OT: Ex. 23:14-25:40
Okay, I have to confess: as I read today's OT passage, I was mildly annoyed by my confusion with the narrative. There were too many mountain comings and goings for me to keep up with. So I will now type them in hopes that they will start making sense. I find that writing stuff out usually makes it clearer.
First of all, Moses goes up to the top of the mountain back in Ex. 19:20. He leaves all the people standing at the foot of the mountain, with warnings not to come closer. Then God gives him the Ten Commandments and all the laws we have read thus far. In today's reading, He continues to give him randomly assorted and confusing commands through the end of chapter 23.
And then, at the beginning of chapter 24, He tells Moses to approach the Lord while the priests and elders worship at a distance. Um, I'm sorry--did the story just start over? Moses was already on the mountain! Why is God telling him to approach again?
Reading verses 1-2 yet again, I'm thinking that Moses is still on the mountain with God, and that God is telling him these things while he is on the mountain, and that these instructions are just general instructions for the future. In the future, God will speak to Moses alone. Moses alone is to approach God, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and the seventy elders are to worship at a distance.
I think that because in verse 3, Moses goes down from the mountain and tells the people everything God said, and they are all for it. Then, they build an altar and offer sacrifices, and Moses reads the Book of the Covenant, which I guess is everything God just told him. So...he tells all the people God's words twice. I guess. Again, they are on board (3, 7).
Next, Moses, Aaron, Nadab, Abihu, and the elders go up to see God, which is cool. Maybe this encounter is what God was talking about in 24: 1-2. Same group of people. Oddly, the only thing noteworthy about God here is the pavement upon which he was walking. At least, that is all Moses describes (10).
Then, God calls Moses up on the mountain again (so this is just the second time, not the third, like I originally thought). A cloud covers the mountain for six days, I guess while Moses is on it. And on the seventh day, God calls to him from within the cloud, and Moses...goes up on the mountain. What?! He. is. already. on. the. mountain! He goes up on the mountain in verse 12 and verse 18. Why can I not understand what is happening here? It seems very simple, but upon first reading, it appeared that Moses went up on the mountain four times! At the very least, he went up on the mountain twice. I don't even get that. It's like, he gets the law once, the people agree to it, and then he goes up again and gets more law? Somebody help me, please! I don't know why this is driving me crazy, but it is!:)
Anyway, let's keep moving. I remember reading this the first time (when F. Lagard Smith conveniently conflated the whole law into one big lump of verses, which I very much appreciated) and being so stressed about all the details God gave concerning the tabernacle. The whole time I was reading all the specifics, I was thinking, "There is no way, no way, the people are going to be able to do all this so specifically!" And even though it was so specific, I still had questions. If I were Moses, for example, I would have asked how long and thick the acacia poles had to be. And what exactly does God mean by cherubim? Should the people just take their best guess at what cherubim look like? I mean, God says to "Make this tabernacle and all its furnishings exactly like the pattern I will show you" (25:9). Exactly like the pattern. That terrifies me. But maybe God did literally "show" it to Moses. Maybe Moses had visual aids. That would have been helpful:).
(I was always the one to ask a million questions in school. Can you tell? It was one of the many things that made me really cool as a teenager.)
We are still on the end times. I still don't have much to say about that. I did like the passages on being watchful. I especially loved the picture of the "faithful and wise servant" in verse 45-47. I have been really working on faithfulness lately. I want to be faithful to the things that I say I will do, and especially the things that I believe that God expects me to do. I feel that I have been given so much, and God says that from whom much is given, much is expected (Luke 12:48). I want to be faithful with all the resources He has given me, whether money, talents, time, whatever. I don't want to become complacent or to "settle" for an "acceptable" level of spirituality. God wants everything, and that's what I want to give Him.
Psalm 30: 1-12
The thing I love most about this psalm is how it portrays life's ups and downs. David describes being in the "depths" and in the "grave" and on the brink of the "pit" (1,3), and he relates how God lifted him out of all of those places. He also contrasts God's anger, which "lasts only a moment," with his favor, which "lasts a lifetime" (5). He contrasts weeping, which "may remain for a night" with rejoicing, which "comes in the morning." I like how he puts all of these things in their proper perspective. In this life, we may experience the depths, the grave, the pit. We may experience God's anger. We may experience sorrow and weeping. But as Christians, those states are only temporary. God rescues us from the darkness of night, and He will ultimately bring us into an eternity of light and joy. That joy will last forever. Here on earth, however, we will continue to have ups and downs, as David notes in verse 6-7: "When I felt secure, I said, 'I will never be shaken.' O Lord, when you favored me, you made my mountain stand firm; but when you hid your face, I was dismayed."
My favorite part is that, for God's people, our lives of ups and downs will always end on the "up." As David says in verse 11, "You turned my wailing into dancing (whoop, whoop!), you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy." (Sorry about the "whoop, whoop." I thought for a moment I was at Winterfest:).) I love that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel for us.
Proverbs 7: 24-27
Solomon is continuing his thoughts from yesterday, so I don't really have anything to add.