7/24 Reading (Exodus 4-6; Luke 16)

I had some trouble with some of this reading today.

Exodus 4: Moses continues to tell God that he is not the right person to do this task. He presents his next two problems to God: (3) “But suppose they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you’” (Ex. 4.1) and (4) ‘O my Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue’ (Ex. 4.10). To answer his third problem, God shows Moses how to turn his staff into a snake, how to damage and reheal his hand, and how to turn water from the Nile into blood. To answer his fourth problem, God says “Then the Lord said to him, “Who gives speech to mortals? Who makes them mute or deaf, seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? ¹² Now go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you are to speak.” (Ex. 4.11-12)

Moses pushes back yet again and this time God displays his anger. That stopped Moses. In this part, God tells Moses to let his brother Aaron speak for him. Moses leaves to Egypt with his family. God tells him to make sure to do the three signs (snake, hand, and water into blood) in front of Pharaoh. God explains that Pharaoh will continue to refuse, and then adds this: “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: Israel is my firstborn son. ²³ I said to you, “Let my son go that he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; now I will kill your firstborn son.’” (Ex. 4.22-23) It’s this part that bothers me. I find this very troubling. I can see why non-believers question God using these types of statements. This chapter ends with Moses and Aaron meeting and talking with the elders. The elders believe Moses.

While reading the notes I realize I missed that the text refers to Moses’ “sons,” yet up to this point, there is only one son, Gershom. I was also confused by what appeared to be a sudden nighttime attack against Moses by God: “On the way, at a place where they spent the night, the Lord met him and tried to kill him” (Ex. 4.24). Thankfully his wife Zipporah saves him, but what? The notes don’t make it clear why this happened. This is really confusing.

Exodus 5: Moses and Aaron see Pharaoh for the first time. They ask him to release the people for just 3 days, telling him that God said “Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness” (Ex. 5.1). Pharaoh refuses. Instead he orders his taskmaster to take away their straw they use to make bricks each day, but require them to make the same amount of bricks. Many fail and are beaten. This turns the people against Moses and Aaron. The chapter ends with Moses calling out to God: “O Lord, why have you mistreated this people? Why did you ever send me? ²³ Since I first came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has mistreated this people, and you have done nothing at all to deliver your people.” (Ex. 5.22-23)

It’s clear that Pharaoh wants to turn the people against Moses and Aaron and is succeeding. It’s also clear why the people are angry with them because it seems that God isn’t helping them. Of course, this will change soon. But the games God is playing are tough to read about.

Exodus 6: This chapter was a little challenging to read at first. It’s not because of the content. It’s because of the way it is written. God tells Moses and Aaron that he made promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as well as established covenants with them. He remembered those when he heard the cries of the people in Egypt. Moses explains this to the Israelites, but they don’t want to listen to him because of the new level of mistreatment by the Pharaoh. Moses tells God the people don’t listen and asks why would Pharaoh listen. The part that initially threw me off was that the text then explains the genealogy of Moses and Aaron and the connection to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I understand why it was done this way, but it added a twist to the text.

Luke 16: The chapter started with the story of the rich man and the manager, who was accused of squandering the rich man’s property. The rich man told his manager to provide an accounting of everything he has done and he would then be out of a job. In order to save himself, he contacted all debtors and lowered how much they owed the master so he would look good to them and hopefully get a future job. The notes indicate that he was eliminating his commission.

There were some statements here that stood out to me. For example, Jesus says “You cannot serve God and wealth” (Luke 16.13). I’m thinking that pretty much all societies missed this one.

A second statement is from when he was addressing the Pharisees: “So he said to them, ‘You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of others; but God knows your hearts; for what is prized by human beings is an abomination in the sight of God’” (Luke 16.15). To me this is saying that we need to let go of the things that we as humans prize/value and focus on other things. I’m assuming that one of the other things is helping others. As I’ve said before, many people, especially elected officials, don’t seem to understand this.

The chapter ends with the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The notes indicate that this is not the same Lazarus that is mentioned in John. Pretty much the moral of the story is the importance of helping those who are less fortunate. Sounds a little like socialism to me.

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