Exodus 35-36 B

“Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the LORD had put skill, everyone whose heart stirred him, to come to the work to perform it.” (36:2‬)

Have you ever had the pleasure of being a part of a skillful collaboration? It truly feels divine.

It is a glorious thing to be gifted with skill and talent from the LORD, when you have opportunity to use it. Otherwise, it can feel like a burden to bear. I feel I’m always looking for outlets for my talent and most certainly I prefer collaborating. When I’m able to utilize my gifting, I feel alive in a way nothing else does. When I forget these parts of me, and busy myself with tasks outside my wheelhouse, I feel very blah indeed.

The LORD is glorified in our creativity and exercise of skill. Especially when it’s collaborative, edifying and serving the greater whole.

How can we get creative about using our skills, gifts and talents to love God and others? What has He made you good at? Let’s take His handiwork in us and make this world a more beautiful place.

-Bethany

Exodus 33-34 B

“When Moses came down from Mount Sinai, with the two tablets of the testimony in his hand as he came down from the mountain, Moses did not know that the skin of his face shone because he had been talking with God.” 33:29

Moses and God have an intimate relationship, speaking to each other like two friends. The Lord’s power and holiness reflects off Moses’ face like a sunburn, so powerful is the residue that he has to cover his face.

What things in your life reflect your relationship with God?

How can people tell you spend time with him? That you know him, and converse with him like a good friend?

We can’t rely church bumper stickers, bracelets, tee shirts or social media to reflect our relationship with God. It should be radiating off our faces. His love, his grace and his holiness.

These are such great chapters with so many important moments! I especially loved 33:12-23 when Moses intercedes for Israel. What part did you like?

-Carly

Exodus 31-32 B

I’ve been thinking, lately, how the LORD is never in the same rush as we are. Anything can seem like an emergency to us.

Maybe that’s why take a sabbath is so hard and why the LORD has to really pressure them to do it (aka punishable by death!)

But then something else struck me. The people promise to follow the LORD then quickly made a golden calf to worship.

“Now then let Me alone, that My anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them; and I will make of you a great nation.” (32:10‬)

Start over with Moses? That makes me tired, just thinking about. The LORD has invested about 500 years, at this point, into making Abraham’s descendants into a nation.

His ways really are different from ours. We’ve got these little lifetimes we are scrambling to cram things into. Everything is on a clock, everything has a deadline. Not so with Him. Or not quite so? Who can be sure.

In any case, He asks for our obedience; seeing as He is the Timeless Creator God and we are the work of His hands. What is one major thing He asks us to do? Rest. It is a discipline, no matter how nice it sounds.

How are you doing with taking a Sabbath?

-Bethany

Exodus 29-30 B

Is it bad to recreate holy things?

The instructions about the anointing oil and incense grabbed my attention today:

“It must never be used to anoint anyone else, and you must never make any blend like it for yourselves. It is holy, and you must treat it as holy. Anyone who makes a blend like it or anoints someone other than a priest will be cut off from the community.” 30:32-33

God knows his people and knows that we are prone to wanting the image of holiness without the sacrifice or obedience.

Do you want a good reputation? To be trusted, sought-after and recognized? Have good character and make hard choices.

We can’t grab the holy incense and spritz it all over ourselves, hoping we suddenly resemble priests. Post-resurrection, the qualifications for priesthood are different than they were for the Israelites. But there are still qualifications.

Are you in good-standing with God? Is there something you need to reconcile with him?

Praise God for his son Jesus, who gives us all access to his holy essence.

(Lots of perfume references today, if you’re not reading along with us, things might seem weird.)

-Carly

Exodus 27-28 B

“You shall make for them linen breeches to cover their bare flesh; they shall reach from the loins even to the thighs.” (28:42‬)

Let’s here it for the LORD and His details. He’s properly outfitting Aaron and his sons down to their undies. Everything is on purpose, everything has a reason. (Does anyone know if this is where the Mormons got their underwear ideas?)

