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02 Exodus

02 Exodus

Non-Confidence Just Like Moses

There is a bit of a transition from Genesis to Exodus. The story continues, but in a different way.
The action moves slower. The longest story of Genesis is less than ten chapters, while seven chapters into Exodus, it appears the story will be going on much longer.
We see the introduction of physical miracles. In Genesis we see unlikely things happen, but Exodus has scientifically impossible things happen.
Also and possibly the most interesting part we have the introduction of Moses who is insecure. He does not question God as much as pleads with him to let someone else do it. This is a huge detail. I hadn’t realized it, but in Genesis all the people that were the focus of the stories seemed to follow God’s orders without reservation.
I understand that this is most likely just an omission, but the idea that Moses is trying to get out of being the leader gives him a very humanistic quality. I would have to think that if I was told to go to a Pharaoh and tell him to release all his workers, who are being oppressed and abused, I would be nervous. I would want someone else to do it for me.
Just as it was nice to relate the first people, Adam and Eve, to the idea that they were vulnerable to sin through the tree of knowledge, it is nice to see a biblical figure such as Moses self-conscious and nervous about his calling.
But in the end he does as he is asked. Currently I am not through the story and great things have not come of it, but I know they will. I have a small understand of the Book of Exodus and am confident things will turn out well.
I am taking this as an example of why you need to work towards what you know is the right thing to do. If things don’t go well, keep going anyway, persevere towards the goal. Don’t let doubt and excuses get in the way.

Bible Read: Exodus 7

You Die Because He Sinned

It seems as though, in the Book of Exodus, God is torturing people. He has told Moses to go and convince the Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave Egypt to go worship him.
Good so far.
He has given Moses the ability to perform miracles of a sort in order to show the Pharaoh that he is really a messenger of God.
Still good.
But after the first couple times, if I am reading it correctly, God does not allow the Pharaoh to let the Israelites leave. Each time the Pharaoh starts to give in, the Bible says “God hardened the Pharaoh’s heart” and then he does not let them leave.
Wait… WHAT?
I don’t understand why God would do that? He consistently inflicts plagues across Egypt, but makes the Pharaoh reject the offer. Not only has it kept the Israelites in Egypt longer continuing to be oppressed, but it is a constant punishment for the Egyptians as they are inflicted with gnat, fleas, and frogs. They endure powerful hail storms, their crops all dying, and even their families dying in the night. Why would God force these things to happen?
Maybe it will make sense later. The other issue I have with this and it is probably a modern view, but why do all the Egyptians have to be punished when it is just the Pharaoh that is making decisions? I don’t understand the idea of guilt by association.
I am hopeful that it will make sense to me. It is just like my earlier question of parents being terrible to their children in Genesis; it may dawn on me later as to why it was written the way it was.

Bible Read: Exodus 12

Passover… Frightening

After reading the story of Passover I am a little disturbed. Passover was one of the many holidays that I remember being celebrated in church. Passover, Lent, Easter, Christmas, Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, and I’m sure there are others.
Of course I never knew what most of those were for. I understood Easter was the day Christ rose again and Christmas was Christ’s birthday, but other than that I just knew they were holidays.
Growing up in America I was under the impression that everything Christian had a loving message behind it. I always thought that the point of everything was to worship God and love your neighbor. I never considered anything could be a celebration of death.
While I was reading of the plagues of Egypt, I kept thinking, “Wow, these are lame.” I mean… Frogs? Really? I can see gnats being annoying, the flies would suck, and the hail/bloody river are all scary or at least a torment. But, the frogs, just strange. Not to mention in the middle of a famine, frogs should help with the lack of food.
Then, I got to the final plague. God decided to kill every first born of every home in Egypt. The first born of their livestock as well as their family were differentiated from the Israelites because they put blood on their door posts.
Finally God flies over Egypt and kills what I assume is thousands if not more children! Again it comes back to the idea that God is vengeful. So, it is called pass over because he passed over the Israelites and didn’t kill their firstborns.
I really find these types of stories discouraging to my view of Christianity. It seems mean, evil, and downright horrible. I can see where the hellfire and brimstone sermons come from and why someone would fear God. It just isn’t the God I expected to find.

