There are some days where reading the Bible is a challenge. It’s not necessarily a chore, just challenging to read. Sometimes it’s the message in the text, sometimes it’s everything else going on with work, or sometimes it’s just because I’m tired. Today was one of those days.
Several parts of this reading today seemed to bother me.
Exodus 10: The eighth (locusts) and ninth (darkness) marvels occur in this chapter. Pharaoh seems like he is slowly coming around after his officials tell him that he needs to let Moses and his people go. He relents, but says they can’t take any of the young people. Moses says it needs to be everyone. Pharaoh says no. On with the locusts. Those little pests destroy all remaining vegetation in the land. Pharaoh begs them to stop and pray to God for him. God gets rid of the locusts, but “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex. 10.20) again! Seriously!!! Then after the next marvel (darkness) occurs, Pharaoh says all people can go, but no livestock. Moses disagrees. Again, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex. 10.27). Pharaoh steps up his rhetoric and tells Moses the following: “‘Get away from me! Take care that you do not see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.’” (Ex. 10.28) On to the 10th plague, which is sad.
I have to admit I do find the way this chapter started troubling, especially since God continues to harden Pharaoh’s heart. Here’s what it says:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh; for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his officials, in order that I may show these signs of mine among them, ² and that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I have made fools of the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them—so that you may know that I am the Lord.” (Ex. 10.1-2)
This troubles me because to me it seems like God is taunting Pharaoh. It’s pretty much like he wants to get to the death of all first born males. This just bothers me.
Exodus 11: This chapter is short. It sets up the 10th plague. God even tells Moses to make sure all of his people ask their neighbors for their valuables before they leave. God tells Moses what will happen and Moses tells Pharaoh. As with earlier marvels, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” (Ex. 11.10). Clearly God wanted this destruction to happen and this is what I find troubling.
Exodus 12: God explains to Moses and Aaron how their people will protect their families and livestock from this coming plague. All of their people will sacrifice a lamb on the 14th day and mark their doors with the lamb’s blood. The text then explains the next day will become the start of the passover celebration. This celebration is to be passed on from generation to generation so they remember what God did for them. After God killed all the firstborn males of the Egyptians and their livestock, Pharaoh demands they leave at once and take their livestock. The Egyptians beg for them to leave, so they all leave.
Luke 18: This chapter starts with Jesus sharing a parable about the importance of praying daily and to not be discouraged. I’m glad that he addressed this. I find praying to actually be a pretty tough thing to do. I’m betting I’m not the only one who feels this way. Honestly, I sometimes feel silly doing it. I recognize the calmness it brings to others as well as to myself, but I didn’t always feel this way. It’s tough to explain, but it is still something that I struggle with each day.
A few statements really stood out for me in this chapter:
- “‘for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted’” (Luke 18.14).
- “‘Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will never enter it’” (Luke 18.17).
- “‘How hard it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! ²⁵ Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God’” (Luke 18.24-25).
- “‘Truly I tell you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, ³⁰ who will not get back very much more in this age, and in the age to come eternal life’” (Luke 18.29-30).
The first statement reminds me of the importance of remaining humble. This statement came right after the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. The tax collector asked for mercy because he was a sinner whereas the Pharisee pretty much explained why he was worthy.
The second statement came right after people brought infants to Jesus for healing. What is he trying to tell us here? If the message is that only those who accept God in their lives as little children will enter his kingdom, then I have a problem with that. What about those individuals who came to accept God in their lives at a later point in life? Are they doomed from the beginning?
The third statement came right after a ruler asked him how to have eternal life. The message here to me is the danger of greed. The danger of not helping others, not helping those who are less fortunate. Jesus even tells the ruler to “sell all that you own and distribute the money to the poor” (Luke 18.22). Again, sounds a little like socialism to me.
The fourth statement comes right after Peter seems to push back a bit on Jesus after what he told the ruler to do. Peter tells Jesus “Look, we have left our homes and followed you” (Luke 18.28). As with an earlier part of this text (Luke 14), leaving my wife and children wouldn’t happen.
Next part of the chapter has Jesus explaining that he will be beaten and killed soon. Apparently they didn’t understand what he was saying. Finally, it ends with Jesus healing the blind man.
A lot to take in on this chapter.