My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Monday, January 31, 2005

Exodus 26

Taberbacle construction manual

Summary:
God tells them to make the tabernacle with ten same size curtains, connected through loops and golden clasps. These curtains are to be made of goats hair. These curtains are to go over a frame of acacia wood. There are to be twenty frames with forty silver bases each for both the south and north side, and six frames for west and, and two for the far end. There are also to be acacia wood crossbars. There is to be a curtain inside the tent separating the holy place from the most holy place. The ark of the covenant (or testimony) is to be in the most holy place. The table and the lampstand are to be in the holy place. There is to be a curtain entrance.

Key verse:
30. Set up your tabernacle according to the plan shown you on the mountain.

My thoughts:
Sheesh, if I got this set of construction instructions, then I'd be scratching my head more than once! It's a bit hard to follow. That's why pictures of the tabernacle like in my NIV study bible are good.

The tabernacle was very important as it was the dwelling place of the ark, and of God himself in the holy of holies (most holy place). Only very few people could enter there, and even then it was dangerous. It is a model for later built temples.

Sunday, January 30, 2005

Exodus 25

God gives Moses building plans

Summary:
God tells Moses to collect offerings from those who wish to give them. God tells Moses to have a sanctuary built for him.

God begins to say how the sanctuary is to be built. An ark and a table are to be made from acacia wood. The ark is a chest to be coated with gold, and is to contain the tablets God wrote on. It's to be carried on poles. There are to be two golden cherubim (angels) on the ark.

The table is to be covered with gold, and carried on poles. It has bowls and pitchers on it. The bread of the presence (twelve pieces, one for each tribe) is to be on the table.

A lampstand is to be made of gold. It is to have the classical jewish seven candles, with another four cups off it shaped like flowers.

Key verse:
2. You are to receive the offering for me from each man whose heart prompts him to give.

My thoughts:
Giving was always to be a personal decision that you have the freedom to make, not a forced expectation.

This is the beginning of six chapters of detailing building instructions. It would less frustrating if it wasn't all repeated from chapter 36. However the detailed care which God gives for the building of his sanctuary shows how much God is trusting Israel to provide a place resembling his perfect temple in heaven as his earthly dwelling place. God truly intended to live on Earth with Israel, and by making this tabernacle, the Israelites would be attempting to recreate God's heavenly dwelling.

This is the first of three times where God dictates the building of his temple. Here it is the temporary moving tent in the desert. The second comes when Solomon builds the permanent temple hundreds of years later, which is later rebuilt in the time of Ezra and Nehemiah. The third is in God's revelation to Ezekiel, however that temple has not been built yet.

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Exodus 24

Dinner with the G-man

Summary:
God tells Moses to come up the mountain with Aaron, his two sons, and the seventy elders of Israel. All but Moses are to worship at a distance.

Moses had written down everything God had told him, and he reads it to the people, and the people say they will obey. He takes some of the blood from an offering he had made, and declares it the blood of the covenant.

Moses, Aaron, his two sons, and the seventy elders went up the mountain and saw God, and ate and drank.

God told Moses again to come up the mountain so God could give him tablets of stoone with the law on them. Moses comes up with Joshua, leaving Aaron and Co to deal with Israel. A cloud appeared on the mountains, and six days later, God called Moses into the cloud. Moses stayed in the cloud for forty days and nights.

Key verses:
7. We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey
8. This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you

My thoughts:
This chapter has many parallels with Jesus and with the last supper. The expression 'blood of the covenant' is used in Mark 14:24 by Jesus in reference to his own blood as the blood of the new covenant. The blood used in Exodus is that of a bull; redemption came from the blood of animals. However, with Jesus, redemption comes through the blood of a man - Jesus himself.

Moses and Aaron and the elders seem to dine with God in verse 11, which parallels with the last supper, where the discples dine with Jesus, and the covenant is established there.

Moses spends forty days on the mountain, as Jesus spent forty days in the desert being tempted.

When Moses went up the mountain he had to wait six entire days, just waiting for God to speak, before God finally chose it was time to speak. So often we get so disappointed because we don't hear God in our ten minute quiet times. Maybe we need more patience.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Exodus 23

More laws, and God promises guidance

Summary:
Don't pervert justice in court on account of bribes, the social status of the defendant - anything! Look after the property even of enemies.

Keep a day of rest every seventh day, and keep a year of rest every seventh year, to give the poor a year to get food from your unused land.

The three festivals in a year are to be the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Harvest, and the Feast of Ingathering.

God promises an angel who will go before Israel, and who will help them if they trust the angel, and follows God's commands. God promises that he will pave the way for the Israelites, but at a relatively slow pace, so the Israelites can keep up.

