (Gen. 31:54). Blood marked the covenant. Then, there was the meal.

We have already looked into David's keeping of a covenant made with Jonathan, one which required him to take care of Jonathan's descendants in the event of his death. Moments after meeting that one remaining descendant, Mephibosheth, David marks the event with talk of a meal, eating together in remembrance of covenant: "and you shall eat at my table regularly...So Mephibosheth ate at David's table as one of the king's sons" (2 Sam. 9:7,11).

And finally, after the Israelites promised to obey God's Ten Commandments, Moses sprinkled them with the blood of sacrifice as they entered into covenant with God, Himself. Then, there was yet another feast: "Then Moses went up with Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel...and they saw God, and they ate and drank" (Ex. 24:9-11).

A meal shared together was and is important. It emphasizes the unity, the brotherhood shared between the covenant-partners . It also serves as a reminder.

Consider the Last Supper in light of this understanding of the Old Covenant.

The night before our Savior was crucified, He, too, shared a meal with his disciples. Much like the covenant between Isaac and Abimelech where the meal preceded the actual oath-taking of covenant rather than coming after, at the Last Supper, Christ shares the meal before offering His own life's blood as the sacrifice required for covenant.

Paul tells of this meal: "and when He had given thanks [for the bread,] He broke it and said, 'This is My body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of Me.' In the same way He took the cup also after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in My blood; do this as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until He comes" (1 Cor. 11:24-26).

Partaking of the Lord's Supper "proclaims," publishes, declares, makes known Christ's death, His sacrifice, His making of a New Covenant of faith with the one who partakes of the meal with Him. And yet, Scripture warns against taking this meal lightly, implying some have died for doing so: "Therefore whoever eats the bread and drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord" (v. 27).

Growing up, I never understood this passage. Yet, in coming to understand how God views covenants--between us and Him or between each other--this makes so much more sense. In God's eyes, entering into covenant of any kind is serious.

Why would we expect the partaking of the shared meal that accompanies such a covenant to be any less so?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Preparing for Battle With A Shared Enemy

A child of the Cold War era, I watched many a movie where the bad guys were either Soviet spies or German Nazis. My childhood was pasted with images of my father turning the dial on the television to the nightly news programs, loud male voices speaking of the nuclear buildup threat in Communist Soviet Union. Back then, the word "Communist" incited fear, much like the word "terrorist" does today. There were Communists hiding under every stone--maybe your neighbors, maybe your family, maybe even you.

Growing up around my father's stories and pictures from his tour in Vietnam, I knew the fear, but I didn't fully understand the concept of a "cold" war until the temperature had already started to rise between our two countries. All I knew of Russia were images from my history books of drab, poor-looking people in Eskimo hats and fur-lined, ankle-length coats along with a brochure-style image of the Kremlin with its ice cream-swirled turrets that appeared to have been taken straight out of the original Charlie and the Chocolate Factory movie.

I remember taking the globe in my hands, staring at a wide, shapeless chunk with the letters U.S.S.R. evenly spaced across it. I could imagine only emptiness in such a large country, endless, barren plains of snow and ice, all completely on the other side of the globe I spun in circles.

Then suddenly, this faceless war had a face in a balding, middle-aged Soviet leader, Mikhail Gorbachev. All four television channels showed the same things--images of President Reagan shaking this Communist's hands, images of him smiling at the enemy, and then the oft repeated soundbite, "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!"

With the signing of a treaty, a covenant, victory and peace were achieved. Russia's enemies became our enemies. And the wall did come down.

In this space, we've been discussing covenant--how God views covenants made in His name and memorial signs that serve as reminders of covenant.

One such covenant was between King Saul's son Jonathan and David. Scripture says, "the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt" (1 Sam. 18:1b, 3-4).

Each of these five gifts symbolically foreshadows its ultimate fulfillment in the new covenant made through Christ Jesus. Last week, we looked into the significance of the robe. The remaining four gifts--armor, sword, bow, and belt--all fall into one category...making David battle-ready.

When the two men entered into covenant, Jonathan's enemies became David's enemies, and David's enemies became Jonathan's. Each was to protect his covenant partner from his enemies, something that would prove difficult for Jonathan a short while later when his father, Saul, determined to kill David (but that's a story for next week).

As descendants of Abraham, though, both men had a common enemy--the Philistines. Jonathan's gifts served to equip David for the battles that would surely come.

