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

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