What does God’s monologue to Moses in today’s scripture remind you of? Does it sound like the prologue of a judge who is about to sentence a group of lawbreakers? Or does it sound more like a rant of a parent who needs to discipline unruly children?
The Lord expresses anger at the Israelites’ disobedience and disrespect. As would many parents, the violated One wants to teach and hold the newly freed and undisciplined people accountable for their behavior of creating and settling for substitute gods to ease their anxiety. In fact, the sanctions that God is ready to distribute include renunciation (“Your people, whom you brought up out of the land of Egypt”) and rejection (“Let me alone, so that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them”) as serious consequences of their actions. We can only wonder how God responds to our undisciplined behavior as we purport to be followers of the Christ. How close does God come to rejecting us altogether, saying, “I’ve had it with you!”
Ironically, God not only discusses the divine plans with Moses but also wants to reward him with a favor (“of you I will make a great nation”). I remain unconvinced that God behaves like earthly parents and wonder if such anthropomorphic presentation of the Divine helps drive home the point of what can happen when people turn away from God.
What has made you turn aside from God’s ways? What false gods have you created to meet your own needs while ignoring God’s provision?
Loving God, who always provides, thank you for loving us even when we disobey or distance ourselves from you. Help us follow the way that you have sanctified in blessing and caring for us. Amen.
In Exodus 33 Moses successfully argues that without Yahweh’s merciful presence Israel is no nation and that Yahweh’s and Moses’ efforts have come to naught. Psalm 99 mentions Yahweh’s royal rule, which brings to mind the human agents of that rule: Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Each of these leaders facilitated Yahweh’s conversation with the people and Yahweh’s rule over them. The opening lines from First Thessalonians raise a question about the church’s understanding of evangelism. Paul and his coworkers experience a change in themselves because of the Thessalonians, who become a living proclamation of the gospel by virtue of their ready acceptance of it. In the Gospel reading, Jesus answers a question with a question and confuses his “audience” both then and today.
• Read Exodus 33:12-23. When have you most longed for a glimpse of God’s glory? How did God give you the assurance you needed?
• Read Psalm 99. Where in your life is forgiveness needed to restore a loving relationship? How have you experienced “a forgiving God”?
• Read 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10. As your Christian faith has developed, how have you seen it move “from head to heart to hands”?
• Read Matthew 22:15-22. How do you give to God “the things that are God’s”? What are some of those things Jesus wants you to give?
Respond by posting a prayer.