Tag Archives: Exodus

I’m An Absolute Failure At This – February 7 – Days 7-9 – Exodus 29-40, Leviticus 1-14, Leviticus 15-28

missed expectationsI’m An Absolute Failure At This –

February 7-9 – Days 7-9 – Exodus 29-40, Leviticus 1-14, Leviticus 15-28

It looks like I’m playing catch up for days 7-9. I’m a bit behind right now. Isn’t that the problem with doing this overly ambitious journey through the Bible? And then what do you do with that guilt? I’m pretty sure God doesn’t tell us to “read the whole Bible in this set amount of days.” In fact, there’s nothing even close to that in scripture, tradition, or divine revelation.

So why do I feel so terrible about not finishing when I’m told myself I would finish? What is it about these self-imposed deadlines that give me ulcers?

My colleague, friend, and brother in arms, Drew Filkins, told me to stop worrying about these opening paragraphs. He said, “People want to read the bulletin points. That’s what they scan down to find.”

I’ll admit, I do the same thing.

Still, I feel like I need to rationalize and explain my thoughts before I just list my quick hit, rapid fire reactions to the scripture. This is especially true for the end of Exodus and the book of Leviticus. Because, quite frankly, these books are ridiculously boring at times.

disappointmentMaybe boring is a bit sacrilegious.

How about, boring in the theologically exciting kind of a way?

I’m just not into the laws, genealogies, and building plans for tabernacles, arks, temples, and the like. I want to be. Really, I do! I just can’t muster up the enthusiasm necessary to get there.

What do we do with the passages encountered in this series of readings? How do you actualize, realize, and internalize dietary, sexual, and priestly laws?

G—and K— ? Any thoughts on this?

For those who scrolled down to the good stuff, here are my bullet points!

  • Exodus 29 – The ordination of priests here is VERY different from my own ordination. First, we had no ram, no bull (well, maybe a little bit) and no fat to offer from said ram. What did we have? Crying, Raymond Bonwell, Band of Brothers references, and a lot of people who “knew me when.”
  • Exodus 30 – Give half a shekel (or 10 gerahs) as an offering at the sanctuary. How does that compute today?
  • Exodus 30 – I love the smell of incense. I enjoy it in the house and in the sanctuary. However, we rarely burn incense in the congregation I serve. There is something to be said about worshiping with all our senses, even the sense of smell. We have hearing (music and spoken words), sight (visuals all over the place), touch (passing the peace, hand on a shoulder), and taste (communion) but not much with smell. Incense seems to meet that need. Just a thought…
  • Exodus 31 – Keep that Sabbath. Why is this so ridiculously hard for most of us to do? A day of not doing ANY work? That just sounds like a day after when I’ll be playing catch up. How could this resemble something else?
  • Exodus 32 – Aaron gives up the faith pretty easily. He starts on the golden path AS MOSES IS ON THE MOUNTAIN. What caused him to do so after all of these weeks of faith? After all the miraculous signs he saw? After serving as the spokesperson for God? Why would he bail out so easily?
  • Exodus 32 – At least Moses negotiates for the people. That’s something, right?
  • Exodus 32 – Aaron lets the people run wild? Worst babysitter ever.
  • Exodus 33:11 – GREAT, powerful line – Thus the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend.
  • Exodus 34 – Start tearing down the “others’ “ idols, temples, and towers. Interesting…
  • Exodus 34 – Moses’ face is shining. When do we shine?
  • Exodus 35- 38 – Makin’ the ark. This is the rough stuff I have a trouble getting through.
  • The ending of Exodus? That’s kind of a letdown. I guess I had hoped for some more resolution.
  • Leviticus! We’re into another book! Wait, this book is about what now? Yea, I guess?!?!Leviticus Lego
  • Leviticus 1 – Kind of a short chapter. Unblemished offerings…what offerings do we make that are with flaws, conditions, and blemishes?
  • Leviticus 2-4- How do make an appropriate sacrificial offering is a very strange thing, indeed. I have absolutely no point of reference for these examples. What’s a good goat vs. a bad one? A What kind of wood to use for the fire? I just don’t sacrifice this way.
  • Sin offerings – you can’t help but think of atonement theories when you read this…if you’re a theology nerd who really likes studying atonement theories.
  • To be holy is to be set apart. Who, what, and when do we set things apart?
  • Leviticus 8 – More ordination stuff. Again, this is not what I remember from my ordination. As my friend Corey LeCureux used to say, “Ordination is just empty hands on empty heads.” I’m not that cynical but I’m closer to that than to appropriate turbans, bulls, breastplates, etc.
  • Leviticus 10 – I’d LOVE to hear some thoughts about this one. His sons burned up? What?!
  • Leviticus 11 – Insects are unclean. I can get behind this law.
  • Leviticus 12 – Let me get this straight…if I woman bears a son, she is unclean for seven days. If she has a daughter, she is unclean for two weeks and must spend sixty-six days of purification? I’m not sure how to comment appropriately.
  • Just read Leviticus 13:40-44…I want to preach on that just once before I retire. Just once, drop the mic, and walk out into the sunset with my bald head held high.
  • Leviticus 15 – And now we’re dealing with bodily discharges? Leave no stone unturned, I guess.
  • Leviticus 17 – I’m a big fan of black pudding when I’m in Scotland. I know, I know, it’s kinda gross when you really think about what it is, but it tastes delicious. I’m going to have to rethink it if I want to stick with this chapter.
  • Leviticus 18 – And now we’re into the sexual laws…more specifically, the laws about sexuality. This is one of the passages used by my sisters and brothers in Christ when discussing the merits of same-sex relationships. In context, I am comfortable recognizing how these types of relationships are different from the ones we are debating in our modern context. Still, this is a great place to start the discussion. Let’s talk about sex with an openness that the Bible does not shy away from. What is a relationship? A marriage? Physical love?Leviticus Haircuts
  • Leviticus 19:32 – Respect the elderly. Nicely put.
  • No Harry Potters in scripture? Leviticus 20:27
  • Leviticus is full of Levitical laws (laws for the priests). If you aren’t a priest, what do you think of these passages?
  • Leviticus 24:13-23 – Eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth
  • The end of Leviticus? No better than the end of Exodus. I’m expecting big things, Numbers. Don’t let me down…
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Is there an IKEA Tabernacle? – Day 6 – Feb. 6 – 90 Days through the Bible – Exodus 16-28

