Thursday, January 28, 2010

January 28

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.

Proverbs 5:22-23

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.


  1. Really, this story is interesting (this, I keep saying about all of it) because of how EMOTIONALLY detailed it is! There is so many descriptors about the ways the Israelites were feeling, Moses was feeling, God was feelng ..everyone was a feeling everything.

    At one point, I think God must have felt like "FOR CRYING OUT SIDEWAYS MOSES..LET THE FALTERING LIPS GO ALREADY!" Poor God. :)

    On a more serious level, I think it is really interesting how God outlines his plans several time for Moses and Aaron - I am confused too by the comment in vs. 3 .."but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them." You didnt?

    I cant tell if he is talking to the Israelites as a WHOLE (because up to now, I think he ONLY talked to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob directly ..I think) and now he wants to use Moses to speak with the whole of the nation for Him?

    I also am a bit stumped about the "Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts" ...I didnt remember that being the case with the bloody Nile, as well as the snakes. How the heck did they do that? And, I would imagine that it let the wind out of the already wilty sails of Moses/Aaron.

    I wonder too, if it was something God allowed because he was working on that hardened heart thing for the Pharaoh ("instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart." vs.23)

    Matthew ...THAT is pretty clear I think. That little story cant be interpreted too many other ways, right? :) Its a powerful one, with MUCH relevance to us! Bottom line, "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart." Done.

    Psalms ..the highlighted verse of the day is one of my favorites. I love the imagery of this Psalm .."he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul." Kinna peaceful, huh?

    Prov ..interesting discipline comes into to play. I wonder if that is personal discipline or the mama raisin' ya kind?

  2. (Exodus) vs 24 "And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile to get drinking water, b/c they could not drink water of the river." Wow! That really made me think of how we view sin. What I mean is think of the AIDS virus. Rather than stop the sin that basically causes this virus, we look for an alternative - a cure through medicine, using protection, etc. How much simpler would it be to refrain from that behavior that brings it about...yes, I know there are exceptions to why some people get the disease, but you get the picture. It is so rare to hear people talk about abstinence/purity as the means to end babies being born out of the marriage. We come up with many many other ways to prevent it, but how simple if we all practiced God's way. We are always coming up with ways to get around consequences of sin. Please do not think me judgmental for I am just a sinnner and need God's mercy so much. But it just seems like it is our basic human nature to try to get around God. And we do not like any consequences. (Again, quilty.) God's way is soooo good, why do we sin so willingly? Instead of all that digging around the river, Pharoah could have just obeyed! (Yall all do a much better job with scripture studying!!! It just so often translates to modern comparisons for me! I really love, love all your views!)

    (Matthew) It is so scary to know that God demands me to forgive others from the heart. I struggle with forgiveness and yet need it so in my own life. Just the time I truly believe I have, in fact, forgiven someone from the heart, something will trigger ill feelings toward "my enemy". Hopefully, God will accept our continued honest effort to forgive; it really is an ongoing process for me. (To much revealing of this dark heart of did I EVER get such a wonderful loving daughter!!! Thank you God.)

  3. if our relationship with our spouse mirrors Christ's with the church...

    then it's a sacrificial love- all for you i give. Christ gave His LIFE for the we/are we willing to do that for our spouse? we're called to "feed and care" for our spouses like our own bodies. we're called to respect our spouses as we respect Christ. our society does not understand sacrifice, it's all about me, not what i give UP for YOU. when you think about loving your spouse the way Christ loves us???...that's a pretty high calling, but that's what we're called to. and i think that if you don't have a good relationship with jesus, then it's going to be hard to have a good relationship with your spouse.

    that said, it's not easy. maintaining a constant and healthy relationship with my savior isn't easy, either. it takes work, prayer, and sacrifice of the things I WANT and enjoy. and yet, it's all worth it. He said if i give up my life for Him, i will find it...and He's right.

  4. Mom,

    I thought that was a really interesting analogy comparing the Egyptians digging of the water to trying to get around sin. I didn't think of it that way, and I like it! Yeah, it would have been easier just to repent and let the Israelites go, wouldn't it? Even though it wasn't really the choice of the common man, I'm sure the general Egyptian attitude to the Israelites was sinful...

    Also, I think I don't have any "problems" with forgiveness, mainly b/c no one has hurt me that much! So it would be hard for me to judge someone else who has genuine grievances. Thus far, I have been extremely fortunate; people have treated me generally well:).

    And Ann, I totally agree with you about true love requiring total sacrifice. I do like that we women are the "church" in the analogy. That's a tall order, to be sure, but compared to "Christ," well, it seems more "doable." Although, I must say, I find it hard sometimes to trust Christ (the real one), and so is it any surprise that I sometimes find it hard to trust Greg? It occurs to me that to defer and to place my well-being and the decisions for my family in the hands of someone else takes faith, just like it takes faith to trust Christ to guide the church.

    So really, both roles are pretty hard:). I am just lucky that I have an amazing husband who makes my job MUCH easier!

  5. you are right, kim, trust can be an issue! trust goes hand in hand with faith, and i agree, not easy to totally trust and have faith and believe when it gets hard and life is hitting you.

  6. It doesn't bother me to think that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. God made him, so He can do whatever He wants to with him. I think that God's will goes hand-in-hand with our "free will" in sort of a Dance of the Wills (okay, yes, I just made that up), but God is leading the dance. (Er, kind of. We are not fully capable of understanding this stuff anyway, but this is as close as I can get so far.) It made sense (story-wise) for Pharaoh to have a hard heart so that 1) the Egyptians would suffer all the plagues as punishment for mistreating the Israelites and 2) eventually the Egyptians would feel sorry for the Israelites and give them their gold and stuff. God made people for Himself, not the other way around. He probably designed Pharaoh specifically for the purpose he served. Now, I have NO IDEA whether Pharaoh went to hell or anything like that. What I DO know is that God is just, so I just don't worry about it.

    If I had to guess, I would say there was a lot of demonic activity going on in Egypt at the time. (Sometimes I have to make myself remember what I know about Egypt out of the context of this story. It seems like they were doing some pretty whack stuff.) I think the magicians actually did the stuff it says they did (not just through illusion) by the power of Satan (or whatever demons they were dealing with). This just goes to show that, just because something seems to be "real," it doesn't mean that it is a good thing. Amazing signs can be deceiving...

    Good points about circumventing the consequences of sin and about the analogy of marriage and Christ with the church.