Jewish History, a History of Separation
The Venetian Republic forced the Jews to live in a Ghetto.
It was first used on 29 March 1516 because Jews had to be separated from the Christian community. Wooden gates were erected, all exits were locked, and doors and windows walled up, and it was encircled by canals.
The four thousand years of Jewish history are filled with that same pattern of separation, detachment, and often, humiliation; yet it is impossible not to recognise that, somehow, the blessing of the Lord was on them. Sometimes God has to separate us from the past, but we will never be separated from Him.
The epistle reading: Romans 1.1 and 8.38-39 Paul and separation
“Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated for the proclamation of the gospel of God…..I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Letting God separate us from beliefs that don’t work
Before becoming a Christian, Paul had been important in the Jewish sect called the Perushim (Pharisees) The strong letters in that Hebrew word are p-r-s, those three letters mean “separation” Paul had been proud to be part of the Perushim. It had made him separate from other Jews. He was a special believer. This gave him a sense of purpose, dignity, and prowess. He would have been esteemed by other Jews, BUT….he came to realise that in real day to day life, it didn’t work. On the inside he was still desperate for God to transform his shallow spirituality.
Look at that first verse: “separated for the proclamation of the gospel of God” This is a new kind of separation, by the Lord. May the Lord give us that gift - separated from shallow religion, empty traditions, and from spiritual elitism, to know the real power of the gospel.
Separated from her family and looking for love
Preena came from a very poor Tamil family. She was separated from them when her mother wanted a blessing from the Hindu gods. She gave Preena as a sacrifice to the temple. where, she would be groomed for abuse.
She was very unhappy, and managed to escape from the temple. As she ran into the marketplace, she ran into a missionary called Amy Carmichael from Millisle in County Down. Preena said she saw kindness and love in this young Irish woman. She also remembered the cross that Amy had around her neck. Sadly, she was recaptured by the Temple staff, but she told the other temple girls, “She was all light, like the sun.”
When Preena escaped a second time, she searched for the missionary and found her. Amy Carmichael refused to give her back to the Temple. Preena knew she would never be separated from the love she saw in this lovely lady. She was the first of many girls rescued by Amy. Here are some of the girls at the Dohnavur Fellowship today….
Nothing can separate us from the love of God
When Paul says nothing can separate us from the love of God, he’s not telling us something he learned in theological college.
He is sharing his own life experience. He’d been pursued, beaten, left for dead, imprisoned, shipwrecked….. but in all these places, circumstances and events, Paul always experienced the love of God. Nothing, human or supernatural could detach him from the Lord’s immeasurable compassion. Because he speaks of “us” here, he asserts that this can be the normal experience of all true believers.
Jim Irwin’s experience in a desolate part of the universe
Jim Irwin was one of the astronauts on the Apollo 15 mission to the Moon in 1971. Jim had a spiritual encounter with God while on the lunar surface. It was a moment that would change the course of his life.
He recounted struggling while setting up an experiment on the surface of the moon. After praying, “God I need your help right now,” Irwin experienced the presence of God’s Spirit in a way he’d never felt before.
Jim was so overwhelmed at seeing and feeling God’s presence so close, at one point, he turned around and looked over his shoulder, as if God were standing there. After returning to earth, Jim left the space programme and spent the next twenty years telling people about how God transformed his life.
We thank You, that there is freedom and joy when you separate us from the weight and controls of the past. Come now, Holy Ghost, and end he power of events gone by.
Heavenly Father, our hearts rejoice in Your unfailing presence, and the constant stream of Your love in every circumstance of our lives.
Lord Jesus, we rest our minds in Your precious words: “I will be with you.”
Amen. Amen. Amen