1174.) Exodus 25

October 31, 2013
"Cherubs on the Cover: Blue"  by Yoram Raanan (born in the USA but now a resident of Israel) 2003

“Cherubs on the Cover: Blue” by Yoram Raanan (born in the USA but now a resident of Israel), 2003

Exodus 25  (NRSV)

Offerings for the Tabernacle

The Lord said to Moses: 2Tell the Israelites to take for me an offering; from all whose hearts prompt them to give you shall receive the offering for me.

When we become givers we become more like God, who is the greatest giver.  As John 3:16 says, For God so loved the world, He gave His only begotten Son.

Psalm 51:17 (English Standard Version)

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.

Romans 12:1-2 (New Living Translation)

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

3This is the offering that you shall receive from them: gold, silver, and bronze, 4blue, purple, and crimson yarns and fine linen, goats’ hair, 5tanned rams’ skins, fine leather, acacia wood, 6oil for the lamps, spices for the anointing oil and for the fragrant incense, 7onyx stones and gems to be set in the ephod and for the breastpiece.

8And have them make me a sanctuary, so that I may dwell among them.

Revelation 21:1-3 (Contemporary English Version)

I saw a new heaven and a new earth. The first heaven and the first earth had disappeared, and so had the sea. Then I saw New Jerusalem, that holy city, coming down from God in heaven. It was like a bride dressed in her wedding gown and ready to meet her husband.

I heard a loud voice shout from the throne:

God’s home is now with his people. He will live with them, and they will be his own. Yes, God will make his home among his people.

9In accordance with all that I show you concerning the pattern of the tabernacle and of all its furniture, so you shall make it.

The Ark of the Covenant

"The Ark of the Covenant"  digital art by Ted Larson

“The Ark of the Covenant” digital art by Ted Larson

10They shall make an ark of acacia wood; it shall be two and a half cubits long, a cubit and a half wide, and a cubit and a half high.

The first item God told Moses to build was the ark, later called the Ark of the Covenant. This was the most important single item associated with the tabernacle, modeled after the throne of God in heaven.  Acacia wood is harder and darker than oak. It is also very durable because wood-eating insects avoid it.  Imagine the ark to be about 3 3/4 feet long and 2 1/4 feet wide and high.

11You shall overlay it with pure gold, inside and outside you shall overlay it, and you shall make a molding of gold upon it all around. 12You shall cast four rings of gold for it and put them on its four feet, two rings on the one side of it, and two rings on the other side. 13You shall make poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold. 14And you shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, by which to carry the ark. 15The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark; they shall not be taken from it. 16You shall put into the ark the covenant that I shall give you.

About:  the Ark  of the Covenant

  • a golden rectangular box that contained the Ten Commandments
  • symbolized God’s covenant with Israel’s people
  • located in the Most Holy Place

( from Life Application Bible, Tyndale and Zondervan, 1991)

1 Chronicles 28:1-6 (New International Version)

David summoned all the officials of Israel to assemble at Jerusalem: the officers over the tribes, the commanders of the divisions in the service of the king, the commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds, and the officials in charge of all the property and livestock belonging to the king and his sons, together with the palace officials, the mighty men and all the brave warriors.

King David rose to his feet and said: “Listen to me, my brothers and my people. I had it in my heart to build a house as a place of rest for the ark of the covenant of the LORD, for the footstool of our God, and I made plans to build it. But God said to me, ‘You are not to build a house for my Name, because you are a warrior and have shed blood.’

“Yet the LORD, the God of Israel, chose me from my whole family to be king over Israel forever. He chose Judah as leader, and from the house of Judah he chose my family, and from my father’s sons he was pleased to make me king over all Israel.  Of all my sons—and the LORD has given me many—he has chosen my son Solomon to sit on the throne of the kingdom of the LORD over Israel.  He said to me: ‘Solomon your son is the one who will build my house and my courts, for I have chosen him to be my son, and I will be his father.”

17Then you shall make a mercy seat of pure gold; two cubits and a half shall be its length, and a cubit and a half its width. 18You shall make two cherubim of gold; you shall make them of hammered work, at the two ends of the mercy seat. 19Make one cherub at the one end, and one cherub at the other; of one piece with the mercy seat you shall make the cherubim at its two ends. 20The cherubim shall spread out their wings above, overshadowing the mercy seat with their wings. They shall face one to another; the faces of the cherubim shall be turned toward the mercy seat. 21You shall put the mercy seat on the top of the ark; and in the ark you shall put the covenant that I shall give you. 22There I will meet with you, and from above the mercy seat, from between the two cherubim that are on the ark of the covenant, I will deliver to you all my commands for the Israelites.

About:  the Atonement Cover (mercy seat)

  • the lid to the ark of the covenant
  • symbolized the presence of God among his people

( from Life Application Bible, Tyndale and Zondervan, 1991)

Psalm 80:1-2 (New Living Translation)

Please listen, O Shepherd of Israel,
you who lead Joseph’s descendants like a flock.
O God, enthroned above the cherubim,
display your radiant glory

to Ephraim, Benjamin, and Manasseh.
Show us your mighty power.
Come to rescue us!



HERE  is “Revelation Song” sung by Kari Jobe.  “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, holy, holy is He.  Sing a new song to Him, Who sits on Heaven’s mercy seat.”


The Table for the Bread of the Presence

"The Table of Showbread"   digital art by Ted Larson

“The Table of Showbread” digital art by Ted Larson

23You shall make a table of acacia wood, two cubits long, one cubit wide, and a cubit and a half high. 24You shall overlay it with pure gold, and make a molding of gold around it. 25You shall make around it a rim a handbreadth wide, and a molding of gold around the rim. 26You shall make for it four rings of gold, and fasten the rings to the four corners at its four legs. 27The rings that hold the poles used for carrying the table shall be close to the rim. 28You shall make the poles of acacia wood, and overlay them with gold, and the table shall be carried with these. 29You shall make its plates and dishes for incense, and its flagons and bowls with which to pour drink offerings; you shall make them of pure gold. 30And you shall set the bread of the Presence on the table before me always.

About:  the Table

  • a wooden table located in the Holy Place of the tabernacle
  • the bread of the Presence and various utensils were kept on this table

( from Life Application Bible, Tyndale and Zondervan, 1991)

The Lampstand

"Aaron and the Golden Lampstand"   digital art by Ted Larson

“Aaron and the Golden Lampstand” digital art by Ted Larson

31You shall make a lampstand of pure gold. The base and the shaft of the lampstand shall be made of hammered work; its cups, its calyxes, and its petals shall be of one piece with it; 32and there shall be six branches going out of its sides, three branches of the lampstand out of one side of it and three branches of the lampstand out of the other side of it; 33three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with calyx and petals, on one branch, and three cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with calyx and petals, on the other branch—so for the six branches going out of the lampstand. 34On the lampstand itself there shall be four cups shaped like almond blossoms, each with its calyxes and petals. 35There shall be a calyx of one piece with it under the first pair of branches, a calyx of one piece with it under the next pair of branches, and a calyx of one piece with it under the last pair of branches—so for the six branches that go out of the lampstand. 36Their calyxes and their branches shall be of one piece with it, the whole of it one hammered piece of pure gold.

37You shall make the seven lamps for it; and the lamps shall be set up so as to give light on the space in front of it. 38Its snuffers and trays shall be of pure gold. 39It, and all these utensils, shall be made from a talent of pure gold. 40And see that you make them according to the pattern for them, which is being shown you on the mountain.

