Friday, February 4, 2011

Recap: Chapter by Chapter in Exodus 16 to 24

Exodus 16 This chapter covers the gift of manna. It strikes me more and more that the desert is a sort of boot camp where the Israelis were trained to trust in Yahweh. For example: every day they collected just enough food, and then they had to trust God to miraculously provide the next morning. It is like they were being conditioned to have faith - and it worked. The next generation (under Joshua) was probably the best generation of Israelis ever produced.

Exodus 17 Amalek goes to war with Israel - and Israel wins. What Exodus does not tell you is that the Amalekites were attacking Israel from the rear, cutting off its most tired and weary travelers -probably the women and the children- with unusual cruelty (Deuteronomy 25.17-18). That sort of explains Yahweh's commitment to 'continually' war against Amalek. If Josephus is to be believed, and I think he is upon this occasion, taking the Amalekite camp meant Israel got the spoils of war: food, wine, clothes, light armor, gold and silver, and cattle (Josephus, Antiquities, 3.2.4-5).

Exodus 18 The major part of this chapter, the visit from Moses' father-in-law, is already pretty well covered by most. Let me zero in on something else. Jethro brings his daughter Zippporah and her children (Moses' wife and kids) back from Midian to be with Moses. I do not know whether he sent her home out of concern for her safety in Egypt, or if she left on her own after the argument in Exodus 4.24-25, but either way: it is not good for families to remain separate for very long, except under extreme conditions. Zipporah needed her husband. Her children needed their father. That universal need of wives and children -for the man who fills those roles for them- is still as practically true today as it was 3,451 years ago.

Exodus 19 In the section of Hebrews that talks about this chapter in Exodus, one of my mentors wrote in the margins of his Bible, 'God is hardcore.' And He is. For any one who doubts that the fear of God actually means fear, they should read this chapter. Lightning, thick black smoke, fire, rumbling, loud horns, penalty of death upon touching the mountain - it's all there to give the Israeli people a profound fear of God, lest they make too light of Him.

Exodus 20 Here are the Ten Commandments, covering everything from making idols to coveting your neighbor's collection of Ante-Nicene Fathers. Jesus sometimes summed them up as loving God and your neighbor. The form of the commandments is actually a lot like a 1400's B.C. war treaty between a strong king and a weak king in the middle east; essentially it is 'I have done this, now these are your responsibilities.'

Exodus 21 This is the beginning of the random list of Israeli laws. There is no order (as far as I can tell) to how they are laid out. My theory is that Moses wrote multiple journals, lists of things that Yahweh had revealed to him, and also decisions God had given him about the cases that he decided between his people from morning till night time, and then whoever compiled Exodus just wrote them down in the order he found them, without making too much of an effort to put things in order. My guess is that Joshua did most of this work, then Ezra updated it.

Exodus 22 A convicting passage about tithing: 'You shall not delay to offer from the first of your harvest.' I have gotten much better at the tithing thing over the past year (though still not good as I could have done), but sometimes I delay things for a couple of weeks or pay off something and then 'pay God back' on the next pay day. According to this passage, I'm an idolater with a love of money; I should not delay to offer my tithe.

Exodus 23 An interesting point, in quotes: 'I will send hornets before you, which will drive out the Canaanites from before you' (Exodus 23.28). God directs even nature to fight on behalf of the Israeli army. Imagine how terrifying they must have been. This army of Bedouins comes up against you; your walls fall; hornets go ahead of them; hail falls from the sky; earthquakes accompany them; the sun maintains its place in the sky and does not move; the people who God sent His people against must have thought they were demons.The Canaanites had to be freaked out when the Jewish people came up against them.

Exodus 24 Moses finally climbs the mountain of Sinai, in stages (resembling the stages to the Temple, which I will talk about in a later post). Interestingly, Joshua gets to remain with him. Also interesting is that Moses, Aaron, Hur, Joshua, and the 70 elders of Israel see God physically - or at least His feet. Of course God is invisible, so we can never say 'oh, that's what God looks like,' but that does not mean that God cannot assume a form.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Start or join a conversation! Please do not use the 'Anonymous'; option; use the Name/URL form and leave a first and last name (or last initial). Thank you.