Rabbi’s Reflections – Saturday, November 7, 2020

Shabbat Shalom,  

Daily Bread, reading plan by Lars Enarson (https://www.thewatchman.org/)

Sat 7-Nov-2020 20th of Cheshvan, 5781 Parashat Vayera

Ge 22:1-242 Ki 4:1-37Heb 11:8-19

We Are Being Watched from Heaven by David Harwood

This week we’re continuing to work on a foundation to help us relate to ourselves biblically. Let’s begin. Please pray:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:15 TLV) 

Rightly interpreting Scripture requires reverent caution. First, we have to try to understand the words that are being used. However, the context of each word helps determine the word’s meaning. At the same time, the meaning of words provides the context. It is a delicate balance. Prayer helps. Study helps.

When I encourage us to seek to please God’s indwelling presence I am expressing a conviction that the Elohim of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob lives in us. Not only that, but He lives in us in a special way. He is our God and intimate friend. 

Our God experienced things in the Incarnation in a new way. His self-limitation reached new heights. He now has first-hand knowledge of weakness, temptation, hunger, faith, pain, rest, perplexity, relief, hope, etc. And now, Adonai determined to join Himself to us in such a vital union that He has become especially aware of, and vulnerable to, how we feel, think and decide. 

This is nothing new, but the way in which He has chosen to do this is unique in His relationship with humanity.

Nothing new? I suppose that’s true. Here is a description of Israel’s trials in the wilderness. It is a pattern for His relationship to every believer.

9 In all their affliction He was afflicted. So the angel of His presence saved them. In His love and in His mercy He redeemed them, then He lifted them and carried them all the days of old. (Isaiah 63:9 TLV) 

He identifies with us and feels what we feel. 

He came to know life as a human being (Philippians 2:7; John 1:14). Through that trial He is empathetic regarding our temptations and sins in a way that would have been impossible beforehand.

For we do not have a kohen gadol who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all the same ways—yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15 TLV) 

In the days of His life on earth, Yeshua offered up both prayers and pleas, with loud crying and tears, to the One able to save Him from death; and He was heard because of His reverence. 8Though He was a Son, He learned obedience from what He suffered. (Hebrews 5:7–8 TLV) 

He weeps with those who weep (Lazarus’ tomb), rejoices with those who rejoice (Cana’s feast), and He lives within us. He does not want us to view Him as being distant from us. In fact, He is so united and identified with us that the way we experience life impacts Him. 

Our most intimate encounters with God are with the indwelling presence. We are the living houses of the Triune God. It is worth meditating upon these thoughts: 

Yeshua answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word. My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our dwelling with him. (John 14:23 TLV) 

you know Him (the Spirit of truth) because He (the Spirit of truth) abides with you and (the Spirit of truth) will be in you. (John 14:17b TLV) 

so that Messiah may dwell in your hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17a TLV) 

Where is God living? Where is He manifest to us? By Spirit enhanced faith God dwells in the core of our being. 

Some Balance:

However, I’m certain that Psalm 19’s petition was not written with that type of proximity in mind. Although David was anointed with the Ruach, God, for him, was primarily an external reality. That is the spatial context and the relational dynamic in which the psalmist participated. To get a feel for that, please read this dynamic paraphrase:

“Elohim, You see me from Your heavenly sanctuary and from Your earthly tabernacle. I appear before Your throne. May the words of my mouth and my hearts deepest thoughts give Your presence pleasure.”

This is an understanding we must not lose. I don’t remember who wrote this, but I recall someone describing God as “infinitely high and immanently nigh.” He is both transcendent and personally present. The LORD declared Himself to be that way in Jeremiah.

“Am I God only when near” —it is a declaration of Adonai— “and not God when far off? (Jeremiah 23:23 TLV)

Please consider this: the God who indwells us primarily exists outside us. Compared to all that He is, we are miniscule. Meanwhile, He fills heaven and earth. He is El Elyon. His throne’s location is in the highest sphere of the created heavenly realms. That is the actual center of everything that has been created. 

Obviously, Yeshua does not just live in our hearts. His location is variously described as before the Father’s throne (Daniel 7:13; Revelation 5:6-7), seated with the Father on the throne (Revelation 3:21), at the right hand of the Father (Acts 7:55) and enthroned in His own right (Hebrews 1:8). All this illumination is intended to help us appreciate the glorified Messiah’s identity, role and external reality. 

Let’s agree that God is watching us from the outside of us. He is, “Adonai-aware-of-us”. 

God looks down from the heavens on the children of men,(Psalm 53:3a TLV) 

Psalm 113:6 reports that Adonai our God “stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth” (HCSB). Here is a sample of how this is translated: “humbles Himself to behold” (NAU), “bends down to look” (NET), “condescends to look” (LEB). From His transcendent height God is motivated by love to the degree that He embraces humility so as to gaze upon, and inspect, His creation.

From outside of us He is aware of what is going on inside of us. That is an aspect of His omniscience and omnipresence.

Adonai looks down from heaven. He observes all humanity. 14From His dwelling place He gazes on all the inhabitants of the earth— 15He who fashions the hearts of all, who discerns all their deeds. (Psalm 33:13–15 TLV) 

Biblically, a mystery is revealed: the omniscient One is able to concentrate and think.

He is concerned about our motives.

Now you, Solomon my son, know the God of your father and serve Him with a whole heart and with a willing mind; for Adonai searches all hearts and understands every intent of the thoughts (1 Chronicles 28:9a TLV) 

Biblically, the omnipresent One is able to localize and focus His presence. Consider the bush, the mount, and the dedication of the Temple.

The bush:

Then the angel of Adonai appeared to him in a flame of fire from within a bush. So he looked and saw the bush burning with fire, yet it was not consumed. (Exodus 3:2 TLV) 

The mount:

Now the entire Mount Sinai was in smoke, because Adonai had descended upon it in fire. The smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace. The whole mountain quaked greatly. (Exodus 19:18 TLV) 

The temple:

… the Temple, the House of Adonai, was filled with a cloud. 14The kohanim could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of Adonai filled the House of God.. (2 Chronicles 5:13b–14 TLV) 

God is well able to reveal His fullness within space and time. Consider the Messiah. Consider His body.

For all the fullness of Deity lives bodily in Him (Colossians 2:9 TLV) 

His community— 23which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all. (Ephesians 1:22c–23 TLV) 

Not only His presence, but His attention can be concentrated. Biblically, our God searches things out and personally inspects them. 

Adonai is in His holy Temple. Adonai’s throne is in heaven. His eyes are watching. His eyelids observe the children of men. (Psalm 11:4 TLV) 

Then Adonai said, “The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great indeed, and their sin is very grievous indeed. 21I want to go down now, and see if they deserve destruction, as its outcry has come to Me. And if not, I will know.” (Genesis 18:20–21 TLV) 

Adonai, You searched me and know me. 2Whenever I sit down or stand up, You know it. You discern my thinking from afar. 3You observe my journeying and my resting and You are familiar with all my ways. (Psalm 139:1–3 TLV) 

God dwells within us and at the same time observes us from heaven. He has purposely placed His presence within each of us in a manner that makes a way for Him to experience us from the inside. He knows how we feel. Our thoughts and motives affect His emotions. 

It is with these factors in mind that I encourage you to pray once again:

May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable before You, Adonai, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Psalm 19:15 TLV) 

Or perhaps, work with today’s paraphrase in prayer:

Elohim, You see me from Your heavenly sanctuary and from Your residence in my heart. I appear before Your throne. May the words of my mouth and my hearts deepest thoughts give Your presence pleasure.

As God answers this prayer we can meditate upon how our motives and words might bless God.