About:  the Lampstand

  • a golden lampstand located in the Holy Place, which held seven burning oil lamps
  • the lampstand lighted the Holy Place for the priests

( from Life Application Bible, Tyndale and Zondervan, 1991)

2 Chronicles 13:10-11 (New International Version)

“As for us, the LORD is our God, and we have not forsaken him. The priests who serve the LORD are sons of Aaron, and the Levites assist them. Every morning and evening they present burnt offerings and fragrant incense to the LORD. They set out the bread on the ceremonially clean table and light the lamps on the gold lampstand every evening. We are observing the requirements of the LORD our God.”


Images courtesy of:
Raanan.  https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2009/05/25-raanan-cherubs.jpg?w=450
Larson, Ark of the Covenant.  http://home.earthlink.net/~moshe120/The%20Ark%20of%20the%20Covenant.htm
Larson, Table of the Showbread.    http://home.earthlink.net/~moshe120/The%20Table%20of%20Showbread.htm
Larson, Lampstand.  http://home.earthlink.net/~moshe120/Aaron%20and%20the%20Golden%20Lampstand.htm

1173.) Exodus 24

October 30, 2013
"The Lord on Mount Sinai"  digital art by Ted Larson

“The Lord on Mount Sinai” digital art by Ted Larson

Exodus 24   (NRSV)

The Blood of the Covenant

Then he said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel, and worship at a distance. 2Moses alone shall come near the Lord; but the others shall not come near, and the people shall not come up with him.”

3Moses came and told the people all the words of the Lord and all the ordinances; and all the people answered with one voice, and said, “All the words that the Lord has spoken we will do.”

The terms of the covenant having been stipulated, the people ratified the covenant by agreeing to abide by its conditions.  (The Reformation Bible)

4And Moses wrote down all the words of the Lord.

David Guzik enumerates the pattern of the covenant:

Israel had verbally agreed to a covenant-relationship with God; but there is a sense in which this is simply not good enough. They must do specific things to confirm their covenant with God. First, the word of God must be written: Moses wrote all the words of the Lord. God’s word was important enough that it was not be left up to human recollection and the creative nature of memory. It had to be written down.

He rose early in the morning, and built an altar at the foot of the mountain, and set up twelve pillars, corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel. 5He sent young men of the people of Israel, who offered burnt offerings and sacrificed oxen as offerings of well-being to the Lord.

Second, covenant was only made in the context of sacrifice. Sacrifice admits our own sin and failing before God, and it addresses that need through the death of a substitute.

6Moses took half of the blood and put it in basins, and half of the blood he dashed against the altar. 7Then he took the book of the covenant, and read it in the hearing of the people;

Third, covenant was made when God’s word is heard and responded to. Our covenant with God is based on His words and His terms, not our own words and terms.

and they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.”

8Moses took the blood and dashed it on the people, and said, “See the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”

Fourth, covenant was made with the application of blood. As the nation received the blood of the covenant, the covenant was sealed.

24.  blood of Jesus

Hebrews 9:14-20 (New Living Translation)

Just think how much more the blood of Christ will purify our consciences from sinful deeds so that we can worship the living God. For by the power of the eternal Spirit, Christ offered himself to God as a perfect sacrifice for our sins.  That is why he is the one who mediates a new covenant between God and people, so that all who are called can receive the eternal inheritance God has promised them. For Christ died to set them free from the penalty of the sins they had committed under that first covenant.

Now when someone leaves a will, it is necessary to prove that the person who made it is dead. The will goes into effect only after the person’s death. While the person who made it is still alive, the will cannot be put into effect.

That is why even the first covenant was put into effect with the blood of an animal.  For after Moses had read each of God’s commandments to all the people, he took the blood of calves and goats, along with water, and sprinkled both the book of God’s law and all the people, using hyssop branches and scarlet wool.  Then he said, “This blood confirms the covenant God has made with you.”



To God be the glory, to God be the glory
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done
With His blood He has saved me
With His power He has raised me
To God be the glory,
For the things He has done.

Written by Andre Crouch.  Sung by the Oslo Gospel Choir.


On the Mountain with God

9Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10and they saw the God of Israel. Under his feet there was something like a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.

Blue sapphire, "clear as the sky itself"

Blue sapphire, “clear as the sky itself”

11God did not lay his hand on the chief men of the people of Israel; also they beheld God, and they ate and drank.

12The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain, and wait there; and I will give you the tablets of stone, with the law and the commandment, which I have written for their instruction.”

24. Matthew candle

from Edges of His Ways,
by Amy Carmichael:

Exodus 24:12 — Come up to Me . . . and be there.

When Moses went up, a cloud enfolded him.  In that cool darkness he heard words which afterwards he spoke to the people in the heat and glaring light of the plain.  So, day by day, as we look forward into the hours which seem to rush upon us, we see not clearness but a cloud.  Then a Voice that we know calls softly, Come up to Me, and be here; the Cloud of the Unknown becomes for us then the very over-shadowing of the wings of the Lord; we sit down under His shadow with great delight, and His fruit is sweet to our taste.  And this fruit, tasted first in the dark alone with Him, will be ours for others.  “What I tell you in darkness,” He says to us still, “that speak ye in light” (Matthew 10:27).

13So Moses set out with his assistant Joshua, and Moses went up into the mountain of God. 14To the elders he had said, “Wait here for us, until we come to you again; for Aaron and Hur are with you; whoever has a dispute may go to them.”

Moses had good reason to believe that these two men could supervise the camp of Israel. They already proved themselves as men capable of assisting Moses in prayer (Exodus 17:10-13). Yet Aaron and Hur didn’t do a good job guarding the camp – as will be demonstrated in the following chapters.

–David Guzik

15Then Moses went up on the mountain, and the cloud covered the mountain. 16The glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it for six days; on the seventh day he called to Moses out of the cloud. 17Now the appearance of the glory of the Lord was like a devouring fire on the top of the mountain in the sight of the people of Israel. 18Moses entered the cloud, and went up on the mountain. Moses was on the mountain for forty days and forty nights.

Forty days and forty nights . . .

like the flood:

Genesis 7:12 (New International Version)

And rain fell on the earth forty days and forty nights.

and Elijah’s journey:

1 Kings 19:8 (New International Version)

So Elijah got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God.

and Jesus’ time in the wilderness:

Matthew 4:2 (New International Version)

After fasting forty days and forty nights, Jesus was hungry.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Larson.  http://home.earthlink.net/~moshe120/Appearance%20of%20the%20Lord.htm
blood of Jesus.   http://www.virtuousplanet.com/shops/userimages/00009/00000000047/section/00000000000000001829.png
sapphire.  http://www.gehnabazaar.com/uplode_advimage/567144667BlueSapphire2.jpg
candle.  http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Matthew10_27.jpg

1172.) Exodus 23

October 29, 2013

23. Micah 6-8a

Exodus 23   (NRSV)

Justice for All

You shall not spread a false report. You shall not join hands with the wicked to act as a malicious witness.

2You shall not follow a majority in wrongdoing; when you bear witness in a lawsuit, you shall not side with the majority so as to pervert justice; 3nor shall you be partial to the poor in a lawsuit.

4When you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey going astray, you shall bring it back. 5When you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden and you would hold back from setting it free, you must help to set it free.

