Thanks for coming! I plan to post a lot of interesting articles and comment on a wide range of things-- from political to religious, from private to public, from formal writing on public policy to snippets on random observations.
Thursday, March 8, 2012
my notes for The Story, Chapter 4 (excerpts from Exodus 1-18)
à why in Egypt? (vs. Canaan or elsewhere?)
-greater dependence on God in an isolated place
-much easier to promote unity and purity/holiness given the Egyptians' unwillingness to associate with them vs. cultural merging of Canaanites (43:32, 46:34's "detestable")
-distinctiveness derived from their status as slaves, shepherds, and foreigners
à intro to Moses: a Hebrew boy, life saved by grace, a prince under Pharaoh, an outcast in the desert, a servant of God, and as a type of Christ-- a deliverer (Jn 5:46)
-interesting that the two largest gaps we have in Biblical history are inter-testamental times (pre-Christ) and pre-Moses
-6's old generation dies; 7's new generation
-7's population blessing: promised to Adam (Gen ), Noah (; 9:1,7), Abraham (17:2,6; ), Isaac (26:4), and Jacob (28:14, 35:11, 48:4)—and now, faithfully fulfilled
-1:5’s 70 people --> 's 600K men, est. 2M people in total
-tremendous population growth rate, required blessings from God—“open wombs” (vs. closed wombs in Genesis; see also: Acts and miraculous growth of the early church)
-8's key: the new king "did not know about Joseph"—implying a new kingdom/dynasty
-9,10b's problems (probably building over time, but now coming to a head) --> 10a's "deal shrewdly with them"
-irony: Pharaoh was about to fight God and was about to lose Israel anyway
-12's oppression didn't work --> 12b's "dread" (see: envy; see also: immigrant success), 13's "worked (14's "used") them ruthlessly", 14's "hard labor" (incl. Dt 's irrigation)
-12's "But..." as surprising causation (’s “lest they multiply” vs. ’s “so they multiplied”): "oppressed" (Gen 's "mistreated"; Dt ) --> "multiplied and spread"
-supernatural preservation and even flourishing during their suffering; thrive vs. survive—because of God
-upping the ante: kill all male infants, drown in the Nile
-from Pharaoh and a few midwives—to “all the people” and the river-god
-from private to public (and their tacit approval) underlines justice of later plagues (11:4-6, )
-ironic that Moses was later "cast into the river", that the Egyptian firstborn would die in the 10th plague (Passover) and that Pharaoh's troops would drown while pursuing the Israelites' in their exodus
-2:2's "his mother hid him for three months"
-as ch. 1’s midwives, a time to violate the law
-a seemingly small action—in the big picture, seemingly—and what God did with it (Pink’s “big doors often swing on small hinges”), but probably risking their lives had Moses been discovered (as the midwives)
-but there came a time 3's "when she could hide him no longer": MH's "Thus to have exposed their child while they might have preserved it, would have been to tempt Providence; but when they could not, it was to trust Providence."
-3 for "Moses' ark": papyrus basket with tar and pitch
à see: Noah’s "ark" in Gen 6—as same (Egyptian!) word & only 2x in the Bible!
-lit. “box, chest or coffin”—vs. other potential Hebrew words; making a clear connection between the two stories
-floating containers preserving life vs. water/drowning and “the World” (I Pet 3:20-21); faith to build; both daubed with pitch (Gen 6:14, Ex 2:3); both emphasize common Biblical theme of God delivering his (wholly dependent) servants from crisis
-3's "put it among the reeds...in the Nile"
-ironically, "throwing her baby into the Nile" () in a sense—into the mouth of the river-god!
-5's "Pharoah's daughter"
-irony: MH's "God often raises up friends for his people even among their enemies. Pharoah's cruelty seeks Israel's destruction, but his own daughter charitably compassions a Hebrew child, and not only so, but, beyond her intention, preserves Israel's deliverer."
-6a for Moses crying; 6b for her sympathy and rescue; 8 for agreeing to Miriam's plan-- not just the women's participation, but God's provision
-starts with pity, but doesn’t stop there; see: Olasky on action within “compassion”
-as if the Nile/god had providentially delivered a child…
-God’s Providence: Moses saved from crocodiles, drowning, and others who could not or would not save him-- to the arms of Pharoah's daughter, guided to the proper place, and put on her heart to be sympathetic
-10's "grew older" --> adoption made official, "became her son"
-not just a moment’s compassion but takes (full) responsibility
à did Pharaoh know Moses was Jewish?