Key verse:
2. Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong

My thoughts:
These laws again shows God's desire for truth. It also shows the importance he sees in the Sabbaths and the Feasts for his people. Even the Sabbaths are seen as a way of helping the poor.

I think the key verse I have quoted is very important, and we would all benefit from following it. Though people are generally more independent these days, the desire to follow the crowd seems stronger than ever, however probably in more subtle ways. Ultimately I do not believe that you can get too far as a Christian until you step out and make decisions towards God on your own accord, rather than simply following others.

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Exodus 22

Laws on possessions and general morality

Summary:
Thieves have to pay back extra for what they steal. The starter of a destructive fire is to be punished. If someone is borrows goods and it gets stolen or lost, the cause is to be determined, and the appropriate punishment dealt.

Men should marry virgins they seduce, and pay the bride-price. Sorceresses have no place in God's people. Don't have sex with animals. Only make sacrifices to God. Be nice to foreigners. Be nice to orphans and widows. Don't charge interest on loans. Don't blaspheme. Be generous with offerings. The firstborn belong to God. Don't eat meat killed by wild animals.

Key verse:
22,23. Do not take advantage of a widow or an orphan. If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.

My thoughts:
God is hugely concerned about justice for the poor and needy. He will always defend the side of the oppressed. Often modern evangelical Christians are so concerned about church numbers and making people say the sinners prayer, we forget God's desire for justice for the oppressed.

Most of the laws in this chapter are common sense, except that freedom of religion does not apply to God's chosen people. To be a Jew was not a racial thing, or ultimately a national thing. It was a God thing. To be a Jew, you had to be devoted to God alone. If you weren't devoted to Yahweh (God) alone, then you could not be part of his people. This is a different basis for a nation than in this day and age.

Another aspect which is not normal now is the idea of loaning wihtout interest. God understood the trap interest made for the needy, and wanted nothing to do with it.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Exodus 21

Laws on servants and injuries

Summary:
Hebrew servants are to be set free after 6 years of service, unless they want to become a servant for life. Female servants do not get set free, but they get freedom at any time if they are not properly cared for.

Kidnapping and intentional murder are to be punished by death. Unintentional killing may be redeemed by as time of fleeing. In terms of injury, punishment must be equal to the crime committed. Killer bulls are to be killed, and the owner will be punished if he knows his bull has violent tendencies but doesn't fence it up.

Key verse:
24. eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot,

My thoughts:
The laws for servants are put in place to protect the oppressed and those who can't protect themselves. No servant is to be forced to be a servant for life. This is in contrast to other nearby cultures where the law often protects the rich and powerful from punishment. There is a different law for female servants, however it must be kept in mind that this law is not the fulfilment of God's plan for our lives, but rather a God-inspired state law for God's chosen people, Israel, which was a patriachal society. The fulfilment of this law does not come until Jesus.

Most of the law on injuries and killing makes sense with modern understanding of morality. The eye for eye principle is the basis for fair punishment across all social boundaries, however is not complete in teaching us to deal with personal wrongs, as Jesus later clarifies by saying "If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also" (Matt 5:39). This Jewish law, as in modern law, accepts intention and neglidence as possible deciding factors in determining punishment.

Tuesday, January 25, 2005

Exodus 20

The Ten Commandments

Summary:
Moses gets the Ten Commandments from God. They are:
1. There's one God
2. Don't have idols
3. Don't misuse God's name
4. Keep the Sabbath holy
5. Honour your parents
6. Don't murder
7. Don't commit adultery
8. Don't steal
9. Don't bear false witness
10. Don't covet

The people were afraid of the cloud of God, and begged Moses that God would not speak to them directly, cos they were afraid.

God restates not to make any other Gods, and also instructs Moses to make an altar, which is to be made purely of undressed stones.

Key verse:
3. You shall have no other gods before me.

My thoughts:
These commandments are the base of morality which God gave his people, and they are well known today. They are repeated in Deuteronomy 5. A lot of modern law is originally based on these commandments. It is useful that God gave a general approach towards morality before he gave a lot of specifics in the coming chapters and books. I feel that this shows that, though God appreciates holiness in the details, he is more focussed on overall morality, kindness and right thinking.

The first four commandments are about God, and the final six are about other people. This corresponds with Jesus' summary of the law (which I have summarised further), which was to love God, and to love others.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Exodus 19

God calls Moses up the mountain

Summary:
God told Moses to tell the Israelites to keep the covenant and not follow Egypt's fatre. God then tells Moses to prepare and consecrate all the people for when God will come like a cloud on Mount Sinai. If anyone other than Moses or Aaron approached the mountains, they were to be put to death. Moses goes and tell his people to consecrate themselves, and to not come onto the mountain. Moses and Aaron go up the mountain.

