Last Monday, the movie Avatar crossed the threshold of highest grossing film of all time. After only six weeks, the movie has rung up $1.859 billion (1,979,833,948.05 CAD; 14,135,817,410 ZAR; and 2,074,404,997.96 AUD for our foreign friends) in sales compared to now-second place “Titanic’s” $1.843 billion.
The movie’s success can be credited to a number of factors: the compelling storyline, realistic graphics, cutting edge special effects, serviceable acting, and the otherworldly mystique of Pandora.
But there was one overriding factor that made a difference to me. If I was going to see the movie, I decided I wanted the full “Avatar experience,” which meant paying a little extra to watch it at an IMAX theater in 3-D.
Although I’m not a fiction aficionado (I like facts!), the movie mesmerized me. Throughout the film, the 8 year old kid sitting next to me kept reaching out to touch the characters or the foliage. I wanted to do the same thing, but I refrained…because I’m an adult. (Actually, I did reach out for a low-lying branch one time—but don’t tell anyone!). The whole time, my friend Mike and I kept shaking our heads, looking at each other, and saying, “This is soooo cool!”
After seeing the movie in 3-D, I can’t imagine seeing it a second time on a regular screen in 2-D. Really, 2-D isn’t two dimensions, it’s just one dimension, with the flat characters and flat backgrounds appearing on a flat screen. 3-D makes all the difference because it gives us a fuller perspective of the movie.
You know, we can perceive God in 2-D or 3-D. We can see him from one perspective or from a fuller perspective, which makes him all the more real.
In today’s reading, we’re going to take a closer look at our three dimensional God.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Exodus 6:6-8. Notice how many times God says, “I am the Lord” or “I will be your God.”
Exodus 6:12. In spite of God speaking to him, Moses remains unconvinced that God’s promise will come true.
Exodus 7:1. I love this verse! God was basically telling Moses, “You’re Pharaoh’s daddy!
Exodus 7:8-13. The serpent symbolized the power and authority. When Aaron’s serpent swallowed Pharaoh’s serpent, it communicated to Pharaoh that the God of the Hebrews was more powerful than him or his gods.
Exodus 7:14-24. God began by striking the lifeblood of Egypt—the Nile River. It gave the Egyptians access to water for drinking and water for their fields, not to mention the fish they could eat for food.
Matthew 18:22-35. The basic premise of this parable is, if we want God to forgive us (and we really need forgiveness), then we must be willing to forgive others. Through the years, I’ve seen numerous people try to neutralize this parable to justify their unforgiveness. But the question remains: How can I ask God to forgive me if I refuse to forgive others?
Matthew 18:35. When someone has offended us, he doesn’t want us to act nice while we’re simmering inside. He wants us to forgive from our heart. No one knows the true state of our heart except us…and God.
Psalm 23. The Bible Background Commentary sheds some light on the role of the shepherd and the sheep: “In contrast to goats, who are quite independent, sheep depend on the shepherd to find pasture and water for them. Shepherds also provide shelter, medication and aid in birthing.”
Psalm 23:4. The rod was more like a billy club that was worn around the belt.
Proverbs 5:23. The word for discipline means literally, “bond” or “band,” giving the idea of restraint. Although we may not like restraints, they’re good for us and prevent us from destroying our lives, and the lives of others.
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Exodus 6:3 is an astounding verse. God told Moses that he appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as “God Almighty.” But beginning with Moses, he began revealing himself as the Lord. The Hebrew language renders God Almighty as El Shaddai, whereas Lord is rendered as Yahweh. As we briefly studied in a recent post, Yahweh means “I am.”
So what’s the difference between the two? God is both sovereign and personal. Powerful and tender. Holy and love.
All too often, I view God through one lens. He’s either God Almighty, who punishes my enemy but also hates my sin. Or I view him as Yahweh, who fills my every need and meets me in the tender places (like we read in Psalm 23).
But he’s both. A holy God and a God of love. A God who hates my sin and forgives my sin (which we read in Matthew 18:22-35).
To live as if God were only one of these two attributes is like watching Avatar in 2-D. He’s still God, but we lack the perspective that makes him who he really is.
So let’s give him what is due. He’s God in 3-D.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Why do you think God kept saying to Moses, “I am the Lord” or “I am your God”? In what areas of your life do you need him to repeat this to you? What prevents you from hearing it? (see Exodus 6:9).
- What’s the difference in the way that we respond to God if we only see him as El Shaddai or Yahweh? What’s your tendency?
- Do you find it difficult to forgive? How does Jesus’ parable about forgiveness help you move forward? Do you also find it hard to accept God’s forgiveness? If so, why?
- In your relationship with God, do you act more like a sheep or a goat (see “Insights and Explanations” on Psalm 23)?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.