-compromise: one little baby can’t hurt…
-how we see individual vs. group (see: “Do the Right Thing”)
à Pharoah (Moses’ Grandpa!) thwarted 3x by women: midwives (1:17), Israelite mothers (1:19), and Moses' mother, sister, and his own daughter (2:3-4,7-9)
--> highlights his impotence to destroy God's people and plan, esp. given how women were viewed in that culture
-Motyer’s “Ranged against the might of Pharaoh…was a series of seemingly insignificant women.”
-Motyer’s “The river cannot capture its prey and even Pharaoh’s house is changed from destroyer to savior.”
-12b's somewhat premeditated murder
-playing the role of judge and savior/deliverer
-a reasonable goal (justice, prevention, etc.), understandable emotions and admirable passion (zeal vs. temper), willing to take risks—but an ungodly method (Rom 12:18-21; Eph 4:29b)
-perhaps had a sense of what God wanted from him, but rushed the timing and acted in his own strength
à Moses as a man of action and passion, but needed to be channeled (vs. do-nothings; see: Peter, Mt 25:21)
--> 11-12’s Moses' inability to accomplish the task (Zech 4:6)
-Thomas' "When Moses tried to tackle the job, he could not even bury one Egyptian successfully!...When God tackled the job, He buried the whole lot of them in the Red Sea! That is how competent God is to deal with His own business."
-12a's look both ways before you (cross that street) kill someone...
-"seeing no one": explicitly thinking that others (and implicitly that God) wouldn't see
-Thomas' "In his sensitivity to the presence of man, he became strangely insensitive to the presence of God….The one way he did not look was up!"
2:15-17’s fled to Midian (read)
-17b's rescue daughters from bullying shepherds: bounces back in third attempt to deal with injustice—after two recent failures, plus…
-he had just traveled a long distance and defeats multiple shepherds (and apparently w/o using violence)
-ignores/reverses class, gender and race: acts as a foreigner (did it help that he was perceived as 19’s Egyptian?); defends female shepherds (both "despised"—at least by “Egyptians”!)
-and all this despite his white-bread upbringing, getting his hands dirty
-after saving, then serves them—a servant/leader a la Jesus
--> again, Moses seeks to deliver others from harm; this third time, he is successful; here, playing the roles of defender/protector, deliverer/rescuer, knight in shining armor and waterboy
à in the 3rd of 3: here, strangers; previously, his people vs. themselves and others; Sacks (8): “With absolute economy, all the permutations are covered…The story of the Exodus is about impartial justice, and Moses as man of justice, prepared to act and take risks for its sake.”
-1’s work as a shepherd; shepherding another man’s flock in prep to shepherd God’s flock
-prepares Moses for the trials/ops that await: poverty/hardship, anonymity and solitude as a shepherd of Midian vs. wealth, fame and busy life as a prince of Egypt
-but for 40 years—and going to an 80-year old shepherd?! (3 * 40; Acts ,30)
-2's “burning bush”—with Jesus in it—and what really struck Moses: 3’s apparently it could burn forever
-God as eternal, self-sufficient, striking/intriguing, supernatural, beyond comprehension, provides light, consuming zeal/wrath and purity, unstoppable, powerful, unapproachable
--> vs. other "theophany" possibilities: vision, angel, man (Gen 18), talking sheep, through Jethro (as later)??
-small, scraggly (average wilderness) shrubbery/bush vs. majestic tree
-using what's available...
-pagans used trees
-Thomas' "any old bush will do-- as long as God is in the bush...it is not the bush that sustains the flame, it is God in the bush; and any old bush will do!"
-small and quiet (vs. forest fire, whirlwind or something more dramatic)
-required closeness, listening, intimacy/relationship mixed with awe, a personal call
-explosion/lightning bolt vs. eternal flame
-GCM's 40 years ago, Moses as "a flame, a flash, a commotion" (Moses as flesh and flash); Thomas on Moses: "40 years ago I burned myself out in 24 hours and I have been a heap of ashes for 40 years since."
