Thursday, January 28, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Golden Calf

People are people.  Moses has brought the people of Israel out of slavery.  He has led them to Mt. Sinai.  He has gone up the mountain to get God's instructions about what is next.

He takes longer then they expected.

While he is gone the people get anxious and they decide that it would be easier if they made their own god.  So they gather up their gold and they make a calf out of gold and worship it.

They forget the god of their ancestors.  They forget the god who they have seen do wonders to free them from slavery.  They forget the god who has promised them a fertile land.

It takes only a very short time for the people to believe that God has forgotten them, to decide that following him is too hard, to decide that it would be better if they were in control.

How different, really, are we from those people?

Thursday, January 21, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: The 10 Commandments

These are the 10 Commandments from the Common English Bible.  I'm sharing them because I think it is helpful to hear them in a slightly different voice then the way we usually hear them:

1. I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.  You must have no other gods before me.

2. Do not make an idol for yourself- no form whatsoever - of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters of the earth.  Do not bow down to them or worship them, because, I, the Lord your God, am a passionate God.  I punish children for their parents' sins even to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me.  But I am loyal and gracious to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

3. Do not use the Lord your God's name as if it were of no significance; the Lord won't forgive anyone who uses his name that way.

4. Remember the Sabbath day and treat it as holy.  Six days you may work and do all your tasks, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God.  Do not do any work on it - not you, your sons or daughters, your male or female servants, your animals, or the immigrant who is living with you.  Because the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything that is in them in six days, but rested on the seventh day.  That is why the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.

5. Honor your father and your mother so that your life will be long on the fertile land that the Lord your God is giving you;

6. Do not kill.

7. Do not commit adultery.

8. Do not steal.

9. Do not testify falsely against your neighbor.

10. Do not desire your neighbor's house.  Do not desire and try to take your neighbor's wife, male or female servant, ox, donkey, or anything else that belongs to your neighbor.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Moses

In the first chapter of the book of Exodus we get the transition from Joseph - the trusted aide to the king of Egypt - to a people who are held as slaves in basically one sentence.

"Now a new king came to power in Egypt who didn't know Joseph"  The people of Egypt became afraid of the people of Israel, they were a lot of them and they were growing stronger, so Egypt enslaved Israel.  But Israel continued to grow in strength and in numbers.  The king of Egypt tried many different ways to keep the people of Israel under control, but it didn't work.

In the midst of this we get the story of Moses.  If you have seen the movie The Ten Commandments (or indeed Prince of Egypt) then you know the story.  If not, I suggest that you rent one or both, because the rest of the history of Israel and much of the history of Christianity is driven by the story we find in Exodus 1:8-14:31.

I suggest that you watch one or both movies and then go back and read the story in Exodus.  Think about where in our faith we hear the words lamb, Passover, Feast, and sacrifice and see how much we build on this story.

Thursday, January 7, 2016

40 Old Testament Stories: Joseph in Egypt

We pick up Joseph in Egypt, he has made a decent life for himself.  He is working for one of the chief officers of the king of Egypt.  He has become a trusted aide.  He is the head of the household.

Now comes a problem, his master's wife tries to get him to have sex with her, but he runs away from her.  She claims that he tried to assault her and so he gets thrown into jail.

While in jail, he earns the trust of the jailer and get's put in charge of the prisoners.  Joseph's life is a series of ups and downs.

While in prison Joseph interprets dreams and it is this that finally get's him released from jail and into the king of Egypt's service.  The king also comes to respect Joseph and puts him in charge of responding to a coming famine.

It is that famine that drives Joseph's family to Egypt and he is eventually reconciled with his brothers and sees his father before Israel dies. Joseph invites his brothers to move their families to Egypt.

This is how the nation of Israel arrives in Egypt.  This becomes important later in the story.