6You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in their lawsuits. 7Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and those in the right, for I will not acquit the guilty.

8You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.

23. bribe

Proverbs 17:23 (New Living Translation)

The wicked take secret bribes
to pervert the course of justice.

9You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

23. immigrant cartoon

Sabbatical Year and Sabbath

10For six years you shall sow your land and gather in its yield; 11but the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow, so that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave the wild animals may eat. You shall do the same with your vineyard, and with your olive orchard.

12Six days you shall do your work, but on the seventh day you shall rest, so that your ox and your donkey may have relief, and your homeborn slave and the resident alien may be refreshed.

13Be attentive to all that I have said to you. Do not invoke the names of other gods; do not let them be heard on your lips.

The Annual Festivals

Israel’s three religious festivals were connected with the nation’s agricultural cycle.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread occurred in March or April in celebration of the early barley harvest.  Seven weeks later came the Feast of Weeks (also known as the Feast of Harvest, or Pentecost), celebrating the harvest of other cereal crops such as wheat.  Finally, the Feast of Tabernacles (also known as the Feast of Ingathering or Booths) celebrated the final harvest and the end of the agricultural season in the autumn (September).  (The Reformation Bible)

14Three times in the year you shall hold a festival for me.

15You shall observe the festival of unleavened bread; as I commanded you, you shall eat unleavened bread for seven days at the appointed time in the month of Abib, for in it you came out of Egypt.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews harvest wheat with a hand sickle in Israel.  They then store the wheat for almost a year before grinding it into flour to make unleavened bread for the Passover festival. Photograph taken in 2007.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews harvest wheat with a hand sickle in Israel. They then store the wheat for almost a year before grinding it into flour to make unleavened bread for the springtime Passover festival. Photograph taken in 2007.

No one shall appear before me empty-handed.



Passover star of David

For us as Christians, Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread mark the time when Christ was crucified and RESURRECTED!  Here is my most favorite Easter hymn — “Christ Jesus Lay in Death’s Dark Bands,” text put together by Martin Luther and music forever associated with J. S. Bach.

Notes for listening:

1) the chorale prelude, on the organ
2) a short encouragement spoken by Martin Luther!
3) the hymn sung in four parts, with lyrics

Watch and listen for Old Testament allusions — “Here the true Paschal (Passover) Lamb we see” — “See, his blood now marks our door” — “The Word of grace has purged away the old and evil leaven” — “Christ alone our souls will feed; He is our meat and drink indeed.”


16You shall observe the festival of harvest, of the first fruits of your labor, of what you sow in the field.

The Feast of Harvest, also known as the Feast of Weeks, celebrates both the harvest and the giving of the Law.  Often the book of Ruth is read during this celebration.  In the New Testament, this feast is called Pentecost.

The Feast of Harvest, also known as the Feast of Weeks, celebrates both the summer harvest and the giving of the Law. Often the book of Ruth is read during this celebration. In the New Testament, this festival is called the feast of Pentecost.

You shall observe the festival of ingathering at the end of the year, when you gather in from the field the fruit of your labor.

The Feast of Ingathering, also called the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrates the harvest, the forty years of wandering in the desert, and the kindly provision of God for His children.  Many Jews today build small outdoor booths for the days of the feast, to remind them of God's goodness during their ancestors' years of wandering.

The Feast of Ingathering, also called the Feast of Tabernacles, celebrates the fall harvest, the forty years of wandering in the desert, and the kindly provision of God for His children. Many Jews today build small outdoor booths for the days of the feast, to remind them of God’s goodness during their ancestors’ years of wandering.

17Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God.

18You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with anything leavened, or let the fat of my festival remain until the morning.

19The choicest of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring into the house of the Lord your God.

You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.

This verse is the basis for the Jewish practice of keeping kosher (clean, proper) and for kosher cooking, which requires a strict separation of meat (the goat) and dairy products (the mother's milk).  Check for these symbols indicating kosher foods on items you buy -- like McCormick Chili Powder, and Ken's Steak House Ranch Dressing, and Quaker Yellow Corn Meal, and Minute Tapioca . . .

This verse is the basis for the Jewish practice of keeping kosher (clean, proper) and for kosher cooking, which requires a strict separation of meat (the goat) and dairy products (the mother’s milk). Check for these symbols indicating kosher foods on items you buy — like McCormick Chili Powder, and Ken’s Steak House Ranch Dressing, and Quaker Yellow Corn Meal, and Minute Tapioca, and Baker’s Unsweetened Chocolate, and Folgers Brazilian Blend Coffee and  . . .



A modern Jew considers “kosher.”


The Conquest of Canaan Promised

20I am going to send an angel in front of you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place that I have prepared. 21Be attentive to him and listen to his voice; do not rebel against him, for he will not pardon your transgression; for my name is in him. 22But if you listen attentively to his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes. 23When my angel goes in front of you, and brings you to the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites, and I blot them out, 24you shall not bow down to their gods, or worship them, or follow their practices, but you shall utterly demolish them and break their pillars in pieces. 25You shall worship the Lord your God, and I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from among you. 26No one shall miscarry or be barren in your land; I will fulfill the number of your days.

27I will send my terror in front of you, and will throw into confusion all the people against whom you shall come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. 28And I will send the pestilence in front of you, which shall drive out the Hivites, the Canaanites, and the Hittites from before you. 29I will not drive them out from before you in one year, or the land would become desolate and the wild animals would multiply against you. 30Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased and possess the land.

31I will set your borders from the Red Sea to the sea of the Philistines, and from the wilderness to the Euphrates; for I will hand over to you the inhabitants of the land, and you shall drive them out before you. 32You shall make no covenant with them and their gods. 33They shall not live in your land, or they will make you sin against me; for if you worship their gods, it will surely be a snare to you.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Micah 6:8.  http://www.northrocks.org.au/bradons%20pics/micah%206-8a.jpg
bribe.  http://thecriticalarizonan.files.wordpress.com/2008/12/bribe.jpg
immigrant cartoon.  http://blogs.knoxnews.com/knx/silence/archives/immigration.jpg
Feast of Unleavened Bread.  http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/0dKN0yE51xcIh/610x.jpg
Feast of Harvest.   http://www.ynetnews.com/PicServer2/20122005/791816/YE0232356_wa.jpg
Feast of Ingathering.  http://www.umass.edu/jewish/uploads/basicContentWidget/i_11209/Sukkah-1.jpg
kosher symbols.  http://www.joyofkosher.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/kosher-symbols.jpg

1171.) Exodus 22

October 28, 2013

22. Great Commandment

Exodus 22   (NRSV)

Laws of Restitution — concerning Theft

When someone steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, the thief shall pay five oxen for an ox, and four sheep for a sheep. The thief shall make restitution, but if unable to do so, shall be sold for the theft. 4When the animal, whether ox or donkey or sheep, is found alive in the thief’s possession, the thief shall pay double.

2If a thief is found breaking in, and is beaten to death, no bloodguilt is incurred; 3but if it happens after sunrise, bloodguilt is incurred.

Laws of Restitution — concerning Damage to Property

5When someone causes a field or vineyard to be grazed over, or lets livestock loose to graze in someone else’s field, restitution shall be made from the best in the owner’s field or vineyard.

6When fire breaks out and catches in thorns so that the stacked grain or the standing grain or the field is consumed, the one who started the fire shall make full restitution.