Key verse:
5,6. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for a me kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

My thoughts:
Though Israel is set apart for God, God still cares for and has authority over all things on earth.

Without an understanding of Jesus' redeeming sacrifice, the people had to cleanse themselves to be able to be in God's presence, and even then they could not come close, because then they'd be put to death. Though we now can happily approach God through Jesus, we must also realise how extremely holy God is, and how unholy we are, and how those two things shouldn't mix.

My Bit:
Just got back from the road trip, with enough time to write today's blog, so it's not late! Woohoo!

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Exodus 18

Moses’ father-in-law gives some advice

Summary:
Moses had sent his wife to Jethro, his father-in-law. So Jethro comes to greet Moses in the desert, and congratulates him and his God for being rescued from the Egyptians. He see that Moses is the judge of all the people, and he gives advice that Moses should delegate this responsibility to trustworthy people, to reduce his workload. Moses does this.

Key verse:
18. You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out.

My thoughts:
It’s good to know the Bible cares about burnout. Here a useful idea of delegation is suggested by Jethro.

Jethro was not a Jew, and was relatively pagan, despite his admission that Moses’ God was the greatest god. However, his wisdom here is still invaluable.

My Bit:
I have done about four posts in advance, cos I’m off on Road Trip 2005. I might miss Monday’s cos I didn’t have time to write 6 chapters today. I only managed five. Make sure you go and read the last few chapters!

Saturday, January 22, 2005

Exodus 17

Water and battle

Summary:
The Israelites moved on from the Desert of Zin, to a place called Rephidim, where there was no water, and the people complained. God told Moses to strike a rock at Horeb and water will come out. Moses does this, and the people have water to drink.

The Amalekites attacked the Israelites, and Joshua led the army there. Moses held up the staff on a hill, and when he did so, the Israelites were winning, and when he didn’t, the Israelites were losing. He got a bit tired, so Aaron and Hur had to help him. The Israelites beat the Amalekites, and Moses built an altar.

Key verse:
7. “Is the Lord among us or not?”

My thoughts:
When they were hungry, God gave them food, when they were thirsty God gave them water, when they were in battle, God brought them victory. Yet somehow, the Israelites still manage to doubt whether God is with them. What more do they want?

This chapter introduces Joshua as a victorious war leader. He later becomes Moses’ successor.

Friday, January 21, 2005

Exodus 16

Bread of heaven

Summary:
The people get annoyed because they have no food in the desert, whereas they at least had food in Egypt. So God promises food. So that evening, quail came and landed near them, so they had meat. In the morning thin flakes were left on the desert floor. This was their bread, which they named manna. They were told by God to take what they needed each day, and not to keep it longer than a day, except on the Sabbath, when they would’ve taken twice as much the day before. If it was kept overnight, it would be rotten in the morning, but not on the Sabbath. No manna appeared on the Sabbath. They were to rest on the Sabbath. Some manna was put in a jar by Aaron for future generations to look at. They ate manna their whole time in the desert.

Key verse:
4. I will rain down bread from heaven

My thoughts:
Here we see God the provider, as he provides for the most basic need of his people. The image of manna, or heavenly bread is used as an image of God’s provision. Ultimately it is also used as a symbol for God’s word, the bread of life.

God is consistently providing miracles for his people. They would wake up, and expect a miracle so that they could eat. And God continued to bless them. Later on miracles are special events, which don’t become daily mundane occurrences. This was a special time for God’s people, and unlike other times, God didn’t seem to leave a lot of room for doubt.

Thursday, January 20, 2005

Exodus 15

The song of triumph and the two springs

Summary:
Moses and the Israelites sang a song. It went a something like this:

God is good because he drowned the Egyptians in the sea
God will drive out the nations of Canaan and set us up there

Miriam, the prophetess sister of Aaron, sang and danced with tambourines with the women singing a similar tune.

The Israelites then came to Marah, a spring, but it was bitter water, so God told Moses to throw some wood into the water, and it became drinkable. God promised that he would not bring plagues on Israel, like he did to Egypt, if they followed his decrees. From there they went to Elim, where there were twelve springs.

Key verse:
26. I am the Lord, who heals you.

My thoughts:
It was common for songs to be sung after battles had been won. Here the song is completely about the success and power of God, for it was only him who won the battle. The Israelites didn’t even fight.

The modern Pentecostal denomination, Elim, is named after the area of springs that the Israelites find in this chapter.

