Monday, July 4, 2011

Open Wide Your Mouth


God opens wide His hand toward us
and calls us to open wide our mouths toward Him:

I am the LORD your God,
Who brought you out of the land of Egypt;
Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.
(Psalm 81:10)
This verse opens in a very interesting way. Interesting because it is exactly how the Ten Commandments begins: “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt” (Exodus 20:2). It is the basis of the Old Testament covenant. God delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage and made them a nation. He revealed Himself to them by His personal name, that is, who He is, Yahweh (rendered here by “the LORD”), as well as by His office, what He is: “God.” And He said, “I am … your God,” and the implied reciprocal is “You are my people.”
In Exodus 20, this statement is followed by the Ten Commandments, which we often think of in a very negative way because … well, because of the “thou shalt nots.” But there are very positive ways of thinking about them. The psalm writers extol them, for example, in Psalm 1, Psalm 19 and Psalm 119. They loved the “law” of Yahweh. The Hebrew word torah, which is often translated as “law” can just as well be rendered as “instruction.” It is not an arbitrary set of rules to test loyalty but a practical guide that shows us the way to health, prosperity, well-being and good, positive relationship with God, others and the world around us.

More than that, though, there is something implicit — and very positive — in the Ten Commandments, especially in the way they begin: “I am the LORD your God.” This is a covenant, and the essence of covenant is exchange: We give to God everything we are and possess; He gives to us everything He is and possesses. By identifying Himself in this way and in this context, God is saying that He will take care of us. Therefore, we don’t need to seek after any other gods, or idolize anyone or anything. We don’t have to steal, lie, covet or kill to get out needs met — God will always protect and provide for us. The Ten Commandments, then, are about trusting God with everything.

So God says in Psalm 81:10, “I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open your mouth wide, and I will fill it.” Unfortunately, Israel would not listen. “But My people would not heed My voice, and Israel would have none of Me. So I gave them over to their own stubborn heart, to walk in their own counsels” (vv. 11-12). But see what would have happened if they had trusted in Him for everything:
Oh, that My people would listen to Me,
That Israel would walk in My ways!
I would soon subdue their enemies,
And turn My hand against their adversaries.
The haters of the LORD would pretend submission to Him,
But their fate would endure forever.
He would have fed them also with the finest of wheat;
And with honey from the rock I would have satisfied you.
(Psalm 81:13-16)
God was ready to give them the finest of wheat. The Hebrew word speaks of fatness, abundance, richness, the choicest, most excellent part. He would have provided them with “honey from the rock,” to enjoy all the sweetness of life, and they would have been fully satisfied. Abundance and sweetness — this is the language of the Promised Land. If only they had believed Him.

God has likewise opened His hand wide toward us to satisfy our needs and desires — if we will trust Him. The act of faith is to open our mouths wide, that is, to enlarge our expectation toward Him. Through Jesus the Messiah, He has delivered us, just as He delivered the children of Israel from Egyptian bondage, and He will take care of us completely, just as He desired to do for them.
And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)
Notice how all-encompassing this is: God gives us grace and glory — all grace, so that we can always have all sufficiency in all things. This grace is given to us through Jesus the Messiah. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32). Plus abundance — not just enough but more than enough — so that we may be blessed and a blessing to others.

Which leads us to the second important way we experience the open hand of God. We’ll talk about that in the next post.