Today’s reading is Exodus 21:22-23:13, Matthew 24:1-28, Psalm 29:1-11, and Proverbs 7:6-23.
My thoughts, however, are still in Exodus 21. The ten commandments had been given, and then other instructions were also given. The ten commandments are applicable for our life today. The next instructions had a lot of significance for the ancient times and customs. And yet, they are still applicable for today. We just need to dig a little deeper and find the meaning behind the commandment, even if the details are not applicable in our current society. For example, the first one mentioned in Chapter 21 refers to how one should treat his slaves. Thankfully, slavery is no longer applicable to our current society, though, sadly, there are still forms of it in existence. So, maybe the details of releasing a slave does not refer to our current life, however, if we dig a bit deeper, we can find a rich, spiritual application.
But the slave may declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I don’t want to go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door or doorpost and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will serve his master for life.
Exodus 21:5-6, NLT
Oddly enough, this is one of my most favorite passages. When I first read it, I was in a time of deep spiritual growth. I was being stretched and tested. I had come to that precious place of surrender. And during that time of surrender, I was introduced to a little tune based on this passage of scripture. I remember where I was when I first heard it. I was on a van in the middle of nowhere in Costa Rica. I had been a missionary there for the past six months and an American team had come to visit for a week. It was refreshing to my soul. The leader was a dear friend and mentor, and while we were on a bumpy ride up the mountain, he sang the little jingle and told us about the verses it was based upon. And the words spoke volumes of what my soul was feeling. These were the lyrics:
Pierce my ear, O Lord, my God.
Take me to Your door this day.
I will serve no other God.
Lord, I’m here to stay.
Jesus is called the Great Shepherd and we are the sheep of His pasture. So many lessons can be learned by studying the habits of sheep and shepherds. Sheep are marked on the ear with the distinct mark of their shepherd. In Exodus 21: 2, we find a reflection of this distinct marking. In the Sabbath year, which happened every seven years (notice that holy number!), all the slaves were set free. But if a slave loved his master and wanted to stay with him forever, he would ask to be a slave for life. The master would then take him to the doorpost and place his ear against the doorpost and with a sharp instrument, the master would pierce his ear, marking him forever as belonging to the master.
We have just studied of another blood on the doorpost. The lamb whose blood was shed and placed on the doorpost so death would pass over. And this led to freedom for the slaves. Of course, this represented the blood of the Lamb of God, Jesus, the only One who can conqueror death. But it is a great and humble privilege that we can say, “Here am I, Lord! May my blood be added to the doorpost. May I be a slave sleep forever aligned to the Great Shepherd.”
Do you have the distinct mark of the great Shepherd? You have been bought with a great price, the blood of the Shepherd, who was willing to die for his sheep. Do you belong to him? If not, consider now what it would mean to surrender wholly and fully to Him.
Today, I thought I would give you a sneak preview of a new book I have written. It is a fairy tale, really. But it is based upon scriptural truths. It is not quite finished, but Chapter Six is applicable to today’s reading. The book is an allegory about a young slave girl and her relationship with the King who set her free. The name of the King is Tetelestai, which is a Greek word meaning, “It is finished” or “Fully Paid”. The young slave girl is named Martus, which is a Greek word meaning, “A witness”. I hope you enjoy!
Twenty-four hours seemed to both fly by and, at the same time, pass at a snail’s pace. But then it was time. Martus made her way quickly, but quietly, to the Great Hall. King Tetelestai was there alone. He smiled as she entered, calming her nerves. However, though the smile was genuine, he had a seriousness about him that had not been present in the garden. This seriousness did not scare her, but rather, caused her to be alert and at attention. She came closer to the King before either of them spoke. He was the first to greet.
“Welcome, my girl. I knew you would come. I am all ready for you. Are you ready, my Martus?”
“Yes, sir, I am ready.”
“Well, let us begin.” With that, the King reached into the deep pockets of his robe and brought forth another scroll. This brought the memory of the other scroll to her mind, and Martus felt thankful that today was today and not yesterday, or yestermonth, or yesteryear. Today was today. Today was the day. And she felt no fear.
The King cleared his throat and then began to read the following decree:
This day you will become a Gatherer. You will gather my children—not flesh of my flesh children, but soul of my soul and spirit of my spirit children. Some are in deep dark places and they think I have forgotten and forsaken them. I haven’t. Find my children and tell them: I am coming soon for them. In time, maybe time and a half, and then I will come and take them out of the dark places and carry them to the high places, filled with light. But tell them to remember until then, they are not forgotten, they are not alone.
