Tuesday, January 26, 2010

January 26

OT: Ex. 2:11-3:22

It has only recently been brought to my attention what a go-getter young Moses was. To me, his defining moment, personality-wise, has always been his reluctant reaction to the burning bush. But really, that Moses was a far cry from his younger self. Young Moses took an active interest in his suffering kinsmen, killed an abusive Egyptian, and sought to intervene in a fight between Israelites. Even after he fled in fear from Pharoah, he bravely came to the rescue of Jethro's daughters at the well. I mean, in that scenario, Moses was just a weary stranger taking a break. It took some initiative and passion to drive away a bunch of shepherds and then water the women's flock. I really admire young Moses. And I wonder what happened to him.

Clearly, young Moses was somewhat misguided. It seems like, with the Hebrew slave situation, he knew that he should do something to intervene, and he was willing to intervene, but he just didn't know how to intervene. Even if he hadn't gotten "caught" the first time, I just don't think that going around and picking off mean Egyptians was the most effective strategy for helping his people. It is also interesting that, despite his position of relative power and his sympathy toward the Hebrews, the Hebrews themselves didn't seem too keen on him.

So if young Moses was passionate but misguided, what was old Moses? Was he disillusioned? Cynical? Weary? Self-doubting? What had happened in the years between his daring shepherdess rescue and his encounter with God? I would really like to know...

NT: Matt. 17: 10-27

Like the mysterious "keys to the Kingdom" reference in yesterday's reading (16:19), today's reading offers a tantalizing glimpse into the potential power of the church. A man brings his demon-possessed son to Jesus and explains that Jesus' disciples couldn't cast out the demon. The disciples' inability to heal the boy seems to vex Jesus a bit. He sighs, "O unbelieving and perverse generation...how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you?" (17:17). It is funny to me that this exasperates Jesus so much. I mean, I can see how when His disciples say dumb things, it frustrates Him sometimes, but c'mon! This is a powerful demon we're talking about! Jesus acts like it is no big thing, like the disciples should just be able to kick it right out. Personally, I am impressed that the disciples can cast any demons out!

When the disciples privately question Jesus about their inability to drive out the demon, he explains to them bluntly that is is because they "have so little faith." He goes on to say, "I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you" (20). Now, regardless of your opinion about modern miracles and healings and that sort of thing, do you not get the impression from this verse that we Christians today might be missing something? That maybe there is some kind of power that we are not tapping into? That maybe we have some faith issues today? I don't know...I acknowledge that Jesus might be speaking figuratively about the mountain, but I just can't read Jesus here without thinking that I must be missing something. I don't feel like I have that kind of power in my life.

I do feel like I'm getting a little closer to understanding that power. I have been really praying for the Spirit lately, for small miracles like being filled with love and joy and peace despite the stress of my day. I have prayed for God's wisdom and focus when I am overwhelmed and for His strength when I am weak. And it has been amazing to feel that fruit of the Spirit in my life and to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it is not me. Sure, I can grit my teeth and "make it" through the day on my own power as a fairly decent human being. I can push on and persevere and not snap at anyone or be ugly. But when I am filled with the Spirit, it is not a "grit your teeth and try real hard" thing. In those times, my existence is not defined by my own strenuous efforts but by His power. And that is a cool feeling. I am pretty interested in seeing what else He can do in my life, in what other ways His Spirit can use me for His kingdom.

Psalm 22: 1-18

Well, I should have saved yesterday's ruminations on David's "down"side for today! Oh well. Just know that Psalms 21-22 perfectly encapsulate what I am talking about when I speak of David's erratic nature.

It is also cool to think of the connection this psalm has to Christ. He Himself identified it as a prophecy about Him when He cited it on the cross. And sure enough, several parts of this psalm point specifically to Him. Verses 16-18 are especially pertinent.

Prov. 5: 7-14

More warnings against following the adulteress. I was especially intrigued by verse 9, which warns the son to stay away, "lest you give your best strength to others and your years to one who is cruel." The idea of giving our best strength away to an ignoble cause is interesting to me. What a tragedy that would be.


  1. (Gen.) Here comes another GREAT Bible story! (I'll try not to read ahead!) (Matthew) It intrigues me...all those demons living in people...causing seizures and suffering by falling into the fire and water! Do they exist today but are being identified as a mental disorder? Or were they a sickness (as Jesus was always healing the sick) and being described as having demons? I often wonder about that.

  2. Exodus: I bet that Moses was even more reluctant to go save his people when he was older because he had been burned when he was younger. ("Yeah, God, I kinda already tried that. It didn't work.") I wonder how often we do that too, ruling things out just because they didn't work OUR way when, really, the problem was that we weren't doing it God's way in the first place.

    A few months ago I watched "The Prince of Egypt," so now I can't help but compare the Bible to the movie. It makes me realize just how inaccurate the movie is. However, I do wonder about Moses' relationship to Pharaoh and Pharaoh's family. Did Moses actually have a close, family-like relationship with them, or was he kept away from them because he was a detestable Hebrew? Did he always know that his mother was his mother, or did he see Pharaoh's daughter as his mother?

    Matthew: I think about that too sometimes, that we're missing out on the power we should have through the Spirit. Typing that just now, it occurred to me that Jesus expected his disciples to be able to cast out demons PRE-Pentecost. The Spirit had not been poured out on them yet, but they could still cast out demons with enough faith. Hmmm, so what DID happen to them on the Day of Pentecost? How is that different from the power they had from Jesus? This makes me assume that casting out demons and healing sick people are a different kind of thing than speaking in tongues (etc.). Hmmm. I'll have to think about that some more...

    Still, I totally think that there are things we could be doing now that we don't even realize we can do. (Well, it would be God doing it anyway, so why not?) Lately (over the past 6 to 12 months) I have tried to tune in more to how the Spirit moves. I have had some strange "coincidences" happen. (I don't believe in coincidences; I think it is ALWAYS God acting.) For example, in our life group last year we had a discussion about helping people on the side of the road. Well, the very next day, BOTH Tommy and I separately had people on the road approach us for help. (Other things like that have happened too, though that is the most obvious.) I totally believe that when we perk up and keep ourselves open for opportunities, they pour in... and this is just when we are being passive. What could we do if we were actively looking to do good?

    The problem is that we don't quite know for sure, so the confidence (or faith) isn't there. *Sigh* I believe that if I believed it enough, God would literally move a mountain for me. I just don't really believe that I can move a mountain... so it doesn't happen.

  3. Mom, I've thought about the demons/illness thing, too. I wonder if there is a connection there, especially with mental illness.

    Becky, I share a similar theory regarding Moses on tomorrow's blog. I think you are right that he has turned cynical after his first attempt ended so badly.

    And I totally agree with you about all the Spirit stuff. Like I said earlier, God is showing Himself to be faithful and strong in my life right now, too. I am excited to see what He has in store!

  4. i love your comments about the nt passage, i feel the same way!! i am trying to listen to the Spirit and focus my mind on things above and it is like a veil has been lifted...i am being to understand more about my relationship with God, more than i feel like i ever have. i want so badly to live in faith and not fear and serve Him in little and incredibly big things. i am praying for open eyes, open ears, open heart. i wonder what God wants for me to do? trying to live in faith and not fear. trusting and believing more than i ever have before. eyes unveiled...

  5. Yay, Ann, welcome aboard! I actually thought of you while writing about the NT passage b/c I know that my thoughts on the matter are being influenced by Francis Chan in Forgotten God. Honestly, he didn't say anything that revolutionary or "out there" in that book; he just basically reminded us all about the biblical description of the Spirit. And that Spirit is powerful! It was a much needed reminder for me:).