WAAAAAY More than the Just the 10 Commandments

Day 6 – Exodus 16-28

The 10 commandments? I get those. Laws about blood, animals, and a how to build a 50a73afaa57d9.preview-620tabernacle? Not so much.

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,02-assembly-layout 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.

Charlton Heston or Christian Bale? – Day 5 – February 5 – 90 Days through the Bible – Exodus 1-15

Day 5 – Exodus 1-15

My image of Moses is, unfortunately, built on the pictures from the classic movie “The Ten Commandments.” Charlton Heston is the model I have for Moses. At least, he was until we 7f228e20-3e59-11e4-af8d-91d89822217c_christian-bale-charlton-hestonwatched the newest incarnation of this second book of the bible in the Hollywood extravaganza that was “Exodus” with Christian Bale in the Moses role. My wife, Rachell, loves Christian Bale. Anything he is in, including the vastly underrated “Reign of Fire,” and she’ll watch it over and over. Without any shame, I’ll admit that I was equally excited to see “Exodus” in the theater a couple of months back.

While I’m not trying to do a movie review, I do have to recognize the cinematic choices made in the new film that left an impression on how I see the first chapters of Exodus that I read today. You see, the choice in the movie to have God displayed as a defiant child has stuck with me. As I read today’s passages, I tried to see that picture of God and it left a bitter taste in my mouth. Imaging God, the God of Exodus, pre-NT, is never an easy task for me. Most Christians can jump easily to the incarnational God we encounter in Jesus of Nazareth and use that image for God in all parts of the scripture. For me, that doesn’t quite suffice. It’s too easy of an out and my unimaginative brain can’t process it. So, I’m stuck with the images provided in children’s bibles, Hollywood, and campy religious artwork.

Which is why the picture of a child sticks with me. God as a child is not the God I want to see. I want a God who is powerful, authoritative, and in charge in a way that I am not. As a 34 year old man, I want someone older, stronger, and better than me, not someone who resembles my children. Likewise, I want Moses to be the squarejawed Bale or the gun-toting Heston. Seriously, I want Moses, the prophet and messenger of God, to be equally obvious and intimidating. I want Moses to command the scene and those two over the top actors certainly do that.

The problem is in the scripture, because the Moses of Exodus does not claim the scene the same way as the actors who portray him. Far from it – he appears to doubt, dither, and worry. He cannot trust the words of God and he needs his brother to speak for him. He is much more human and fallible than the Hollywood versions of this patriarch of the faith.

Which do you see when you read?

G— and K—- (and other readers), what is your image of Moses? Who do you see? What about God? What is the sound of God’s voice in your heads?

  • I’ve always wondered how the Israelite people allowed themselves (or were forced?) to be taken into slavery. They obviously started off with somewhat equal standing among the Egyptian people. If they were so numerous and potentially prosperous, how did this happen?
  • Infanticide and the slaughtering of innocent children – this is not the last time we encounter this horrific act in the Bible. There are no words to understand this tragic response to a threat. Who does this?!?
  • Fun, less destructive side note – Exodus 1:20 is the first example of “Elohim” as a title for God. Maybe that’s just fun to me?
  • I absolutely love Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush. Taking his sandals off because he’s standing on Holy Ground? What an incredible passage…Where are the holy places in our lives where we remove our shoes out of respect, awe, and wonder? Do we have any?
  • The continuation of the story. It’s great to see Exodus flow out of Genesis. It’s a good sequel.
  • Do people only believe when they see or experience signs and wonders? Are they more likely to believe? What about us, the people who don’t get to see staves turn into snakes and hands turn from leprosy to cleansed? What signs do we see in our lives?
  • I know, I know, this may be a bit irreverent but Pharaoh’s line in Exodus 5:2 (Who is theterence-stamp-superman LORD?) feels an awful lot like General Zod in Superman II saying, “Who is this, Superman?”
  • Odd interlude talking about the genealogy of Moses and Aaron in chapter 6. Seems a bit out of place, eh?
  • Ranking the plagues? Is that something people do?
  • My dad used to go around the house saying, “And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.” I like this response to my children when I give them a negative answer to their requests.
  • There is a shift from Pharaoh hardening his own heart to God hardening Pharaoh’s heart. I love this image and this transition.
  • The first Passover and all of the subsequent memories of that day…I’ve celebrated Passover with a Seder at various times of the past few years and I cannot think of a better way to remember the history of God. We’ll be having a Seder at The Peoples Church of East Lansing again this year on Maundy Thursday. At the end, we’ll be spoiled to enjoy the music of a local Klesmer band led by our very own church sound technician, Will Cicola!
  • 430 years in Egypt before heading back home. To put that in perspective, Europeans have only been in the country we now call America for a bit more than 500 years.
  • I wish I could write a song like Moses.