7/27 Reading (Exodus 13-15; Luke 19)

I had a lot to say on this reading.

Exodus 13: This chapter starts with God telling Moses that all firstborn of the humans and animals should be consecrated to him, declaring them his. It then jumps to reiteration of the seven day celebration his people are supposed to have every year (passover) with unleavened bread. The people are told to tell their children about what happened, making this an educational experience. On a side note, as an educator, this is definitely an effective way to do that. Back to the text. The story they returns to discussion of the consecration of the firstborn, this time specifically saying males. I have to admit that when I first read this I thought God was telling them that they all had to sacrifice their firstborn males. Glad I was wrong once I read a little further.

The rest of this chapter is the beginning of the explanation of how God led his people out of Egypt. We learn the route they take, which is a longer route (didn’t know that), and the techniques God uses to help them during the day and night. They are walking through a desert, so glad he assisted them. I highly doubt they would have all made it without his help.

Forgot to mention that the text specifically referred back to Joseph: “And Moses took with him the bones of Joseph who had required a solemn oath of the Israelites, saying, ‘God will surely take notice of you, and then you must carry my bones with you from here’” (Ex. 13.19). This ties back to the last chapter of Genesis. Well done Moses.

Exodus 14: Now we turn back to Pharaoh. God tells Moses to do pretty much backtrack a bit to confuse Pharaoh and his soldiers. Then he tells Moses this: “‘I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, so that I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army; and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord” (Ex. 14.4). You know, after reading all of this and filling in the gaps of my knowledge, I really want to question those individuals who talk about how peaceful everything is in the Bible. There are definitely times of great violence. There are times where God isn’t that nice. I remember in a class discussion a few months ago at church one of the leaders talking about how although many people present the Bible in a positive way, there is a lot of violence, especially in the Old Testament. God clearly wanted to kill Pharaoh and his soldiers. It just seems so troubling. If this take offends anyone, I apologize. But I think it’s important to understand that the Bible isn’t necessarily a rosy picture of things. There’s a lot of violence and a lot of things that I do find questionable. It doesn’t make me question my faith, it’s just eye-opening. I knew there was violence, but reading this provides me with more details that I was unaware of.

We then turn to Pharaoh starting his pursuit of the Israelites with 600 chariots. The Israelites question Moses when Pharaoh and his soldiers are close. They think that Moses brought them there to die. God seems a little bothered by their questioning and then tells Moses how to part the sea. God intends for the Egyptians to pursue them, again saying this: “Then I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and so I will gain glory for myself over Pharaoh and all his army, his chariots, and his chariot drivers. ¹⁸ And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained glory for myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his chariot drivers” (Ex. 14.17-18). Again with hardening their hearts. The Israelites make their way to the other side, the Egyptians pursue them, and God then tells Moses to raise his hand over the sea to make it go back to normal, thus killing all of the Egyptians.

Back to the two movies I talked about earlier: Prince of Egypt and Exodus: Gods and Kings. All of the Egyptians die in both of those films except for Pharaoh. That’s pretty harsh. In the text this isn’t as clear. When I initially read this I got the impression that everyone died, including Pharaoh. Now I’m not so sure. Here’s what is said: “The waters returned and covered the chariots and the chariot drivers, the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed them into the sea; not one of them remained” (Ex. 14.28). The text specially says “the entire army of Pharaoh,” it doesn’t say all of the Egyptians. This makes it sound like he does indeed survive. As I haven’t read any further yet I’m not sure if we hear about him again. This probably isn’t that important, but it definitely makes me want to read and learn more.

Exodus 15: The first part of this chapter is a song the Israelites sang about God’s destruction of the Egyptians. The notes called it “the Song of the Sea.” The description of this song is actually pretty fascinating: “The Song of the Sea is a lyric victory hymn generally considered one of the oldest literary units in the Bible, perhaps from the twelfth century BCE; it probably was an independent composition, not part of one of the other sources of Exodus” (p. 102-103). Pretty cool info.