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Exodus 14

Through the sea

Summary:
God told the Israelites to backtrack to Pi Hahiroth near the sea. The Pharaoh suddenly realises how many workers he's lost, so he decides to chase all the Israelites with his entire army. When the army comes, the Israelites freak out, so Moses gives them a prep talk, and then at God's command he raises his staff over the sea, after the angel of God and the cloud had gone between the Israelites and the Egyptian army. Then God split the sea with a great east wind throughout the night, and the Israelites went through it. The Egyptians follows, and God confused them by ripping off their wheels and stuff, and then he made the water flow back, and they all died.

Key verse:
31. And when the Israelites saw the great power the Lord displayed against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord and put their trust in him

My thoughts:
The parting of the sea is often dipicted are being quite a quick event, however, here it states that it took all night.

Throughout the story of the exodus, God does many things, including this famous event, which are designed to bring glory to himself. God was making a nation for himself, as the start of the plan to bring the fallen world back to him, and he had to make an unforgettable impression, and he uses the Egyptians to do this.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

Exodus 13

Festival establishment and God's lead

Summary:
God instructs the Israelites to consecrate all their firstborn, whether from people or animals, to him. He then reminds them of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is seven days of eating bread without yeast, followed by a great festival on the seventh day. Each firstborn child is to be redeemed by sacrifice of a lamb. These traditions are all to remember the original passover, when God killed all of Egypt's firstborn.

Now out of Egypt, God leads his people on a longer route, which doesn't pass through Philistine land, so that they don't get discouraged by going straight from Egypt to war. Moses had the bones of Joseph with him. God lead his people as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day.

Key verse:
9. This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips. For the Lord brought you out of Egypt with his mighty hand.

My thoughts:
We are just starting to get into the law, with God commanding about festivals. The first five books of the Bible are considered the books of the law, however the first book, Genesis, is entirely narrative. The remaining five books contain different proportions of law and narrative, and there is much more law from now on in. Ultimately it is the law of the Old Covenant, so we do not assume that it is to be followed by those under the new covenant, under Jesus. However, in the old law we can often see the nature of God, which is still relevant now, and we see some aspects of morality, which we are still expected to strive for as Christians. For example, we don't celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, but we do follow the Ten Commandments, such as 'don't murder' and 'don't steal'.

One of the aspects of God's character which comes out strongly in the law is the use of sacrifice. It is often the death of a lamb in payment for sins, or in this chapter, in place of the firstborn. This is an important idea to understand in light of Jesus' ultimate sacrifice for the entire world.

Moses is taking Joseph's bones out of Egypt to keep the promise that Joseph's brothers made to him.

This chapter uses the imagery of a sign on yoru hand and forehead. This imagery is used to show something that you are not trying to hide, something the world can see, and that you will not forget. In this case it is their national identity. This imagery is also used throughout the Bible, and in Revelation, where it is used in reference to the sign of Satan on the hand and forehead, to show that peopel had completely sold out to Satan.

God appearing as fire and a cloud shows God's relationship with Israel as the guide.

Monday, January 17, 2005

Exodus 12

The Passover

Summary:
God specifies to Moses and Aaron the way the first passover should be done, and also how it should be done as a lasting annual festival. It should happen on the fourteenth of the first month, and a lamb without blemish is to be eaten, along with unleavened bread. They should put the lambs blood on their doors, so when the angel of death passes over Egypt, it knows not to go into the doors with blood on them. The Jews are to continue this practice into the future, with also a seven day Feast of Unleavened Bread.

The Jews did this, and at midnight, God struck down all the firstborn of Egypt. The Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and demanded that they left. So the Hebrews left Egypt with all their possessions, and with whatever they could get off their Egyptian masters. They left exactly 430 years after they arrived.

God makes it clear that you have to be circumcised to take part in the passover feast.

Key verse:
49. The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.

My thoughts:
I figure if only some countries took that key verse seriously, then we might have a lot less problems.

There are interesting comparisons between the passover lamb and Jesus. The passover lamb is without blemish and it is the blood of that lamb which saved the people from death - like Jesus. Interestingly, God commands that no bone in the lamb is to be broken. This is often compared with Jesus, particularly in John 19:36, because none of his bones were broken, as prophesied in Psalm 34:20.

A lot of the traditions of passover come from the fact that the Jews had to rush off on the exodus shortly after the meal. They ate with sandals on and a staff in their hand. Nothing was to be left for the next day.

My Bit:
The "Only x days to go!" thing in the sidebar doesn't seem to be working properly anymore, so I'll have to get that fixed! Sorry about that...

