OT: Ex. 35:10-36:38
These chapters depict one of my favorite scenes of the Israelites. Truly, it might be my favorite scene. If the Israelites' history were made into a movie, this would be the triumphant musical montage in the middle. It would be like in the Kevin Costner version of Robin Hood when they were preparing for warfare in Sherwood Forest. I loved the triumphant music of that scene, as well as the nature of everyone coming together and working. Or maybe it would be like the training scene montage in Remember the Titans after the players break through all their racial tension.
I'm getting off track. The point is, this is a cool scene. I especially love how voluntary everything was. There was not a lot voluntary in the Law; its tone was more, "Do this or die." Yet, here was a chance for the people to give strictly because they wanted to. I love the line, "everyone who was willing and whose heart moved him came and brought an offering..." (35:21). In a way, the tabernacle itself was such a beautiful offering to God, made from goods voluntarily given and services voluntarily rendered. It was the meeting of heart and deeds, a true fulfillment of the purpose of the Law.
I especially like how God gave the craftsmen the knowledge that they needed. I mentioned before how stressed out I initially was while reading the tabernacle instructions. I did not have the Spirit of the Lord giving me understanding, and thus, I was confused on many points. Oholiab, Bezalel, and co., on the other hand, "were given skill and ability to know how to carry out all the work of constructing the sanctuary" (36:1). I love that they were able to build with confidence, to know that they were carrying out the plans correctly. I think that it's b/c I never have confidence when I'm doing manual things, whether it be a high school science lab or even just cooking dinner. My learning style, let's just say, is not kinesthetic. It's nice to know that there are those people in the world, like my mom, who can do great things for God with their hands and can have confidence while they do it!
NT: Matt. 27:32-36
Courtney mentioned Mel Gibson's Passion movie yesterday. I think Greg and I are the only two people in all of Christendom who haven't seen it. I simply have no desire to see Christ crucified. Reading about it is enough for me. I have heard enough Lord's Supper talks detailing the gory specifics of crucifixion to know it is something that I don't want to witness. Oddly, reading the narrative today, I think that Matthew kind of felt the same way. It struck me as quite strange today that he totally "skips" the actual crucifixion. There is no sentence that says, "And then they crucified him," or, more specifically, "And then they nailed him to the cross." Nothing. Matthew is quite specific on all the details of Jesus' death except for his actual crucifixion. The text simply jumps over it: "There they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but after tasting it, he refused to drink it. When they had crucified him, they divided up his clothes by casting lots" (34-5). See that? He just skipped right over it. It's like the author is turning his head away even as he writes. He doesn't want to see it, either. Who would?
Just thinking about the fact that the practice existed horrifies me. And that they crucified robbers and dissenting believers of religions that they didn't even acknowledge. I mean, those do not seem like good reasons to nail a human being to a piece of wood, and then to watch him squirm and scream while the life slowly drains out of him. And I mean, slowly. Whenever I read that "from the sixth hour to the ninth hour," it always strikes me that this process was hours long. I remember thinking while I was in labor that Jesus suffered much worse than this and for almost as long. And it struck me that it would be infinitely worse to be in such pain and to not be surrounded by people supporting you and telling you constantly that you can do this. If I had experienced that pain while surrounded by hostile, mocking people who were enjoying my suffering...I just can't imagine that concept.
I am always relieved when Jesus actually dies. Thank God it's over. And then, I am promptly intrigued by the centurion's reaction and especially Joseph of Arimathea. In Matthew's version, the centurion is impressed by the earthquake, but other versions say something like, "When the centurion saw how he died..." I've always wondered how Jesus' death looked different from all the other hundreds of people that the centurion saw being crucified. Ugh. What a job.
And Joseph. What an amazing act. I just can't understand his motivation. Here was a rich guy who had a lot to lose. He had become a disciple of Jesus, but he wasn't privy to all the "heads up" talks that Jesus gave to the Twelve (not that it seemed to matter with them). So, what is he to think when Jesus dies? I mean, to him, it just had to be like, "It's over. It's done." So why would he take the risk and go get the body? Clearly, the Jewish leadership had spoken, and things did not look good for followers of Jesus. Peter was so terrified by the turn of events that he denied Jesus three times. The rest of the disciples (minus John) were nowhere to be found. But here came this random guy strolling up. I tell you what, he has some guts. Regardless, the gesture is so touching. I actually teared up reading about it today. I guess I have a thing for people taking great risks to make symbolic gestures supporting (seemingly) lost causes. There is something so noble about that.
Oooh, I love these verses! David really has a way with words, you know? Like, "The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them" (7). What great imagery! What a wonderful vision. Also, how about, "Taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him" (8). If I were writing an English paper, I don't know whether I'd call David's invitation to taste the Lord synesthesia or a metaphor. Synesthesia occurs when you mix up the senses. Of course, I don't know what sense one typically experiences God with, but I'm betting it's not taste. However, I think it is more of a metaphor. Regardless, the words form a powerful image. Love it.
Most of all with David, I just love the simplicity. His words have such power because they just state simple truth: "This poor man called, and the Lord answered him; he saved him out of all his troubles" (6). "Fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing. The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing" (9-10). So simple. So true. I especially love the repeated theme in the Bible of how the strongest things on earth have nothing compared to the strength that comes from God.
Proverbs 9: 7-8
These are very "trapping" verses. They corner you, and give you no way out. No one likes to have their flaws pointed out. My natural reaction veers closer to defensiveness than gratitude. And yet, these verses make sure that you are humbled by your flaws. If you heed correction happily, you are humbled by the correction itself. But if you resist correction, you are humbled by these verses, which basically call you a fool. There is just no getting around the humility part!