Thursday, March 16, 2017

Day 44: Manna and Murder

Exodus 16, 17, 18 and Matthew 27: 1-26

These chapters give us the story of Manna from heaven and Murder of the king of heaven and earth. They are an odd paring, but they show how humans can mistake manna, something holy and other, for something that needs to be destroyed or murdered.

Exodus 16:

The whole of the assembly of Israelites grumble against Moses and Aaron. How quick we are to complain to our leaders! Moses points out to them that they are really complaining to God. But in God’s mercy, God tells them they will receive meat and twilight and bread in the morning. The camp is overrun with quail at twilight and in the morning a strange substance is left after the dew. The people call it manna, meaning what is it. God gives specific instructions to gather only enough for each person and no more or less. Those who gathered more manna than they should, when it was weighed, found it was the amount allowed. Those who gathered less than their share found that the manna was just the amount required per person.
God told the people to only take the manna they needed for each day. Anything kept would spoil so it could not be saved or horded. On the day before the Sabbath they could gather twice as much to save for the next day. God fed them this way for forty years!!!

Exodus 17

Again the people grumble and complain against the Lord. Even though God has miraculously provided food every day, twice a day, the people complain that they do not have enough water. God sends Moses to a rock in Horeb which he strikes with his staff. The rock pours out fresh water. God has provided Manna, meat and now water.
I think some of Moses’ frustration with the people begins to show here, as illuminated by the name he gives this rock fountain. He calls it Massah and Meribah, which mean testing and quarreling. I think it is meant to remind people every time they get water that even though they tested God and quarreled, God provided. Perhaps they need to remember God’s provisions! (Perhaps we do as well!)
This chapter also shows us a battle between the Israelites and the Amalekites. The Amalekites were descendants of Esau, a nomadic warring tribe. Joshua is told to take a group of men to fight them while Moses goes to the top of a hill to watch and to hold his hands up. As long as his hands are held high, the Israelites win, but once he lowers his hands the tide turns. Aaron and Hur help Moses keep his arms up. It is important for us to help our leaders as they do what they are called to do. We need to be their support system.

Exodus 18:

Jethro returns Moses’ wife and son’ to him. There is a great feast and an air of celebration with this visit. I admire Jethro and Moses’ relationship. They do not spend time walking around like puffed up roosters, trying to jockey for position or prominence. Instead they seem to recognize that they can learn from one another.
Jethro becomes a believer in the one true God. Moses gains much needed administrative and management skills.
By spreading the workload Moses not only frees himself up to do other important tasks, he also spreads the teachings of God among the people and gives them shared responsibilities for what occurs. We are not to do everything on our own. We are not functioning as we should as a people of faith if we are not sharing leadership, responsibility and love with one another and our neighbors.

Matthew 27:1-26

As the sun rises the religious leaders decide to put Jesus to death. They turn him over to Pilate, the Roman governor. Upon hearing this, Judas tries to back out of his betrayal, he wants to return the money he has been given and renege on his accusations. The leaders refuse to accept his funds and he throws them on the floor and goes out to hang himself.
Sometimes we cannot stop what we have put in motion. It is wise to think through things before we act.
When they have received the money the leaders made an odd statement. They call it “blood money.” That phrase is usually associated with turning over an innocent person. By this comment they seem to be admitting to plotting to murder and innocent man.
Pilate does not want to turn Jesus over to be killed. His conscious seems to tell him Jesus is innocent. Pilate’s wife tells him to have nothing to do with Jesus because of a dream she has had. Yet Pilate offers the people an exchange. Jesus or Barabbas. The innocent man or the actual rebellion leader. The crowd cries out for Barabbas to be saved and for Jesus to be crucified. Pilate seems surprised, but working within any government I don’t see how he could be shocked when people make bad choices. Ultimately it is Pilate’s fear of the crowd that leads him to release a known criminal and to hand Jesus over, after flogging him for good measure.

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