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Category Archives: Exodus

The Lord Feeds His People — Exodus 16:13-17, 31-35


This picture is from the book Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-ups by Ned Bustard. The piece of art is done by Steve Prince.

Exodus 16:13-17,31-35 NIV
[13] That evening quail came and covered the camp, and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. [14] When the dew was gone, thin flakes like frost on the ground appeared on the desert floor. [15] When the Israelites saw it, they said to each other, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. Moses said to them, “It is the bread the Lord has given you to eat. [16] This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Everyone is to gather as much as they need. Take an omer for each person you have in your tent.’ ” [17] The Israelites did as they were told; some gathered much, some little. [31] The people of Israel called the bread manna. It was white like coriander seed and tasted like wafers made with honey. [32] Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Take an omer of manna and keep it for the generations to come, so they can see the bread I gave you to eat in the wilderness when I brought you out of Egypt.’ ” [33] So Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar and put an omer of manna in it. Then place it before the Lord to be kept for the generations to come.” [34] As the Lord commanded Moses, Aaron put the manna with the tablets of the covenant law, so that it might be preserved. [35] The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a land that was settled; they ate manna until they reached the border of Canaan.

Dear God, I’ve heard and read this story since I was a kid, but I’ve always just heard it through my own ears. The great thing about an artist’s interpretation is that I get to see that same story through someone else’s eyes. So as I look at this picture, it is interesting to see what the artist has chosen to show me.

Before I get into the image, here is what is written in the caption to the bottom left of the image.

Manna was a mysterious thing provided completely by God for the good of his people. The Israelites were not to hoard it, for it would come to them new each day. This print is from a series that looks at the Old Testament through the lens of a love story. Or as the artist writes, “true love is like an Old Testament made New each day.” Here a couple shares some Myrr tea, while locked together in their marriage vows. The premise of this piece is: If God supplied for the Israelites as they wandered about for forty years, then what will God do for a couple that commits to one another, bound through the convenient of marriage?” God proved faithful to the Israelites in their wilderness, providing for their needs and therefore He will supply this couple’s needs as they wander through relational deserts as well as through lands flowing with milk and honey.

See what I mean? I had never thought about tying the Israelites wandering in the wilderness to the journey of marriage.

Given that as our cypher to decrypt the artist’s message, let’s see what I can see he did for us:

  • The people look African or maybe even Aboriginal from Australia. If African, I suppose this makes sense since the Israelites had just come from Egypt, which was in Africa.
  • The woman’s leg and feet seem to dominate the picture. Both of their legs are drawn to kind of reveal the bone underneath, suggesting to me that they are thin and malnourished.
  • Of the four feet in the picture, only one has a sandal. The other three are bare.
  • They look tired.
  • There are three signs of tenderness being expressed from the man to the woman. 1.) His right foot is resting gently on her left foot. 2.) He is looking at her while she looks off. And 3.) his left hand is touching her face. I wonder how hard it was for the men at the time to feel like they weren’t capable of providing for their families. Was it humiliating to have to collect manna every day? Was it frustrating to see their wife’s fear and be limited in their ability to assuage it? I suppose there are certainly times in my marriage when I feel unable to give my wife what she needs.
  • She has on a dress and he is wearing a shirt with a collar and pants. These are not Israelites.
  • What I’m really curious about this that keyhole on the wall over her left shoulder. What is that about?

Interestingly, today is World Marriage Day for the Catholic Church. As part of that celebration and emphasis this morning, my wife and I were invited to get up and talk about a couples group we joined through our church over five years ago. Part of my sharing was that that group came along at a time when my wife and I were walking through the darkest, most confusing valley of our 26 years of marriage (back then it was 21 years). We couldn’t tell up from down at that point, and it was good for us to get into intentional community with six other couples, all of whom were at different stages in their lives. Some were younger than us and just starting to have children, some were our age or close to our age, and some were older and experiencing multiple grandchildren.

Father, as I look at this image and I think about my marriage and the manna you have provided to my wife and me over the years, my prayer is that I will know how to show her the tenderness that you need her to have from me, but also that you will meet those needs of hers that I simply cannot meet. It was almost 20 years ago that I finally started to come to terms with the fact that I couldn’t (and shouldn’t) be everything she needs. If I was, and if she was that for me, why would we need you? No, you have put me here to nurture and love her with your love and affection. But I am also here to support the path she is walking in pursuing you. That’s one of the reasons I attend Catholic Church with her even though I am not Catholic. So guide me today. Give us this day our daily bread.