I decided to plunge in to a study on the ephod stones (maybe the infinity stones are on my mind?), but I’d didn’t let myself get too far. It’s confusing and I don’t want to report half baked research, but I invite you to check it out too. Like this one about some archeologists believing they may have found one?

“You shall put in the breastpiece of judgment the Urim and the Thummim, and they shall be over Aaron’s heart when he goes in before the LORD; and Aaron shall carry the judgment of the sons of Israel over his heart before the LORD continually.” (28:30‬)

Whatever these stones were, they became a way for the LORD to communicate with the priests (1 Samuel 28:6).

The goal has always been communication. Although some of this sounds a little bonkers for my Baptist self, it doesn’t make it any less true. It’s how the LORD chose to communicate for a time. He uses a lot of ways to communicate throughout Scripture. More lot casting than we like to admit.

How does He communicate with you? I think it’s safe to assume He wants to. Have you ever prayed for an answer and flipped a coin? (For better or worse I have, both times turned out favorably, for the record). Share a story of a way the LORD has clearly communicated something with you.

-Bethany

Exodus 25-26 B

Sometimes it’s hard for me to understand why God asked Israel to create the Ark. Why would he want to be contained in a tent that will be lugged around and jostled through the wilderness? What’s wrong with the cloud pillar they had been following?

(I know I frequently link you back to Beth’s posts from last time around, but I love the chart she included. It shows correlations between the Ark and Jesus that are so intricate and amazing!)

As we keep mentioning, the story of Exodus is God introducing him to his people. He wants to be set apart from the Greek gods, who dwell in the heavens, never to be seen by humans. As he tells Moses, he wants to live among us (25:8).

I’m finding it harder and harder to live among God’s people and love them. Isn’t that what we’re called to do? Get our hands messy? Set our comforts aside? Think about others more than ourselves? I’m reverting. Maybe it has something to do with having young kids. I’m constantly sharing my time, space and energy with them (and smoothies! LET MOMMA HAVE HER BREAKFAST OR ELSE), and have found myself more protective over my own comforts.

But then I read that God is joining the Israelites in their never-ending camping trip to the Promised Land. It’s a beautiful foreshadow of the way God comes down in the flesh to be with his people, washing their feet and breaking bread with them. He goes through puberty. He gets a job. He experiences sun burns and sleeplessness. He grieves, loses friends, goes fishing. He struggles to fit in, struggles to find true friendship. He lives among us, relates to us and sacrifices everything for us. It spurs me on to dig deep and set myself a side a little bit more for the sake of this story.

What part of the description of the Ark grabbed your attention?

 

-Carly

 

Exodus 23-24 B

“So Moses took the blood and sprinkled it on the people, and said, ‘Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD has made with you in accordance with all these words.’” (24:8‬)

I had to stop myself from my usual nodding along and get real about this moment. If I ever heard of a friend involved with some religious practice where everyone made promises, and then the leader sprinkled blood on everyone to seal the deal, I’d yell, “CULT! CULT! Run for your lives!”

It’s weird what can seem normal after awhile. Enough times hearing a story and you stop asking questions.

But the Bible begs you to stay engaged, to keep asking why and to keep remembering the answer.

Why don’t we oppress foreigners?

Because that used to be us, and we know how it feels to be oppressed.

I’m a little too squeamish to be getting into many blood oaths, but they do have a special way of underlining the gravity of a promise.

We live in a society very separated from death (someone else handles the body when a loved one dies) and increasingly noncommittal. We feel its better to keep our options open.

The LORD was preparing Israel for a major thing and they needed to be one hundred percent committed. He was, after all, committed to them, because of His promises to Abraham.

How seriously do we take our commitment to the LORD? Do we think about our relationship with Him in terms of covenants, blood oaths, promises, etc? Why or why not? Is there a line you can think of which marks off just how far you’re willing to go with Him? Talk with Him about it today.

-Bethany

Exodus 21-22 B

I was cringing while reading most of this. Luckily, Bethany gave us a great pep talk last time around. If you felt overwhelmed by all the anticipation of slavery and violence like I did, revisit her words.