Others, too, are my spirit of my spirit and soul of my soul children; they just don’t know it yet. They need someone to bring that truth to their attention. It is not your responsibility what they do with the truth. You simply must state the truth. It is yours to hold out, not yours to force. It is yours to extend, not yours to apply. They must receive. And they will, in time. Maybe time and a half.
Gather my children. Show them truth. Be strong. Be courageous. Remember. And Go in peace, for you are not alone.
“Do you, my girl, have anything to say—or to sing?” he said with a twinkle in his eye.
“Yes, my King, I have a new song for you. Would you like to hear it now?”
“Oh, yes! Please sing!”
And with that the girl began to hum a beautiful tune, which was both joyful and serious. And then she added words to her joyful noise. This is what she sang:
“Pierce my ear,
Oh my great king.
Put in place
Your royal ring.
So all may know
And all may see.
I serve thee.”
Martus sang this simple verse through several times. Each time her voice grew stronger and lovelier. As she finished the last note, she looked at the King and saw great pleasure in his face. And she felt great pleasure in her heart, as well.
“Perfect, my girl! That was beautiful and perfect! Thank you!”
And without another word, the King brought a small knife with a very pointed tip out of his great pocket. He took her hand and led her to the doorpost of the great hall. Gently, he placed his hand on her head and turned it slightly to the right. His gentle hand then pressed the lobe of her left ear flat against the doorpost.
Martus quickly closed her eyes tightly shut and clenched her teeth and pressed her fingernails into the palm of her hand, hoping that the pain of that gesture would lessen the pain of the piercing.
The King lifted the sharp, pointed knife and brought it close to Martus’ ear. With one swift motion, the king pierced her ear. Blood began to trickle down her neck and she felt the warm sticky moisture of it. Tears burned her eyes, but she quickly blinked them away, although a lone tear found its way out of her left eye and began to fall slowly down her left cheek.
The King then took a cloth from his deep pocket and gently wiped the blood from her neck and with the cloth in hand placed gentle pressure on the wound until the bleeding stopped. He then wiped the knife clean and placed both the cloth and the knife back into his great pocket. Then, reaching into his other pocket, he pulled out a beautiful velvet box. In one hand, he held the velvet box, close to her face for her to see. With the other hand, he gently wiped the lone tear away until her face was free of the salty tear.
He then opened the velvet box to reveal a simple, yet elegant, diamond earring. It lay in a gold setting. The King lifted the earring from the velvet box, then with one hand closed the box on its hinge and slipped it back into his great pocket. With both hands, he then placed the diamond earring into her newly pierced ear.
Martus felt a dull throbbing in her ear, but she didn’t mind. The worst part was over, and she felt happy and peaceful and content. The king once again cleared his throat and said in a loud voice the following words:
“Diamonds are the most solid and durable gem. Let this be a reminder of how solid and durable is my love for you and my confidence in you.
The gold surrounding the diamond is pure and beautiful. It has been tested in the great furnace of the castle and shaped to perfectly surround the diamond, which was chosen just for you. May this be a reminder, that though the road may not always be easy, though at times it may feel as if you are walking through a refining fire, it is right for you to walk in it. This journey will bring out your purity and beauty, as well.
My Martus, you are now a Gatherer. You are in the company of many great ones, fellow Gatherers who have all had their Day of Piercing.”
With that last sentence, Martus heard a great stirring and shuffling of chairs and feet. And both she and the king looked up, he with a great smile, she with a look of surprise. All around the great hall rose many fellow Gatherers, all identified with a unique diamond earring in their left ear. There were old ones, and young ones. There were large ones, and small ones. There were ones with dark, ebony skin and those with caramel colored tones. There were those with fair complexions, dotted with freckles, and those with olive colored skin. But all had an earring. All shared the common status of Gatherer. And when all had risen from their chairs, which had moments ago been concealed by the great stone railing, a thunderous applause filled the Great Hall. There was clapping and cheering and laughing and other sounds of great joy. The surprised look on Martus’ face then turned to a great smile, which lit up her whole face.
Then the King raised his hand, and everyone grew silent once again. The King looked at Martus,and then back at the other Gatherers. He then said in a loud voice, “Martus will begin her first Journey tomorrow. But tonight, we celebrate!”
They all moved into the largest dining room in the castle. A feast was already prepared. The celebration lasted well into the night, with all feasting and laughing and having a grand time, especially Martus. And the King never left her side.