Consider this armor in light of the New Testament, the new covenant in Christ Jesus.

Initially, we are God's enemy. Satan is described as the "ruler of the kingdom of the air"(Eph 2:2). 1 John says, "the whole world is under the control of the evil one" (5:19). Thus, "anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God" (Jas. 4:4).

However, if a person is redeemed through the blood of the Lamb, that person enters into covenant with God. Christ's robes of righteousness cover him. Then, his enemies become Christ's enemies and Christ's enemies become his.

Much like David and Jonathan shared an enemy, Jesus Christ and all Christians have a common enemy--Satan. Peter minces no words when describing this shared enemy: "Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Pet. 5:8).

Additionally, our covenant partner, Jesus Christ, makes us Christians battle-ready just as did Jonathan with David. Paul tells Christians to "Put on the full armor of God, so that you will be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil...take up the full armor of God, so that you will be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything to stand firm" (Eph. 6:11,13).

Here, the "full armor" is explicitly given to us as covenant partners for one purpose--our battle against Satan and his "spiritual forces of wickedness" (v. 12). Christ is literally equipping us for the battle at hand.

Paul then proceeds to describe what this armor entails: "Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God" (Eph. 6:14-16).

Christ gives us a belt--truth. He gives us a sword, and not a dull one either: "the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Heb. 4:12).

But what about the bow? Flaming arrows are mentioned here, but they're being shot at Christians by the evil one; yes, we are given a "shield of faith" to stop those arrows, but no bow of our own to retaliate.

Unlike Jonathan who gave David two offensive weapons, Christ gives us Christians only one--the Word of God. The reason cannot be unintentional. I believe Scripture is saying God's Word is all-sufficient, the only offensive weapon we need in our battle against Satan.

The order of the gifts cannot be unintentional either. Such battle-readiness only occurs after we are robed in His righteousness. One cannot be empowered and battle-ready without first "putting on" Christ (the robe).

Know that if you have put on Christ, you have also been made ready for the battle before you. But access to the armor, the belt of truth, the sword of God's word doesn't mean use.

If we only had eyes to see, we'd be shocked at the invisible battle being waged all around us every second of every day. Standing firm in the midst requires us to wear all our armor, not leave one piece gathering dust in the back of a closet.

Photo: Husband in front of piece of Berlin Wall located at the Montreal World Trade Center.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Makings of a Covenant: The Robe

Although it seems like another lifetime ago, I remember the advent of reality television, when shows like American Choppers or The Bachelor were the exception rather than the rule. As a people-watcher by nature, I was captivated by the first four seasons of Survivor, which presented a snapshot of society's inner workings, albeit in its own hyper-edited way. Even though the two tribes were stripped down to bare necessities, the same dynamics of civilized society existed, showing who people really are when no one is looking (or everyone, in this case).

The concept of tribal alliances was the most interesting, how often those playing the game would give their word to one alliance only to walk behind a shrub in the next clip and whisper an alliance with yet another group of people, one cancelling the other for personal gain.

In one of the finale episodes, one of the women said, "I was just playing the game." Sure--just a game.

How many times have I heard that same concept in another personal or professional context? "It's just business." Such a concept sounds nice, an easier way to swallow a morally unsound action that sticks like a fish bone in our throat because in another context, we would readily agree it doesn't fit well with what Christians believe.

In the B.C. world of the Old Testament, men and women understood what it meant to give their word, to make an oath with another. Although, like us, their actions didn't always reflect adherence to this understanding, ancient societies revolved around the concept of covenant.

Covenant--a solemn, binding agreement--was enforceable irrespective of the passage of time, beyond death in some instances. Even if man didn't enforce a covenant made in God's name, God would serve as that Sovereign covenant administrator.

Throughout the Old Testament, examples abound of covenants. Many were marked by the sacrificing of animals, blood being key to a covenant. Reminders accompanied most as well, such as the placing of rocks, changing of names, planting of trees, giving of gifts. One was marked by a rainbow.

Probably one of the most well-known covenants existed between King Saul's son Jonathan and David. Scripture says, "the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as himself. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David because he loved him as himself. Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, with his armor, including his sword and his bow and his belt" (1 Sam. 18:1b, 3-4).

The foundation for this covenant was love. The physical reminders of the covenant included (1) a robe, (2) armor, (3) sword, (4) bow, and (5) belt.

