Pastor Mark’s Devotions, April 8

“Moses Masked Up”

“When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face.” Exodus 34:33

Recently, we have been encouraged to wear a mask when out in public. Did you know that Moses masked up? Exodus chapter 34 tells us that Moses received the second set of Tablets containing the Ten Commandments on Mt. Sinai. He broke the first set after coming down the mountain and seeing the people of Israel bowing down before the golden calf that Aaron had made. When he returned the second time, with the second set, his face was glowing having been with God. The Scripture says, “When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord.” (Ex. 34:29)

Because of this glory radiating from Moses’ face, Aaron and all of Israel were afraid to come near him. Therefore, Moses masked up. Whenever Moses spoke to the people, he would remove the veil. But when he finished speaking, he would put the veil back over his face.

Today, to wear a mask or not to wear a mask, that seems to be the question. Over the last month, there have been conflicting directives and uncertain reasons why we should wear masks. The first message to the nation directed healthy people not to wear masks and save them for the health workers. One reason for not wearing masks was that it might actually leave the wearer more vulnerable to the virus. A normal person wearing a mask might relax social distancing directives while also increased hand exposure to eyes, nose and mouth.

Now, the message and some scientific evidence seem to point to the value of ALL people wearing masks in public. As the virus can remain airborne for 3 hours or more, and many people are asymptomatic, evidence seems clear that wearing a mask can help prevent the spread and infection to others. So, the message has changed but the evidence points to this positive step; when you are in public – Mask Up!

Interestingly enough, in Moses’ case, the reason, and implications for wearing a mask changed over time as well. In the beginning, Moses wore a mask to quell the fear of the people of Israel. After disobeying God and seeing the glory of God so evident on Moses’ face, they had grave concerns. They did not want to face the thought that the power and wrath of God could explode any minute. So, Moses, representing God, put on a mask to calm their fears.

But after some time, the reason for Moses to mask up changed. The evidence was clear that the glory of God was no longer glowing upon Moses’ face. God’s mighty radiance was fading and now Moses was hiding behind the mask so that no one would know. St. Paul speaks about this shift in masking in 2 Corinthians chapter 3. He says, Moses put a veil over his face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away.” (2 Cor. 3:13)

But Paul uses this issue of wearing a mask to show that we are not to be like Moses. The question is not about whether we should wear a physical mask to protect others – the answer is: we should. Rather, Paul is addressing a deeper, spiritual issue with the Corinthian Christians regarding masks. Paul declares that they are not like Moses. He says that the glory that faded with the Law and the stone tablets, is now much more glorious with the ministry of the Spirit. He unmasks the truth, “If the ministry that condemns men (The Law) is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness (The Spirit)!” Then he says, “Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses who put a veil over his face…” Paul acknowledges in 2 Cor. 3:15, “Even to this day, when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.” The Jews had trouble seeing beyond the mask of the Law. They could not see Jesus for who he was, that he fulfilled the Law, and the freedom that was available to them in the Spirit.

Most of us are willing to wear a mask today. But the deeper question is; “Are we wearing a mask that keeps us from Christ?” Are you hiding behind a mask? Have you idolized something or someone as a higher priority masking Christ? Paul declares, “But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil (mask) is taken away.” Paul then reveals the ultimate truth, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with “unveiled” faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.”

Let’s not haggle about wearing a mask in Costco. Rather, let us rip off the masks that keep us hiding from and keeping us away from Jesus Christ. Let us turn to Him, and with “unmasked” faces reveal the glory of God to the world that desperately needs it. And let us go on to be transformed into Jesus’ likeness with ever-increasing glory!

In two days, on Good Friday, we will hear another expression of the truth being unveiled. While Jesus is crucified, in the Temple in Jerusalem, the veil separating the “Most Holy Place” will be torn in two, from top to bottom. Soon afterward, the world will be confronted with the glory of the resurrection. Let us turn to God. Let us live unmasked in ever-increasing glory. And reveal him to anyone who will listen.