Sunday, January 16, 2005

Exodus 11

Moses promises the final plague

Summary:
Moses promises to Pharaoh that all the firstborn of all people will die, and that then the officials will beg the Hebrews to go. Moses said the Hebrews would be unaffected by the final plague. God had previously relayed this to Moses.

Key verse:
1. I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt. After that, he will let you go

My thoughts:
My friend was confused because just previously in chapter 10 Moses said he would not see Pharaoh again, and here he is in Pharaoh's presence again. Reading through the narrative, I believe that this chapter is a direct continuation from the previous chapter. So it is more like Moses saying 'Alright, I will not see you again, but first know that there will be one more plague etc.'. After this final statement before Pharaoh, Moses does not plan to see Pharaoh again.

The three chapters of plagues have ended, and we move into the Passover. There is one more plague, however it is not described in the same way as the others as it is much more significantly.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

Exodus 10

Two more plagues to the mix

Summary:
Moses and Aaron went again to Pharaoh, threatening locusts this time. Pharaoh says he will let just the men go up to worship, but Moses is like 'nup!', and the locusts come, and eat everything.

Then came the darkness. Darkness filled Egypt for three days. This time Pharaoh is willing to let the women go, but not any livestock, and Moses is still unwilling. Pharaoh gets annoyed, and tells Moses never to see his face again. So Moses says "Just as you say, I will never appear before you again".

Key verse:
7. Do you not realize that Egypt is ruined?

My thoughts:
Tha plagues are reaching their peak, and this is the last time Moses sees Pharaoh. I think it is a very interesting psychological battle between the Pharaoh and Moses. Something must be stopping the Pharaoh from simply trying to have Moses killed. I think the major difference is that Moses has the power of God with him, so ultimately he is in control.

I remember reading a book about the colonisation of Africa called "Things Fall Apart", which was a good book. We studied it in English. In that book locusts were seen as a blessing, because they were food, which I thought was interesting. I got annoyed when people in my class tried to make it seem that the missionaries were somehow bad and wrong in how they saw locusts as a curse because of Biblical stories, because locusts were a blessing in this African tribe. It's undeniable that locusts were a curse to those who it affected in the Bible, so the missionaries had full right to stories where locusts were a curse. It just annoyed me that's all... That's my rant.

Friday, January 14, 2005

Exodus 9

More plagues

Summary:
Because Pharaoh refused to let God’s people go, all of the Egyptian livestock died, but none of the Israelite livestock died. Then Moses threw soot into the air and all animals and people became covered with boils. Then God warned that he would send the worst storm ever, with huge hailstones. This happened, and all who were left outside in the hail died. The Pharaoh heart hardened still, and he did not let Moses take his people out.

Key verse:
16. I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.

My thoughts:
God could’ve destroyed Egypt in one blow. God was supremely more powerful than anything in Egypt. Why did he bother with these long drawn out plagues then? This chapter gives us the answer. God raised up Egypt for the purpose of showing his power, and so that God’s name would be glorified.

Often we wonder why God does some things in the world, or why he allows them to happen. Usually I believe they somehow fit into God’s plan, and this example with Egypt is just one example of how it can be part of God’s plan in a way we might not always expect.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Exodus 8

Let my people go!

Summary:
God tells Moses and Aaron to go to Pharaoh again, this time threatening a plague of frogs. Pharaoh refuses to let them go, so the land gets covered with frogs. The magicians can do this too. Pharaoh says that he will let them go, if Moses prays and makes the frogs go away. Moses prays, the frogs die, but Pharaoh heart hardened and he did not let them go.

Then came the gnats. The magicians could not produce gnats like Moses and Aaron did, and they confessed that God was behind Moses and Aaron’s plagues.

The Pharaoh still did not listen, so the flies came next. The flies were everywhere except Goshen, where the Hebrew lived. Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron, and offers to let them go if they make the flies go away. They make the flies go away, but Pharaoh still didn’t let them go.

Key verse:
19. The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”

My thoughts:
This part of the Bible is a very famous part of the Bible, and is a part that I find quite exciting. When I read it I always see the scenes from the Prince of Egypt in my mind. I loved that movie.

The plagues are getting worse and more numerous. The magicians cannot reproduce these plagues, and they admit that God is behind them. Pressure is building on the Pharaoh – his land is being ravished by the God of these Hebrews. However, the Pharaoh will not let them go until the God has finished showing his power.

Wednesday, January 12, 2005

Exodus 7

Let the plagues begin!

Summary:
God sends Moses to Pharaoh with Aaron as Moses’ instrument. God says that he will harden Pharaoh’s heart and that he will not comply with Moses and Aaron.

