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365 Challenge

Filtering by Tag: Grandeur

Something unmistakable(Exodus 19-20)

Wesley Skinner

One of my biggest beefs with Mormonism, aside from being altogether incorrect, is how Joseph Smith found the 'sacred writings' for the Book of Mormon. I don't generally advocate Southpark, but this clip is brilliant. 

http://youtu.be/06jF1EG8o-Q

If there is something so life changing that I will build my entire belief system around it, I'm not going to trust the word of someone who's story can in no way be verified. 

A few months back the History channel aired "The Bible" miniseries. I didn't have a problem with some of the creative liberties they took. It helped tell the story and give emotion to people who were present. One issue I did have was how Moses received the 10 commandments from God. In their depiction, Moses was stumbling up a mountain that was violently shaking and all of a sudden two stone tablets are uncovered from the shaking ground. Moses then marches back down the mountain and everyone accepts these commandments without question. 

The Bible actually gives us a much different picture. All ofIsrael was gathered at the foot of mount Sinai. God had instructed Moses to take steps to have everyone be ritually cleansed. Barriers were put up keeping people from getting too close to the foot of the mountain. The mountain shook violently and was covered in a thick cloud. Don't miss this, this is super important, the law that Israel would live by, the law that taught holiness and became the foundation for Judaism and subsequently what points out our sin and show us our need for Jesus, was not stumbled upon or handed to us from one individual who we were just supposed to 'take his word' about its truth and authenticity. God spoke his commandments audibly in the presence of 600,000 Israelite men, not counting women and children.  

Exodus 20:22 "Then the LORD said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven'"

Something so foundational and important, God made unmistakable.  

God, the deliverer(Exodus 13-15)

Wesley Skinner

Exodus moves so fast! After reading Genesis which covers several thousand years over the course of 50 chapters, we now follow one group of people(Israel) led by one man(Moses) for 40ish years over the course of 4 books(Exodus, Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers)! We also see God much more vocal. And as God expresses himself more, one major theme begins to come out, God's Glory!

Lasting ordinances: during the time of Moses we are going to see the institution of many things, in these chapters God gives Israel some lasting ordinances.  

1. Passover - Passover has become the longest continually celebrated festival in all of human history! The is no other celebration that still happens that predates this!  I could write much more about this, look for that blog post around Easter!

2. Consecration of firstborn. This is a really cool ordinance because we see the parents of Jesus observe it after he is born. 

Both of these, God institutes to remind Israel about the mighty hand of God that rescued them from Egypt.  

God's pressence: one interesting thing about the Exodus and the subsequent wandering is the visible pressence of God leading his people. He gives them a pillar of cloud by day and pillar of fire by night. 14:19 let's us know that the angel of God was also traveling with them.  

Random oberservation: I know that it says God hardened Pharaoh's heart, but seriously, 10 horrendous plagues that destroy your country, one of which killed all the firstborn sons, now there is "the angel of The Lord" and a pillar of fire separating you from the people you are chasing, then you see walls of water opening a gap for you to go across the Red Sea. I'm thinking that's a bad idea. How much disaster is enough to get you to stop?!

God's Glory: over the course of this year, I will write extensively about this. For now I just want to mention three things, God hardened Pharaoh's heart for three reasons

1. So that Egypt would know there is a God in Israel. 

2. So that God would be glorified in Pharaoh's destruction. 

3. So Israel would fear God and listen to Moses.  

Israel complains way too much:  They have just seen God's miraculous deliverance and they give Moses a really funny complaint, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die?” Funny, but still, have a little faith people! And again, when they can't find drinkable water. This will be a pattern, Israel sees God's provision, but still doubts. Can't say I'm much different though. I, so quickly, forget God's faithfulness. 

Random observation: Apparently, God is right handed(totally joking) but look at 15:6

Cool verse for the day: Exodus 14:14 "The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

 

The life and death of Joseph(Genesis 38-51)

Wesley Skinner

Joseph is one of the most interesting characters in all of Genesis. He is the poster child for a rags to riches story and demonstrates more character than the rest of the patriarchs, yet it is not through his line that Messiah will come. 

