Verse 5 of today’s Psalm is powerful. “There they are, in great terror where there is no terror!” We fear so many things that have absolutely no power over us. We fear that people will not accept us, or that our children will not get into the right kindergarten, or that we won’t be able to maintain the standard of living we hope for. We create terror where there is no terror. God is good and is in control. Fear not.
- 1-4 – When things get scary, we often revert to whatever was comfortable even if it was bad for us. For the Israelites it was Egypt.
- 18 – As Moses appeals to the Lord to forgive the Israelites for their continued unfaithfulness, he uses a phrase that people will repeat throughout the Bible, “the Lord is slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love…”.
- The Israelites’ unfaithfulness results in them not getting to enter the Promised Land. Caleb and Joshua get to and later generations get to, but those who have continually been unfaithful despite God’s provision, are punished.
- 61-63 – This is the first time Jesus openly calls himself the Son of God. He normally followed people’s questions about his identity with a question. The chief priests believed this gave them grounds to charge him with blasphemy.
- 66-72 – Peter was convinced he would never deny Jesus. His denial and the fulfillment of what Jesus said gives Peter great grief.
- We allow ourselves to fear so much in the world that truly can’t harm us. God is in control and takes care of us.
Why did God choose the Israelites as his people and not the Egyptians or the Ammonites or the Philistines or any of the other people groups we’ve read about? I ask this question because this week, in our Exodus readings, we will see the stark contrast between the Israelites and the Egyptians. God continually makes it clear who his people are and who his people are not.
In general, this seems to be the way we ask questions about Scripture: why did God do it this way? Why didn’t God do it that why? Why does the Bible say this?
What if we spun our thoughts on Scripture to see a good, loving, and all-powerful God who actually knows more than we do? Instead of asking, “why did God send down the plagues on the Egyptians”, could we say, “wow, it’s incredible the lengths to which God went to save the Israelites from the Egyptians.”
Yes, some stories are more complicated than that, but what if our questions and comments sought to find the ways God redeemed, blessed, and protected his people? It would greatly alter our readings.
And make a note of this Biblical theme:
In Matthew’s parable on January 30th, a theme of righteous, purposeful inequality will continue. It’s one to think about and check ourselves on. Frequently, when those who have remained righteous see grace offered to someone who has failed or fallen short, they’re outraged. It’s not fair! I’ve been faithful and they haven’t! If we were truly righteous, wouldn’t we be rejoicing with God over the repentant sinner?
Genesis 50:1-Exodus 2:10:
- 15-21 – Our sinfulness has long-lasting consequences. We often face them long after the actual situation is over. Joseph’s brothers still have guilt and shame on them and assume their brother will now pay back evil for evil. Instead, Joseph recognizes his place in the situation and recognizes that God redeemed to good what his brother meant for evil.
- 26 – Unlike his father, Joseph had made Egypt his home and was fine with being buried there.
- 7-14 – With a new king and the death of Joseph, the Egyptians quickly forget the good Joseph did for them. As the Israelites grow in size and strength while they live in Egypt, the Egyptians grow fearful of them and eventually enslave them to keep them under control.
- 15-16 – Pharaoh is trying to control the Israelite population and their ability to join enemies in war.
- 17-21 – Sometimes faithfulness seems impossible. The midwives chose faithfulness even though it was in direct disobedience to the king.
- 1-10 – Moses’ mother finds a way to give him a chance at life. Moses’ sister’s quick thinking allows his mother to nurse and care for him.
- 13-20 – Peter is the first of the disciples to identify Jesus as the Messiah. Jesus blesses him because this was clearly revealed to Peter by the Father. Peter becomes the rock of the church and is given great authority going forward.
- 21-23 – This is a quick transition between Peter being told he would lead the church to being called Satan. In this section, Peter puts his own plans for Jesus ahead of God’s.
- 24-25 – Note that no one knew Jesus would take up an actual cross at his death. He is calling them to be willing to make the same kind of sacrifice he will soon make.
- 28 – Though somewhat confusing, this is not intended to mean that some of the people standing there would still be alive when Jesus returned a second time. Though there are many interpretations, one feasible one is that Jesus is saying that some people would live to see Christ reign in the world. Many were alive as Pentecost and then the spread of the church began. Some even led it.
- 5 – This is the same phrase recorded from Jesus’ baptism.
- Note that many psalms filled with violence and seeking revenge still end with praise and exultation of God. Clearly praise was a fallback whether times were good or bad.
- This section gives a great description of just how seductive temptation can be. We would much more easily avoid temptation if it wasn’t attractive and sneaky. Before we know it, we have followed temptation into destruction.