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.