We are going to start at Exodus 31:12 next time, so your assignment is to read chapters 29-31:11 on your own before then.
These two chapters described the way that Aaron should be outfitted as a priest of God and how the arc of the covenant should be built. We rebelled to some extent about the continuation of the mundane recital of laws governing the place of worship and the description of the priest. Aaron. But then questions were raised about various aspects of the church and its rituals. A question was raised about how one of the very important parts of the law, namely, to keep the Sabbath holy was violated so much today, and yet it was imposed on Adam and Eve by God all the way back to creation. Another question was raised about Luther and what he preferred to be called since he was both a priest and a monk. A reference to Lutherquest.orgg states that the pastor was a servant to home and state by divine decree. He thought that the pastor was to speak and teach as God’s servant in the church and that the pastor is accountable to God to preach and teach God’s word correctly. He also thought that the congregation was more important than the pastor. The reference for this is http://www.lutherquest.org/walther/articles/jmc00312.htm. Yet it seems that here in Exodus, God was making Aaron to be a very high being. He was being decked as someone superior to the ordinary people. Yet it appears that Luther didn’t see it that way. Aaron is designated as the person to be in the chamber with God and therefore he needs to be properly clothed. We talked about communion and how ministers prepared for it. Cultures have myths and they create traditions that remember those myths. Does that mean that we are just superstitious about all the details of the church and its operation? A question was raised about why all of this stuff was included in the Bible. Bill replied that all the fights about the inclusion of books were about the New Testament, and the Old Testament we taken as it had developed for many years.
Vicar Jason Adams provided the commentary today.
- Pastor Meyer started off by discussing the use of different sources in the text, and the importance of understanding the original context in reading the OT
- Eldon brought some resources about the Ark of the Covenant and the shrine and the ways in which Israelites understood the ways in which they were to honor God.
- The building of the Ark and the Tabernacle are examples of the new way in which God will dwell among the people, going where they go in the wilderness, into battle, and into the Promised Land. Just as they are a people set apart, the Tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant are items that are set apart for God.
- Lots of gold was used in the making of the Ark and the Tabernacle – the people must have carried golden items out of Egypt, and they were giving the “best they had” to be obedient and to build the Ark/Tabernacle.
- We noticed a difference in the way Jesus lived a very simple life, without adornment
- The Kaaba, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaaba at the center of Mecca, is stated in the Qur’an to be the first house of worship for people to worship Allah.
- Like the Tabernacle, it might be considered a holy place in which items dedicated to God are contained.
- Bob Moninger told a story about St. Pat’s & St. Wenceslaus’ remodels, and compared to St. Mary’s in Iowa City.
- Some questions:
- Why would God need such an elaborate place?
- What does this say about how the people viewed God?
- How has wealth and human influence changed the church and the ways we worship today?
- How do economic differences and power imbalances affect how we view God active in our lives?
Today, we read a lot of the laws and rules that God gave the people to guide them as they wandered through the wilderness. Some of them were interpersonal rules of how to handle disputes between individuals, and some were rules that specified the relationship they should have with God. We discussed the authority of the scriptures and what this should mean to our lives. How can we decide which of the laws to continue to abide by and which are just more appropriate to the times. Since most of us don’t have oxen, the rules about what happens if you steal or kill an ox are not really relevant to us. But among all the rules there were several that emphasized our interaction with God. There are also several that have been emphasized time after time.
One of the main items in the covenants with God has been the one God belief. Most people in those times believed in multiple gods, so that there is a specific god for each aspect of your life. God specified that he was the one God and that the people should have no other gods before Him and they should honor Him. This was unique at that time and represents a giant leap for the understanding of the people.
Secondly, another law was the tenet that there should be a day of rest and worship every week. This was first part of the covenant with Adam at the conclusion of creation. It was reiterated to Moses. Maybe it was because the people had been slaves in Egypt for so long and had been required to work 7 days a week. But it seems a fairly strong command from God. We also then get into the numerology of the importance of 7 and some multiples of 7. There is a nice reference to the importance of the Sabbath in http://www.worldslastchance.com/biblical-christian-beliefs/sabbath-in-the-bible.html
All of the laws were part of a general reliance on covenants in those days. Some of these were covenants like the ones that God created with His people, Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, etc. But there were also covenants between peoples. Possibly one group controlling another and laying down the restrictions and the ways that interactions between peoples should be conducted. It was important in Moses’ case that the people be represented so 70 elders of the people as well as Moses and his assistants climbed the mountain for this conference with God and then ratified the agreement that they would agree to the terms of the covenant with God. Remember, that only Moses was actually able to be in the presence of God. Here is a brief discussion of the event as described in Exodus 24. http://blog.spu.edu/lectio/covenant-ratification/ Here is another reference on the Biblical covenants that I found interesting. http://www.gotquestions.org/bible-covenants.html
We are privileged to have Pastor John Meyer join us in Mark’s absence. I am sure we will all profit from his presence. This chapter contains the rules that God set for the Israelites on how servants should be treated and how personal injuries caused by someone or something should be handled. Pastor John suggested that one of the reasons for God giving the Israelite laws was to distinguish them from other peoples at that time. The Ten Commandments might well then be recognized as those laws which are at the top of the list and which must be obeyed above all to be in compliance with God’s covenant with us. And they require we place God above all other gods. The other laws and rules are important but are used to provide rules of conduct with each other, not as important as the primacy of God.
We are presented here with rules set down at this time and one of the issues we must deal with is which of those rules apply today and which don’t. John G. found a web site that had an interesting discussion about this issue. Here is the link. http://www.answersingenesis.org/articles/2013/05/06/christians-follow-old-testament-laws The article suggests that there are a couple of ways that people think about following Old Testament laws. One is that changes are made with new covenants, and in one case, all laws stand except those changed by the covenant, and the other is that a new covenant provides a new set of laws. At least that is my rudimentary understanding of it.
The commandments can be organized into three categories:
1. Relationship with God
C1. No other gods before Me
C2. Don’t make graven images of me or other Gods
C3. Don’t take the name of the Lord my God in vain
2. Religious or family kinds of laws
C4. Remember the sabbath to keep it holy
C5. Honor thy Father and Mother
C7. Thou shalt not commit adultery (although some societies make this a civil law.)
C9 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor (lying under some circumstances is a civil offense)
C10. Thou shalt not covet
3 Civil kinds of laws
C6. Thou shalt not kill
C8. thou shalt not steal
The laws about God and those I have classified as religious or family are those that may well set apart our lives from those who choose not to live by these laws given to Moses by God.