My husband once bought a cheap piece of over grown jungle in the Amazon that we referred to as the garden property. We called it that because when we cleared all the brush and weeds we discovered a ton of fruit trees and flowers. It was like our own little garden of Eden. Mark built us a house in the back corner of the “garden”. We had Açaí trees out front, pineapple bushes to the left, several cacau (chocolate) trees, guava trees, and a cupuaçu tree around the house and then a huge mango tree in the center of the property. It was a paradise.
(Above) The house Mark built on our “garden” property.
(Below) Amelia on the swing set under the big Mango tree.
Out front by the street and along the neighbor’s (a Kingdom Hall) wooden fence I had a Papaya tree and a Caju (cashew) tree. Because of it’s proximity to the street, others would usually get to the fruit before I could pick any to eat, but sometimes, without telling me, my children would sneak out of the house and run down there early in the morning to get some of the Caju. I knew every time they had eaten one because the juice would be down the front of their shirts (or bare chest as so often the case was) and their lips would be swollen and red.
I know, hard to believe these sweet faces could ever sneak out of the house, right?
The interesting thing about the caju is that the “nut” grows at the end of a yellowish/reddish orange fruit. The ripened fruit is very sweet and makes a delicious juice when thrown into a blender with water and sugar, but my children would eat it just like an apple, hence their swollen lips.
You see the cashew nut, before it is processed properly, is toxic. Sometimes just eating the fruit would cause an allergic reaction on my kids faces, but had they eaten the nut, they would have become seriously ill. Actually, one of my friends had a teenage son who tried his hand at roasting the cashew nut in the oven without knowing that the fumes would be just as toxic as the nut itself. The roasting has to be done properly outdoors where the smoke is free to dissipate.
What does all this have to do with dwelling in God?
I’m glad you asked.
The Caju fruit is something that illustrates perfectly how something so sweet and so inviting can also hold real peril if caution is not taken. One must have some knowledge about the entire fruit.
In Exodus 33 we find the children of Israel have strayed and made a golden calf to worship while Moses was up on the mountain. God sends Moses down and to deliver a message to them that God says they can go on to the land of milk and honey and He will drive out their enemies as He promised, but He won’t accompany them. His presence will be removed and He will send an Angel before them.
“And the LORD said unto Moses, Depart, and go up hence, thou and the people which thou hast brought up out of the land of Egypt, unto the land which I sware unto Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, saying, Unto thy seed will I give it: And I will send an angel before thee; and I will drive out the Canaanite, the Amorite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite: Unto a land flowing with milk and honey: for I will not go up in the midst of thee; for thou art a stiffnecked people: lest I consume thee in the way.” Exodus 33:1-3
I could probably write a couple weeks worth of blog posts from this part of Exodus, but I want to focus on something today about God that we sometimes overlook.
We know God is love (I John 4:16). We know that God is good (Nahum 1:7). We know that God is compassionate (James 5:11).
And truly, those characteristics make Him inviting to the weary, searching soul. But we can not have those characteristics without acknowledging His Righteousness, His Holiness, and the fact that He is Just. We can not just pretend these “sides” of God don’t exist.
God may be merciful, and reserving His judgement, but just exactly what do you think He will judge? He will judge sin, wickedness and evil.
The children of Israel KNEW God had brought them out of Egypt with His mighty hand and power, but they wanted to raise up a golden calf and actually proclaim to one another that it had brought them out of Egypt! (Exodus 32:4). I guess they had forgotten that they had sung a song to God calling Him a man of war (Exodus 15:3). They took for granted that if they didn’t have water He would just give it to them and if they didn’t have food He would send more quails and manna. They were not looking at the whole picture.
We should never pick and choose what we want to believe about God. We either take Him as a whole, or we are rejecting Him.
By the way, I am not stating that God has a toxic side, but I am saying He is just as much a Righteous Holy Judge with a severe opinion about sin as much as He is merciful and compassionate. And He should be served with fear and trembling, not acknowledged in the flesh with a nonchalant attitude.
How can I say I serve God if I don’t study to know Who He is and how He views sin? I can’t. It would bring a variance in my perspective that would give me a false foundation to build my life upon!
If you want to truly dwell in God and His Word, then you must first do so in veracity.
“But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:2
After God tells His people that He isn’t going with them, the children of Israel mourn and go on to repent and take off their ornaments decorating their flesh. Thus begins the first steps in their seeing God for ALL that He is. Moses then sets up the tabernacle of the congregation and goes in and worships God. The people watch him and follow suit. Moses entreats God for the people, and God, in His goodness and mercy, reciprocates by promising them His presence. But make no mistake, He was still Righteous and Holy and Just.
I want God’s presence in my life. Not just His promises. He dwells in me as my Saviour, but I want His fulness and that can only come from a surrendered heart that looks at Him, learns from Him AND obeys Him.
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
The cashew fruit and the roasted cashew nut are amazingly good when properly handled and understood. And though I will never be able to understand ALL that God is, I would do myself a disservice to separate the fact that He is good from the fact that He is also a Righteous Judge. He is both. He has to be in order to rule and reign as Lord.
Until Next Time, Lord willing,
READ THE BIBLE THROUGH WITH ME IN 36 WEEKS!
Today’s reading: Exodus 35 / I Kings 13 -14 / Psalm 51 / Acts 27