You shall not mistreat any widow or fatherless child. If you do mistreat them, and they cry out to me, I will surely hear their cry and my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children fatherless.” 22:22

Doesn’t that tone read like a protective father warning someone encroaching on their beloved child? It should, because it is.

The church culture I was a part of on the west coast downplayed the anger of God. Some pastors and theologians claim there is no hell or punishment from God. I live in the Bible Belt now, and God’s anger is a card they love to play. Billboards tower down on me from every highway, warning me to attend church or I’ll go to hell.

Wherever you land on that spectrum will shape how you approach Him. I’m learning how to be in a relationship with the Lord out of faithfulness and love and not out of fear or performance. It’s really hard! But verses like the one above remind me that God’s anger is a slow-burning wick and he will be exalted.

He will defend the defenseless. I’m not trying to create shame for us to take on, but trying to produce encouragement. He hears every cry from the vulnerable and will respond. Hallelujah for that. In the meanwhile, how are we advocating for them?

Do the things that anger God anger you as well?

How do you engage with holy anger?

-Carly

Exodus 19-20 B

After all the numerous hikes up and down Sinai, I had to flip back a few chapters and recall, “how old was Moses at this point?”

“Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three, when they spoke to Pharaoh.” (7:7)

What a life. Granted, Moses went on to live forty more years and we can’t really understand how aging was back then, but I think sometimes it’s good to slow down and read all the sweat between the lines. I think I counted 4 trips up the mountain just in chapter 19.

This won’t be the last time Israel makes him tired. He becomes the true go-between for the LORD and the people. Something not originally by design. Notice how the LORD set out to meet all of them.

“Then they said to Moses, ‘Speak to us yourself and we will listen; but let not God speak to us, or we will die.’” (20:19‬)

I think there’s a tendency in Christian leadership to get used to having to spoon feed the people, because the LORD looks too intimidating for them.

If what Peter says in his letters is true, we should all be priests by now. A kingdom of priests, finally fulfilling Israel’s design. One of my favorite prophetic prayers is when Moses says,

“Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!” (Numbers‬ ‭11:29‬)

After some guys come to “tell on” other Israelites who were prophesying. He says, “are you jealous for my sake?”

Do you see yourself as a priest? Do you handle yourself as one? Do you rely on others to tell you what God wants? Do you represent Him to others fairly? This is a pretty serious job. That’s why Israel was hesitant to take it on and Moses was desperate to share it. Ask the LORD how you can grow in this role, today.

-Bethany

Exodus 17-18 B

The workload seems to be catching up to Moses. (I mean, can you even imagine?) Something I noticed in these chapters is the way God provided people for Moses.

When he was weary from holding up his hands, Aaron and Hur held up his arms the rest of the day. (17:12-13)

Later in chapter 18, we read about his father-in-law, Jethro, visiting him in the wilderness. (I have so many questions about this! How did he know precisely where he was? Was there a map? How did he “get word to him” as mentioned in 18:6? I want details on these logistics!)

Jethro and Moses catch up and visit. I can imagine the relief Moses felt being among family and being filled up, his tense shoulders lowering as the evening went on. Being visited by people during an intense season of life is so refreshing. He receives much-needed advice as his mentor encourages him and also counsels him to delegate responsibility.

Who are your people?

Who comes and holds your arms up when your hands grow weak from God’s work?

Who visits you in your wilderness?

Who pulls you aside and says, ‘you’re taking too much on, this isn’t good, let’s figure this out’?

(Shout out to my girl Bethany who regularly hikes out to my wilderness to check on me and problem solve!)

A life alongside God is not meant to be isolating or lonely. He calls us to work for people and with people. We are meant for relationship.

If you have godly relationships, take a minute and thank God for your people. If you need this, ask him for it! He will extend it generously (but probably differently than you imagine). And of course, steward this well in your life. If you are someone’s ‘person’, take it seriously. Check on them, speak up and roll up your sleeves to serve them.

-Carly