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TOV #asitshouldbe

Updated: Aug 1, 2022

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One of my favourite moments of holiday is that first walk on the beach, sea air, sand, watching the kids run toward the waves. It's a "this is good" moment. An "as it should be" moment. I'm sure you've had these moments too - perhaps watching a sunset over the bushveld, taking in snow capped mountain ranges, seeing an explosion of life and colour on a coral reef, sharing good food with great friends, holding a new born baby. Moments where things are just as they should be. The word tov in Hebrew means good. Yet, it's more than just good. Tov is when things are as they should be, when things are working the way they were created to work. In our world, there is so much not-tov - so much ra - the Hebrew word for bad - evil, brokenness, dysfunction, adversity. If God is tov, where is he? Is really any hope? Is the Bible even relevant, or is it just a bunch of rules that religious people try (unsuccessfully) to keep. If you open to the beginning of the Bible, you find beautiful a description of a mountain garden in a region called Eden (meaning pleasure), with plants, trees, rivers life… It is God's tov creation. People in tov relationship with God, and each other. Humans had a role and responsibility, to take care of this tov creation. In the middle, the tree of life, a picture of God's sustaining presence. Near it, the tree of knowledge of tov and ra. A choice - God's wisdom, word and way (the tree of life) or humans seeking to do things on their own terms (the other tree). The idea being a choice. Humans would have to walk by tree one to get to the other. Humans rejected God's wisdom, word and way, and choose their own, and suddenly things were no longer the way that they were created to be. There was a fracture in relationship between people and God, and people and people. The consequence: relational, spiritual and physical death. Now, if you turn to the last pages of the Bible, you find a beautiful a description of a mountain garden city, with plants, the tree of life, a river, a throne, healing, God dwelling amongst his people, his people reigning for eternity. It is tov, again, but better. 10 And he carried me away in the Spirit to a great, high mountain, and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, Revelation 21:10 1 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb 2 through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. 3 No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. 4 They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads. 5 And night will be no more. They will need no light of lamp or sun, for the Lord God will be their light, and they will reign forever and ever. Revelation 22:1-4 And in between, lies the narrative arc. Tov in the start, conflict introduced, Tov at the end. So the question is, how is God going to restore tov and bring healing, and in that narrative, we are invited to find ourselves. The way the story God is that God selects a person, that will become a people to be his representatives and partners, through which he will bring blessing, and "tov-ness" if you will. He starts with Abram, who we talked about last week. He promises him a multitude of descendants, through a long awaited son, Isaac. Isaac's grandkids become heads of the 12 tribes of Israel, and they grow and increase, to the point where Pharoah Egypt becomes fearful and enslaves them for 400 years. In Exodus Ch3 God meets an (initially reluctant) man called Moses on a mountain (Horeb) and commissions him to lead the Exodus, the liberation moved. We see a tree, a fire, on a mountain, the flaming presence of God - linking back to Eden. There is a requirement though for Moses to take off his shoes, to do with holiness, which is an important theme, and, naturally Moses is fearful. God says that one day Moses will return to the mountain, and the people will serve God. ​1 Now Moses was keeping the flock of his father-in-law, Jethro, the priest of Midian, and he led his flock to the west side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. 2 And the angel of the LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” 4 When the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he said, “Do not come near; take your sandals off your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 And he said, “I am the God of your father, the G