Bible Read: Exodus 21

God Among Gods

One of the things I remember from the Episcopal Church I went to was the mention of one true God. In this I understood it as there was only one God that existed, everything else in the eyes of the Church was fiction.
I understand that I have not come anywhere close to finishing the Bible, but at the point I am at, it seems as though the Bible does not claim that there is only one God. It actually seems to suggest that there is more than one.
I had mentioned before, early in Genesis, that God referred to himself in the plural. It has been pointed out to me that it is a translation issue which is fine, but I still question it. Then, there is the Nephilim which the Bible says are the sons of gods. Again I am noting the plural as opposed to the sons of God. It mentions other people, not Israelites, worshipping other gods. It also says in the Ten Commandments that you shall not put other gods before him. Again it doesn’t say false gods (just false idols) which would suggest they don’t exist. It instead says other gods.
It makes me think in the terms of Genesis and Exodus the Bible is far from claiming that the God of Abraham and Jacob is the only god.
Many people will feel this is wrong and the Bible is the only true testament of God, but if the Bible is historically accurate it makes sense to me that other ancient texts could be true also.
If there was a time when God walked among men, the sons of gods walked among men, unfathomable miracles were performed in the presence of man, and people spoke directly to the divine, then it is completely fathomable that the Gods of the Wiccans, Romans, Greeks, and Native Americans walked the Earth also.
I can actually see this as a battle on Earth for the hearts and minds of people. Not a physical battle, but more a political battle where the gods were vying for power.
Again this is something that helps legitimize the Bible to me. It always seemed a ridiculous statement to say that this collection of books is the only accurate description of a supernatural power on the Earth. When unbelievable happenings such as the parting of the Red Sea and a plague of frogs (sigh) is considered possible, but Zeus sitting atop Mount Olympus being impossible seems illogical.
Beyond that it makes the God of the Bible more desirable. From my own knowledge he seems to be the god who is giving the power to man. He allowed man to perform the miracles and live great lives while the other gods seem to be keeping the power for themselves and making man seem more like their pets or slaves more than their children.
Maybe this is the type of thought I needed to put realism to God being vengeful. If he is competing with other gods it makes sense that he has to appear powerful. It makes sense that he has to commit horrible acts to convert people to his followers. If the Egyptians were worshipping other gods it would do no good to be nice to them. It would appear as though their own gods are protecting them. God would have to protect his own people, punish the others, and make it be known those who follow him will become his people and be protected.

Bible Read: Exodus 27

-More on Tradition-

I remember people saying that can’t read the bible because all the “begat”s in Genesis are too boring. Let me tell you, the “begat”s in Genesis are golden literature compared to the descriptions of the tabernacle, curtains, altar, vestments… in Exodus.
This is the most boring part I have run into the Bible and seems to be never ending!
I would just skip over it since it really has no bearing on my life or my opinion of the religion, but I said I am reading cover to cover and that is my plan!
I understand the point of it. I understand that it makes a big difference in how traditional churches operate or at least how they decorate, but it makes it hard to get through.
I have had people tell me the rules are hard to get through, but at least with the earlier rules, they apply to me. Don’t steal, don’t lie, don’t kill… those are useful.
It also brings up another question. Does this make modern day churches blasphemous or at least not appealing in the eyes of God? If this information was in some Apocrypha writing I would understand not doing it, but it is in Exodus which is a part of every Bible that I know of.
I guess it takes me back to the tradition. It was there for a reason.

