DAY FORTY-NINE : Exodus 23 v. 1 – 24 v. 18; Mark 3 v. 31 – 4 v. 29; Psalm 22 v. 22 – 31
EXODUS 23 – great ‘laws’ about not spreading malicious untruths, about taking back an enemy’s stray donkey, or helping him with his sick ox; don’t get involved in false charges; don’t accept bribes; don’t oppress foreigners (aliens, again !).
Sabbath – leave the land (including vineyards and olive groves) unploughed in its seventh year (offer its produce to the poor). Rest on the seventh day (and your household). Be careful to keep these rules, and don’t entertain other ‘gods’.
FEAST OF UNLEAVENED BREAD – annual celebration remembering the exodus from Egypt, involving eating yeast-free bread for seven days.
FEAST OF HARVEST – when the firstfruits are presented to God.
FEAST OF INGATHERING – at the end of the year, when all is gathered.
everyone to celebrate these festivals, offering just what is prescribed, “the best of the firstfruits of your soil to the house of the Lord your God.”
(not sure about the need to implore people not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk – who would do such a thing !!)
There is an angel provided by God to lead the way (‘my Name is in him’), and there will be signs (e.g. hornets) to show how God will remove, bit by bit, the Amorites, Hittites (etc. etc.) from the land, to fulfil His promise to let them dwell there. The Israelites are not form any pact or covenant with these peoples and are not to entertain their gods.
EXODUS 24 – When Moses returns to the people, and tells them all God’s said, they proclaim their allegiance with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Hoorah !!
Moses builds an altar next morning at the foot of the mountain – and twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes.
Burnt offerings and fellowship offerings are sacrifices (bulls).
The Book of the Covenant is read and everyone says “Yes”!
The people are sprinkled with ‘the blood of the covenant’ (cp Jesus’ ‘blood of the new covenant’).
The leaders go up and ‘see God’ – standing on a pavement of sapphire, as clear as sky.
Moses and his assistant, Joshua, go up the mountain to collect the stone tablets with the law written on.
Moses is on the mountain for six days before he’s called into the cloud of God’s presence, where he stays for forty days and nights (took some time to sort the tablets of stone….think how much shorter time would have been had Moses had all the communication gadgets available to us today…emailed in a matter of seconds !!).
It is interesting to me to note the blood of the covenant sprinkled over the people after giving their wholehearted assent to the laws God’s giving, and the link to the new covenant in Jesus’s blood. The forty days and nights in God’s presence on the mountains, and Jesus’s forty day excursion into the wilderness. These are momentous events in the old testament.
MARK – Yesterday, Jesus’s family were concerned for His mental well-being; here, today, they are struggling to get to Him (maybe they still want to ‘control Him’). Jesus’ words sound harsh (especially for His family), but He is being radically inclusive here, inviting anyone who does the will of God to be family with Him.
Parable of the Sower – again, as in Matthew’s gospel, this fantastic story, drawing us into considering the lay of the land in our lives, to receive God’s word and bear fruit, is told on a boat to the crowds on the shore. Later, his disciples get His ‘meaning’.
I found myself reflecting on the Israelites’ unanimous “Yes” to God when presented with the commandments, but knowing that some will have ‘ears to hear’, and others will be like the path, others like the rocky soil, others like thorny ground. Not much has changed. Will the soil of our heart be clear enough for God’s word to take root, grow and bear fruit – and see what abundant fruit grows in the good soil.
Oh Lord, clear the ground. Give me ears to hear.
Don’t hide the light – let it shine – it’s there to expose darkness.
Be careful what you listen to.
You will get what you dish out.
The farmer sows the seed, but then waits for it to grow – stalk, ear, then grain – before taking up the sickle to harvest it.
In the Kingdom, God sows, and patiently waits. There will be a harvest !
PSALM – God is to be praised for His faithfulness to His people, descendants of Jacob, of Israel. He feeds the poor, those who seek Him will live for ever, all people will come to praise Him, He rules over every nation. The past and the future will be filled with praise, rich feasting, humble bowed-down worship. Hallelujah.
My recreated thoughts :
Lord of harvest, grant that we
Wholesome grain and pure may be!