Exodus 16 – Leviticus 7; Matthew 18-25
Raise your hand if you are sticking to the plan and reading your Bible! I know (from my own personal experience) that it is very easy to get behind and distracted, but all you have to do is just open your Bible today and begin reading again — right where we are now in this challenge. (You don’t have to “catch up!”)
In Exodus, we have finally left Egypt and see how God cares and provides for God’s people in the desert. This is the kind of God we are familiar with and want to experience in our own lives, since we all have our own deserts where we wander and feel lost and abandoned.
But it can be hard to grasp the character of God in the previous chapters (starting from Exodus 8). I have received several emails and chatted with some of you yesterday about this “Old Testament” God who causes so much devastation and destruction in Egypt and slaughters all the firstborns in Egyptian households (Exodus 12). So many innocent lives!
What is troubling is that God has full control over the Pharaoh’s decision-making (for example, in Exodus 10:27) but continues to play these bloody games, just to make a point of being the LORD.
“What kind of God is that?” – you may wonder, and rightfully so!
When we read Exodus, we know that this is a small part of a much larger story of God’s relationship with humanity. And, reading the Gospel of Matthew alongside Exodus reminds us of that.
God’s character is revealed to us throughout the entire Bible as the Creator of all life with the power over all creation — and this power is absolute and horrifying at times. The Good News is that these destructive displays of power happen just a few times over the entire history of Israel, and they seem to be an exception, rather than the norm.
As you continue your readings of both the Old and New Testaments, pay attention to all of the times that God is showing nothing but mercy, grace, forgiveness, and a great desire to be our God. Also, examine your own life and see how God has been and is always being revealed to you. Our God is bigger than the events in Exodus 8-14, and for that, we give God praise!
In the next couple of weeks, y’all will become legal experts in ancient Jewish law – whether you want to or not! Because many ancient legal texts were included in the Bible, there is really nothing we can do about it but press on.
If these “law parts” become too boring and overwhelming to you, it’s OK to allow yourself to skim some of these chapters. (Most of us will never be able to remember all these details anyway!)
As I work through this part of the Old Testament, I like to picture what kind of daily life these people led and what their main concerns were. It is such a different world from ours today.
In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus’ public ministry continues, and his conflict with the authorities intensifies. Jesus predicts his death and resurrection, but his disciples struggle to understand it — and who can blame them! Let’s be kind to them, since they do not know the entire story, and be glad that we do!
I am looking forward to our meetups, this Sunday, February 2 at 8:00 am and Monday, February 3 at 1:30 pm! Bring all your questions and concerns — and be ready to share a verse or a story that really spoke to you and encouraged you this month!
Here are the rest of the meetup dates for 2020:
February 2, March 8, April 5, May 3, June 7, July 12, August 2, September 6, October 4, November 1, and December 27
8:00 – 9:00 am | Room 350 | Childcare provided
February 3, April 6, May 4, June 8, July 6, September 14, October 5, and November 2
1:30 – 2:30 pm | Room 154 | Childcare available upon request
Dr. Zhenya Gurina-Rodriguez
Associate Pastor of Grace Groups & Discipleship