Wednesday, February 3, 2010

February 3

OT: 17:8-19:15

I hate to backtrack, but I just read the Feb. 1 passage to Luke this morning, and I noticed two things that I thought were interesting:

1. Joseph had instructed the Israelites to take his bones with them when they left because, "God will surely come to your aid." I looked up the reference in Genesis 50: 24-25, and it seems like the tide was turning against the Israelites even within Joseph's lifetime. When Jacob died, Pharoah let them go bury him. But it seems that as the time nears for Joseph's death, they are pretty much trapped in Egypt. Interesting that it started happening so soon.

2. The Red Sea took all night to part (Ex. 14:21). I've never really realized that.

Moving on.

I have to note that God specifically told Moses to write down the victory against the Amalekites. I love God's exact instructions: "Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered..." (Ex. 19:14). "History" is from God, people:). Not just what happened, but the record of it. It is important. Honestly, it seems clear to me that history, both on the world-wide level and the domestic level, is a way through which we come to know God.

I love Jethro. Love him. He seems so cool. I picture him strolling through the desert into the Israelites' camp, and I just see him as the coolest guy ever. I'm not sure why. He just seems to take everything in stride and to always do the right thing. Moses sends his daughters and grandsons back to him, which seems a little crazy, but Jethro still seems cool with his son-in-law. Then, he hears about their victories, and he takes it upon himself to deliver Moses' family back to him. While there, he hears the specifics of the story and has the appropriate reaction; he worships God, even though he was a priest of Midian. Then, he watches Moses for a day, and completely restructures the Israelite judicial system. I mean, he is the man! And then, he is like, "Peace," and leaves. So cool. Did I mention I like this guy?

When I read the story of Jethro's advice to Moses four years ago when I first read through the Bible, a good friend of mine was currently drowning in ministry. She was working at the same inner-city ministry I used to work at, and she was trying to be everything to all of the kids all by herself. It wasn't healthy (for her or the kids), and she was being sucked dry (yes, she was drowning and being sucked dry. I love mixing metaphors:).) Anyway, I actually called her and told her this story, and it seemed to really help. The moral to me is: Delegate! It is not healthy to have one person responsible for a big group of people. There needs to be some kind of leadership group or hierarchy. Ministry should not suck you dry. If it does, something is wrong!

Oh, and I noted today that Moses just had two sons, and their names indicate that he was in a better place spiritually with the second one than the first one. This information slightly modifies my theory about the scene on the way to Egypt where God was ready to kill him.

NT: Matthew 22:34-23:12

Of course, I always love to read the Greatest Commands. This time, though, I was confused by what Jesus said afterward. He seems to use some wordplay with Psalms 110 to stump the Pharisees. The point seems to be to prove that the Christ would not be a son of David. But Jesus was a son of David. So...what was that about?

Verses 8-12 seem incredibly anti-hierarchical to me. I just had a conversation yesterday with a good friend who is a Catholic, and I have to admit, a lot of her biblical interpretations were making sense in light of their interpretation of the "keys to the kingdom" passage that we discussed in such depth earlier. These verses, though, seem sooo anti-hierarchy. Jesus tells his disciples not to call anyone "Rabbi," or "father," or "teacher," because only Christ should be those things to them. It reminds me of the OT passage cited in Hebrews:
"No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest. " (Jer. 31:34, Heb. 8:11)

Of course, Paul kind of seems to reintroduce some hierarchy, and you definitely see a leadership structure in Acts, but these verses make it sound like it is just you and God! That is an interesting paradox. I am going to have to think about that one some more.

Psalm 27: 7-14

I love the "happy David" psalms:). This one has some wonderful verses. Perhaps my favorite today was verse 3: "My heart says of you, 'Seek his face!' Your face, Lord, will I seek." That just happens to be right where I am lately. I'm telling you, you start meditating on the Word, and all sorts of good things start happening inside you!

Along those lines, I always love verses that say things like, "Teach me your way, O Lord; lead me in a straight path" (11a).

And I have always clung to verses 13-14: "I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord."

Proverbs 6: 27-35

This was an interesting passage. To me, it emphasized the unforgiving nature of sin. Remember my earlier Workcamp analogy? (Probably not:).) It was all about how the consequences of sin are often seemingly out of proportion to the crime. The examples in this passage illustrate that fact. Solomon starts off by explaining how even a man who steals to feed his starving family has to pay seven-fold if he is caught, even if it will ruin him and even though people are sympathetic to him. SO, how much more disastrous is a reckless, selfish sin like adultery? It will destroy you. As Solomon puts it so well in verses 27-28, "Can a man scoop fire into his lap without his clothes being scorched? Can a man walk on hot coals without his feet being scorched?" Exactly. Cause and effect, people. And the effects of sin are often so much more destructive than we realize.


  1. I'm with you on Jethro. He is uber-cool. Thanks for doing this every day; it's an important part of my AM routine.

  2. Gen. 50 seemed a bit unusal to me when Joseph was taking his father to his burial place. It seemed almost as if Joseph was escorted, as in house arrest, to the burial place. Maybe not. Also, Joseph was unable to speak to Pharaoh directly. Regardless, thanks for pointing out that wording of Joseph, very interesting. And I am so thankful that the Luke is reading too! Love you!

  3. ok, i will try to explain what larry told me- he may have to jump in...

    Jesus was trying to say that if the Messiah is the son of David, why in Psalms does David call the Messiah his "Lord"? He's not saying that He's NOT David's lineage, He's just trying to show that He is beyond time, existing before and after all. basically stump them. *i hope i got that, larry!*

    and about hierarcy...we do have some structure (elders. deacons.) but we don't have another authority. Only God. others may shepard the flock ("feed my sheep") but i am only accountable to God.

  4. It may be because we haven named kid #3 Joshua ..but I love the set up for Joshua being a leader even this early in. I love how God says about the Amalekites to write it down and make sure "Joshua hears it".

    Also, a sidenote that you would appreciate. Haman, of the story of Esther, is a descendent of the Amalekites. Using this verse she, makes a powerful connection between the ongoing story of God's people and this man who is out to get them several centuries after this section of Exodus.

    ..."The Lord will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation." It seems that is true, as God works quietly in the story of Esther and continues to protect his people as he did from the desert using Joshua and Moses.

    Love how it all intersects!

    Jethro ..great guy. He seems so supportive and encouraging. I love the wording when Moses is sharing about how God worked in Egypt .."he was delighted to hear about all the good the Lord had done for Israel." You can see him just eating it all up. Good stuff.

  5. 2012 Thoughts:

    This year, I may have projected some of my feelings about my understanding of the Bible onto the NT text. When I read Jesus' words to the Pharisees about the Christ coming from David, and then using the Psalm to frustrate their interpretation, I got this message from it:
    Jesus is saying that the Bible is complex. Don't be so confident in your specific interpretation that you ignore the passages that seem to thwart it. Even if your interpretation is right (as the Pharisees were in this case), you still have to acknowledge and grapple with the texts that frustrate your understanding.

    Like I said, I might be projecting a bit, but that's what I got this year.

    Also, why does Jesus tell the people that they have to obey the Pharisees. I see that his justification is that they sit in Moses' seat, and I just read about Moses being the judge of the people and being their intermediary to God. But I thought Jesus Himself came to be the new intermediary. So why is He propping up the Pharisees' power with this command? I don't get it...