On January 27, 2020, our team met in the lobby of the hotel in Bacolod at 4:00 am (!), making enough time to get all 25 or so of us (including the 15 local kids, most of whom had never flown before) safely on the plane to Legazpi. After that delightful flight (the kids were adorable), we spent a bit of time greeting people at the airport, then took a van ride to the church where David Matthews is Pastor. By now our stomachs were grumbling and the smell of whatever those local ladies were cooking in the church kitchen was making us famished.
Before we sat down, Pastor Dave did a little devotion that spoke so much to my heart. He happened to teach out the the section of scripture where I was exactly in my daily Bible reading...ya know, that section most of us struggle a bit to get through...the parts in Exodus and Leviticus where Aaron and the priests receive all those detailed instructions on how to set up the tabernacle, how to prepare and execute the animal sacrifices, and how to adorn themselves for service.
"Why SOOOOO detailed?" I've often wondered (you probably have too). And yet each time I read it again, I sense the Lord is conveying something to my heart..something deep...really deep...about His character. Pastor David's short message touched on something I had been sensing. He spoke about how the priests represent Christ. The priests were to put stones with the names of the tribes of Israel engraved on them on the shoulders of the priest. This represents how our names are "engraved," never forgotten by Jesus. As He wears us on His shoulders, he carries us, giving us strength and power to move along as we serve Him. He does HIS great work through us...we can rest knowing He bears us there and carries us along. Cool.
David also mentioned another set of precious stones that were put in the breastplate of the priest, near his HEART. These stones were fastened to this breastplate very securely. We need to remember that there is stability in the love of Jesus. We are close to His heart, and we are to serve Him knowing this is true. We can rest in Jesus, knowing that He will accomplish His work through us, that He carries us, gives us strength, and that He LOVES us passionately. We don't need to wrestle or stress in our own strength (that is futile) but rather lean on His power and rest in His love as we walk in Him.
I believe one day (perhaps when we are home with Jesus and our faith becomes sight), all those details at the end of Exodus and in Leviticus will become clear, and we will say a collective, "Aha! THAT'S what all that meant!" But for now, I just so appreciated this devotion, especially how Pastor David spoke it simply and clearly to a group of kids, tweens, teens and adults on a mission to serve Him. Not by might, not by power, but by His spirit and in His love. Thank you, Pastor David!