Burning grain elevator (wheat and sunflower seeds) in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Burning grain elevator (wheat and sunflower seeds) in Saskatchewan, Canada.

Laws of Restitution — concerning Custody

7When someone delivers to a neighbor money or goods for safekeeping, and they are stolen from the neighbor’s house, then the thief, if caught, shall pay double. 8If the thief is not caught, the owner of the house shall be brought before God, to determine whether or not the owner had laid hands on the neighbor’s goods. 9In any case of disputed ownership involving ox, donkey, sheep, clothing, or any other loss, of which one party says, “This is mine,” the case of both parties shall come before God; the one whom God condemns shall pay double to the other.

10When someone delivers to another a donkey, ox, sheep, or any other animal for safekeeping, and it dies or is injured or is carried off, without anyone seeing it, 11an oath before the Lord shall decide between the two of them that the one has not laid hands on the property of the other; the owner shall accept the oath, and no restitution shall be made.

This principle is the foundation of our idea that a man is innocent until proven guilty. In this case, the man’s oath was taken as true unless proof to the contrary could be found.

12But if it was stolen, restitution shall be made to its owner. 13If it was mangled by beasts, let it be brought as evidence; restitution shall not be made for the mangled remains.

14When someone borrows an animal from another and it is injured or dies, the owner not being present, full restitution shall be made. 15If the owner was present, there shall be no restitution; if it was hired, only the hiring fee is due.



“You Don’t Love God (If You Don’t Love Your Neighbor)” — an especially wonderful song for bluegrass fans!   HERE  is Rhonda Vincent, called “the Queen of Bluegrass”  by the Wall Street Journal.


Social and Religious Laws

16When a man seduces a virgin who is not engaged to be married, and lies with her, he shall give the bride-price for her and make her his wife. 17But if her father refuses to give her to him, he shall pay an amount equal to the bride-price for virgins.

The seducer must pay the father because the possibility that the daughter would ever marry is now greatly reduced.

18You shall not permit a female sorcerer to live.

22.cartoon fortune teller

19Whoever lies with an animal shall be put to death.

20Whoever sacrifices to any god, other than the Lord alone, shall be devoted to destruction.

21You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.


22You shall not abuse any widow or orphan.  23If you do abuse them, when they cry out to me, I will surely heed their cry; 24 my wrath will burn, and I will kill you with the sword, and your wives shall become widows and your children orphans.

James 1:27 (New International Version)

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

25If you lend money to my people, to the poor among you, you shall not deal with them as a creditor; you shall not exact interest from them. 26If you take your neighbor’s cloak in pawn, you shall restore it before the sun goes down; 27for it may be your neighbor’s only clothing to use as cover; in what else shall that person sleep? And if your neighbor cries out to me, I will listen, for I am compassionate.

28You shall not revile God, or curse a leader of your people.

29You shall not delay to make offerings from the fullness of your harvest and from the outflow of your presses.

Ten percent of red color

Malachi 3:10 (New International Version)

“Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the LORD Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.”

The firstborn of your sons you shall give to me. 30You shall do the same with your oxen and with your sheep: seven days it shall remain with its mother; on the eighth day you shall give it to me.

31You shall be people consecrated to me; therefore you shall not eat any meat that is mangled by beasts in the field; you shall throw it to the dogs.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Mark 12:30-31.    http://www.theiemommy.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/mark12_30-31.jpg

burning grain elevator.   http://www.mjtimes.sk.ca/photos/MooseJawTimesHerald/stories/Brownlee%20Mamm1.jpg

fortune teller cartoon.    http://www.cartoonstock.com/lowres/sbu0063l.jpg
immigrant cartoon.     http://masbury.files.wordpress.com/2007/02/illegal-immigrants.jpg
10%.    http://duplexchick.com/files/2009/04/10-percent.jpg

1170.) Exodus 21

October 25, 2013

21. law_books

Exodus 21   (NRSV)

Exodus chapters 21-23 contain many laws on a wide variety of subjects.

“These different regulations are as remarkable for their justice and prudence as for their humanity. Their great tendency is to show the valuableness of human life, and the necessity of having peace and good understanding in every neighbourhood; and they possess that quality which should be the object of all good and wholesome laws—the prevention of crimes.”

–Adam Clarke



“If I Had a Hammer” by Peter, Paul & Mary.  The performance  HERE is from the 1963 Newport Folk Festival held at Fort Adams Park, Rhode Island.  They also performed this song at the 1963 March on Washington, where Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech.


The Law concerning Slaves

These are the ordinances that you shall set before them:

2When you buy a male Hebrew slave,

It is significant that the first words of this section of law in the Book of Exodus show that God wanted Israel to respect the rights and dignity of servants.  Bishop George Chadwick wrote:  “The first words of God from Sinai had declared that He was Jehovah Who brought them out of slavery. And in this remarkable code, the first person whose rights are dealt with is the slave.”

–David Guzik

he shall serve six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone.

5But if the slave declares, “I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out a free person,” 6then his master shall bring him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost; and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him for life.

Psalm 40:6-8 (New International Version)

Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but my ears you have pierced;
burnt offerings and sin offerings
you did not require.

Then I said, “Here I am, I have come—
it is written about me in the scroll.

I desire to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.”

“That awl represents the nail that affixed Christ to the cross, and we must expect it in every true act of consecration.”
–F. B. Meyer

7When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.

The matter described here seems to describe the selling of a young female as a slave to a family with the intention of marriage, either to the new owner himself or for his son . . . 

8If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. 9If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. 10If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. 11And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.

The Law concerning Personal Injuries


12Whoever strikes a person mortally shall be put to death. 13If it was not premeditated, but came about by an act of God, then I will appoint for you a place to which the killer may flee. 14But if someone willfully attacks and kills another by treachery, you shall take the killer from my altar for execution.

God makes a distinction between unintentional manslaughter and deliberate murder.

15Whoever strikes father or mother shall be put to death.

16Whoever kidnaps a person, whether that person has been sold or is still held in possession, shall be put to death.

17Whoever curses father or mother shall be put to death.

Proverbs 20:20 (Contemporary English Version)

Children who curse their parents

will go to the land of darkness

long before their time.

18When individuals quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or fist so that the injured party, though not dead, is confined to bed, 19but recovers and walks around outside with the help of a staff, then the assailant shall be free of liability, except to pay for the loss of time, and to arrange for full recovery.

20When a slaveowner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. 21But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property.

In ancient Israel, the master was culpable for the murder of a servant.  In many other cultures, the master was held blameless if he murdered a servant, because the servant was not considered a person.

22When people who are fighting injure a pregnant woman so that there is a miscarriage, and yet no further harm follows, the one responsible shall be fined what the woman’s husband demands, paying as much as the judges determine. 23If any harm follows, then you shall give life for life, 24eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25burn for burn, wound for wound, stripe for stripe.

Matthew 5:38-42 (English Standard Version)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you.”

21. blue eyes

“An eye for an eye leaves the whole world blind.”
–Mahatma Ghandi

26When a slaveowner strikes the eye of a male or female slave, destroying it, the owner shall let the slave go, a free person, to compensate for the eye. 27If the owner knocks out a tooth of a male or female slave, the slave shall be let go, a free person, to compensate for the tooth.

“If this did not teach them humanity, it taught them caution, as one rash blow might have deprived them of all right to the future services of the slave; and this self-interest obliged them to be cautious and circumspect.”

