Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Day 39: Signs, signs, everywhere there's signs

Exodus 4, 5, 6 & Matthew 24:29-51

These passages of scripture speak to signs. Miraculous signs of God’s power with Moses and Aaron. Signs that point toward the culmination of the world as we know it. These signs are often misunderstood and taken out of context.

Exodus 4:

God gives Moses Aaron as a mouthpiece to help convince Moses to go to Egypt. He also promises signs and wonders. He makes the staff turn into a snake, makes Moses’ hand be leprous then clean, and turns water to blood. Moses agrees to go.
On the way we have one of the most disturbing passages of scripture to me. Apparently God is angered at Moses and tries to kill him on the way to Egypt. I don’t know how to take this. Perhaps Moses fell ill and the people thought it, as most other illnesses, was God’s judgement? Perhaps Moses was showing of his signs as parlor tricks and it made God angry. We are not told. What we are told is how Zipporah intercedes.
Zipporah, daughter of the head priest of Midian, takes matters into her own hands. She circumcises their son and touches Moses with the blood. This harkens back to the practice initiated at the covenant with Abraham. Here again a woman acts as a redeemer just like Pharaoh’s daughter, Moses’ mom and Miriam have previously.

Exodus 5:

Pharaoh does not react kindly to Moses’ request to leave Egypt to properly worship. He makes things unbearable for the Israelites as payback for the request. He tells them to collect their own straw for bricks and does not lessen the quota or give more time to accomplish that quota. The Israelites are unhappy with Pharaoh, Moses and God.
When we hear that God has a plan for us we often assume it will be easy. Here is an example of how God’s ways are not our ways. Things will not necessarily be easy to do, but that does not mean God is not at work in the hard times.

Exodus 6:

God tells Moses again that he will save the people. Moses tells the Israelites and they do not believe him. It is hard to listen to someone who grew up in the palace and then fled the country for forty years.
We are then given the genealogy of the Levites. These are the credentials for Moses and Aaron. This allows some ties later between the Levites and the priests.
God says he will call the people out by their divisions. In this instance it is believed that refers to their tribes.

Matthew 24:29-51

Matthew continues his discourse on the end times. The signs that will be noted before things change. He speaks of returning to primal chaos, that the world will no longer be ordered as it is in his day. This event will happen with the coming of the Son of Man. These passages reflect with Daniel 7:13 and Zechariah 12:10. Both of these speak mourning leading to repentance and ultimately to service of God. This might be what Matthew is referring to here, that people will learn the truth and be moved to repent and commit acts of mercy.
What is clear to Matthew is that the end of the world will come in Matthews’s time. And while the world did not end in his lifetime, I don’t think he got it wrong.
The crucified Jesus is already the Christ, the persecuted church is already the elect, but this reality, this new reality, is hidden except to the eyes of faith. I don’t believe that these verses point only to the ultimate return and reign of Christ. I think they tell us that the new reality the kingdom of God is at hand. And how do we live that kingdom? By doing deeds of mercy, forgiveness, and peace. In short, by living as kingdom people now.

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