October 18, 2015: Shall we put God in a box?

Posted on : Oct 15th, 2015 | By | Category: This Sunday's Service

My, oh my, the Israelites had a huge problem on their hands. There they were, out in the middle of nowhere, wandering through the wilderness with snakes and bugs and nothing to eat or drink, except the manna and water that God gave them. It was becoming more and more clear that this “journey” was going to be longer than a 3-day holiday weekend and even longer than a week or two of vacation time. This journey from slavery into freedom, from oppression to liberation, was going to take a long time. Maybe even a lifetime.

In that time, the people’s faith and relationship with God grew stronger and stronger. Their faith was tested daily and through it all, they became stronger and stronger. But as this journey continued, a question arose. What were they going to “do” with God?

So the priests (the ministerial tribe) decided God needed to be “put” in a box! Ok, they called it an ark. But in reality it was a box with two poles that were used to carry the ark with them.

This ark is extremely important and highly symbolic in Judaism even today. There are no less than five full chapters in the book of Exodus devoted to every detail under the sun as to how this ark is to be built, including size, materials that must be used in building it, purity of gold, ornamental aspects, the size, length and wood to be used in the poles to carry the ark, everything imaginable is detailed for the construction of the ark. Reading all this detail could put an insomniac to sleep – but it also highlights how important this ark is in terms of what is symbolizes.

There is, however, a down side to this “gift.” And that is that a priestly class arises among the people and they control access to the “box” – to the ark. The more control they get, the less access to God the rest of the people get. Clergy, Religious zealots, bishops and archbishops, “institutional religion,” and fundamentalist religion all have a tendency to “put God in a Box” and limit people’s access to God. Sadly, this is the opposite of the intent of the ark, but it is still a reality in our lives today.

This Sunday we will focus on what happens when we put God in a Box of our own making; and what happens when we take God out of the Box!

More on Sunday



~ This Sunday’s Scripture ~

Exodus 25: 1-22

God said to Moses: Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering; from all whose hearts prompt them to give you shall receive the offering for me. This is the offering that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, blue, purple, and crimson yarns and fine linen, goats’ hair, tanned rams’ skins, fine leather, acacia wood, oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing-oil and for the fragrant incense, onyx stones and gems to be set in the ephod and for the breast piece. And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them. In accordance with all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

They shall make an ark* of acacia wood; it shall be 45 inches long, 27 inches wide, and 27 inches high. You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside you shall overlay it, and you shall make a molding of gold upon it all round. You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on one side of it, and two rings on the other side. You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, by which to carry the ark. The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. You shall put into the ark the covenant that I shall give you.

Then you shall make a mercy-seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its width. You shall make two cherubim of gold; you shall make them of hammered work, at the two ends of the mercy-seat. Make one cherub at one end, and one cherub at the other; of one piece with the mercy-seat you shall make the cherubim at its two ends. The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy-seat with their wings. They shall face each other; the faces of the cherubim shall be turned towards the mercy-seat. You shall put the mercy-seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you. There I will meet you, and from above the mercy-seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.

(*The word simply means a chest or box.)

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