"This part of the island is off limits. Don’t go down there…"

by Pastor John Eiselt

It’s hard to follow instructions, particularly when they are in conflict with your own desires.

We got off the plane in Maui and headed to the rental car desk. Jill and I were on our honeymoon. When asked what type of vehicle we wanted to rent, we chose a Jeep, of course. After all we were in Hawaii for crying out loud. 

As we began to sign the contract, the rental car agent began to explain some of the exclusions, gave us some directions, and gave us a few warnings.

He pulled out a map and pointed to where we were. He then proceeded to tell us about a few great day trips and helped us get our bearings with the map so that we could use it to guide our adventures.  

“This area of the island down here is off limits,” he stated. “Don’t go there. The road ends and there are sections of roadway that are impassable and other sections where there is no road at all.” He continued, “If you go down to this area of the island and have car trouble, get stuck, or in an accident, you are on your own, we will NOT come to get you.” 

After a few days of cruising around the island, we had driven almost the entire island. Naturally, we wanted to experience driving around the ENTIRE island. Jill reluctantly agreed after much coaxing, and we drove right passed the sign that said, “Pavement Ends.”

It’s a lot like that with God’s people in the wilderness. 

God gives them instructions on how to live in harmony with him and with one another. God’s desire is to be with his people and he even has them build an elaborate tent called the tabernacle so that he can dwell among them. 

Things go as they’ve gone before, and God’s people, continuing to go where he has instructed them not to go, continue to act in ways that defile their relationship with him, with each other, and with the land where they live.

But, unlike the rental car agent, our God is not God who says, “I won’t come get you.” In fact he’s quite the opposite. Not only will he come to find us, he has a plan to restore and reconcile us back to himself and to one another.

This weekend we’ll look at this plan as we step into the book of Leviticus. It’s a weird one, that’s for sure. For many of us it may seem off limits, but don’t dismay, we’ll discover the beauty of what God is up to in the pages of Leviticus. 

Wrong direction? You need a turning point in your story.

In one of my favorite books, the author talks about editing your own story before it happens. It's an amazing concept.

If you feel stuck or you are going in a wrong or fruitless direction, God is why you can change your story. He can change your story.

If you feel stuck or you are going in a wrong or fruitless direction, God is why you can change your story. He can change your story.

It's an important way of thinking because it de-victimizes us. It fills life with possibility.

Turning points in a story and in our story are usually preceded by an event or series of events. But they also often occur when we meet someone. Meeting that person changes our lives. Not the moment we meet them, but looking back we see that the turning point started when we met.

This can be a new friend when we change schools. It can be a contact that leads to your best job ever. It can be meeting your spouse. Meeting that person is the turning point. 

God wants to be that person when we're headed in a wrong or fruitless direction.  

Last weekend we looked at how the building of the tabernacle in Exodus was a major turning point in the Story of God. It's often missed because of the details of the tabernacle. 

Through the tabernacle God was making a way to dwell once again with his people. He had not dwelt with his people, day by day, since Genesis 3. 

Approaching God through tabernacle worship was complex, and contact with God was mediated by priests. It was less than ideal.

But the difficulties approaching God were not God's fault. He is who he is; we are not who he created us to be. So coming near him without mediation and sacrifices would incinerate us. 

But God made it possible. Why? Because he wants to be with us. 

If you're a believer in Jesus, God is with you. You are his tabernacle. That means that if you feel stuck or you are going in a wrong or fruitless direction, he is why you can change your story. He can change your story. He can make your life into the great adventure he created you to live.