In Christ,

Pastor Mark

   

 



Pastor Mark’s December Newsletter Blog

“The Glow Room”

I ripped and tore the sheetrock from the main wall in my living room last weekend. This was a project that I had studied, pondered and procrastinated for the last five years, but never actually pulled the trigger.
Suddenly as I pulled off a large chunk of drywall, a darkened space opened up. In the middle of the 23 foot wall, up about 6 feet, I saw behind open studs, a black framed, finished space. The space was 6 feet long, 8 feet high, and 2 feet wide. It seemed like a secret space.
 
What was it for? Why was this space buried behind drywall and paneling in the main room? A strange place to be sure. Was it originally built into the house back in the 1970’s or was it added later? There was no insulation between the studs that opened into the main room. A camouflaged door was created for access through the attic. Power was available and a large aluminum shade lamp with clamps rested on the floor.
What could this be? 
 
The following days, I discussed the space with friends. I took pictures and sent them to family. I even talked it over with the heat pump estimators who came to give bids on a new heating system for my house. Some people suggested that the open framing in the wall might have been intended for windows. After short discussions, everyone simply shrugged their shoulders and didn’t have any real ideas.
 
Finally, the third “bid” man arrived. (it’s always the third one right?) We first talked about the business of heating then I quickly turned his attention to “the space”. He looked, scratched his head and we climbed up into the attic. Suddenly he said, “I’ve seen this before. I’ve entered other people’s attic spaces where the owners are not even aware that there is a “space” finished in their attic with power and lights – fully enclosed.”
 
Then he declared, “It’s a GROW ROOM!” “Are you kidding me?” I said. He replied, “I’d bet money that it’s a grow room.” HUH!!  A secret place, laid dormant for decades, a dark space ready with power, and light, all ready for growth.
 
Why am I writing about this at Christmas? Let’s just say I felt inspired!
 
Over the decades, one could argue that Christmas has become a crazy time, moving at a frantic pace, over indulging on stuff that we don’t really need, while running on empty and finishing the race exhausted.  Have we forgotten about the “secret place”?
 
Maybe this year – we re-capture “the secret place”. Maybe this year we re-discover the secret place of Bethlehem, where Jesus entered the darkened world. The secret place that laid dormant for a thousand years; King David’s hometown.
 
This secret place that has, hidden in its name, a special meaning, ‘beth’…meaning ‘house’, and ‘lechem’…meaning ‘bread’. Bethlehem is God’s house of bread, the place that would provide the birthplace of the “bread of life” from which all the world might be nourished. Maybe we re-focus upon the dark, black space in which the shepherds lived – keeping watch over their flocks by night. And maybe we re-experience the power and light of the glorious angels declaring the great good news about a Savior’s birth.
 
Jesus was born in a dark, black, secret place, inhabited by animals and laid to rest on a bed of straw. God chose this humble, holy place for his Son, the light of glory to be born. And he chose this darkened world, in which he tore open the heavens and ripped open the skies that the King of glory would grow and generate power that would ultimately overcome sin, death and the Evil one.
 
Perhaps you find yourself in a darkened place this holiday season. Perhaps you feel hidden from the world and no one sees. Remember that God has chosen to do his greatest work in the midst of secret, hidden, darkened places.

The Lord sees you.

GOD IS WITH YOU!  

  In fact, that’s what this secret season is all about. EMMANUEL – meaning, ‘GOD IS WITH US’!  And God IS with us!!  Not only that, there is power with us, (the Holy Spirit)! And there is a lamp with us, (God’s Word). And there is the light, Jesus Christ himself is with us!
 
We live in a grow room. It can be very dark. But may it become a “GLOW” room. May the light of Christ grow and glow in our hearts this Christmas Season. And we re-ceive God’s Great Good News,
 
“Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that is for all people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ the Lord.”
 
Merry Christmas!   Pastor Mark