--> a strange and unexpected source and timing of God's revelation (Moses had probably been there hundred of times: not enough water to drink or wrong berries on his cereal?!)
--> the variety of ways in which the call can come
--> see: Moses' curiosity in vs. 3; are we ready for same (vs. distracted)? investigate as necessary (Est ); the need to inquire after strange things and the things of God
-but seeking after vs. being ready for supernatural experience, including practicing solitude
-and wrt "super" Christians, Thomas' "There are those in whose lives [that] there is manifestly evident the mighty unction and power of God...but we stand back as though this were to be monopoly of the few! As though they have a special call upon the grace of God and as though this were something not for the common run of men. We say in our hearts, 'There is a bush that burns! I would like to be a bush like that, but I am just a heap of ashes!'-- and that is as far as it gets."
-5b's why: "The place you are standing is holy ground"
à along with vs. 4, God as relational and approachable (to some extent), but still holy/set apart—the crucial balance (see: different understandings of God; see also: parent/child, teacher/student)
-11a's "But..." (the first of five: 3:13, 4:1,10,13)
-Moses' possible reaction up to vs. 9: "great, why is he telling me?"; vs. 10's "hey, wait a minute!"
-commissioned by God, but Sarna’s “His spontaneous reaction, however, is to recoil from the task and to assert his personal inadequacy.”
-for Moses, at least initially, good news! Pink (28): “Moses at 80 was not so eager as at 40. Solitude had sobered him.”
-11b’s key: "who am I?"
-at one level, very true; humility (Num 12:3) and frailty of life; scraggly bush revisited
-but also as doubt, insecurity, arrogance, the audacity of asking God this question (w/ app.)
-the wrong question-- instead, "who is God?" (Rom -32, Jos 5:13-15; Jer 1:4-8); not who he is but Whose he is
-12's answer: "I will be with you" (singular) and a “sign” to Moses (“you” is singular here)—that they (the second "you" is plural) would worship God at Sinai
-doesn’t answer Moses’ question—at least directly; 12's when, not if
-a current assurance of God's presence and a future prophecy of Moses' return
à God will never ask you to do something without enabling you to do it (I Cor 10:13)
-having just seen the three signs (following excuse #3)…
-10's excuse #4: not a good speaker-- "[not] eloquent...slow of speech and tongue" (6:12's "speak with faltering lips"; I Cor 2:1, II Cor 10:1,10, 11:6 about Paul)
-not a speech impediment (Acts 7:22's "powerful in speech and action")
-nervous about top two fears: public speaking and death (see: Seinfeld on speaking at a funeral)
-but seems to be pretty eloquent and quick with his excuses!
-seems like he’s still shuffling (given #1-3) and running out of excuses, foreshadowing impending disobedience (#5; 4:13); MH's "an unwilling mind will take up with a sorry excuse rather than none."
-11-12’s God's terse response: four rhetorical, sarcastic questions (Ps 94:9; Job 38-41) and terse command to "go", but still encouraging promise to teach/help Moses to speak
à but still God’s patience (vs. Est !); He relents (mercy) and offers Aaron's services (grace) and 14c's prophecy about seeing Aaron and him being glad to see Moses (probably hadn't seen each other in quite awhile; perhaps coming to tell him that his enemies had died—4:19)
à an enormous task + a great but deeply flawed man + a powerful and sovereign God
-GCM (Exodus, chapter 4) on 13's "But..."
--> God encourages, provides info, empowers with resources, asks rhetorical questions, gets angry and moves to plan B
--> w/ huge app. to the need to vary our responses within Spirit-led parenting, mentoring, preaching, and teaching, incl. the occasional need for anger/passion in our responses (Eph 4:28a); see: Paul's writings esp. to Galatians, Corinthians
5:22-6:2's lament from Moses and response from God (read)
à Moses expected fewer problems and faster results-- didn't expect this curve in the road, problems of this type
à good news:
-goes to God (vs. quitting; flees to God vs. Midian) and feels free to bring tough questions/comments!
