I am using the daily Bible reading schedule from “The Bible.net” for my daily Bible reading.
Today, I am reading and commenting on Exodus 19-21.
When the people of Israel came to Mt Sinai, God came down onto the mountain and spoke with them. However, after God gave them what we call the Ten Commandments, which Jews typically refer to more accurately as the Ten Statements, the people asked that God speak to them through Moses rather than directly. This is a very human tendency. We saw this same tendency when Adam and Eve hid from God after eating from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. We see this tendency in the creation of a division between clergy and laity in the Christian Church. We constantly seek to create distance between ourselves and God so as to avoid recognizing our sinfulness.
Today, I want to spend some time focusing on the last of the Commandments. “You shall not covet your neighbor’s…” This is an important commandment because one of the things I hear people say today is “It isn’t fair that he/she has so much.” Oh, they often go on to say, “…and this other person has so little.” But we all know their real concern is what the first person has, not what the second person lacks. We should seek to help those in need, especially when we have in excess of our needs. Our concern should be with those in need, not in how much others have.
Finally, I want to take note of God’s instructions concerning building an altar. We tend not to pay much attention to that since we do not, as a general rule, build altars anymore. However, it is noteworthy that these instructions are the first ones God gives after the Ten Commandments. God instructs Moses that any altars they build are to be rather utilitarian. There is to be nothing fancy about them, they are not even supposed to be raised up. All of this is to be sure that we are not worshiping the altar in place of God. The lesson here is that our places of worship must be designed so as to not encourage us to put more importance into them than into God. We do not make a place holy by building a certain building there, or having certain objects there. It is not even the geography of the place which makes it holy. No, a place becomes holy when we enter into God’s presence there and we should strive to have nothing which might lead anyone to think otherwise.