Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Plunder and Leaven: What's that Bling?

On the one hand, Yahweh tells Israel to get rid of all the leaven of Egypt. Get rid of Egyptian culture, Egyptian wisdom, Egyptian strength. God promises to give Israel a new identity, a new culture, His wisdom, He will be their strength.

On the other hand, Yahweh tells Israel to ask their neighbors for gold and clothing and jewelry. And when Israel goes marching out of Egypt, they do so having plundered the Egyptians.

So Israel is supposed to plunder Egypt but leave the leaven behind.

What's the difference between plunder and leaven? Why is plunder OK but leaven is not?

Later in Exodus, the Israelites will use some of this plunder to make a golden calf. Later still, they will use it to build the tabernacle. If leaven means influence and strength and growth, then the golden calf incident indicates that Israel didn't leave all the leaven behind. The leaven of Egypt wants to use gold and clothing and jewelry to mess with the worship of God's people. The leaven of Egypt is ultimately displayed in worshiping idols. But the plunder is for building Yahweh's house; the plunder is for adorning the worship of God.

The leaven of the Pharisees and Sadducees is the same (Mt. 16:6-12). It is corrupting the worship of God's people; but the plunder of Jesus is the people of God with which He is building a new tabernacle.

And the same principle would seem to apply to clothing, jewelry, and gold today. What are you using it for? Is it being used to build the Church, building up the people of God? Or are you using that bling for a golden calf in your life? Is that dress for the edification of the people of God? What about that house, that car, that haircut, that music you're listening to? Is that plunder that you're hauling off to build the tabernacle with or have you just gotten bored waiting for Moses up on that mountain?


David H. said...

Do you have any words of wisdom on discerning whether you are using your plunder in service to the right or wrong things besides motive and intent?

The gold that the Israelites plundered should have been for the tabernacle. Should modern Christian "plunder" likewise be focused on service to the Church only?

I guess I'm curious if you could give some examples to help me wrap my head around some of the more difficult areas.

Thanks a bunch...


Toby said...

Hi David,

A few suggestions:

1. Every good designer needs a good feedback loop. So good intentions and motives don't a good product make.

2. If by "service to the Church only" you mean explicit connections to Christian worship/discipleship, then I don't think so. Good stories, good food, good wine, good art is worth doing simply because it is good. But it's "good" because it's edifying, encouraging, beautiful, truth-telling, etc. And that kind of edification builds up and restores the true humanity of people, and that is certainly part of restoring true worship.

3. The things I would be concerned about are those that Christians invest time and energy in thoughtlessly or simply "because I can" or "it's not a sin." But that's an awfully low bar, and we're called to excellence and nobility and love.

Not sure how helpful that is, but there you go.