–Adam Clarke

The Law concerning Injuries caused by Animals

Yoked ox with big horns!

Yoked ox with big horns!

28When an ox gores a man or a woman to death, the ox shall be stoned, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox shall not be liable. 29If the ox has been accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has been warned but has not restrained it, and it kills a man or a woman, the ox shall be stoned, and its owner also shall be put to death. 30If a ransom is imposed on the owner, then the owner shall pay whatever is imposed for the redemption of the victim’s life. 31If it gores a boy or a girl, the owner shall be dealt with according to this same rule. 32If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall pay to the slaveowner thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

Thirty silver coins.  The same price Jesus was sold for when Judas betrayed Jesus (Matthew 26:15).

33If someone leaves a pit open, or digs a pit and does not cover it, and an ox or a donkey falls into it, 34the owner of the pit shall make restitution, giving money to its owner, but keeping the dead animal.

35If someone’s ox hurts the ox of another, so that it dies, then they shall sell the live ox and divide the price of it; and the dead animal they shall also divide. 36But if it was known that the ox was accustomed to gore in the past, and its owner has not restrained it, the owner shall restore ox for ox, but keep the dead animal.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
law books.    http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tullian/files/2013/07/law-books-and-gavel.jpg
No Violence sign.   http://www.thebalochhal.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/violence.jpg
baby blue eye.  http://www.chrisdellavedova.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/blueeyes.jpg
oxen.   http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v423/Suzanne57/driving-oxen-blog.jpg

1169.) Exodus 20

October 24, 2013
"Moses with the Tablets of Law"  a lithograph by Marc Chagall, 1956.

“Moses with the Tablets of Law” a lithograph by Marc Chagall, 1956.

Exodus 20   (NRSV)

The Ten Commandments

Then God spoke all these words:

2I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery; 3you shall have no other gods before me.

Ex20 Cristo_Redentor_-_Rio

Philippians 2:5-11  (NIV)

Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God,
    did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
rather, he made himself nothing
    by taking the very nature of a servant,
    being made in human likeness.
and being found in appearance as a man,
    he humbled himself
    by becoming obedient to death—
        even death on a cross!

Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
    and gave him the name that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
    in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord,
    to the glory of God the Father.


4You shall not make for yourself an idol, whether in the form of anything that is in heaven above, or that is on the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, punishing children for the iniquity of parents, to the third and the fourth generation of those who reject me, 6but showing steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who love me and keep my commandments.

Ex20 money_stack

Acts 19:26 (NRSV)

Gods made with hands are not gods.


7You shall not make wrongful use of the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not acquit anyone who misuses his name.

20. name of the Lord

Luke 11:2 (New International Version)

“Father, hallowed be your name.”


8Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work. 10But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and consecrated it.

20. church steeple

Mark 2:27 (New Living Translation)

Then Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made to meet the needs of people, and not people to meet the requirements of the Sabbath.”


12Honor your father and your mother, so that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

20. honor father mow lawn

Ephesians 6:1-3 (Contemporary English Version)

Children, you belong to the Lord, and you do the right thing when you obey your parents. The first commandment with a promise says, “Obey your father and your mother, and you will have a long and happy life.”


13You shall not murder.

Ex20 handgun_

Matthew 5:21-24 (New Living Translation)

“You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’But I say, if you are even angry with someone, you are subject to judgment! If you call someone an idiot, you are in danger of being brought before the court. And if you curse someone, you are in danger of the fires of hell.

“So if you are presenting a sacrifice at the altar in the Temple and you suddenly remember that someone has something against you,leave your sacrifice there at the altar. Go and be reconciled to that person. Then come and offer your sacrifice to God.”


14You shall not commit adultery.

Ex20 HoHumMotel

Ephesians 5:22-33 (The Message)

Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.

Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives.


15You shall not steal.

20.  stole from Walmart

1 Corinthians 10:24 (New Living Translation)

Don’t be concerned for your own good, but for the good of others.


16You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

Ex20 LyingFingers

Romans 14:19 (New Century Version)

So let us try to do what makes peace and helps one another.


17You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or male or female slave, or ox, or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.

20. green eye

1 Timothy 6:8 (New International Version)

But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that.

18When all the people witnessed the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking, they were afraid and trembled and stood at a distance, 19and said to Moses, “You speak to us, and we will listen; but do not let God speak to us, or we will die.”

20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid; for God has come only to test you and to put the fear of him upon you so that you do not sin.”

21Then the people stood at a distance, while Moses drew near to the thick darkness where God was.


Ex20 tablets

from The Ten Commandments for Today,
by William Barclay

It may be said that this code inculcates two basic things–it demands reverence for God and respect for man.  The majesty of God and the rights of human personality are alike conserved.  This is intensely significant, for it is of the very essence of Judaism, and of the very essence of Christianity, that both have a two-directional look.  They look both to God and man.  They recognize a duty to God and to man.  They both know that a man must love God with every part and fiber of his being, and that he must also love his neighbor as himself.  No man dare say that he loves God, unless he also loves his fellowman; and no man can really and truly love his fellowman, unless he sees that the true value of a man lies in the fact that he is a child of God.  Without the manward look religion can become a remote and detached mysticism in which a man is concerned with his own soul and his own vision of God and nothing more.  Without the Godward look a society can become a place in which men are looked on as things and not as persons.  Reverence for God and respect for man can never be separated from each other.



The Joy of Faithful Obedience, the remarkable design of the Ten Commandments, and how each is designed to bring freedom into our lives, rather than bondage — by Bill Bright (founder of Campus Crusade for Christ), 2005.

Smoke on the Mountain:  An Interpretation of the Ten Commandments, by Joy Davidman (she married C. S. Lewis), 1954.

Losing Moses on the Freeway:  the Ten Commandments in America, by Chris Hedges, 2005.

Keeping the Ten Commandments, by J. I. Packer, 2007.

The Ten Commandments:  The Significance of God’s Laws in Everyday Life, by syndicated radio psychologist Dr. Laura Schlessinger and Rabbi Stewart Vogel, 1998.



Try to formulate a sentence of no more than ten words which explains why you think the Ten Commandments are pertinent — or not — to our lives today.  If you think you have a good one, enter it as a “Reply” below!



“Give Us Clean Hands”  by Chris Tomlin.  According to Christian Copyright Licensing International, Tomlin is the most sung Christian artist in the United States.  He was born in Texas in 1972.   His  “Give Us Clean Hands”  seems quite a complementary piece to the Ten Commandments.


The Law concerning the Altar

22The Lord said to Moses: Thus you shall say to the Israelites: “You have seen for yourselves that I spoke with you from heaven. 23You shall not make gods of silver alongside me, nor shall you make for yourselves gods of gold.

24″You need make for me only an altar of earth and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and your offerings of well-being, your sheep and your oxen; in every place where I cause my name to be remembered I will come to you and bless you. 25But if you make for me an altar of stone, do not build it of hewn stones; for if you use a chisel upon it you profane it. 26You shall not go up by steps to my altar, so that your nakedness may not be exposed on it.”


