Friday, March 26, 2010

March 26

OT: Deut. 5:1-6:25

Today's passage had a lot of cool stuff in it, but unfortunately, I was unable to focus at first b/c I was so shell-shocked by what seemed like major contradictions from the Exodus version of Sinai. In Exodus, God was adamant about keeping the people off the mountain and away from the fire. He told Moses twice to keep them away (Ex. 19:12-13, 20:21), and He even specified that Moses should set up some kind of barrier ("limits") to keep the people away. God specified that if they came too close, they had to be killed. In Deuteronomy, Moses makes it seem like it was the people's choice because they were afraid of the fire (5:5, 24-27). I was totally baffled and shocked by this rendition. Plus, I did not recall that God gave all the people the 10 Commandments first, out loud, before His and Moses' tete-a-tete. Huh? I could hardly wait to finish my reading so that I could investigate.

Well, for starters, in Exodus, God does tell Moses that the people will hear God speaking to him from the cloud, so that they would put their trust in Moses. Exodus 19:9 says, "The Lord said to Moses, 'I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.'" However, Deuteronomy says that He spoke from the fire, and it makes it seem like God spoke directly to the people. In Deut. 5:4, Moses tells the people, "The Lord spoke to you face to face out of the fire on the mountain." So, what is it? A cloud, or fire? Did God speak to Moses, or to the people?

As for the differing versions of why the people kept their distance, I could actually see on second reading how the two versions could correlate. If Moses told the people beforehand to stay off the mountain, then their reaction would naturally be fear. They would naturally tell Moses, "Hey, it was cool hearing God talk, but we don't want to die, so we are going to leave now" (paraphrase of Deut. 5:24-25). It is just so odd to me how Moses, like, slants history. He totally picks and chooses details to convey certain things. I know I've talked about this, but it is still a bit crazy to me. Strictly speaking, Moses is not a good historian. His histories have way too much of a thesis. Not that he is trying to be a good historian; I don't mean that last sentence as a slam. I am just stating the facts. And it seems that Moses' thesis is Exodus is that God is holy. But here in Deuteronomy, he seems to be emphasizing the "love" side of God. In Deuteronomy, the emphasis is on how God carried the people and worked everything out for them. And in the Deuteronomic (ha!) version of the giving of the Law, Moses seems to stay way more positive. Yeah, he says that there are consequences for breaking the Law, but he spends way more time talking about all the good stuff that happens when you follow the Law (5:10, 28-29, 32-33, 6:1-3, 10-12, 17-19, 24-25, plus the good stuff about the 4th and 5th commands is expanded. On the other hand, he only emphasizes the negative consequences in 5:9 and 6:13-16). He also talks about fun things like loving God with all your heart and soul and strength. In general, I just got happy vibes from reading this version.

And, oh my goodness, I adore all the verses on teaching children. Deuteronomy 6:6-9 is my parenting mantra, and I also like Moses' admonition to the Israelites to recite their personal history when their children ask about the rules that they follow. That is a great admonition. It is so important to teach our children that God's instructions are not a list of rules or obligations, but rather that they are a natural, willing response to all that God has done for us.

NT: 7: 11-35

Luke is so great with details: "When the Lord saw her, his heart went out to her and he said, 'Don't cry.'" Don't you get such a great picture of Jesus from this simple sentence? Johnson was right: in a few words, Luke can evoke a whole world. His stories draw me to Jesus in a deeper way than Matthew and Mark did. I feel like I can see Jesus so clearly through his stories. I can see Him being touched by the woman's grief and telling her not to cry. I can see Him doing His most impressive miracle thus far in Luke out of plain compassion, and not to make a point or prove that He had the power to forgive sins (like with the paralytic) or whatever--not that He didn't have compassion for those people, too. Mostly, I just love that Jesus seemed to act on emotion here. I can relate to that:). I'm glad that Jesus is not coldly logical. I'm glad that He laughs and tells jokes (a plank in your eye! That's a good one!:)), and that He turns over tables and raises a boy from the dead b/c He feels sorry for his mama. I like that He appreciates ridiculously illogical displays of devotion such as pouring expensive oil on someone's feet. I like all that. I really like Jesus as a person.

Psalm 68:19-35

When I read verses 1 and 2, I thought, "I love this psalm! I love the idea of God being a Savior who 'daily bears our burdens.' I love that He is 'a God who saves.' What a great psalm!" Then, I got to the part about crushing hairy crowns and "plung[ing] your feet in the blood of your foes" and was like, "Gross." I'm not criticizing the psalm; I'm just saying that I don't really revel in violent imagery. It's just not my thing.

Proverbs 11: 29-31

"He who wins souls is wise"?? What does Solomon mean by "winning souls"? Is it just me, or does that verse seem a little ahead of its time?


  1. There is certainly a different feel than the other books - I wonder what order he wrote them in, and what time frame we are looking at? I wonder if he wrote exodus closer to and Deut more in reflection later on? It does seem more happy and positive well as more participatory. He uses "we" alot more, rather than talking about the Israelites as "them".

    I didnt mention it then, but I am still getting a kick out of his "and Moses was the most humble man in the world" (a paraphrase, but you get the idea).

    Contradictions are a tricky thing, because I can see how a person who is lacking in faith or just starting out in their belief questioning how the bible can seemingly say two separate things. I can say taht I know that the same guy wrote both, and his perspective changed from the time he wrote one and the other, and my faith not be shaken. I know we have enough faith to still believe that though it seems they contradict themselves, there is a consistency and truth throughout the narrative, but I can see how someone else may question the relevance of all of it.

    Not sure where all taht came from ..but there you have it :)

    Luke - I too love the humanity and compassion that Jesus exhibited here ...the "dont cry" resounds with me because I remember at least MAN (cause girls wouldnt say that :) say taht to me after my brother died. Its a feeling of being heart broken for someone else, even if you dont know them. I have had patients like that, where I am crying like I lost my loved one and its just because my heart is hurting for their loss.

    Another random thought - if I had the power to raise people from the dead, then I know that I wouldnt use it on everyone I knew who died..ya know? Some people are better having passed on, and compassion for their loved ones isnt enough incentive to bring them back. I think it is neat to think that Jesus knew (because of teh Spirit) when and where that was appropriate. I am sure he had lots of opportunities he passed up, though we dont hear about those in the gospels. I am just sayin.. :)

    Okay, I really do read the Psalms and Proverbs just seems like I always am out of computer time by the time I get to talking about that part. :)

  2. I think when Moses wrote Exodus, he was in the midst of dealing with all of these unreasonable people, so that frustration carries over into the book. By the time he wrote Deuteronomy, he could see more of the big picture. Also, he knew he was going to die soon anyway, so he probably didn't care so much about the Iraelites' complaining. (Just a theory.)

    Yeah, I don't like reading about God crushing people's heads either, even people who deserve it. It must be a female thing, I guess.

    In case it helps, my version of Proverbs says: "those who save lives are wise." I guess it's not really that different, but it doesn't have the same old Churchified connotation.

  3. It occurred to me shortly after writing that Exodus and Deuteronomy tell the history in two separate contexts. Exodus is written history. Deuteronomy is a written account of a speech. They seem to have different purposes, and so they emphasize different details. I still don't know about the cloud/fire thing. But everything else can really be explained by context, IMO:).