Over the next few weeks, I want to camp on this covenant, exploring these five gifts as symbols that foreshadow their ultimate fulfillment in the new covenant made through Christ Jesus' sacrifice on the cross.

Through these symbols of David's covenant with the son of a king, one can see how much Christians truly gain by entering into the new covenant with the Almighty King...a covenant also established because of Christ's love for us.

Imagine Jonathan standing before David offering these gifts of covenant. David would have taken off his robe, the robe of a shepherd, one likely well-worn and pungent, perhaps even torn by jagged rocks on the hillside where he pastured his father's sheep or stained with the blood of wild animals he had slain to defend the flock. This was not a robe to be worn by a king or a prince.

Jonathan's robe, on the other hand, would have reflected his regal status, been made of finer materials, unmarked by signs of manual labor. With this robe hanging from David's shoulders, everyone would know he was a friend of the King's son, that to make an enemy of David was to make an enemy of royalty.

Fast forward to The New Testament where Scripture refers to Christians as "servants of a new covenant," a better covenant entered into by the blood of the once-for-all-time sacrifice of the Lamb of God, Jesus Christ, who serves as "mediator of a new covenant" so that those who believe in Him will "receive the promise of an eternal inheritance" (2 Cor. 3:6; Heb. 9:15).

When one enters into this new covenant with God, he takes off his old self to "put on" Jesus Christ Himself: "For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ" (Gal. 3:27).

Several times, the apostle Paul exhorts his readers using this symbolic language, reminding the believers to "lay aside" their old robes of flesh and "put on" the new robes of Christ.

To the Romans, he writes, " Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light....But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh" (Rom. 13:12-14).

To the Colossians, he says, "But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him" (Col. 3:8-10, my italics).

And to the Ephesians, he says, "lay aside the old self, which is being corrupted in accordance with the lusts of deceit, and that you be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and put on the new self, which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth" (Eph. 4:22-24).

Just imagine! If you are a believer in Christ Jesus, you wear the robe of a King! Christ clothes you, enrobes you, with His righteousness and salvation.

What's more, when we as Christians lay aside our old flesh and put on the person of Christ, the whole world should be able to tell. There can be no secret robe-wearing of righteousness.

To wear the robe of Christ as part of our entering into covenant with Him--it is cause for rejoicing, as did the prophet Isaiah.

"I will rejoice greatly in the LORD,
My soul will exult in my God;
For He has clothed me with garments of salvation,
He has wrapped me with a robe of righteousness" (Is. 61:10).

Photo: "Clothed in Christ" by Tom DuBois

Sunday, July 10, 2011

A Solemn, Binding Agreement

Contracts can't happen unless there is a meeting of the minds.

I've heard this statement repeated time and again on my daily in-flight treadmill exercise entertainment-The People's Court. Between this show, typing up briefs for husband during law school, and listening to him discuss issues with other friends still in the legal profession, I know just about enough to be dangerous when it comes to the law.

As I read through 2 Samuel this week, though, I learned the loopholes man's law allows for escaping a binding agreement aren't always allowed for God's people, especially when it comes to contracts, agreements, oaths--covenants.

2 Samuel 21 tells of a "famine in the days of David for three years, year after year" (v. 1a). The nation of Israel was obviously being punished; yet, the reason was unknown. So, "David sought the presence of the LORD. And the LORD said, “It is for Saul and his bloody house, because he put the Gibeonites to death'" (v. 1b).

For this story of the Gibeonites, David likely had to go back into the archives--back to before Israel's first king, Saul, to before a long line of judges back when Joshua was put in charge shortly after Moses' death.

At that time, the Gibeonites occupied part of the land God had given to Israel and was included in the divine command to drive out all the inhabitants of the land of Canaan. Knowing this, it would have seemed Saul's putting them to death several generations later by (finally) following God's initial command would be a good thing, not something worthy of God's judgment.

Yet, while following God's command might seem proper, it wasn't...because of a man-made covenant, one that would definitely be struck down in today's courts.

Scripture says when the Gibeonites heard how Joshua had flattened the mighty walls of Jericho and conquered the city of Ai, they "acted craftily and set out as envoys, and took worn-out sacks on their donkeys, and wineskins worn-out and torn and mended, and worn-out and patched sandals on their feet, and worn-out clothes on themselves; and all the bread of their provision was dry and had become crumbled" (Joshua 9:3-5).

