Manna….and resurrection day. WOW !

14 02 2011

DAY FORTY-FIVE : Exodus 15 v. 1 – 16 v. 36; Matthew 28 v. 1 – 20; Psalm 21 v. 8 – 13

EXODUS 15 – The other side of the sea-crossing, Moses and the Israelites sing a song – the first recorded song in the Bible ? The song praises God’s mighty deeds, wiping away the Egyptian army and setting them free.
“Who is like You –
 majestic in holiness,
 awesome in glory,
 working wonders?”
It’s a song of great faith in God’s unfailing love, that He will establish the Israelites in the land He had promised. Other nations and peoples will tremble in fear when they hear what Israel’s God has done.
We picture Miriam, Moses’ sister, once again (don’t think we’ve heard of her since the incident with the basket and Pharaoh’s daughter). She’s an amazing big sister, and she’s good with the tambourine, dancing and singing.

Three days they travelled through the desert without water – not a great start – testing !!
The water they find is bitter, but Moses, instructed by God, throws some wood into the water and it becomes sweet to drink, and the next place they stop has many springs (twelve springs…perfect for twelve tribes!).

EXODUS 16 – the people are grumbling again, struggling in the desert, and remembering their pots of meat and the ‘good times’ in Egypt (‘the whole community grumbled….’ – ouch).
Bread from heaven (Manna) – there is enough to gather each day, sufficient for the day (double on the sixth day to cover the Sabbath).
Moses reminds the people that they are grumbling against God really, not against them.
Supper of quail, breakfast of flakes !
Those who disobey Moses and keep some of the flakes on standby for the next day discover a smelly maggoty mess the next morning. Moses sniffs them out and is livid !
God is teaching them daily dependence upon Him – just enough for each person for each day (cp Jesus’ ‘give us this day our daily bread’).
On the Sabbath day, what they saved over from the previous day miraculously didn’t become a maggoty stinky mess, but enabled them to rest and eat (even then, some disobeyed and went looking for manna on the Sabbath !!).

RECIPE FOR MANNA – coriander seed, wafer flavouring and honey essence….get the idea ? Melt in the mouth stuff. There was an attempt to jar up some of the manna to show the generations to come.
Forty years, God’s people ate manna in the desert, until they arrived at the Promised Land.

I’m glad that weight thing was cleared up at the end of the reading today : an omer is 1/10 of an ephah.
I can sleep well tonight, knowing that’s solved that puzzle !

The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem.

MATTHEW – Resurrection Day, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary visit the tomb.
Earthquake…angel of the Lord…stone rolled away…angel sat on it.
The guards tremble and faint at the lightning, dazzling appearance of the angel.
The women are the first to hear the news, “He is not here; He has risen, just as He said. Come and see….then go quickly and tell His disciples…”
They run to tell the disciples the news, and meet Jesus, Himself, along the way. They are afraid, yet filled with joy. They bow down and worship Jesus (He is the risen King !!). Jesus instructs them to tell the disciples to go back to Galilee and they will see Him there.

There’s a plot (involving the transfers of money) to let the world know that the disciples stole the body. I guess they thought that would be the end of that. Hee Hee !!

Matthew’s gospel ends back in Galilee, with Jesus commissioning His disciples. Back on familiar territory, where Jesus’s ministry and the disciples’ involvement with Him began. It appears it’s very much ‘over to them’ now !
“All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

Stunning. A mandate for ministry, for each and every one of us.

PSALM – God will sort out His enemies. It’s all in His hands, the strong and mighty Lord.

My recreated thoughts :

Heavenly provision
Earthly sufficiency
Manna each morning
A promised Resurrection Day
Life will never be the same again
Every day a gift
New life.
Daily breath.
ALIVE !

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Miraculous deliverance….Jesus dies.