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Chagall.    http://a248.e.akamai.net/origin-cdn.volusion.com/qxeml.tmbzn/v/vspfiles/photos/899-2.jpg?1321181209
Christ the Redeemer in Rio.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c0/Cristo_Redentor_-_Rio.jpg
money stack.   http://www.iphonefaq.org/images/archives/money_stack.jpg
two men praying.  http://www.sundayschoollessons.com/sunfoldery/image55.gif
church steeple in PA.   http://i.usatoday.net/travel/_photos/2007/09/21/pa-topper.jpg

honor your father cartoon.  http://www.mankindtoons.com/Mankind/Archives/Entries/2006/6/12_43_Honor_Your_Father_And_Mother_files/Honor-web_2.jpg

handgun.    http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/bf/P14-45_handgun_.jpg
motel.    http://www.ronsaari.com/stockImages/motels/HoHumMotel.jpg
I stole from Walmart.    http://blogs.houstonpress.com/rocks/i-am-a-thief-i-stole-from-walmart-shoplifting-sign1.jpg
man with fingers crossed.   http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/LyingFingersCross_I_swear_4721.png
green eye of jealousy.   http://www.lifehack.org/wp-content/files/2007/09/20070907_jealousy.jpg
ten commandments tablets.  http://www.fredcrystal.com/tencom2.gif

1168.) Exodus 19

October 23, 2013
The mountain traditionally assumed to be Mount Sinai, known locally as Jebel Musa.

The mountain traditionally assumed to be Mount Sinai, known locally as Jebel Musa.

Exodus 19   (NRSV)

The Israelites Reach Mount Sinai

On the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. 2They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness;

It took them three months of trusting God to get to this place, but they finally arrived. They saw God’s deliverance from Egypt, received His guidance on the way to go, saw His glorious victory at the Red Sea, received God’s miraculous gifts of food and water, and they saw a prayerful victory won over the Amalekites.

Israel stayed in the Wilderness of Sinai until Numbers 10. More than 57 chapters of Scripture are devoted to what happened to Israel in the year they camped at Mount Sinai.

The word conventionally translated ‘wilderness’ is not a sandy desert, but grazing country, not settled by man.

–David Guzik

Israel camped there in front of the mountain.

I offer this for you to consider: 

There is good reason to believe that the traditional site of Mount Sinai –- on the Sinai Peninsula -– is not the correct location of the mountain where all this came to pass.

According to Exodus 2:15, 3:1, and 3:12 this mountain was in the region of Midian, which was on the east side of the Gulf of Aqaba, east of the Sinai Peninsula. The ancient land of Midian is in the modern nation of Saudi Arabia.

In Galatians 4:25, the Apostle Paul clearly described Mount Sinai as being in Arabia. Though some claim that this can also be understood as extending to the Sinai Peninsula, this isn’t the normal understanding of where Arabia is, either in the modern or the ancient understanding.

There is significant evidence – both historic and archaeological -– to associate the Arabian mountain Jebel al-Lawz with the site of Mount Sinai.

–David Guzik

3Then Moses went up to God; the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: 4You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.

Bald eagle in flight, Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska; photograph by Carl Donohue

Bald eagle in flight, Kachemak Bay State Park, Alaska; photograph by Carl Donohue



“On Eagle’s Wings”  written in 1979 by Michael Joncas, a Roman Catholic priest.


5Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, 6but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”

1 Peter 2:5 (New Living Translation)

And you are living stones that God is building into his spiritual temple.  What’s more, you are his holy priests.Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, you offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.

7So Moses came, summoned the elders of the people, and set before them all these words that the Lord had commanded him. 8The people all answered as one: “Everything that the Lord has spoken we will do.” Moses reported the words of the people to the Lord.

9Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, in order that the people may hear when I speak with you and so trust you ever after.”

The People Consecrated

When Moses had told the words of the people to the Lord, 10the Lord said to Moses: “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11and prepare for the third day, because on the third day the Lord will come down upon Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12You shall set limits for the people all around, saying, ‘Be careful not to go up the mountain or to touch the edge of it.

If there is anything basic to human nature, it is that we need boundaries. In setting these boundaries and providing the death penalty for breaching them, God showed Israel that obedience is more important than their feelings. We don’t doubt that some bold Israelites felt like going beyond the boundaries, but they were to submit their feelings to obedience.

–David Guzik

Any who touch the mountain shall be put to death. 13No hand shall touch them, but they shall be stoned or shot with arrows; whether animal or human being, they shall not live.’ When the trumpet sounds a long blast, they may go up on the mountain.”

14So Moses went down from the mountain to the people. He consecrated the people, and they washed their clothes. 15And he said to the people, “Prepare for the third day; do not go near a woman.”

16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, as well as a thick cloud on the mountain, and a blast of a trumpet so loud that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet God. They took their stand at the foot of the mountain. 18Now Mount Sinai was wrapped in smoke, because the Lord had descended upon it in fire; the smoke went up like the smoke of a kiln, while the whole mountain shook violently.

19. smoke on mountain

Psalm 104:31-32 (New International Version)

May the glory of the LORD endure forever;
may the LORD rejoice in his works-

he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

19As the blast of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses would speak and God would answer him in thunder.

Mark 9:7 (New Living Translation)

Then a cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my dearly loved Son. Listen to him.”

20When the Lord descended upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain, the Lord summoned Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

View from Mt. Sinai.  Photograph by Stephan Edelbroich.

View from Mt. Sinai. Photograph by Stephan Edelbroich.

21Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go down and warn the people not to break through to the Lord to look; otherwise many of them will perish. 22Even the priests who approach the Lord must consecrate themselves or the Lord will break out against them.”

23Moses said to the Lord, “The people are not permitted to come up to Mount Sinai; for you yourself warned us, saying, ‘Set limits around the mountain and keep it holy.’“

24The Lord said to him, “Go down, and come up bringing Aaron with you; but do not let either the priests or the people break through to come up to the Lord; otherwise he will break out against them.”

25So Moses went down to the people and told them.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Mount Sinai.   http://www.st-katherine.net/images/pgsMusa01.jpg
Donohue.   http://www.alaskanalpinetreks.com/ImageGallery/Eagles_2/images/EagleAgainstMtns.jpg
smoke on mountain.   http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/17076469.jpg
Edelbroich.   http://www.photo-exhibits.com/africa/egypt_photos/images/sinai_mt-sinai_view_col.jpg

1167.) Exodus 18

October 22, 2013
"Jethro Advises Moses"  copper engraving by Dutch artist Caspar Luiken, 1712

“Jethro Advises Moses” copper engraving by Dutch artist Caspar Luiken, 1712

Exodus 18  (NRSV)

Jethro’s Advice

18. advice and support

Jethro, the priest of Midian, Moses’ father-in-law, heard of all that God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, how the Lord had brought Israel out of Egypt.

2After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro took her back, 3along with her two sons. The name of the one was Gershom (for he said, “I have been an alien in a foreign land”), 4and the name of the other, Eliezer (for he said, “The God of my father was my help, and delivered me from the sword of Pharaoh”).

5Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, came into the wilderness where Moses was encamped at the mountain of God, bringing Moses’ sons and wife to him. 6He sent word to Moses, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you, with your wife and her two sons.”

7Moses went out to meet his father-in-law; he bowed down and kissed him; each asked after the other’s welfare, and they went into the tent. 8Then Moses told his father-in-law all that the Lord had done to Pharaoh and to the Egyptians for Israel’s sake, all the hardship that had beset them on the way, and how the Lord had delivered them.