Moses and Aaron come to Pharaoh and turn the staff into a snake. The magicians also do this by secret arts. Aaron’s snake eats the other snakes. Then Moses and Aaron meet the Pharaoh when he is on the Nile. The Pharaoh still refuses to listen to Moses and Aaron, and Aaron puts the staff into the Nile and all the water turns into blood, so that they have to dig trenches to get drinking water. The fish also died. The magicians could also do this by their secret arts. The Pharaoh still refuses to listen to Moses.

Key verse:
3. I will harden Pharaoh’s heart

My thoughts:
It is hard to tell the exact role between Moses and Aaron in this narrative. It is possible that Moses is not even present when Aaron goes to the Pharaoh, or is only sometimes there, and often in the background. The staff swaps between being Moses’ staff and Aaron’s staff.

Even though the Pharaoh is not complying, God is in full control. In fact it is him who is stopping the Pharaoh from complying. Sometimes it is hard to understand why God seems to be fighting on both sides. For example here God is pushing to have his people freed, but is also preventing them from being freed. One thing we can see about God in these situations is his absolute dominance. Nothing happens if he doesn’t allow it, so in a way all things, good or bad, are allowed by God. It is encouraging to know that God is totally in control, but the question is why doesn’t God just stop the bad things. It is a huge issue, which I will brush over by giving the (half-)answer that we don’t currently live in a perfect world, and God has no intention for the world to be made perfect until Jesus comes back.

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

Exodus 6

God promises deliverance

Summary:
God encourages Moses by reassuring Moses who he is, and that he will lead his people out. Moses tells this to the Israelites, but they did not listen. Moses doesn’t think the Pharaoh will listen either.

Jacob’s son Levi had a son Kohath, who had a son Amram, who bore Moses and Aaron.

Key verse:
7. I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God.

My thoughts:
Moses and Aaron descent from Levi as described here is unlikely to be comprehensive. It is more likely that Moses and Aaron were descendants of Amram, rather than direct offspring. It is common in Jewish genealogies to skip generations, as in the Gospels.

God makes an interesting statement in verse 3 that he was known to the patriarchs as El-Shaddai (God Almighty) rather than as Yahweh (The Lord). Here God himself makes it clear that he is known differently to different people. I think this is important because it makes it less likely that the different appearances of God are the result of different authors with different theological agendas, and makes it more likely that it is simply the different ways in which God chose to reveal himself at different times.

Monday, January 10, 2005

Exodus 5

Moses makes things worse

Summary:
Moses and Aaron go to Pharaoh asking that their people can go worship their God. Pharaoh rejects this offer and forces all the Hebrew slaves to produce the same quota of bricks, however without anymore being provided with straw. The Hebrews can’t do this, and are punished and they unsuccessfully appeal to the Pharaoh. The Israelites get angry with Moses and Aaron for causing their workload to increase.

Key verse:
2. I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.
22. O Lord, why have you brought trouble upon this people?

My thoughts:
Moses ends this chapter even more disheartened. Things are not going to plan. Often we expect that if it’s God’s will everything will run smoothly. This idea is not supported in this story of Moses or in the Bible as a whole. In fact, it could better be argued that if you are doing God’s will, then you are more likely to meet resistance.

The Pharaoh states that he has no knowledge of God, and so he won’t let the Israelites go. Often Christians will assume that people have knowledge of God, and should therefore understand our thoughts and actions. We should realise that we live in a society that has less and less understanding of God, and we should not assume what may seem obvious to us.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Exodus 4

God empowers Moses and he goes to Egypt

Summary:
God gives Moses three signs that he can use to prove to Pharaoh that he is sent from God. The first is that his staff turns into a snake; the second is that his hand can become white and leprous at will; the third is that he can turn Nile water into blood. God tells Moses to take him staff

Moses gets all shy about fulfilling God’s plan for him, and God gets angry, and tells him that Aaron will help him, but to just go.

Moses heads back to Egypt. On the way God goes to kill Moses, but Moses’ wife, Zipporah saves him by doing some speed-circumcision on their son. Moses then meets Aaron and they worship together.

Key verse:
11, 12. Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go

My thoughts:
Like Moses we often feel we aren’t good enough for God’s call on our lives. I love God’s response to Moses when he expresses this feeling, he basically says ‘I’m God – when I say something, I mean it. Don’t make excuses!’. The truth is that none of us are good enough for the call that God has on our lives. But when we step out in faith to do God’s will, he will bless us, and allow us to fulfill his plan despite our shortcomings.

The narrative between verses 24 and 26 is one of the strangest narratives in the Bible. God seems to be keen to kill the person he just chose to lead his people out of Egypt. I guess we have to say that God knew that he wouldn’t have to go through with the killing, so it was just a serious warning to Moses to keep his kids circumcised and within the covenant.

