Today, we read the episode of the golden calf that the Israelites began to worship while Moses was on the mountain talking with God. Another happy story says Gene. How explicit God was about keeping the Sabbath. Steve asked how men in battle deal with the Sabbath. How do we deal with God’s command to kill sons brothers and neighbors. Is this a story of how you got the priests. What about Aaron. Did God discipline him. Aaron probably saw this as an image of God in his mind. Aaron was a Levite. God was ready to abandon this people and Moses argued for the people. Was this foretelling of Jesus. What is our representation of God? Is it like the child who says, “you will know when I finish this picture.” Is it Charlton Hesston. Moses saved the people by arguing with god as Abraham had argued for Lot. What about the plague that was mentioned. This was a story to emphasize the specialness of this people. Is an example of this the idol worship of Hawkeyes. Do the Jews have a lectionary? Rabbi Portman says this is about obedience to God. Making the rules black and white may be a mistake and a human attempt at being God. Jason says the Sabbath is the day for being focused with God and holding him as first in our lives.
We will move to Galatians next week.
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.
This was Pastor Pries’ last session with us until late August because he will be on his sabbatical until then. Today was a session on the Israelites’ relationship with God at Mount Sinai. Chapter 19 talks about God not wanting the people to actually see him because they can’t stand it, they will die if they see God’s face. We are reminded here of Peter’s reference to the chosen people in I Peter 2:9 referring to them as a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession. Recall that Peter like all of the disciples was a Jew and still thought of Christ’s followers as being the Jewish people. Chapter 20 is the first statement of the 10 commandments. We start out with a discussion of God’s place with the people. The people actually heard from God. He spoke to them and said they should have no other gods before Him. If you honor your parents your children will have learned how they should honor and respect you and care for you in your old age. Hopefully that will happen!! Some commandments were straightforward and could be stated simply, while others needed explanations. Commandments were attempts to civilize the people. They continue on in the next chapter. The ten commandments are restated in chapter 34 in the other voice of the OT> Then they are restated again in Deuteronomy 5. I have been interested in the relationship between the code of Hammurabi which was written on clay tablets in 1700-1800 BCE in Babylonia. Since Moses was supposedly of the time frame 1400-1500 BCE or so, it would appear that Moses or God copied the code of Hammurabi since the two are so similar. However, there are several earlier references to God’s commandments and laws. In Genesis 26:4, God gives the covenant to Abraham and in Genesis 26:5, God says he is making the covenant with Abraham because Abraham obeyed My voice and kept My charge, My commandments, My Statutes, and My Laws. This was a good 400 years before Moses and at least 100 years before Hammurabi’s code. In Exodus 16:28, the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep My commandments and My laws?” This indicates again before Mt. Sinai that God had commandments and laws that the people knew about and didn’t always keep. One distinction between the two is that God’s commandments recognized that the intent of a crime made a difference in the punishment. This was not the case with Hammurabi’s laws. So God recognized the difference between Murder and manslaughter. Here is a link that compares Mosaic law with that of Hammurabi on a commandment by commandment basis. I wouldn’t put much stock in the discussion of when they were written down, but it is interesting to see the comparison. http://www.specialtyinterests.net/codexhammurabi.html It is interesting that people of that time thought it was important to have specified laws to deal with problems between people.
The chapters we read today focused on Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, who gave advice to Moses about delegating authority over the judging that he was doing for the Israelites. It was getting to be a sizeable task as the number of people grew and along with that the disputes among themselves and their desire to find out the will of this God who insisted that they wander around this wilderness, the Desert of Sinai, for 40 years. Jethro was a Midianite priest and also a sheepherder. Moses had worked for him a sheepherder and had married his daughter, Zephania.
The Israelites were complaining as they wandered in the wilderness. As usual, the good old days looked very good. Chaos breeds complaining, so now they complained about the lack of water. So God thru Moses gave them water. Moses also gave them an external foe, the Amaleks who were waging little battles against the stragglers. Who were the Amaleks? The Jewish Encyclopedia suggests that the Amaleks were a nomadic nation south of Palestine. They were a stock related to the Edomites. Amalek is a son of Esau’s first-born son Eliphaz and of the concubine Timna. So they were linked in this way to the Hebrews. The link to this reference is http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/1351-amalek-amalekites They were referred to even in Abraham’s time. See Genesis 14:7. At this time they are indigenous tribesmen and God said that Moses should direct Joshua to annihilate them. Obviously they didn’t do that because they were still around during the time of David and Saul. The Wikipedia reference is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Amalek
A timely article brought up by Steve was an opinion piece in the Press Citizen suggested that from Pharoah’s perspective, Moses was a terrorist. That doesn’t fit very well with our perception because Moses was working for God and was freeing the people, but I suppose a lot of innocent people suffered and even died in Egypt might dispute that as well.
Here we talk about getting established in the Wilderness, and here is a map of the wanderings in the Sinai desert.
Miriam is credited with both verses 1 and 21 as songs of praise to God. Miriam was listed as Aaron’s sister not Moses’. She probably included here as the voice of the people. Then God through Moses made the water sweet so they could drink it. At this point, God laid down the law for them and said that if they obeyed him, they would not fall prey to the fate of the Egyptians. Then the people were introduced to manna. It might have been a sort of flour. Here we have the first mention of the Arc of the Covenant in that it is used to store a sample of manna for their future remembrance.
I asked what the Muslims say about Moses. According to Islam, Moses is mentioned more in the Quran than any other individual and his life is mentioned more that that of any other prophet. They believe that there are many parallels between the life of Moses and that of Muhammad. Moses is also seen as receiving the revelation of the Torah which is regarded as one of the true revealed scriptures in Muslim theology. The story of Moses is very similar to that which we have been reading in Genesis.
This may have been the first mention of the Sabbath in the instructions about Manna since Adam in the Garden of Edom. The Catholic church appears to be somewhat like the tribal model that Moses followed in his time. Did the Israelites think about heaven? When did heaven come about? some evidence suggests it was available in the time of Job.
Today we read and discussed the plagues from the Frogs to the institution of the Passover and the deaths of the first born sons of every family in Egypt.
Why did God say to use unleavened bread. One writer says it is because there wouldn’t be time for the bread to rise as the Israelites were going to have to leave in a hurry. http://wiki.answers.com/Q/Why_is_no_leavening_used_on_Passover The Jews are not supposed to possess any leavened product during Passover, so they have come up with an interesting solution. They sell it all to a Muslim who is willing to help them out. See the reference: http://www.pri.org/theworld/?q=node/25584
There is another reference that gives quite a detailed explanation of this prohibition on using leaven. It is at the following web site: http://www.therefinersfire.org/yeast_or_leaven.htm This author says that many of the new translations are inaccurate. That what we are really talking about is something called chametz and this is created by letting flour and wat
We started to do the plagues.