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 

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What are we selling?

Dear God, I am giving a sermon tomorrow morning at the Presbyterian church. It will be the first time I’ve done two Sundays in a rom, and I have felt the leading for a long time to give them a good serving of the Gospel–the Good News. But is it for them or is it for me?

A couple of years ago, I heard David Brooks say something that I’ve looked for online and I cannot find. He made the comment that Christians have this great message of grace, love, forgiveness, compassion, etc., but what we communicate to the world as a group is that all we really care about is what happens in their bedrooms. While I think there is a call to a certain level of purity by you and that cannot be overlooked (for example, porn is extremely toxic and dangerous), I completely agree with this thought. We do have this great message to give people.

I just stopped in the middle of writing this to see if I could find that David Brooks quote. I didn’t find it exactly, but I found a good interview with him. I found this quote in the middle of it: “Some of my more popular columns have been those about forgiveness, or the role of suffering, or what graciousness looks like. There’s a widespread hunger to hear people talk about those issues. When you touch upon those themes, I think, ‘I’m not the only person out there who is wrestling with these things and troubled by them or comforted by them.”

Later in the interview with him, the interviewer asked, “To grasp the beauty of a love for thngs that are unlovable, you have to recognize yourself as unlovable. If we don’t want to reckon with sin, is it possible to see grace?

Brooks replied, “I think you have to have a sense that you’re loved beyond what you deserve. I think we experience grace both in this world and in a divine sense when we have messed up and don’t deserve to be forgiven but are. That’s when grace becomes shocking.

So with all of that said, let’s look at the passage I have set out for tomorrow after praying to you and see if I can make some sense of the message you want me to share.

Exodus 34:29-35: When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the Testimony in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the LORD. When Aaron and all the Israelites saw Moses, his face was radiant, and they were afraid to come near him. But Moses called to them; so Aaron and all the leaders of the community came back to him, and he spoke to them. Afterward all the Israelites came near him, and he gave them all the commands the LORD had given him on Mount Sinai. // When Moses finished speaking to them, he put a veil over his face. But whenever he entered the LORD’s presence to speak with him, he removed the veil until he came out. And when he came out and told the Israelites what he had been commanded, they saw that his face was radiant. Then Moses would put the veil back over his face until he went in to speak with the LORD.

2 Corinthians 3:7-18: Now if the ministry that brought death, which was engraved in letters on stone, came with glory, so that the Israelites could not look steadily at the face of Moses because of its glory, fading though it was, will not the ministry of the Spirit be even more glorious? If the ministry that condemns men is glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry that brings righteousness! For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory. And if what was fading away came with glory, how much greater is the glory of that which lasts!//Therefore, since we have such a hope, we are very bold. We are not like Moses, who would put a veil over this face to keep the Israelites from gazing at it while the radiance was fading away. But their minds were made dull, for to this day the same veil remains when the old covenant is read. It has not been removed because only in Christ is it taken away. Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.

Matthew 11:28-30 [Jesus speaking] “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Father, it’s time for me to start to work on my outline, but I think it’s going to come down to this. We need to be reminded of what you are offering us and what we accepted:

  • Forgiveness of our sins and freedom from our shame
  • Peace to know that the circumstances in our physical world are all under your control, whether them seem to be working out for us or against us
  • Hope that even if tomorrow isn’t better, in the end, we win!
  • Joy that is driven by the freedom, the peace, and the hope

Then we need to be reminded that this is what we have to offer others. We have it to offer our friends and acquaintances. And as a church, they have it to offer their neighborhood and our community.

We aren’t selling morals and judgment. We aren’t selling condemnation. What we are selling is the fruits of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23. And the only cost for the person is a willingness to humbly confess their sin before you, turn from their sin as they know it, and then pursue you. If those things happen, it won’t necessarily be an easy life, but the trials will shape us, and the fruit will be love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, faithfulness, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Who wouldn’t buy some of that?

In Jesus’ name I pray,

Amen

 
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Posted by on August 18, 2018 in 2 Corinthians, Exodus, Galatians, Matthew

 

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