Pretending to be envoys who had traveled from a "far-away country," they came and asked Joshua to "make a covenant with us” (v. 6). The Israelites were initially suspicious, asking if these envoys were actually living within their land. At this point, the Gibeonites flat out lied, saying, "'Your servants have come from a very far country because of the fame of the LORD your God" (v. 9).

Foolishly, Israel's leaders "did not ask for the counsel of the LORD. Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live; and the leaders of the congregation swore an oath to them" (v. 14-15). A few verses later when it became clear the Gibeonites did live on Israel's land, the people were angered enough to kill them, but the leaders spoke, saying, "We have sworn to them by the LORD, the God of Israel, and now we cannot touch them. This we will do to them, even let them live, so that wrath will not be upon us for the oath which we swore to them. (v. 19-20).

They knew--a covenant must be kept. Even a covenant made upon false pretenses. Even one where there was no meeting of the minds. A covenant was binding, with God as its Sovereign Administrator.

At some point in his reign, Saul apparently decided to exterminate the Gibeonites despite the covenant--a bloodthirsty event not recorded in Scripture, yet alluded to in God's answer to David that the famine was caused by Saul's breaking of this covenant.

Such a judgment of God's people demonstrates that long after the covenant makers were dead, the nation of Israel was still bound to this covenant. What's more, long after the covenant breaker was dead, God as a holy, just covenant administrator still brought about judgment until atonement was made to the remaining Gibeonites--blood for blood.

David seemed to understand this cause-and-effect relationship between making and breaking a covenant. Perhaps this is because unlike in today's society when contracts and covenants are made and broken each day, David understood the solemnity of covenant.

His attitude towards covenant is revealed a few chapters earlier when he sought "a servant of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba" to ask "Is there yet anyone left of the house of Saul, that I may show him kindness for Jonathan's sake?" (2 Sam. 9:2,1).

Ziba did know one man named Mephibosheth, "a son of Jonathan who is crippled in both feet" (v. 3). When Mephibosheth came before David, he rightly feared for his life, "fell on his face and prostrated himself...And he said, 'Here is your servant!'" (v. 6).

David, though, told him to not fear, that he would "surely show kindness to you [Mephibosheth] for the sake of your father Jonathan, and will restore to you all the land of your grandfather Saul; an you shall eat at my table regularly" (v. 7).

Why this great demonstration of grace and kindness? One king automatically inherited all lands, servants, wives, concubines, etc. of the former king. Everything rightfully belonged to David.

But David, man after God's own heart--David remembered the covenant he had once made with Jonathan and Jonathan's descendants, a covenant no one but David and God knew of. No man was alive to remind or require David to keep this covenant, but David, himself, knew and remembered when "Jonathan said to David, 'Go in safety, inasmuch as we have sworn to each other in the name of the LORD, saying, ‘The LORD will be between me and you, and between my descendants and your descendants forever’'" (1 Sam.20:42).

And in this remembrance, knowing that the LORD would hold him to the oath, David acted.

A few months ago in this space, we looked at King Zedekiah breaking an oath he never intended to keep in the first place...but God still judged him for the breaking of it.

Today, we see two more covenants made by God's people. In one instance, the making of the covenant defied God's initial command, and generations had passed; yet, God still deemed the covenant was to be kept between nations, despite the passing of time and the fact that it defied His command. In the other instance, there was no one alive to enforce the covenant; yet, God knew and required its keeping.

"There's no paperwork. No one knows but me."

"But God's Word says ___ even though I've already entered in a covenant to _____"

"It's been twenty years, so...."

All these limiting factors we normally attach on modern-day covenants...present-day American society may recognize them as valid reasons to escape a contract, but as Christians, we must seriously, prayerfully ask ourselves if God recognizes them.

We serve a covenant-making, covenant-keeping, covenant-reminding God, one who is Sovereign Administrator over covenants made in His name.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Who Really Needs a Reminder?

Husband and I spotted half a rainbow yesterday evening, its predictable array of colors near invisible as it shimmered and faded against already dusky-bright skies of a setting sun. From our standpoint, its arc seemed to end behind the local Wal-mart, a fact that led to much joking about the pot of gold being inside a store we prefer to avoid.

