The Cutting Room Floor – Exodus

I had every intention of writing a weekly blog highlighting things that didn’t make our lessons on the Old Testament.  Obviously, this hasn’t happened the way that I intended…so I’ve got some catching up to do!  Instead of digging for stuff that didn’t make the lesson, I’m going to post about 2 or 3 verses/passages/details that pique my interest and that might hopefully lead to some discussion.

“As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites looked back, and there were the Egyptians advancing on them.  In great fear, the Israelites cried out to the Lord.  They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness?  What have you done to us, bringing us out of Egypt?  Is this not the very thing we told you in Egypt, ‘Let us alone and let us serve the Egyptians’?  For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” (11:10-12)

Throughout the Torah, God is repeatedly exasperated, frustrated, angered, and on the verge of severing relationship with Israel at several points.  I can’t say that I blame Yahweh for this – from the start, Israel is complaining pretty much all of the time.  Granted, their complaints are about essentials: threat of death, lack of food, and lack of water.  Israel’s complaining indicates a lack of faith in the God that has rescued them from slavery.  From the beginning, the people of Israel had seen the power of God and work, they are repeatedly given what they need to live, and they repeatedly complain about their situation, even to the point of claiming that a return to slavery and oppression would be preferable.

This is something that we should seriously think about.  What kinds of things do we complain about?  Does our complaining indicate a lack of trust in God’s goodness and love for us?  And much like the Israelites, at times we even complain about the blessings we receive.  Israel was hungry – God provided manna.  Then Israel wanted meat.  Israel cried out for liberation from the Egyptians and God freed them – then they faced some difficulties and they were longing for the “good ol’ days” in Egypt.  One of my operating assumptions in our ongoing Old Testament series is that Israel is simply a microcosm of all of humanity and we might see ourselves in Israel’s occasional ups and very frequent downs.

Those of us who are trying to follow Jesus and honor God with our lives need to pay close attention to whether or not we are living with a sense of entitlement as it relates to God.  One of the more difficult lessons of discipleship is understanding that God does not owe us anything.  Even so, we proclaim that in Jesus Christ, God has given us so much – salvation, love, grace, life.

People praying over (to?) the Wall St. bull during the 2009 crash. Umm, guys, this didn’t turn out so well last time…

The Golden Calf Incident – Chapter 32

Things take a serious turn here when Aaron and the people of Israel create and then worship a golden calf, which the Israelites preposterously claim was responsible for freeing them from Egypt.  Then the Israelites start partying, which was likely the reason for building the idol in the first place.  Serving Yahweh does not include sexual deviance and drunken revelry.  According to verse 6, the worship of this golden calf does include those things.  The Israelites attempt to combine the worship of the calf with the worship of Yahweh, which will be a recurring theme throughout the Old Testament.

In class, I mentioned that we still trying to combine our worship of God with the worship of other gods.  In our place/time, more often than not, it’s money that gets placed on the pedestal.  But it’s not just money – it can be power, or sports teams, or comfort.  It can be a church, your family, or even yourself.  Whatever it is, we are constantly confronted with opportunities to worship idols of our own making.

“The Lord said to Moses, “Go down at once!  Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt, have acted perversely…” (32:7)

Up until this point, God had referred to the people of Israel as ‘my people’ and had claimed the credit for bringing them out of slavery in Egypt.  The golden calf “incident” changed the situation and while there were some serious stuff at stake here, I couldn’t help but laugh when I read this particular passage.  At several points in Exodus and Numbers, God and Moses seem a little bit like a married couple arguing about the kids, like when one of our kids is misbehaving, suddenly in talking to my wife they become “your children” as opposed to “our children”.

Thanks for taking the time to read – next up, Leviticus and Deuteronomy…


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