Psalm 105:37-43 (New Living Translation)

The Lord brought his people out of Egypt, loaded with silver and gold;
and not one among the tribes of Israel even stumbled.
Egypt was glad when they were gone,
for they feared them greatly.
The Lord spread a cloud above them as a covering
and gave them a great fire to light the darkness.
They asked for meat, and he sent them quail;
he satisfied their hunger with manna—bread from heaven.
He split open a rock, and water gushed out
to form a river through the dry wasteland.
For he remembered his sacred promise
to his servant Abraham.
So he brought his people out of Egypt with joy,
his chosen ones with rejoicing.

9Jethro rejoiced for all the good that the Lord had done to Israel, in delivering them from the Egyptians. 10Jethro said, “Blessed be the Lord, who has delivered you from the Egyptians and from Pharaoh. 11Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because he delivered the people from the Egyptians, when they dealt arrogantly with them.” 12And Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and sacrifices to God; and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat bread with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.

"Jethro and Moses"  watercolor by James Tissot, 1900

“Jethro and Moses” watercolor by James Tissot, 1900

13The next day Moses sat as judge for the people, while the people stood around him from morning until evening. 14When Moses’ father-in-law saw all that he was doing for the people, he said, “What is this that you are doing for the people? Why do you sit alone, while all the people stand around you from morning until evening?”

15Moses said to his father-in-law, “Because the people come to me to inquire of God. 16When they have a dispute, they come to me and I decide between one person and another, and I make known to them the statutes and instructions of God.”

17Moses’ father-in-law said to him, “What you are doing is not good. 18You will surely wear yourself out, both you and these people with you. For the task is too heavy for you; you cannot do it alone. 19Now listen to me. I will give you counsel, and God be with you! You should represent the people before God, and you should bring their cases before God; 20teach them the statutes and instructions and make known to them the way they are to go and the things they are to do.



Jethro told Moses to focus on the two important things that only Moses could do: he should pray (speak to God on behalf of the people) and teach (show them how to live before God).

In the early church, the apostles came to a similar conclusion.  They decided not to undertake tasks that others could do, in order to do what only they could do:  “We will turn this responsibility over to them and will give our attention to prayer and the ministry of the word — Acts 6:3-4 (my emphasis).

Are you spending your time on the things that only you can do?  Can you delegate some of your responsibilities to others, to free yourself to spend more time in prayer and in the Word of God?


21You should also look for able men among all the people, men who fear God, are trustworthy, and hate dishonest gain; set such men over them as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens. 22Let them sit as judges for the people at all times; let them bring every important case to you, but decide every minor case themselves. So it will be easier for you, and they will bear the burden with you. 23If you do this, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure, and all these people will go to their home in peace.”

24So Moses listened to his father-in-law and did all that he had said.

18. advice post-it

Proverbs 16:20 (New International Version)

Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers,
and blessed is he who trusts in the LORD.

25Moses chose able men from all Israel and appointed them as heads over the people, as officers over thousands, hundreds, fifties, and tens. 26And they judged the people at all times; hard cases they brought to Moses, but any minor case they decided themselves.

Ex18 judge

This was good for Moses. He could focus on the most important things and not be overwhelmed and overstressed by many smaller tasks.

This was good for the leaders Moses chose. Capable men were given real responsibility and had the opportunity to serve God’s people in meaningful ways and further God’s work.

This was good for the congregation. Prayed for and taught by Moses, they were able to settle more things themselves. When they did need a dispute settled, they received quicker attention and better attention from the delegated leaders than from Moses himself.

–David Guzik

27Then Moses let his father-in-law depart, and he went off to his own country.



“Blest Be the Tie that Binds.”  “We share our mutual woes, our mutual burdens share . . . “


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Luiken.   http://www.pitts.emory.edu/woodcuts/1712BiblA/00002350.jpg
advice and support.   http://www.rhul.ac.uk/Services/Volunteering/images/buttons/advice.jpg
Tissot.    http://uploads2.wikipaintings.org/images/james-tissot/jethro-and-moses-as-in-exodus-18-1900.jpg
advice note.   http://blog.atrinternational.com/Portals/128828/images/advice.jpg
judge.   http://www.chabad.org/media/images/66/xuar666327.jpg

1166.) Exodus 17

October 21, 2013
Water flowing over the rocks at Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada

Water flowing over the rocks at Cape Breton National Park in Nova Scotia, Canada

Exodus 17   (NRSV)

Water from the Rock

From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. 2The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.”


Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?”

3But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?”

4So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.”

Are we weak and heavy laden,
cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge;
take it to the Lord in prayer.
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
Take it to the Lord in prayer!
In his arms he’ll take and shield thee;
thou wilt find a solace there.

5The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. 6I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. 7He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”

1 Corinthians 10:1-4 (Amplified Bible)

For I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, that our forefathers were all under and protected by the cloud [in which God’s Presence went before them], and every one of them passed safely through the [Red] Sea,

And each one of them [allowed himself also] to be baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea [they were thus brought under obligation to the Law, to Moses, and to the covenant, consecrated and set apart to the service of God];

And all [of them] ate the same spiritual (supernaturally given) food,

And they all drank the same spiritual (supernaturally given) drink. For they drank from a spiritual Rock which followed them [produced by the sole power of God Himself without natural instrumentality], and the Rock was Christ.



Classic cowboy!  Marty Robbins sings “Cool Water.”



“Moses brings forth water out of the rock”  by Filippino Lippi, c. 1500 (National Gallery, London).  Click  HERE .


Amalek Attacks Israel and Is Defeated

8Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. 9Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some men for us and go out, fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.”

10So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.

Jewish tradition is that Hur was the husband of Moses and Aaron’s sister, Miriam.

11Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed; and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. 12But Moses’ hands grew weary; so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side; so his hands were steady until the sun set. 13And Joshua defeated Amalek and his people with the sword.


14Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a reminder in a book and recite it in the hearing of Joshua: I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”

15And Moses built an altar and called it, The Lord is my banner. 16He said, “A hand upon the banner of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.”

Psalm 20:5 (New International Version)

We will shout for joy when you are victorious
and will lift up our banners in the name of our God.
May the LORD grant all your requests.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Rock Falls.   http://www.canada-photos.com/data/media/11/rock-waterfall_387.jpg
water bottle.   http://onwardstate.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/12/water_bottle-300×300.jpg
Joe McKeever cartoon.  http://www.joemckeever.com/images/toons/exodus/cExodus-17-12.jpg

1165.) Exodus 16

October 18, 2013
"Gathering of Manna"  by Nicolas Poussin, 1640's (The Louvre, Paris)

“Gathering of Manna” by Nicolas Poussin, 1640’s (The Louvre, Paris)

Exodus 16   (NRSV)

Bread from Heaven



“Bread of Heaven” — also known as “Guide Me, O, Thou Great Jehovah” — is not only a hymn for the church, but also the Welsh rugby hymn (!), often sung by the crowd at rugby matches, especially those of the Wales national rugby union  team.


The whole congregation of the Israelites set out from Elim; and Israel came to the wilderness of Sin, which is between Elim and Sinai, on the fifteenth day of the second month after they had departed from the land of Egypt. 2The whole congregation of the Israelites complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. 3The Israelites said to them, “If only we had died by the hand of the Lord in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the fleshpots and ate our fill of bread; for you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger.”

4Then the Lord said to Moses, “I am going to rain bread from heaven for you, and each day the people shall go out and gather enough for that day.

Well, this is surprising!  Bread does not usually rain down from the sky!  But this reminds us that God may provide from resources that we never knew existed.  Sometimes He provides from familiar resources, and other times from wonderfully unexpected resources.