We then see Moses order everyone to keep marching. They march for three days, but start to get angry because there is no water and the water they had found was bitter. This is the first (of 4) crisis they face. God works his magic and fixes the water with a piece of wood. God then tests everyone: “He said, ‘If you will listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God, and do what is right in his sight, and give heed to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians; for I am the Lord who heals you’” (Ex. 15.26). Definitely a tall order to follow.

It’s interesting to note that because this challenge has me reading from both the Old and New Testaments each day, I see some parallels here. God is telling everyone to do many things and if they do, all will be well. In Luke (and I’m sure the other Gospels), Jesus tells his followers to pretty much give up everything, including their families. Both of these are hard to follow.

Luke 19: Part of this reading completely confused me. I’m going to have to look it up somewhere else because I have no clue of the purpose of the parable. First, this chapter starts with a rich tax collector that Jesus says he wants to eat with in his house. The tax collector says “‘half of my possessions, Lord, I will give to the poor; and if I have defrauded anyone of anything, I will pay back four times as much’” (Luke 19.8). Jesus declares him saved.

The part that confused me was the parable of the ten pounds. Here is the full parable:

So he said, “A nobleman went to a distant country to get royal power for himself and then return. ¹³ He summoned ten of his slaves, and gave them ten pounds,a and said to them, ‘Do business with these until I come back.’ ¹⁴ But the citizens of his country hated him and sent a delegation after him, saying, ‘We do not want this man to rule over us.’ ¹⁵ When he returned, having received royal power, he ordered these slaves, to whom he had given the money, to be summoned so that he might find out what they had gained by trading. ¹⁶ The first came forward and said, ‘Lord, your pound has made ten more pounds.’ ¹⁷ He said to him, ‘Well done, good slave! Because you have been trustworthy in a very small thing, take charge of ten cities.’ ¹⁸ Then the second came, saying, ‘Lord, your pound has made five pounds.’ ¹⁹ He said to him, ‘And you, rule over five cities.’ ²⁰ Then the other came, saying, ‘Lord, here is your pound. I wrapped it up in a piece of cloth, ²¹ for I was afraid of you, because you are a harsh man; you take what you did not deposit, and reap what you did not sow.’ ²² He said to him, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked slave! You knew, did you, that I was a harsh man, taking what I did not deposit and reaping what I did not sow? ²³ Why then did you not put my money into the bank? Then when I returned, I could have collected it with interest.’ ²⁴ He said to the bystanders, ‘Take the pound from him and give it to the one who has ten pounds.’ ²⁵ (And they said to him, ‘Lord, he has ten pounds!’) ²⁶ ‘I tell you, to all those who have, more will be given; but from those who have nothing, even what they have will be taken away. ²⁷ But as for these enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and slaughter them in my presence.’” (Luke 19.12-27)

I just don’t see the purpose here. Especially since right after saying the parable Jesus heads on to Jerusalem. No explanation is given. I’m so lost on this one.

After talking about this with a friend, I’m starting to better understand this, I think. The idea is that we should always follow God and stay true to our faith. I think the “enemies of mine” phrasing in the last verse is sin.

The rest of this chapter is about his arrival in Jerusalem. Two of his disciples get him a colt to ride, people throw cloaks on the ground and praise him, some Pharisees asked him to stop his followers’ praises, and Jesus weeps when he sees Jerusalem. He foretells of a future destruction of Jerusalem. The notes indicate that these “verses may reflect historical knowledge of the actual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 ce” (p. 1867). Considering that Luke was most likely written after that event, this would make sense.

This chapter ends with Jesus arriving at the temple, telling those who were selling things there to leave, and continues his teaching. We start to see even more animosity towards Jesus at the very end: “The chief priests, the scribes, and the leaders of the people kept looking for a way to kill him; ⁴⁸ but they did not find anything they could do, for all the people were spellbound by what they heard” (Luke 19.47-48).

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