Saturday, January 08, 2005

Exodus 3

The burning bush

Summary:
Whilst tending sheep, Moses stumbles across this strange bush, which is on fire but does not burn up. God speaks to him through the bush, and tells Moses to go take God’s people our of Pharaoh’s land. God says his name is “I am who I am”. God promises to take his people out into Canaan. God is aware that the Pharaoh will no let them go easily and plans to strike the Egyptians which amazing wonders.

Key verse:
14: ‘I am who I am’

My thoughts:
Here God gives himself a name – I am. I find it interesting that God give Moses a straight answer here. Moses asks God’s name, and God gives it. God doesn’t always give straight answers. The name ‘I am who I am’ is truly profound as an expression of God. It is a statement of his existence, a statement of his authority, and demands faith from us. God doesn’t need to inflate himself. He is who he is.

Some scholars believe that the first five books of the Bible are written by 4 sources, by 4 (or more) authors. Two of these strands are ‘J’ and ‘E’. J is used to describe the parts where God is referred to as a personal intimate God who uses no medium known as Jehovah, or Yahweh. E is used to describe the parts where God is referred to as a more distant God who uses a mediator or medium, known as Elohim. I struggle to see these as distinct and separate sources, as in this chapter the idea of the God who uses the medium of the burning bush, and the God who is called Yahweh (I am) are both firmly established.

My Bit:
Well, the kid's camp, Cutting Edge, got flooded, and we all got evacuated. So I'm back home. I've done two posts in advance, because tomorrow I head off to Cutting Edge Take Two (at a new venue), and I probably won't get another opportunity to post until Sunday. Enjoy!

Friday, January 07, 2005

Exodus 2

Moses

Summary:
Moses is born, and his mother tries to hide him from the Egyptians. After three months, she can’t hide him anymore, and she puts him in a basket down a river. Moses’ sister follows the basket, and sees the Pharaoh’s daughter find Moses. Moses’ sister offers to find a Hebrew woman to nurse the child, and Moses’ own mother ends up nursing him.

After Moses had grown up he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, and Moses killed the Egyptian secretly. The next day, Moses realises that he was seen killing the man, and he flees to Midian, where he helps some girls. Moses is taken in by the girls’ father, Reuel (or Jethro), and Moses marries one of the girls, Zipporah, and has a son Gershom. Meanwhile, the Israelites remained in slavery.

Key verse:
24. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob.

My thoughts:
Interestingly Moses is born into a similar situation as Jesus, where young boys are being murdered, however both Moses and Jesus manage to survive. This could be a spiritual attempt to stop Moses and Jesus.

Though Moses was obviously wrong in his murder, it does show his passion for his own people, the Hebrews, despite being born in an Egyptian house.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Exodus 1

A new king with a new way of dealing with Hebrews

Summary:
From the 70 Hebrews who came to Egypt with Jacob, there were now thousands upon thousands. God blessed them and they multiplied like bunnies and filled the land. A new king who didn’t know or care about Joseph turned up, and he decided there were too many Hebrews, so he decided to make them all slaves, and told the Hebrew midwives to kill all the newborn sons. But the midwives didn’t, and God blessed them for that. Then the new Pharaoh order ed that all buys born should be thrown into the Nile.

Key verse:
7. the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly

My thoughts:
Exodus picks up right where Genesis leaves off, after the death of Joseph’s generation.

The word ‘Israelites’ is first used in this chapter. The Hebrews have changed from a family into a nation, however they won’t truly have their full identity until they are lead my Moses

My Bit:
I’m off preaching at a kid’s camp, Cutting Edge, and I don’t have easy internet access, so I’m posting some chapters in advance. So make sure you check out the last three posts! Oh, and sorry about the change in font etc. I can’t seem to change it on this computer. I’ll look into it more when I have some more time next week.

Wednesday, January 05, 2005

Genesis 50

Joseph buries his father, and later dies

Summary:
Joseph wept greatly at his father’s death, and got him embalmed Egyptian style. He then requesting to take his father up to Canaan and bury him there. The Pharaoh allowed this, and sent a large company up with Joseph, and they buried Jacob at Machpelah where Abraham was buried.

Back in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers were freaked out that Joseph was still angry with them, but Joseph reassured them.

Years later, Joseph died after requesting to be buried in Canaan.

Key verse:
25. God will surely come to your aid, and then you must carry my bones up from this place.

