Friday, February 12, 2010

February 12

OT: Ex. 34:1-35:9

Okay, today, the "deeper meaning" of the text was completely obscured by my confusion over the narrative. These mountain-top, Law-giving experiences drive me crazy!

So...God tells Moses to chisel out two tablets, and to take them back up the mountain so that God can write the words of the Law on them (34:1-2). Moses does, and he gets to see the glory of God, which is cool. Then, he asks God again to go with them on the journey, which God has already assured Him that He'll do (9). That seems a bit repetitive. Next, God assures Moses that he will drive out all the people in Canaan, and warns Moses not to make a treaty or intermarry with them. These words seem to be a variation on Exodus 23: 20-30. And then, in verses 18-26, God gives Moses an expanded version of Exodus 23: 15-19. At this point, I am incredibly confused. So, it seems that God is giving the Law to Moses again. But He is only giving a portion of it, and this portion happens to be the most random and confusing portion of the first Law. Why? Why this portion? Why not repeat the whole Law here...or repeat none of it? I don't get it. Furthermore, that wasn't the Law that God wrote on the tablets. Actually, contrary to verses 1-2, God didn't write anything on the tablets. Moses did. And what Moses wrote was the Ten Commandments. So, the record we have of the second giving of the Law is of one random portion and the Ten Commandments. I am totally confused.

Yet another detail that gets me is the content of the tablets. In both cases, were the Ten Commandments the only thing on the stone tablets? It occurs to me that stone is not the best medium on which to write. Was the rest of the Law written on some form of paper? Hmmm...if so, then God did not need to give Moses the whole Law again. He just needed the Ten Commandments...maybe? And the random Law portion was a bonus?

Clearly, any potential deep thoughts on this passage have been superseded by my need to understand the surface of the narrative....

NT: Matt. 27:15-31

I am a natural-born scaredy-cat, and as such, I have many vivid memories of feeling a strong, fearful dread. One group of memories involves trips with my youth group to Six Flags as a young teen. Several of those times, I would opt to get on roller coasters, even though I was terrified of them. And the worst feeling in the world to me (at the time) was just the helpless dread of the roller coaster going slowly up, up, up the hill until it began its terrifying descent. I hated the feeling of knowing that the ride was going, and I could no longer get off. Even though I freely opted to get on the ride, I was now completely powerless to make it stop.

I wonder, if you take that feeling and multiply it by a million, if that was not similar to what Jesus felt like on trial. In moments when He heard the crowd screaming for his crucifixion, did He feel a panic knowing that He had willingly walked into something that was now beyond His control? That He was on a ride that He could no longer get off?

Of course, the truly mind-blowing thing was that, strictly speaking, Jesus could have gotten off the ride any time He wanted. As He told Peter in the garden, "Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?" (Matt. 26: 53-54). And yet, even those verses show how His hands were kind of tied. This was the divine plan. I mean, I guess I could have struggled out of my harness and jumped off the roller coaster. But for all practical purposes, I was stuck. So was Jesus. I know that that had to be a terrifying feeling for a fully human Person, even if He also happened to be divine.

Psalm 33: 12-22

Verse 12 is an oft-quoted favorite among American Christians. Actually, I should say that 12a is an oft-quoted favorite: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord." I've seen this verse applied to America several times. Yet, I believe that the second half of the verse highlights the deeper truth: "Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord, the people he chose for his inheritance." Taken as a whole, I believe that verse can only apply to one of two groups of people: Israel or the church. Since the coming of Christ, God has not chosen any one nation for his inheritance. In the New Testament, the only "chosen" people of God are Christians, who come from all different nations. And the verse is so right: the church is blessed when our God is truly the Lord.

I loved this whole psalm. It was quite beautiful. I was especially fond of the image in verses 13-15: "From heaven the Lord looks down and sees all mankind; from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth--he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do." Very comforting.

Speaking of comforting, I always need to hear the idea that God is in control. You may have gathered this about me by now, but my scaredy-cat tendencies cause me to cling to any scrap of control I have over my life. I know cognitively that that is stupid, but old habits die hard. Thus, I can never get enough of passages that assure me that "no king is saved by the size of his army," and no person is saved by the size of their bank account. "No warrior escapes by his great strength," and no one makes it in this life by their own wisdom. "A horse is a vain hope for deliverance," and so is money. Despite all the great properties of both of those things, they "cannot save." Instead, our hope is to be "in [God's] unfailing love," because His eyes "are on those who fear him" (15).

Always good to be reminded!

Proverbs 9: 1-6

I was so busy this morning that I just had time to read the Proverbs portion before I tackled my mountain of housework and bookkeeping. I know it was just a metaphor, but the picture of Proverbs building and taking care of her house was inspiring to me today!:)


  1. k - clearly I am behind in my blogging commenting :) This section is weird. Definitely a repeat of alot of other stuff already said.

    I do like the thought of Moses' face radiating after talking to God - it is amazing that He talked to him for 40 days and nights. I have always tried to imagine the reality of that ..what was it like? He mentioned in yesterdays reading that he couldnt see His face, so was it all something he heard/felt. Was it quiet, or loud? Did he sound like the guy from "Field of Dreams"?

    I think it is still so apparent who God is trying to establish himself as the LORD of these stubborn people. Moses' face radiating did alot for that, for Aaron if no one else!

    Matt - I cant help but picture the Passion of the Christ here. I couldnt watch it but once, but I remember the brutalness of it. I wonder if Mel Gibson took his inspiration straight from this gospel? Its very violent - how did he keep from passing out? He had such a long way to go, with carrying the cross and being nailed to it still ahead of him. The importance of the task at hand had to be driving him.

    Psalms - "We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and shield. In Him our hearts rejoice for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love rest upon us, O Lord, even as we put our hope in you." vs. 20-22 ..Amen!

  2. Courtney,

    I can't believe I forgot to mention the face-glowing thing! I was only going to mention it in passing, b/c I was going to save any commentary for when Paul compares Moses' radiating face to our witness as Christians in one of the Corinthians:). I LOVE that analogy and can't wait to explore his take on it. But I did want to mention it here b/c it was such a cool thing.

    Thanks for bringing it up!