To recap: Joseph's father, Jacob(Israel), had one true love, Rachel. Rachel had trouble conceiving and Israel had children born from his other wife(Rachel's sister) and the two maid servants. When Joseph was born of Rachel, he was Israel's favorite. His brothers knew it and grew jealous. It didn't help that Joseph didn't know when to keep his mouth shut. Joseph has two visions from God showing his family bowing down to him, so of course, he immediately discloses all. When his brothers see the opportunity, they decide to sell him into slavery. 

Joseph is bought by an Egyptian official and we see a trend begin, everything Joseph does, God blesses and Joseph quickly ascends to positions of influence. 

Joseph's character is on display as he ignores sexual advances from his master's wife and ultimately runs out when he finds himself in a sticky situation(see last blog). Potiphar's wife lies about the incident and has Joseph thrown in prison. In prison we find the same narrative, God blesses Joseph, he ascends to a position of influence and interprets a dream for the cup bearer to pharaoh. 

Fast forward a few years, pharaoh has a dream, Joseph is brought to interpret and pharaoh makes him second in command. This is huge because famine is coming to all the land and by the position of influence Joseph is able to relocate and provide for his family. Preserving God's chosen people and setting the stage for God's next big event. "The Exodus"

One of my favorite verses occurs at the end of Genesis. Genesis 50:20 "As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Joseph's brothers finally come to apologize and Joseph realizes something profound, it's a truth found, not just throughout Genesis or the rest of scripture, but an insight into the character and purposes of God that transcends time. Joseph realizes that all the crap he went through served a greater purpose. And that if we look at life as a series of separate events, we miss the bigger picture of what God is doing. Life is not compartmentalized. Everything that we do, everything that happens, God is using to write a story much bigger than ourselves. A story that started at creation and includes us, but transcends only us. The story of God's glory written throughout history. The purpose of man. The glory of God. 

 

Abram called out. (Gen 11-14)

Wesley Skinner

 

The writing of Genesis is beautiful. It's not not like our current writing. When I write I want my voice and passion to come through. I give my thoughts and make comments. Sometimes I think there might be a glimpse of something special. Maybe some way I understand something differently than someone else or my quirky random observations. But it's not epic. That word gets tossed around flippantly in our culture, but the writing of Genesis has something of grandeur. It reminds me of the beginning of Lord of the Rings when you get a recap of things when the ring was formed. Only here, we start with something more significant, the creation of the world and everything in it. And the Creator who is personally responsible and near. Genesis comes at you in waves, 30,000 foot view, then zoom in on one person of the story. Up to this point, the narrative has been on all humanity, Noah and his family being the one exception. But now we are going to begin following one man. 

Of all the people in the world God chose Abram. God came to him and told him to go. He didn't tell him where, only that he would be blessed and through him all nations would be blessed. This sets up something really special, we begin seeing a pattern develop. We see what a far reaching impact can be made through one man. One man, Adam, sinned in the garden casting the death sentence on all mankind. One man, Noah, was chosen to preserve mankind and animals during the flood. Now, one man, Abram, will be a blessing to all nations. God uses one man. One man can make a difference. And we will see this pattern continue. 

I think that is why I like the thought of this verse being the beginning of missionary sending, one man makes an eternal difference. For me, Abram is the first missionary. He is called to leave his home, family and comfort to go and bless all nations. Do we see that happen during his lifetime? Not really, if Abram, as a missionary were to write an update letter to his supporters, it wouldn't be filled with stories of dozens of people turning to God from idolatry. He might not have much to report at all, but the ground work is laid by him for blessing to follow, because he is obedient to go. 

I also think it is important to note that abram didn't have it all together, he is afraid of pharaoh and dishonors his wife. (And again later!) God didn't choose abram because he was perfect. That means there is hope for us!

Random observation of the day: Shem was not born before God told Noah about the flood. According to my calculations, there were about 100 years that passed from god telling Noah about the flood and it happening, then it says 2 years after the flood where Shem was 100 he had a son. Shem was born 2 years after God told Noah to build an ark.