OT: Ex. 5: 22-7:24
No big thoughts or elaborate theories today. I just have a few odds and ends:
--I am kind of confused by the language used to describe God's reaction to the Israelites. In 6:5, God tells Moses, "I have heard the groaning of the Israelites...and I have remembered my covenant." Exodus 2:24 says almost the exact same thing, but refers to God in third person. I have to say, I don't really get what the text is saying about God here. Is Moses using anthropomorphism, giving human characteristics to Something that is not human? B/c I don't think that this was the first time God had heard the Israelites. And I don't think He had forgotten his covenant. The text kind of makes God sound absent-minded to me, so I must be getting the wrong impression.
--Why did Moses stop the genealogy with Levi? I mean, I know he is from Levi, and he is clearly sharing his own genealogy here, but why list the sons of Reuben and Simeon if his point was to focus on him and Aaron? And if that wasn't his point, why didn't he list the rest of the brothers? And more importantly, why do I care? (Remember, I'm a "list" person:).)
--Luke has been crawling in my bed each morning and requesting that I read stories from "my Bible" (meaning, The One Year Bible). I have been impressed with how well he listens, and with the fact that he always wants more. I read a lot of the Moses/Pharoah story to him today (with no commentary from me), and after I was done, he asked, "Why did God make Pharoah mean?" I was impressed with the insight shown in that question (much better than when he wanted to know what ornaments were on Joseph's "richly ornamented" coat and whether or not it had candy canes:)). Courtney brought it up in the comments yesterday. Does anyone have any insights into that?
NT: Matt. 18: 23-19:12
In my mental file folder of "Scary Things Jesus Says About Judgment," you can find the parable of the unmerciful servant alongside the "sheep and the goats" and Matt. 12: 36-7 ("But I tell you that men will have to give account on the day of judgment for every careless word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned."). I have some non-Jesus scaries, too (like I Cor. 13:3 and Heb. 10: 26-7). The non-Jesus ones will wake you up, sure, but the ones out of the mouth of Christ have the most "bite" to me. Like this parable. The idea that God's forgiveness of us is directly dependent on our forgiveness of others is just scary to me. And I have to hand it to him: this is one masterfully told story. It kind of reminds me of Nathan's story to David about the sheep; like that one, it sets you up for a massive sucker punch at the end.
After going into region of Judea, some Pharisees question Jesus about marriage. I have a friend's marriage that is weighing very heavily on my heart today, so His words in verses 4-6 really resonated with me: '"Haven't you read," he replied, "that at the beginning the Creator 'made them male and female,' and said, 'For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh'? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate."' I am reminded here that marriage is such a sacred institution. It makes me think of Ephesians 5, where Paul uses the relationship between Christ and the church to describe the relationship between husband and wife...and he then reveals that his discussion about husband and wife was itself really a metaphor for Christ and the church (Eph. 5:32)! That whole metaphor-within-a-metaphor loop is a little mind-boggling, but just the thought that our marriages have mutually intertwined symbolism with Christ's relationship with the church is so powerful to me. Paul says that we as Christians have a "ministry of reconciliation" (2 Cor. 5:18). And I believe that when we participate in a godly marriage, we mirror that ministry of reconciliation to the world. And that's why it is such a tragedy when Christian marriages fail. (I'm indebted to Gary Thomas' Sacred Marriage for pointing out some of these concepts.)
All that said, God, please be with all the marriages in our church, and especially with the ones who are struggling and asking for prayers. Please fill the Christians in these marriages with Your Spirit and and love and wisdom and mercy. Please, God.
Psalm 23: 1-6
There was a period of life where, due to my own ignorance and narrow-mindedness, the 23rd Psalm had become "cliche" to me. I guess maybe I had just heard it too much or something. Regardless, I was an idiot to ever fail to recognize the beauty of this psalm! It is a masterpiece, and it's iconic status makes it resonate even more with me today. I cannot even pick out favorite lines and phrases because every word is nourishment to my soul this morning.
I like the description of evil deeds "ensnaring" a man, of sin becoming cords that "hold him fast." I like it not because it is pleasant, but because it is so apt. Sin masquerades as freedom sometimes, but it is really so limiting. It limits our life and our options both in obvious physical ways and in profound spiritual ways.