-concerned (directly) with others and (indirectly) with himself
-1's "Then...‘now…’"-- immediate response from God (after 5:22-23's discouragement)
-no direct answer to Moses’ question; instead, God’s power and purpose—as an intro to 2’s identity, promises and ability/willingness to deliver—despite temporary difficulties/delays
à see also: Moses to draw comfort from God's name (2-3), his covenant and promises (4), his compassion (5), and his word & sovereignty (6-8’s 7 “I will’s”)
Why so many plagues needed to get the job done??
1.) for God (and His glory):
a.) to demonstrate His power more fully (11:9b's "so that my wonders may be multiplied")
b.) to advertise His name (9:16); all this as general evangelism
c.) to exhibit his patience & mercy in dealing w/ Egypt/Canaan (Gen 15:16)
d.) to illustrate grace (unmerited favor) in dealing with Israel (then and especially later)
2.) for Israel and Egypt: to demonstrate the strength of God and the ineptness of other gods
-to teach the people more effectively (10:2; see: ch 12’s emphasis—not in The Story), esp. given 400 yrs. of Egyptian gods' "blessings" vs. their God's silence
3.) for Pharaoh:
-GCM's "the story of a strong will, making itself stupid"
-GCM's "hazaq" ("make strong"; used for God) vs. "kabed" ("make heavy"; used for Pharaoh—fig. for stupid)
-his refusal probably centered on:
-the loss of slave labor, wealth
-the loss of his god-like reputation, control
-his pride (a god giving in to a bunch of slaves?!)
4.) for Moses...
-Moses will need this kind of faith and patience to accomplish his second big task!
-Moses obeys and persists through a long trial: how long? if not plague #x, then how will it be done?!
-picture Moses becoming more confident as trial continues (not exactly chs. 3-4); greater faith in God as God moves in his life... (w/ application)
Exodus 12: The Passover
à have every firstborn in the group stand up!
-7,22's put blood on top and both sides of doorframe-- to symbolize protection and escape judgment (Lev 17:11, Heb 9:22, I Jn 1:7)
-no need to mark them individually (since He had shown that ability previously!), but the symbolism of a house and appropriation of the blood by individuals/households
-God's provision and their/our participation: MH's "It was not enough that the blood of the lamb was shed, but it must be sprinkled, denoting the application of the merits of Christ's death to our souls; we must receive the atonement."
-11's dressed to travel: cloak (shirt) "tucked in", sandals on feet, staff in hand
-in sum, a feast for pilgrims committed to walking with God (Phil 3:20, I Pet 2:11); Thomas' "In the day that the blood was applied, they had to be equipped for a journey, for that day was to be for them the threshold of a journey. It was not just to be a critical experience, one to be enjoyed and then forgotten, or something ecstatic which would become a fond memory of the past! The passover was to be the beginning-- the means, not the end."
-toward Moses: they exhibit MH's "Base ingratitude to Moses, who had been the faithful instrument of their deliverance. They condemn him, as if he had dealt hardly and unkindly with them, whereas it was evident beyond dispute, that whatever he did and however it issued, it was by direction from their God and with the design of their good."
à go to God instead of kicking the dog (David's psalms: anger, etc., then satisfied)
à murmur and grumble vs. pray, think, strategize
-toward God: MH's "The Israelites were angry with God for the greatest kindness that was ever done them; so gross are the absurities of unbelief."
à where’s the gratitude? an extreme form of “what have you done for me lately”! (except Moses had seen much more than they had)
--> the first instance of many grumblings, complaining about discomfort, inconveniences
-limits of signs/wonders
--> just previous to their greatest deliverance, they were full of doubt, fear and distrust
-Moses' patience in exhortation (following 14:11-12!)
-waiting for God's timing and agenda; the import of "patience" in general
-vs. his past
à excellent answer without explicit reference to prayer (w/ app.)
15:22-27's Carping about Bitter Waters (skim)
à 25’s "the Lord showed him a piece of wood" (lit. “a tree”); Moses "threw it into the water"
à "the water became sweet"; bitter water and good wood (vs. Rev’s “Wormwood”)
-see: Motyer on “anticipatory providences”: “the remedy had been in preparation long before the need arose and was there, ready and waiting” (see also: ch. 17’s rock!); concludes that “None of this is said in order to deny or evade the ‘miraculous’ in Scripture. Of course, the Creator can do what he pleases…But it speaks of love, care and power at an even deeper level if we imagine the Creator God saying to himself as he made the world, ‘My people will one day pass this way, mortally thirsty and disappointed by undrinkable water; I will plant a tree to await their arrival…’ Our needs have already been anticipated in his foreseeing, farseeing grace, which is ever on our side.”
