Day 25--Where is the Light?-- "Protected View" Ex 31:1-34:35
January 25, 2021, 8:00 AM

Blog Day 25 Exodus 31:1 – 34:35

Too much to process in here, and some of it is so familiar that I had to read it more closely to see the actual words, not just the ones in my head from memory. And perhaps that is the exact problem that the Israelites faced. Maybe their memories were broken, and when that happens, we create our own truth about events.

The first note: I loved the strength of God in establishing a Sabbath (Ex 31:12-17).
 It was a spiritual crime (and sounded like a physical danger!) to neglect the Sabbath. Rest remains essential, and not just to feel good, but to reconnect with God. Sabbath is dedicated God-time for remembrance and renewal that keeps our relationship with God alive. Still true today, but genuinely rare to find those who are able to follow this. Orthodox Jews, of course, still follow a Sabbath ritual, but Western Christians rarely seem to understand even the basis of Sabbath. The fact that it is one of the Ten Commandments speaks to the importance of this for God and for his people. (And I am including you and me in that!!!)

The second: the impatience of God’s people (Ex 32)
While the construction of a golden calf may seem odd to us, we are no strangers to being impatient with God. We’ve heard about this with all of our patriarchs so far—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Impatience and misunderstanding of God’s will is common to all of us, or perhaps I should only speak for myself!
In the space where we feel the silence of God, we begin to build. We build up idols of other sorts that we feel we can depend on—our homes, our relationships, our possessions, even our churches.  I freely admit to this challenge in my own life, and honestly, I am being reminded over and over again that my life is guided by God-time, not Laurie-time. That doesn’t mean we are to do nothing; it means we are to be praying and watching, working and blessing, while we become clearer about God’s purposes. This is not a perfect science, and we are all guilty to some extent of jumping ahead as we decide for God rather than waiting to hear from God.

The third: the breaking of the tablets (Ex 32: 19)
This symbolizes the total breakdown of the covenant that God has made with his people. God remained faithful, but the people had not. The stark imagery, the destruction of God’s writing, the sound of stones shattering and the utter disappointment of God come together in a powerful central event.

The fourth: the killing of the 3,000 (Ex 32:27)
I cannot simply overlook these verses because I see them from a very different perspective than the time in which they took place. But after studying, reading and thinking, I recognize that this is what it looked like at that time to eradicate evil from the midst of God’s people. Moses cried out “Who is standing with me on God’s team?” (my paraphrase), and when people decided to stand apart from God and the leadership of Moses, it was determined that the only way to deal with it was to remove those people from the chosen group that God had called. My heart does not reconcile with this kind of retribution, but my mind is trying since this is not the first time, or the last time, that we will wrestle with this kind of story in the Old Testament.

The fifth: new tablets and the shining face of Moses (Ex 34)
The giving of a new set of tablets reminds me of the patience of God. He was willing to re-up his contract/covenant with his people. He was giving them another chance to be faithful to him. And as Moses returned from Mt. Sinai this second time, he is transfigured (familiar word?). He is infused with a new light that shines from his face so brightly that he has to veil his face when he is with his people from that time forward, one of my favorite images in all of scripture. Proximity to God changes the way other people see us. We don’t hear that Moses was aware of his new brilliant complexion, but he trusted what the people told him—that a new light had emerged due to the faithfulness of Moses to God.
Images of light thread their way throughout our scriptures, reminding us of Jesus’ transfiguration on the mountaintop (Matthew 17:1–8, Mark 9:2–8, Luke 9:28–36) and in the verses where Jesus tells us that he is the Light of World. (John 8:12 and others)
Perhaps we might also remind ourselves that our light, which springs from our relationship with Jesus, is never meant to be hidden from the world (Matt 5:15), but that our shining faces are meant to emanate light, or bring light, to others as we share God’s hope, love and community with our world.

Be blessed, and be blessing to others,

ML

 

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