OT: Ex. 21:22-23:13
Before I start talking about the Law, I just have to say something: I love seeking God's face. The Bible promises that we will find God if we seek Him with all our heart. I am beginning to realize that this seeking and finding process could go on for all eternity. There is literally an infinite amount of knowledge to find about God. He is that big. And the more we immerse ourselves in Scriptures and meditate on them and pray, the more the layers of God's identity are peeled back. But even though each step deeper into God enlightens you, it also introduces new doors and "barriers," new mysteries to delve into (yet another way that a relationship with God can be like an episode of Lost. :)).
Today's reading provides some good examples, both of enlightenment and of mystery. I love reading the Laws that God gives His people and seeing the clues to His identity behind them. For example, all the laws in 21:28-22:15 (generally about bull-gorings and stealing) show how much God values personal responsibility among His people. The laws about treating orphans and widows well (22: 22-24) and not taking advantage of needy people (22: 25-27) show God's love for the poor and weak and defenseless. The laws about not lying (23:1) or perverting justice (23:2, 7) or taking bribes (23:8) or being prejudiced either for or against poor people ( 23:3, 6) show God's love for justice. And, in conjunction with that, the laws about leaving the fields unused on the seventh year for the poor people, and giving the animals and slaves a break on the Sabbath (23: 10-12) show His love for mercy. I especially love the laws about helping the animals of the people you hate (23: 4-5) and about not oppressing aliens (23:9). Good stuff. Good insight into God's character.
So...when I read a law that says that the negligent owner of a goring bull is to be put to death if it gores someone to death, UNLESS that person happens to be a slave, in which case he only has to pay a fine...what am I to infer from that? Is a slave's life worth less than a free person's in the eyes of God? Does God truly see him as "property"?
Or what about the law about a man seducing a virgin and getting by with just paying the bride-price. I seem to remember a law that we haven't read yet that says if a woman is accused of not being a virgin on her wedding day and can't "prove" her innocence (yikes), then she is to be put to death. Does God have double standards? Are His standards really lower for men?
I don't understand what these laws are telling me about God. Clearly, they point to a deeper truth than I am able to comprehend right now.
Thank goodness, I guess, that I have all eternity to figure God out!
NT: Matt. 24: 1-28
Ah, signs of the end times. Is it bad that I have completely given up trying to figure any of that stuff out? I just figure that God is going to come when He is going to come. I'm good at finding parallels, and I could see how right now, according to some of Jesus' predictions, we might be in the "end times." I could also see how the early Christians might have viewed AD 70 as the end times, what with the destruction of the temple and all that bloodshed. I can see how the Dark Ages, the Middle Ages, all the ages really, could be considered the "end times." WWII? Totally "end times." SO...when I read these predictions, I have given up trying to figure out what (or, more importantly, when) they mean. Maybe that's bad. But I do try to live my life with the understanding that Jesus could come back at any time, and I want to be ready with as many people coming with me as I can!
Psalm 29: 1-11
This is a great psalm about God's power. I do believe that there is an evolution of God's revelation of Himself to people. And it makes sense that it was important to first establish His amazing power. He established that firmly with the Israelites on Thunder Mountain, and that reality is firmly planted in David's heart, as well. As Christians today, I think that we sometimes lose that belief in (and that awe over) God's power. And we don't see that, because we have God in us, we should thus be powerful, too!
Proverbs 7: 6-23
This passage made me more aware of some of the literary devices in Proverbs. Solomon structures his contrast between wisdom and folly using two figurative women. One is simply called, "Wisdom." She is pretty straightforward. In chapter 3, Wisdom walks through the streets and calls out for people to follow her, giving a lengthy explanation of why they should pursue her. Folly, on the other hand, is personified by the Adulteress. In today's passage, she walks through the street, too, way-laying young men and luring them to their destruction. I think it is interesting that Wisdom and Folly are described as actively pursuing people. I also think it is interesting that adultery is basically cast as the most quintessentially foolish sin that one can commit.