Behind the laughter, though, our hearts are always touched, delighted to see such a sight. We know there is no pot of gold at the end of any rainbow, that the rainbow in itself is God's blessing, a reminder to us of a covenant He made with Noah, the earth, and all generations to come to never destroy the earth through flood again.

But the rainbow, itself, is more than that. While I've always thought it was a visual reminder for me, Scripture surprisingly reveals something a bit different.

After Noah and his family exited the ark, "God said, '...I set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a sign of a covenant between Me and the earth. It shall come about, when I bring a cloud over the earth, that the bow will be seen in the cloud, and I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and never again shall the water become a flood to destroy all flesh. When the bow is in the cloud, then I will look upon it, to remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.'"(Gen 9:12-16,my italics).

God, Himself, says this sign of covenant is a reminder for Him! A reminder for our God who needs no reminding, who knows all that was, and is, and is to come? While it might make little sense at first, one need not look far into the evils of this world to understand why a God of holiness and justice might need to remind Himself of His covenant.

Matthew Henry's Commentary states that this sign would serve as a "seal" of covenant, which would be a traditional way to indicate covenant between two parties, such as a rock altar, mingling blood through cuts on the arm, a feast, etc.

Here, though, God, the initiator of this covenant, creates anything but a traditional seal to show Himself as a covenant-keeper. By His setting this sign somewhere so prominent for mankind's viewing, I believe He meant it to remind us as well, to comfort those of us who see its colors in the skies, to remind us that, yes, God is capable of judging in wrath but that He is also merciful and faithful to keep His promises.

This rainbow is shown three other places in Scripture, two of which are in relation to God's throne.

First, in Ezekiel's vision when he saw what "resembled a throne, high up...and there was a radiance around Him. As the appearance of the rainbow in the clouds on a rainy day, so was the appearance of the surrounding radiance"(Ez.1:26-8).

Ezekiel falls on his face in fear, but our enthroned God's glory shines as a rainbow about Him to serve as a sign of His character as a faithful covenant keeper. Think about what he's asking Ezekiel to do--go warn Israel of impending judgment; yet, first, He shows Ezekiel Himself, enthroned and surrounded in a rainbow, reminding Ezekiel that He keeps His covenants--not just the one made with Noah, but all His covenants made with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob--to save His people and bring, through them, Messiah, and eternity with Him.

Something similar happens in Revelation when John is given a vision of the throne room of heaven. John says, "Immediately I was in the Spirit; and behold, a throne was standing in heaven, and One sitting on the throne. And He who was sitting was like a jasper stone and a sardius in appearance; and there was a rainbow around the throne, like an emerald in appearance" (Rev. 4:2-3).

Here, again, before John is shown the seven seals opened, before John witnesses terrifying visions of God's wrath and judgment poured out on sinful humanity, he is granted a view of God's holiness, a view which, not coincidentally, shows a rainbow-wrapped throne.

Once again, God is reminding John that even through His judgment, He is faithful and will keep His covenants.

Interestingly enough, the third use of "rainbow" in the New Testament is in reference to the 7th "strong angel" with a "rainbow was upon his head" (Rev. 10:1). This plus several other descriptions have led scholars to conclude this angel is none other than Christ, Himself. I can't even begin to comment on that. But angel or Christ--the symbol's meaning holds true--even in judgment, God is true to His covenants. And a rainbow sealed on His forehead--oh my, the implications that might have (for another week!)

Isn't this beautiful? Comforting to know about the God we serve!?!? To return to the topics we were taught as children and see how they seamlessly fit into God's Word, from alpha to omega?

If you've been hanging around here the past two months, you've probably noticed a pattern in my writings. After finishing a study of Revelation this past May, I've felt a calling back to the book of beginnings, to re-examine the stories of the Tower of Babel; of Moses' mother and Noah's pitch-covered ark; and of God's command to fill the earth.

These are all old-school topics taught more to children than an adults. What a shame! What we adults miss when we don't go back and reexamine our childhood stories that prefigure Christ, delve into histories that foreshadow the New Testatment and even the prophesies in Revelation to come!

My challenge for you this week is to be like a child. Return to one of those Old Testament passages you haven't really explored lately (no: reading it out of your child's Bible story book doesn't really count).

Read with an open mind. You can never exhaust the meaning in even the most-repeated story in God's word.

Photo: Fractal Rainbow Ocean by Thelma 1