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

Exodus 15-16 B

“The LORD is my strength and song, And He has become my salvation; This is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will extol Him.” (‭‭15:2‬)

After escaping through the Red Sea, seeing the corpses of the Egyptians washing ashore and realizing they were really out of there, the first Jewish worship song was born. Praise was a natural and immediate reaction.

However, this group of people had only just met their God, and the relationship was young. Directly following the songs of praise: crying and groaning in despair. They panic because there is no water. He provides, and they’re momentarily satiated. Then panic returns because there’s no food. He provides again.

Later on, Israel will poetically remember theses days as their infancy. They were like children with the LORD, and He was patient and provided. His discipline came when necessary, but generally these days are remembered fondly by the prophets, poets and scribes.

What is your relationship with the LORD marked by in this season? Praise, because you just saw Him do something stupendous? Panic, because you don’t feel sure about Him as a provider yet? Are things feeling dry, because it’s been awhile since anything changed? Are you feeling hopeful, because there are about to?

He is in every season with you. Ask Him about it today. In what ways are you still acting childish? In what ways have you grown?

-Bethany

Exodus 13-14 B

I can’t imagine how the Israelites felt, watching 600 chariots of their enemies charging towards them in revenge. They immediately panic (who wouldn’t?)

 “Why did you bring us out here to die in the wilderness? Weren’t there enough graves for us in Egypt? What have you done to us? Why did you make us leave Egypt? Didn’t we tell you this would happen while we were still in Egypt? We said, ‘Leave us alone! Let us be slaves to the Egyptians. It’s better to be a slave in Egypt than a corpse in the wilderness!” 14:11-14

But Moses told the people, “Don’t be afraid. Just stand still and watch the Lord rescue you today. The Egyptians you see today will never be seen again. The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm.”

Isn’t that just the best pep talk? “Don’t be afraid, just stand here calmly while God defends you.” Letting the Lord defend you, while meekly standing by, is hard. Like standing, cornered in front of the ocean, while your enemies descend upon you.

Maybe it’s not a person threatening to completely clobber you, but a circumstance. An illness. Debt. A job. An addiction. Grief.

With God, there is always a way out. The Israelites couldn’t have possibly imagined that God would pull the ocean into two bodies of water so they could escape right down the middle, their feet on dry sand. He is a mastermind of rescuing and always has a plan.

Fear not and stand firm. 

 

-Carly

Exodus 11-12 B

Much of Israel’s foundational identity is formed in these chapters. It’s the beginning of what they will be marked by as a people group, not unlike Abraham’s call to be a blessing and circumcised. It’s exclusive and specific, yet open. A foreigner can join, but only by serious commitment.

Neither Moses nor Pharaoh knew how many plagues the LORD had planned for this event. They didn’t know what would be the last straw. Even with all the horrible plagues, a nation isn’t going to say goodbye to over a million slaves.

Israel gets on board. Somewhere along the way, they went from being annoyed with Moses to being ready to follow him out of their home. 430 years is a long time for a people group to inhabit a place. Imagine if in the year 2050, anyone who could trace US heritage back to the Mayflower left.

After 430 years and 10 plagues they all suddenly left in a hurry. No waiting for dough to rise. In the middle of the night it suddenly became time to leave. Right that minute. Everything changed in an instant.

This is something the LORD wanted them to remember with all these serious observational holidays and no leaven eating. There was suddenly no more time.

These laws and festivals always make me wish I marked more anniversaries of the LORD’s faithfulness. He did something really amazing, all those years ago.

I just realized, today is the 23rd anniversary of my appendectomy. The way I can know, is my appendix ruptured on the way home from a friends wedding and it was discovered five days later. Five days ago, those friends celebrated their 23rd wedding anniversary. Hereby, May 17th is the anniversary of me being alive against all odds. The LORD spared me. I decided in the hospital in the week that followed that my life was to belong to the LORD in a more profound way. I would keep following after Him, because He was keeping me alive. All to Him I owe.

Is there a moment in your history with the LORD deserving a holiday? Ask Him about it today, and rejoice in His salvation!

-Bethany

Exodus 9-10 B

Did you see the explanation Beth shared with us about the intention behind the plagues? I was fascinated! It’s such a reminder of how intentional God is.

What questions did these chapters bring up? Here are some of mine:

Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? (This gets addressed in Romans 9, but is still hard to ignore when you’re reading the text.)

Why did God involve Moses? I noticed several times, God would intervene with the weather, like when he shifted the wind to bring the locusts down. It reminded me that God didn’t need Moses to talk to Pharaoh, and it wasn’t Moses’ own power that activated the plagues, just a mere signal. (As the story progresses, we’ll see their relationship grow, and Moses refers to God as a friend. Sometimes it’s good to ask questions, even if you know they get answered later on in the text. The Bible is so multi-faceted, there’s always more to learn.)

How were the magicians able to pull off most of these plagues? Do not underestimate the powers people can call upon. The more we familiarize ourselves with God, the easier it is to decipher when someone’s imitating him.

What thoughts or observations did you have?

 

-Carly