My thoughts:
Well, this is the end of Genesis. After chapter 11, Genesis basically follows the lives of four generations characterised first by Abraham, then by Isaac, then Jacob, and finally by Joseph. Joseph has now died, and Genesis comes to an end. Joseph’s final words clearly signify the future of Israel, that they will not live in Egypt, but that God will bring them out to Canaan.

The fact that Joseph had to reassure his brothers again means that his relationship with them still can’t’ve been that strong, however to his credit, it does seem that he is making as much effort as he can to strengthen the relationship.

Yay for finishing a book!

Tuesday, January 04, 2005

Genesis 49

Jacob blesses his sons prior to his death

Summary:
Each son gets a blessing. Reuben is the firstborn, but is scorned for sleeping with his dad’s concubine. Simeon and Levi are scorned for their violence. Judah is praised, and is prophesied to be a ruling powerful tribe. Zebulun is said to be a haven for ships. Issachar is blessed as a hard-working donkey. Dan is blessed for its justice. Gad is blessed for surviving attack. Asher will have good food. Naphtali is a free deer. Joseph is a fruitful vine, who stands strong, and who is greatly blessed by God. Benjamin is compared with a wolf.

Once he gave his blessings, Jacob asked to be buried at Machpelah with Abraham and Isaac. Then Jacob dies.

Key verse:
10. The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.

My thoughts:
This chapter is quite different from the rest of the Genesis, as it is an extended piece of poetic prophecy in the middle of narrative chapters. It is interesting to note the differences between the different son’s blessings. Some seem to be more like curses, such as for Simeon and Levi, who are simply condemned for their violence.

This chapter also contains the first messianic prophecy, which I have as the key verse. This prophecy is initially fulfilled in David eight hundred years after Jacob would’ve said these words, but is ultimately fulfilled in Jesus, another thousand years after that. Often it is thought that messianic prophecy started with the books of the prophets, however, even before the nation of Israel was truly established, the expectation of a Messiah was there.

Monday, January 03, 2005

Genesis 48

Jacob blesses his grandchildren

Summary:
Joseph finds out his father is nearing death, so he goes to him with his two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob is stoked to see them, and chooses to bless them as his own sons, not as grandchildren. Joseph gave the elder son, Manasseh to be blessed first, and Ephraim second, but Jacob blessed the younger ahead of the older on purpose. Jacob promises to Joseph that God will take him back to Canaan.

Key verse:
19. Nevertheless, his younger brother will be greater than he

My thoughts:
Jacob’s promise to Joseph that God will take him back to Canaan doesn’t ultimately get fulfilled until his bones are buried there in Exodus 13:19.

Here again the younger is blessed ahead of the older. Of the chosen line of Abraham there is not a single eldest child, which receives the chief blessing. Isaac, Jacob, Rachel, Benjamin, Joseph, and Ephraim were all preferred, yet were all younger children to an older sibling. This is quite bizarre in the near-eastern 2nd Century BC culture. The first shall be last and the last shall be first!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Genesis 47

Israel’s dying wish

Summary:
The Pharaoh speaks with Jacob. Jacob says that they are shepherds. The Pharaoh lets them live in the prime land on Egypt, and they get food, whereas everyone else around is starving. Everyone is starving so much that they have to sell everything to buy food, and they eventually sell themselves into servitude of the Pharaoh. So Pharaoh gives them food and seed, but everyone has to give one fifth of their produce to the Pharaoh.

Israel becomes very close to death, and makes Joseph swear that he’ll be buried in Canaan where his fathers are.

Key verse:
27. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

My thoughts:
This chapter makes me think of Joseph as an even worse person, who God uses through his sin. It seems that he uses the power of being a ruler in Egypt with great pleasure. Joseph allows the people to sell everything they have, and eventually to sell themselves, when he had food all along. He does not seem to show much mercy on the people.

Saturday, January 01, 2005

Genesis 46

Jacob’s family goes to Goshen in Egypt

Summary:
Jacob heads off to Egypt, and God confirms that this is the right thing, and that he will return his descendants to Canaan someday. 70 people, not including wives, went to Egypt with Jacob. In Egypt Jacob meets Joseph and weeps. Joseph tells them to tell Pharaoh that they will be shepherds in Goshen.

Key verse:
3. Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt

My thoughts:
God knew that his people would eventually become despised slaves in Egypt, however he still encouraged Jacob to go down there. God saw the need to create a true national identity by spectacularly bringing them out of Egypt later. God saw the bigger picture. Often in our lives, we get caught up in the here and now, and we don’t understand why God does things which don’t seem to help. Though we may not understand it, we need to trust that what God is doing is right in the long term.

My Bit:
My first truly late post. I just got back to New Zealand, and I just plain forgot! Sorry…