In that way I will test them, whether they will follow my instruction or not. 5On the sixth day, when they prepare what they bring in, it will be twice as much as they gather on other days.”

6So Moses and Aaron said to all the Israelites, “In the evening you shall know that it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, 7and in the morning you shall see the glory of the Lord, because he has heard your complaining against the Lord. For what are we, that you complain against us?” 8And Moses said, “When the Lord gives you meat to eat in the evening and your fill of bread in the morning, because the Lord has heard the complaining that you utter against him—what are we? Your complaining is not against us but against the Lord.”

We think our complaints are reasonable, certainly harmless.  Is that truly so?

Acts 5:3-4 (New Living Translation)

Then Peter said, “Ananias, why have you let Satan fill your heart? You lied to the Holy Spirit, and you kept some of the money for yourself.  The property was yours to sell or not sell, as you wished. And after selling it, the money was also yours to give away. How could you do a thing like this? You weren’t lying to us but to God!”

9Then Moses said to Aaron, “Say to the whole congregation of the Israelites, ‘Draw near to the Lord, for he has heard your complaining.’“

10And as Aaron spoke to the whole congregation of the Israelites, they looked toward the wilderness, and the glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud.

11The Lord spoke to Moses and said, 12“I have heard the complaining of the Israelites; say to them, ‘At twilight you shall eat meat, and in the morning you shall have your fill of bread; then you shall know that I am the Lord your God.’“

A Valley quail in California, photograph by Tim Bentz

A Valley quail in California, photographed by Tim Bentz

13In the evening quails came up and covered the camp; and in the morning there was a layer of dew around the camp. 14When the layer of dew lifted, there on the surface of the wilderness was a fine flaky substance, as fine as frost on the ground. 15When the Israelites saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was.

Psalm 105:40 (New International Version)

They asked, and he brought them quail,
and satisfied them with the bread of heaven.

Moses said to them, “It is the bread that the Lord has given you to eat. 16This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Gather as much of it as each of you needs, an omer to a person according to the number of persons, all providing for those in their own tents.’“

17The Israelites did so, some gathering more, some less. 18But when they measured it with an omer, those who gathered much had nothing over, and those who gathered little had no shortage; they gathered as much as each of them needed.

"The Israelites gathering Manna"  by Ercole de' Roberti, 1490's (National Gallery, London)

“The Israelites gathering Manna” by Ercole de’ Roberti, 1490’s (National Gallery, London)

19And Moses said to them, “Let no one leave any of it over until morning.”

20But they did not listen to Moses; some left part of it until morning, and it bred worms and became foul. And Moses was angry with them.

21Morning by morning they gathered it, as much as each needed;

Work hard to maintain a sense of your entire dependence upon the Lord’s good will and pleasure for the continuance of your richest enjoyments. Never try to live on the old manna, nor seek to find help in Egypt. All must come from Jesus or you are undone forever. Old anointings will not suffice to impart unction to your spirit; your head must have fresh oil poured upon it from the golden horn of the sanctuary, or it will cease from its glory.

Today you may be upon the summit of the mount of God, but He who has put you there must keep you there or you will sink far more speedily than you imagine. Your mountain only stands firm when He settles it in its place; if He hides His face, you will soon be troubled. If the Savior should see fit, there is not a window through which you see the light of heaven that He could not darken in an instant. Joshua bade the sun stand still, but Jesus can shroud it in total darkness. He can withdraw the joy of your heart, the light of your eyes, and the strength of your life; in His hand your comforts lie, and at His will they can depart from you.

Our Lord is determined that we shall feel and recognize this hourly dependence, for He only permits us to pray for “daily bread,” and only promises that our strength will be equal to our days. Is it not best for us that it should be so, that we may often repair to His throne and constantly be reminded of His love?

Oh, how rich the grace that supplies us so continually and does not refrain itself because of our ingratitude! The golden shower never ceases; the cloud of blessing tarries evermore above our dwelling. O Lord Jesus, we would bow at Your feet, conscious of our utter inability to do anything without You, and in every favor that we are privileged to receive, we would adore Your blessed name and acknowledge Your unexhausted love.

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon / Alistair Begg

but when the sun grew hot, it melted. 22On the sixth day they gathered twice as much food, two omers apiece. When all the leaders of the congregation came and told Moses, 23he said to them, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Tomorrow is a day of solemn rest, a holy sabbath to the Lord; bake what you want to bake and boil what you want to boil, and all that is left over put aside to be kept until morning.’“

24So they put it aside until morning, as Moses commanded them; and it did not become foul, and there were no worms in it. 25Moses said, “Eat it today, for today is a sabbath to the Lord; today you will not find it in the field. 26Six days you shall gather it; but on the seventh day, which is a sabbath, there will be none.”

The implication is that the weekly Sabbath was normally kept by Israel before Sinai.  The Sabbath ordinance in the Ten Commandments was a codification of Sabbath observance, not its inauguration.  (The Reformation Bible)

27On the seventh day some of the people went out to gather, and they found none. 28The Lord said to Moses, “How long will you refuse to keep my commandments and instructions? 29See! The Lord has given you the sabbath, therefore on the sixth day he gives you food for two days; each of you stay where you are; do not leave your place on the seventh day.” 30So the people rested on the seventh day.

31The house of Israel called it manna; it was like coriander seed, white, and the taste of it was like wafers made with honey.

Psalm 78:23-25 (New International Version)

Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;

he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven.

Men ate the bread of angels;
he sent them all the food they could eat.

John 6:47-51 (The Message)

“I’m telling you the most solemn and sober truth now: Whoever believes in me has real life, eternal life. I am the Bread of Life. Your ancestors ate the manna bread in the desert and died. But now here is Bread that truly comes down out of heaven. Anyone eating this Bread will not die, ever. I am the Bread—living Bread!—who came down out of heaven. Anyone who eats this Bread will live—and forever! The Bread that I present to the world so that it can eat and live is myself, this flesh-and-blood self.”

32Moses said, “This is what the Lord has commanded: ‘Let an omer of it be kept throughout your generations, in order that they may see the food with which I fed you in the wilderness, when I brought you out of the land of Egypt.’“

33And Moses said to Aaron, “Take a jar, and put an omer of manna in it, and place it before the Lord, to be kept throughout your generations.”

34As the Lord commanded Moses, so Aaron placed it before the covenant, for safekeeping. 35The Israelites ate manna forty years, until they came to a habitable land; they ate manna, until they came to the border of the land of Canaan. 36An omer is a tenth of an ephah.



How do you eat the “true bread from heaven”?  Here are some ways to consider:

  • believe in Jesus, who said “I am the bread of life,” and obey Him
  • take  Holy Communion / the Lord’s Supper
  • read and meditate on the Word of God
  • praise God in  friendship and conversation with other believers
  • pray for the hunger of the world to be satisfied in God’s will and purposes

Reader Steve added these:

  • read and meditate on the Word of God in Scripture 
  • meditate on the preaching of the Word in worship

Do you have other suggestions?  Share them with us — click on “Leave a Comment” below!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Poussin.   http://www.abcgallery.com/P/poussin/poussin39.html
Bentz.    http://i1.treknature.com/photos/93/quail5-16-04e.jpg
Roberti.   http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/cgi-bin/WebObjects.dll/CollectionPublisher.woa/wa/work?workNumber=NG1217