Exodus 33

The people must have been traumatised after the false gods experience, then the killing and now with Moses back he negotiates with God about whether the whole enterprise will continue. God says they can have the promised land, but he will not be present with them. It only seems reasonable as they are a landless people right now.

It’s an exodus scene I wasn’t aware of before. Pre- tabernacle Moses has a tent of meeting, he goes and talks to God like a “friend”. The pillar of cloud rests the as he does so and all the people stand at the mouth of their tents and watch him, worshipping.

Moses pleads with God to stay with them, and in relenting, God decides to show Moses his glory. He can’t look directly at god’s face, only his back.

Contemplating how extraordinary was Moses’ relationship with God, I start to realise ours is better. We have Jesus’ face to contemplate, and his indwelling spirit to meet and chat anywhere we happen to be.

If I plead with God, it will be over my son’s mental issues. Can’t he gave a happy life?

Exodus 28

The priestly garments. Emphasise quality: gold, linen, rich colours. Evokes the holiness of God. 

Also representative. The names of the 12 tribes are engraved in precious stones attached on a breast plate. The chosenness of the people.

And wisdom. The garments and paraphernalia have symbolic help with decision making built in. The sense of guidance and of truth.

 

Exodus 20

The ten commandments. They are said by God directly to all the people. They freak them out and they tell Moses to go further up into the mountain and hear more. 

I was stuck by the first… It’s more a final summary of what God has been telling them since the burning bush. There are no other god’s but him. It’s the first four really, they flow as a logical consequence of what has just happened.

And i was stuck by covetousness. I mean murder, adultery, dishonour of parents. They happen.

But coveting. It’s casual and constant in a way that the others aren’t. We treat it less like sin. whole economies and societies, even theologies and careers, are built on coveting.

The easy enemy of coveting is contentment. It’s a powerful, releasing word to just say to yourself sometimes in my opinion.

Exodus 14

The stunning victories of God over the Egyptians. God hardens their hearts and they pursue the Israelites despite all the clear messages of the power of God above their gods.

God makes it dark, he jams the wheels of their chariots. He leads the chase a though a sea which is a wall of water for the Israelites’ and downs the Egyptians.

They are told to stop running, virtually baiting the Egyptians to come and try to get them back. But the plagues haven’t convinced the Israelites of god’s power. Keith green seized on this as a metaphor. They wanna go back to slavery, to Egypt. They are terrified when the Egyptians pursue them.

It’s worth remembering when i lose yet another argument with an atheist. You would think the Israelites would be the strongest believers ever, but they constantly question Gods power.

Exodus 10

Never underestimate how wrong people can be. Locusts, darkness for 3 days you can feel. Pharaoh is giving ground but both know it’s not about just going away to worship God for three days, it’s leaving with everything. 

So Pharaoh allows the men to go. No, women and children too. So then he allows everyone to go, but not take livestock. Nup.

Everything is 3 days, notice that? 

It’s god hardening Pharaoh’s heart this chapter, that his mightiness may be known. I don’t really understand: do we need god’s help to be greedy?

Ends ominously, Pharaoh is sick of Moses, sends him away and doesn’t want to ever see him again. “You won’t”, says Moses.

Sometimes God doesn’t just speak, he yells.  

Exodus 8

Plagues are in full swing now. 

Frogs. To demonstrate the lord’s power Moses accurately commands them to die first in the houses, then in the river. But the magicians can copy and pharaoh isn’t impressed.

Gnats. The magicians can’t copy that one and say it is the “finger of God”. Pharaoh doesn’t listen.

Flies. They cover everywhere except where the Israelites are. Pharaoh finally relents… A little… Offers a compromise deal: they’ve been asking for 3 days worship time in the desert. He offers it locally. Moses sticks to the request. They do a deal. He calls off the flies. Pharaoh renigs.

It’s not just Pharaoh who is learning about God here, his power his persistence, its Moses. He must be getting much better at taking to Pharaoh. He’s learning that God never gives up.

Exodus 4

Don’t want to be chosen.

I remember C S Lewis’ autobiography talking about being dragged “kicking and screaming” into the kingdom. 

It’s hard to demand your people’s freedom from the ruler who came up with the male infanticide policy, and threaten to kill his first born. Moses has run away from a life of unique privilege because he fears he may be killed for his rash murder of an abusive Egyptian he came upon. 

He’s given magical signs to show he is speaking with power. But he still doesnt want to speak to the Pharaoh. 

God says memorably “who gave human beings Thier mouths” and burns with anger at his chosen. 

And puts in place a plan B, to use his brother Aaron as mouthpiece.

On the journey back to Egypt, God seems to test the family is loyal to him, even though zipporah, Moses’ wife, is not an Israelite. She gets the gist the way women seem to and circumscises her first baby son. 

The people, when he arrives, worship God for sending a solution, albeit a flawed one, to their slavery and persecution.

Exodus 3

A momentous moment in the Bible. This will be the biggest demonstration of god’s power since creation. 

The Israelite religion doesn’t exist. God appearances in genesis were as the god of promise. There was fairness, gentleness, grace in his interventions in the generations of an often sordid family. 

Now he will be the saviour of nations. The holy one. He will speak and speak here. 

And it starts when Moses wanders to a different place than usual with his sheep, sees a bush alight that doesn’t burn up, and hears his name.

Genesis 30

Women are thrown at Jacob and he doesn’t say no. Rachel, not conceiving, sends her servant to him. Bing bing, more Israel tribes. 

Leah, not to be outdone, sends her servant. Bing bing again.

Both women are keen to eat rare mandrakes… a folk infertility cure, found by Leah’s son. Leah let’s Rachel have them in payment for a turn of Jacob. Bing.

The women are treating him like a stud bull. It’s a household that is very pragmatic about sex.

The mandrakes appear to work for Rachel (could she have tried prayer and trust of God?). Bing! Joseph is born. The account ascribes it to God finally having mercy on Rachel.

Jacob prepares to leave laban and set up on his own. He devises a crafty differential breeding program to diddle laban and get all the strong livestock as part of his separation package. 

Business as usual, everyone tricking everyone else. OK we’re getting how the tribes of Israel came to be, but it’s not a glorious process. 

Barely any mention of God at all this chapter. His plans are being realised, but he doesn’t seem present or part of their everyday lives, despite Jacob having had a grand vision of heaven and angels given to him.

2 Samuel 2

David is talking to God again. David is a man of war and of action. But he is also deeply godly, though he has been though a time of personal spiritual rebellion living almost as a philistine.

It’s been years since he was anointed king. He will not seize it. He waits for God. When he becomes king it will be gods doing, not his. 

It can be tempting, if you feel you know god’s will, to push him along a bit. But you risk losing sight of where god’s will ends and your own ambition starts. Not so David!

A weak king, representing the Saul power base is given the larger part of Israel. David reminds them of the respect he always gave Saul, and tells them not to do it.

There is a long civil war, hideous, literally brother against brother, as the Saul base try to take all of the country and only becomes weaker and weaker.

David’s patience is a terrific example. To him the end does not justify the means, he stays true to his principle though it all.

David is talking to God again…