à why this particular solution?
-using his description of 15:25 ("bitter waters in which there was only death") and I Pet 2:24's "Christ himself bore our sins in his body on the tree (wood), so that we might die to our sins and live for righteousness", Thomas finds an analogy to justification: "The waters indeed are dark, deep and bitter within the soul of man, but the Spirit of God moves upon the face of the waters, and they are stirred, and the soul is awakened, and at last the soul, convicted of its sin, cries out to God." And then the wood/tree makes the water sweet!
à this as the central story in Ex 13-18 with its central choice: complain or obey?
à in the midst of difficult circumstances, trusting the Lord and asking “what can I learn/do?” vs. lashing out against God and others, kicking the dog
16:1-3’s grumbling revisited, incl. 3's absurdities à 16:4-5
àGod’s compassionate, gracious and patient provision…
à manna as a type of…
a.)God’s Written Word (Pink, ch. 22)
-food for our souls
-supernatural gift vs. produced by earth or man
-blessedly accessible; Pink (125): “By virtue of the fact that it lay on the ground just outside their tents they had to do something with it. They must either gather it or trample it beneath their feet.”
-small in size; Pink (125): “Who would have imagined that a complete and perfect revelation from God and of God could be comprised within the compass of a comparatively small volume?...[It] can be carried in your pocket!”
-to be eaten—practical; requires “appropriate, masticate, assimilate for health and strength”—as with meditation (Ps 1:1-3); Pink (126): “Chew it slowly and thoroughly. But in this matter, most of us are serious offenders. We bolt our food. We swallow it before it has been properly masticated. We eat too hurriedly. That is the chief reason why so many suffer from dyspepsia—they give their stomachs the work to do which the teeth were intended to perform.”
-gathered in the AM, beginning each day
-gathered by stopping; Pink (129): “It grew not upon the trees, but fell upon the ground…had to go down on their knees…Something more than diligence is necessary. There must be dependence on God.”
b.) God’s Incarnate Word
-occasion of giving: rebellion (16:3)
-where it fell: in the Wilderness of Sin (16:1)
-linked to the “glory of the Lord” (1st mention in 16:10; Jn 1:14, II Cor 4:6)
-came down from Heaven (Phil 2)
-gathered by each individual (Rom 1:16)
-despised by “mixed multitude” (Num 11:4-6)
-given at night
-now hidden (Rev 2:17)
-2a's "quarreled with Moses" and demanded water (grumbling revisited)
--> 2b for Moses' response
-in style, the use of questions (vs. accusations/direct rebuke)—and seemingly mild, patient and gracious (or getting [a lot?] edgier)?
-in substance, two questions: why me? why test the Lord? (treating God as a vending machine; going to him only in need—as a convenience)
-3a's "But...thirsty...grumbled" --> gave no response to 2b and upped the ante with 3b's pathetic question (14:11-12)
-6's strike the rock
-rock as a type of Christ (I Cor 10:1-4; Jn 4:13-14's water as a picture of J and eternal life; Jn 7:38-39's water as a picture of S and the Spirit; Is 43:19-21; I Jn 5:6-8!)
-another “anticipatory providence”; again, purely miraculous or part of God’s creation from the beginning (wow either way!)
First and foremost, I am saved by God's grace as manifested most clearly through the atoning death of Jesus Christ-- and thus, adopted into His family. As a result, I increasingly seek to extend His grace to others in my daily life. On the home front, I am a husband and father to four young boys (two by adoption and two the more conventional way). Professionally, I am an economist who loves to teach and is active in public policy circles. Vocationally, I am an active writer and the author of three books (one on the book of Joshua; two on public policy-- one secular, one Christian). Finally, I am the co-author of a 21-month discipleship curriculum, Thoroughly Equipped, for developing competent lay-leaders in the Church.