I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them. I hope that the Spirit is moving in others through these posts as the Spirit has definitely been convicting me.
When Pharaoh let the Israelites go God did not lead them by the shortest route to the promised land because He did not think they were ready to face war. Instead He led them by a more roundabout route. As a matter of fact, God instructed Moses to turn back at one point and camp between the desert and the sea. God explained to Moses that by doing this He would entice Pharaoh to pursue the Israelites giving God an opportunity to display His power for the entire world to see.
Pharaoh did indeed change his mind about letting the Israelites go. He mustered his chariot forces and set off in pursuit. When the Israelites saw the Egyptian forces approaching they panicked. Moses told them not to be afraid and to stand firm. God instructed Moses to stretch out his hand over the sea to divide the sea so that the Israelites can pass through on dry ground. Moses did as God commanded and the Israelites crossed the sea on dry ground. When the Egyptian forces attempted to follow their chariot wheels got caught in the mud. When I read this passage I imagine the Israelites on foot or with carts with big thick wheels. The Egyptian chariots on the other hand would have had narrow wheels in order to allow them to move faster. I don’t know if you have ever seen the muddy bed of a river or lake shortly after the water has dried up off of it. The mud on the bottom tends to dry out and develop a hard, brittle crust on the surface, especially if a strong wind is blowing as is described in the passage. So, as the Israelites crossed over it would have been hard and would have supported their weight since it was well distributed by their feet and even by the thick wheels of any carts they may have had. The other thing about the dried mud on a river or lake bed that has recently dried out is that underneath it is still wet. When you intermittently apply pressure to the dry, hard surface of the mud (such as, say when a large number of people and animals walk across it) the moisture works its way to the surface and the surface becomes soft. When I read this passage, I imagine a scene which appears as if someone intentionally planned a trap for a more mobile, superior military force pursuing one which they completely overlooked as a potential threat…oh, yeah, Someone did.
Once the Israelites had crossed and the waters had returned to trap and drown most of Pharaoh’s chariot forces, they sang a song of praise. The song covers so many aspects of God. Our enemies may boast of their prowess and power, but God will stand by our side. God reigns over all and our success is due to Him, not our own power or worthiness.
Jesus returned to the Temple the day after driving out the merchants. The chief priests and other religious leaders demanded to know by what authority He did these things. Jesus answered them by saying that He would answer their question if they would answer His question. He then asks them whether John’s baptism was from heaven or merely of human origin. The religious leaders view the question as a trap. On the one hand, if they said that it was from heaven, Jesus could then ask them why they did not believe and follow John. On the other hand they were afraid of the people’s reaction if they said it was merely human, since the people all thought John was a prophet. As a result they chose to tell Jesus that they did not know. Jesus then tells them that since they did not answer His question He would not answer theirs. I have heard several commenters on this passage say that Jesus was very clever here. He knew that the religious leaders asked their question as a trap for Jesus. Any way He answered the question the religious leaders could use it as an excuse to have Him arrested. So, He asked them a question that He knew they would not answer.
I am sure there is some truth to that. However, I see another element at work as well. If the religious leaders had been willing to answer Jesus’ question about John, it would have given Him a basis to start making His case for His authority to chase the merchants out of the Temple. By refusing to answer His question, the religious leaders revealed that they were playing a game of “Gotcha”, rather than entering into an honest debate about righteousness. Jesus then tells two parables directed at the religious leaders, but with much more applicability than just them.
The first parable is about two sons. A father goes to one son and tells him to go work in the vineyard. The son rebelliously tells his father that he will not. However, later he changes his mind and goes and does as his father asked. The father goes to the other son and gives him the same instructions. The second son quickly and respectfully agrees to do as his father asked, but he did not actually do it. Jesus asks the religious leaders which of the two sons did what his father wanted. They answered with the obvious answer, the first son did as his father wanted. Jesus then points out to the religious leaders that tax collectors and prostitutes were more responsive to John’s calls to behave righteously than were those who claimed to be religious.
Jesus then tells a parable about a landowner who leased a vineyard out to to some farmers. When harvest time approached the landowner sent servants to collect his share of the harvest. The farmers mistreated the servants and failed to send to the landowner his share of the harvest. Finally the landowner sends his own son, figuring that the farmers would respect him. When the farmers saw the son, rather than respect him, they killed him. Jesus asked them what the landowner would do to those farmers. the religious leaders replied that he would bring them to a wretched end and find new tenants who would give him his share at harvest time. Both of these parables have a common theme that just because we pay lip service to righteous living does not mean that we are actually doing so.
I see today’s psalm as a challenge for me, that I should strive to live up to its call. I know that God will test me and try me. I know that I do not meet His standard. I will strive to not lend my support to those who deceive others (or deceive them myself). I will do my best to hold myself to a higher standard than I hold others. I will resist the urge to plot evil with those who gather to do so. I will seek to always be mindful of God’s unfailing love and to express that love to those around me.
Today’s passage from proverbs lists seven things that God detests and that destroy all whom they touch. Those seven things all tie together. Arrogance, lying, the killing of innocents, contriving schemes to bring harm to others, hurrying to take advantage of other’s misfortune, telling lies about others in order to cause them trouble and doing things to get others to be in conflict. These are all things that lead one to another. Doing any one of them increases the likelihood that one will do the others and all are reprehensible.