14 02 2011

DAY FORTY-FOUR : Exodus 13 v. 1 – 14 v. 31; Matthew 27 v. 45 – 66; Proverbs 4 v. 20 – 27

Okay, I’m sending this on St. Valentine’s Day (yesterday’s readings), so here’s a heart to remind us of God’s great love shown in the amazing readings from Exodus and Matthew today, and the Wise Words of Proverbs:
GUARD YOUR HEART, FOR IT IS THE WELLSPRING OF LIFE

EXODUS 13 – God instructs Moses to ‘consecrate’ (set aside / dedicate) the firstborn of every Israelite child or animal to God, as a commemoration of God delivering the Israelites from the Egyptians on this day.
Again, the Feast of the Unleavened Bread is outlined – a seven day celebration.
“This observance will be for you like a sign on your hand and a reminder on your forehead that the law of the Lord is to be on your lips…you must keep this ordinance at the appointed time year after year.”
The sacrifice of the firstborn animal, the redemption of the firstborn sons, is a permanent reminder of the Passover death of the firstborn in Egypt.

Crossing the sea – God didn’t lead them on the shortest, easiest route, but by the desert road. God knows they’re not ready for the battles they’d face on the shortest route.
They have Joseph’s bones with them on the journey – nice! (Marks the real departure of the whole Joseph episode….)
The Lord leads them by a pillar of cloud by day, a pillar of fire by night, always ahead of the people.

EXODUS 14 – As they camp by the sea, Moses hears from God that Pharaoh will be after them. Pharaoh cannot imagine life without all his Hebrew slaves, so his best charioteers are sent to capture the Israelites.
The Israelites panic!
They confront Moses (get used to the idea of this, Moses), asking if he’d brought them out of Egypt only to perish in the desert. ‘It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.’
Moses confidently tells them not to fear. God will deliver them, and the Egyptians who are chasing them will be no more!
God simply instructs Moses, “Tell the people to move on!” – how often God needs to move us on, and we are resistant, often gripped with fear (of the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unlikely).
Following God’s instructions, Moses raises his staff and overnight the waters of the Red Sea part. The pillar of cloud moves behind the Israelites, blocking the view of the Egyptians, keeping them in the dark. All night long the wind blew, until there was a path.
“The Israelites went through the sea on dry ground, with a wall of water on their right and one their left.”
All of the oncoming Egyptians are washed away as the waters regroup over them. There is a tangible awesome fear of what God can do gripping the Israelites, who pledge their trust to God and His servant, Moses.

MATTHEW – Jesus dies
Darkness…..
“My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?”
Wine vinegar….
Jesus cries out in a loud voice….
He gives up His spirit.

Temple curtain torn
Earth shaken….rocks split
Tombs opened…dead raised
“Surely He was the Son of God!”

Close family and friends watch
from a distance…..

Jesus is buried in a new tomb, thanks to Joseph of Arimathea, with a stone seal. Mary and Mary observe.
The following day, there is concern about what the disciples might do with Jesus’s body, stealing it and claiming it had been raised from death. There is a Roman seal put on the tomb, and a guard posted. Secure…secure.
Note, the Chief Priests and Pharisees don’t even name Jesus…they simply call Him ‘the deceiver’ (a name given to Satan).

PROVERBS 4 – God’s wise words are ‘life to those who find them, and health to a man’s whole body’.
‘Guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life’.
Fix your eyes, not swerving left or right, taking the firm path set before you.

My re-created thoughts :
(I penned this poem some years ago….having read this portion of Matthew’s gospel)….

In that moment
the sky turned black
the deepest darkness the world had ever known
a darkness which seemed to overcome
enveloping and centred around the crucified Lord
this darkness was the sum total
of all the darkness of all the ages
and it seemed to point itself to this cross on this hill.
It appeared the light of the world was to be ultimately
blown out.

In that moment the temple curtain ripped in two
the holiest place could be seen by all
a taboo shattered, a unfettering
a freeing of the very God whose word created
and whose dying breath had exposed the Holy of Holies.
Freedom at a price – a tearing, a breaking, a bleeding
God in dying is made more available to us.

In that moment, the whole earth shook
and splintered rocks
the death of the creator, and all creation shuddered
like a quake to rock the foundations of every heart and home
mighty boulders fractured, nothing unaffected, untroubled
by the catastrophic, cosmic final breath.

And in that moment,
a mother cried.
One sobbing, broken heart,
another life is broken.
In that moment, the pain of separation
and the cruelty of such a death.
Too much for any mother to plainly bear.
A whisper from her trembling lips,
and an echo in our hearts,
“Jesus, my Son,
why must You die?”