OT: Exodus 30:11-31:18
What I learned today: God is in favor of a flat tax. Just kidding! I mean, I don't really know God's tax preference, but He didn't always institute a flat tax for His people. Today, however, He does: every person over age twenty, whether rich or poor, is to pay a half shekel for their atonement tax. Makes sense to me: poor people need atonement as much as rich people do!
God also gives instruction about making the anointing oil and the incense today. The most noteworthy thing to me was that the oil and incense was only for God. Nobody could replicate the recipes for their private use.
My favorite part of the OT passage was God's promise to empower Bezalel and Oholiab with His Spirit. I love how God directly equipped people to fulfill His difficult commands. It makes sense to me that God had to be with some men: as I noted earlier, His instructions left a lot of wiggle room. I'm sure God's Spirit told Bezalel and Oholiab what cherubim looked like, for example, and how thick the acacia poles had to be!
Lastly, I think that God's tone when He institutes the law about the Sabbath is interesting (31: 14-17). He gives the command in such a hard core, scary way: "Observe the Sabbath, because it is holy to you. Anyone who desecrates it must be put to death; whoever does any work on that day must be cut off from his people" (14). Yikes! And yet, Jesus makes clear how the Sabbath was created for man, and not man for the Sabbath. I see how, based on the tenor of this command, the Jews might have gotten that confused! To me, it underscores the fact that as harsh as God's tone may seem during His giving of the Law, His Laws were clearly in the best interest of His people.
NT: Matt. 26: 47-68
Wow, despite the fact that Jesus made clear that Judas was going to betray Him, I bet the disciples were shocked to see him leading an armed mob. They didn't seem to pick up on much of that earlier conversation, so I bet seeing their friend turn against them would have been quite a blow. As Courtney mentioned yesterday, they were not at all mentally prepared for what was about to happen.
General biblical theory holds that Mark's gospel was the first of the synoptics, and that it was Matthew and Luke's main source . I have also heard that scholars at one time believed that Mark's major source was Peter, but that might be an outdated theory. I don't know, of course, if it is true that Peter is the source, but I'm sure this passage has been used as evidence. The disciple who cut off Jesus' ear remained nameless (cough*Peter*cough). Yet, then Peter is mentioned by name as the one who followed Jesus at a distance, which was more admirable. If Peter was the source, it is also interesting to see how some rivalry between Peter and John found its way into the gospels. If I recall correctly, it was John's gospel which identified Peter as the ear-chopper, and the synoptics neglect to mention that John came with Peter when he followed Jesus. It's funny to see how Peter (if he was the source) and John subtly tried to make themselves sound better and each other sound worse!
A couple thoughts here: I love the concept of how holding sin inside hurts a person. David vouches, "When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long...Then I acknowledged my sin to you...and you forgave the guilt of my sin" (3,5,6). It's interesting that it is God who allows our silence to hurt us; David specifies that it was God's hand upon him that sapped his strength. And I wonder how David knew he was forgiven. Maybe it was because he felt the "hand" lift.
Two verses that were amazing to me were verses 30-31, where wisdom describes her role in and reaction to creation: "Then I was the craftsman at his side. I was filled with delight day after day, rejoicing always in his presence, rejoicing in his whole world and delighting in mankind." I honestly don't have much commentary on this verse. I just like to think about it. It is beautiful and quite profound, and still, there is a level where I don't feel like I totally "get it." Which, of course, makes it all the more intriguing to me:).