Bible Read: Exodus 28

Mandatory Weekends

Finishing up Exodus, I am starting to get into the laws. From my modern day perspective they seem to be odd at best.
There are some that make sense. If you kill someone you should be killed. I get that. If you injure someone you pay for their lost income while they heal. Makes sense to me. If you have sex with a virgin you try to marry her. Thumbs up.
There are rules about slaves, which apparently is not what we think of a slave today. It appears as though a slave in biblical times is more of an indentured servant. A slave is to be let free with no debt on their seventh year of servitude. You can’t kill your slave. You have to help them out when they have finished serving you… These are not very applicable to my life, but sure they sound like good rules.
These are all fine and dandy, but then there are a couple rules I got to that are at least a little unsettling.
The first is that you should be put to death if you have sex with an animal. Ok. That is creepy and gross. Sorry, but that is not an issue I think of as something that needs to be pointed out. It makes me glad I did not live back then if that was a common issue that had to have a law set against it.
The other is the rule of observing the Sabbath. It says if you do work on the Sabbath you should be put to death! This is because you are observing the fact that God created the universe in six days and rested on the seventh. That seems really harsh. I guess it is nice in a way. Religiously, you can’t work seven days a week, but death?
The thing is, it isn’t just don’t go to work. Based on the story of the Israelites eating the manna given from God, it means no work at all. They were to relax to such extents on the Sabbath that they were supposed to gather their food for the Sabbath the day before. I am taking this as you should not do anything! No cooking, no cleaning, no working, no nothing. Sounds like you should sit in a dark room and just be.
But that kind of brings me to something else. It says you can’t kill, but if someone works on the Sabbath they should die. Is it god that will dole out the punishment? Or does God look the other way if you kill your neighbor for a biblical reason?
The more I read, the more I think that these stories are not perfectly applicable today.

Bible Read: Exodus 33

A Conversation with God

Moses had a relationship with God that makes me think another of my assumptions about him is wrong. In specific I was always under the view that God was all knowing and therefore unwavering.
I assumed that God only did good, was all knowing, and therefore never wavered as he saw everything from every side every time. He would know the most positive way of going about something because he would see it from every side and know better than man if it was the moral thing to do.
When Moses was on the Mount with God and God was going to destroy the Israelites while they were worshiping the golden calf, Moses asked God not to do it. He reminded him of his promises to his ancestors and asked for mercy.
Then God changed his mind.
That is a huge statement. God redirected his plan from the wishes of man. He listened to reasoning of man and let it sway his decision.
I am starting to believe that reading the Bible is going to redefine everything I think about Christianity as that would not have been possible in my previous ideology.
There is so much just in the first two books that make God a being as opposed to an idea that it floors me. I have considered God in the past as not a being but as a force that did not think, but only guided things in the right direction. And I thought that my theory was possible within scripture. I can see that it isn’t appropriate for scripture because it appears even God can change his plan.
These parts of the Bible seem to be a pretty big chink in the armor of predestination. If God changes destiny from the words of man, how can everything be predetermined?

Bible Read: Exodus 40

Status Report Day 14

Two books down and a whole bunch to go.
I have to say that Exodus was more disappointing than Genesis. Not in the beginning, Exodus starts out very strong with another great tale of Moses being chosen by God to lead the Israelites out of Egypt through miracles and overcoming self-doubt.
But once they cross the Red Sea the book turns into an instruction manual. There are a few more interesting happenings and some informative rules, but there is a huge portion of descriptions about how to make curtains, an altar, vestments…
I am sure this was all important information at the time, but is not useful for me and it doesn’t have a spiritual impact on me. What has made a spiritual impact on me is just the constant thoughts I have about God.
During most portions of my life I have tried to expand my understanding of the world and how it works, but only when I was very young did I think about the possibility of God being the creator. Today, even though I am still questioning, I am finding a peace in the world.
Driving to work today I looked up and saw some birds flying in the wind. Their patterns of flight displayed across the cloudy sky gave me a feeling of warmth. There is a beauty in nature that I had let pass me by without notice.
Reading the Bible with the stories of men putting a faith in something greater than themselves has made the small details of the world seem more miraculous.
On the other hand, it has also made me feel separated from nature, or God, or life in general being stuck in a cubicle. When the world you see is nothing but muted colored walls, unnatural noises of telephones, and the scent of industrialized sanitizer, you begin to feel like you aren’t a living being. There is a separation from the world we come from that is not great for your soul.
It is a strange and big step for me. I have always been an anti-outdoor person. I don’t like heat, bugs, noise, grass… So, feeling unnatural indoors is new for me.

New questions after Exodus
1. If the tabernacle was recreated would God come to it?
2. When God is the pillar of cloud and the pillar of fire has he completely changed form or is he creating the pillars?

Bible Read: Exodus

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