WAAAAAY More than the Just the 10 Commandments
Day 6 – Exodus 16-28
We’re starting to get to the tough parts of the Torah and it will get more difficult before it gets easier. I’m not saying these aren’t important things to read, just that they are a bit drier than the narrative stuff we enjoyed in Genesis and early Exodus. I feel like the description of how to build the ark and tabernacle are meant for somebody other than me.
I’m not much of a builder. I’m not one of those guys you would call “handy.” My wife, Rachell, is the one who fixes, makes, and creates all the things in our home. She can swing a hammer, rip out a cabinet, and drywall anything that needs fixing. Me? I want simple, easy to manage instructions. I want the IKEA version of Exodus.
Could you picture that? Some guy scratching his head with all the parts of the tabernacle laid out in front of him?
Could you build an ark with just an allen wrench?
- Exodus 16-18 have got to be my favorite chapters of the book. Hear me out – I don’t mind the stories about young Moses, the plagues, and the actual Passover. That’s great stuff as well. For me, the manna, water from the rock, and advice from Jethro are at the heart of the journey. This is a turning point for me that is full of lessons, thoughts, ideas, and concepts about humanity and God. In this, we see a God who provides, the greed of communities and individuals, the relationships we have with family, in-laws, and neighbors, and the miracles that astound us. Plus, we have lots of grumbling. Who can’t relate to that? We are a grumbling people and I don’t know if it’s a comfort or just a
- Quail and manna? Yes, please. Sounds like a well balanced meal if I’ve ever heard it. I’d gladly have a bagel in the morning and some pheasant like dish at night. You wouldn’t hear me grumbling.
- The first attack. From here on out, there will be a lot of fighting, warring, and destruction on the way to the promised land. This is part of my difficulty with Old Testament language, history, and story-telling. The pacifist in me struggles with the notion that in order for the chosen people to receive theirs, other non-chosen types must necessarily die. It’s so hard to balance these types of passages against the teachings of Jesus. In the meantime, we say a permanent good bye to Amalek.
- Good advice from Jethro. Looks like Moses just needed an outsider to offer an assessment of the situation. I’m sure Moses already knew how hard it was to manage all the people but it seems like the situation had gotten out of control gradually and by the time Moses wanted to change it, it was too late. A fresh pair of eyes is always good for an organization.
- Setting limits…I know there are reasons theologians have offered for the rules of consecration but at first glance they seem a bit arbitrary and difficult to comprehend. If I’m struggling, how do children understand the rules we offer for them? I don’t always (ever? j/k) explain to my children the rules because, well, sometimes I just don’t have the time, patience, of inclination. But I expect them to trust me and follow my leadership. This situation doesn’t always play out as smoothly as I’d like, believe it or not.
- And here come the laws…It’s not that I don’t appreciate them. I just get so bogged down in the law that I have a hard time understanding grace, love, and hope in the midst of the (seemingly) minutia of regulations.
- Chapter 21 of Exodus begins the idea of places/cities of sanctuary and refuge. What a curious and grace-filled idea. What is our modern equivalent?
- Who follows these laws?!?! Wow, this is confusing and challenging.
- Cut and dry verse that isn’t so cut and dry – Exodus 22:18, “You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live.” Glad we’ve got that cleared up.
- On a more serious note, Exodus 22:21 warns against poorly treating immigrants in your land. We should make sure we remember these verses as closely as the easy ones that justify our already existing behavior. How we treat the foreigner in our land is a theological concept and says something about what we believe.
- How to build an ark…something I’m not sure I’ll ever need to do, but fascinating info, nonetheless.
- Priestly garments – again, wow. There is a ton of detail in this and I’m not sure I completely understand it all. G— and K—, I’d love to get your interpretations here. This is a tough stretch to read through. Power on, friends. You can do this.