White for the Harvest…

Ben Schoettel   -  



The story of the ten commandments is something that is engrained in church culture from the moment you are born. There are even cute signs for nurseries that have a children’s version of these same laws. A tradition in my house was to watch the movie The Ten Commandments starring the great Charlton Heston as Moses. In the movie version, when Moses receives the law from God the hair on his head and face turns white (there are a lot of people who would pay a lot of money for the opposite effect.) No surprise here, that’s not exactly what it says happens in the Bible. Here’s what happens.

“The Lord said to Moses, “Write these words, for in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel.” He was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments. Moses came down from Mount Sinai. As he came down from the mountain with the two tablets of the covenant in his hand, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, the skin of his face was shining, and they were afraid to come near him.” (Exodus 34:27-30)

Moses dedicates himself to God (through fasting 40 days), God reveals truth and the path to covenant relationship between God and humanity, and then Moses’ identity is changed. I think this sequence is worth a reflection.

We are now over a week into the Lenten season, and during this time it is a common practice to give up something or implement something as an act of worship to God. One thing is certain in the story of Moses is that his time of fasting and intentions on the mount led to a significant encounter with God. But as we already talked about in the last devotion, even when we fast or commit to something, our motives matter. What Moses desired was to encounter God and receive the truth that would set the people free (in more ways than one.) So, whether it is lent or not, when we make changes to our practices we must ask ourselves, what are the results we want? Do we want to encounter God so we can reflect God (Moses shining) or to be God (Adam/Even quest for power)?

To the story of Jesus and the woman at the well, Jesus has a funny way of getting her to answer the same question. When they have this discussion about eternal life and the different means of worship, Jesus invites her to the same encounter Moses experienced, an encounter with the Spirit and Truth of God.

“But the hour is coming and is now here when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him.” (John 4:23) And Jesus later tells His disciples after they confronted him about this exchange “I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting, the reaper is already receiving wages and is gathering fruit for eternal life, so that the sower and reaper may rejoice together.” (John 4:35-36)

Moses maybe didn’t get what he thought he wanted from his encounter with God, but the people of Israel got what they needed. The woman at the well maybe didn’t get what she thought she wanted from Jesus, but the world got what we needed. What was given was a full encounter with the spirit and truth of God that transforms us into Jesus’ reflection and then awakens us to the reality that the life we walk through is holy ground that is ripe for the harvest.

Life in the Kingdom of God, and the purpose of encounters with God, is the blessing of participation of the sowing and reaping of the fruit of the Spirit. The fields are ripe because of what the Spirit is doing. So, as we journey through lent, the Spirit invites us to the fields to harvest this fruit, first let’s ask ourselves, what do we want? More specifically, what fruit of the spirit do I want to produce and receive from God? In that seeking, my prayer is that we learn how to more deeply encounter God.