The second week of the DBS (Bible School) has flown by! I have never read so much in my Bible in such a short time, what a great investment! Especially if you keep in mind that the goal is not just to gain more knowledge, but to really reach a deeper level of relationship and intimacy with God.
Previously, I found it very difficult to see how God appears to be harsh and cruel in the Old Testament and how this can go hand in hand with the loving image of God that is more emphasized in the New Testament. But by reading the whole story from the beginning, I get more and more revelation of how necessary it was to deal with all the terrible things that people did (children who were sacrificed, fornication with animals, etc.). For example, as described in Noah's story, God's heart breaks for all people that get lost, but it was necessary to come up with drastic solutions for the sake of all mankind.
Exodus 13 describes how the people of Israel go out of Egypt. If you look at the map they have made a huge detour, and they have traveled through the desert much longer than seems to be necessary. But when you look at Exodus 13:17, you read that God deliberately did not allow them to pass through the land of the Philistines, because He knew that they would change their mind and return to Egypt when they would face war.. Sometimes we too are led in a different way than seems most logical to us and things take longer than hoped, but God looks at our hearts, knows us better than we know ourselves and He knows exactly what we need!
During the lectures we also learn more about the historical context in which people lived. As a result, all laws and regulations that the people had to comply with, make so much more sense, compared to our Western cultural background. For example, if you study Leviticus, you will see that God is graciously providing a way for people to live in His presence!
The more we learn about the old covenant that God made with people, the more I am filled with gratitude for all that Jesus carried on the cross, so that we now live under the new covenant! When someone committed a sin under the old covenant, he had to bring an animal to receive atonement. The priest examined the animal for defects and offered it as a reconciliation between man and God. Because of the new covenant, there is no longer an animal between man and God, but Jesus himself died! And Jesus was perfect, without any sin, and now we are declared holy and righteous and we can receive forgiveness for our sins, whatever we have done (Hebrews 10: 19-23).
Moreover, we are not only forgiven, 1 Peter 2: 9 (NT) says that we were chosen to be royal priests, people who are set apart from God to tell everywhere how good and great God is! When we look at priesthood in Exodus, we see that priests look and act differently from the rest of the people. They help people receive reconciliation and a clear conscience. They mediate between God and man and care for the people in need. So now, under the new covenant, we too may act as 'priests': lead people to Jesus and point out to them that by accepting Jesus, they receive atonement for all their sins, are fully washed, holy, and righteous before God. As in the Old Testament, the "sinner" is not judged by his actions, but by the sacrifice made. And because Jesus sacrificed himself on the cross, we are declared holy and righteous through the blood of Jesus.
Just as in the Old Testament, a temple without God's presence was just an empty building, so are we just "empty" when we are not filled with God's Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 6 (NT) describes that we are a temple of the Holy Spirit, made for God's presence! That is why it is so incredibly important to take good care of our body (our 'temple') and to let ourselves be guided by the Holy Spirit and to be aware that we are not worshiping 'idols' (everything that keeps us away from God; career, status, bad relationships, etc.).
I enjoy the daily life on campus; lectures from 8 am to 3 pm, then time for homework and after dinner daily dinner clean-up from 6 pm - 8 pm! Fortunately, since yesterday (Saturday) we have exercise-freedom again, which means that we can leave the campus with a maximum of 2 people for walking / running, etc.
The Bible school is 3 months, so it finishes at the end of June. I'm still planning on doing the Birth Attendant School (BAS) in Perth on July 5. The school will start in July if the borders are open again, otherwise it'll get postponed. I am curious how it'll go, meanwhile I enjoy all the blessings here in Townsville!
'May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.' Romans 15:13