Chapters 9-12

No surprise that there is a lot to comment upon here, given that these chapters lead up to the Passover. There are, naturally, strong thematic and symbolic connections between what happens at the Passover and Jesus’ death and resurrection. For example, the painting of the door’s lintel and the cross. (On an aside, I have heard one Jewish woman refer to the Exodus account as “superstitious nonsense.” I find that fascinating for a whole swag of reasons.) This is what I noticed and wondered about when reading chapter 12.

“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or the goats. ” (v.5) [ESV] Yes, Jesus was “without blemish”, and is called “the Lamb of God”, but I wonder if there is a connection here to the parable of the sheep and the goats (Matthew 25:31-35)? In hanging on the cross and taking on the burden of our sin, did Jesus in effect become both a “sheep” and a “goat”. He died for everyone, the saved and the unsaved. The “sheep and the goats” is such a strong metaphor, that it makes me wonder if there is more to it. Here’s another tenuous observation: the Israelites leave Egypt (v.34) with their bread still as dough in kneading bowls or troughs [NIV]. Jesus is called “the Bread of Life” and was born in a manger, or feeding trough. I wonder too, whether there is any connection between God’s instructions about unleavened bread (v.17-20), the baking of bread after the expulsion (v.39), and Jesus’ parable about the yeast spreading through the dough? Probably not.

Didn’t realise until reading Chapter 12 that these events mark the start of the Jewish calendar. More than 600,000 people left during the Exodus. Even if we assume that the Egyptian population was only double this, we’re talking tens of thousands of deaths, possibly even hundreds of thousands. The scale and impact of this particular plague is incredibly brutal. It is likely that in some families, both the father and the eldest son would have died. We often assume that it was just the young, but read the verses again; they don’t make that distinction. No wonder there was such wailing. (v.30) Not sure what to think of Pharaoh asking for a blessing (v.31) after he finally releases the Israelites to go and serve the Lord as Moses had been persistently requesting for so long. It seems a little audacious! God is very clear that no foreigners are to share in the Passover meal. (v.45) Where does that place us today? Or are we under the new covenant, and the Jews still under the old? There is also another mention here of God stretching out his arm – this image pops up a lot in the OT that I’ve read so far. What does it mean? [14-04-2008]

Chapter 20

Sometimes I have trouble reading the OT – some of the stories seem either primitive or folkloric, or both – and key characters seems borderline fanatics. Reading with 21st century eyes that have a general knowledge of science, Mt Sinai has to be an active volcano – “Now when all the people saw the thunder and the flashes of lightning and the sound of the trumpet and the mountain smoking, the people were afraid and trembled, and they stood far off …” (v.18) and again in 24:17 – “Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in sight of the people of Israel.” How do I read and interpret this image of God when it seems that what the people saw was actually the smoke and lava from the volcano? How does this shape my faith without being an unsatisfactory pat answer? [05-05-2008]

Chapter 24

This is not long after the 10 Commandments have been given, and the institution of various Feasts relating to the Passover – the feasts of Unleavened Bread, of Harvest, and of Ingathering. It’s been an interesting couple of chapters – perhaps this is where some of the imagery from the Psalms comes from. Being washed “whiter than snow” for example – the people having washed their garments to ensure they were clean in the sight of God when he descended Mt Sinai on the third day (19:10), and then Moses sprinkling them with the blood of the covenant (19:8).

But what I like about this chapter is this: “Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, and they saw the God of Israel. There was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness. And he did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; they beheld God, and ate and drank.” (v.9-11). These people shared a meal with God. How awesome! How wonderful. Seventy-three men saw God, ate in his presence, and were witnesses to not only his glory but his existence, not just Moses. And yet their experience of God wasn’t proof enough for the rest of the nation. But we’ll come to that later. We’re not so dissimilar.  [05-05-2008]

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