Today’s reading seems to be speaking to Moses and the Israelites while they are still roaming. God is again providing for them by giving them an angel. We all have our notion of what an angel is, and even what an angel should look like. Somewhere along the line angels got wings and flowing white gowns. I don’t think this is what the angel in today’s reading will look like.
The idea here is to follow the angel. God is going to take care of casting fear into the folks living in the land they are passing through. God is warning them to take care and not bow down to other gods. He knows how weak and fickle his people are. They will be drawn in to the temptation, and their sin will separate them from God. He knew it and prescribed a way to help them. Would they listen?
Let’s have a party! Festivals are celebrations for what God has done. There are several different festivals, but only three of the annual ones are mentioned here. This is a brief explanation of what God wanted or expected the people to do to remember him. Again, these are laws that were given to Moses for the people to follow when they reached the promised land.
Jewish tradition would recognize most of these festivals today. I have always found it fascinating. It’s good to understand our faith roots. After all, Jesus was Jewish, and he would have celebrated these festivals. There isn’t a lot of detail here, so I did a little research to help understand these celebrations.
God is our final judge. He makes the rules and enforces them. Our obedience should be to God alone. We may not ever see all of the “rulings” he makes, and that’s okay. God is God, and we are not. When people ask me something about God’s law or his desire for us, I can point to Scripture, but ultimately, God decides and has the final say. Suffice it to say God is faithful and just.
There are some interesting reminders in today’s reading. What ones resonated most with you? We see God doesn’t like gossiping, peer pressure, accusing the innocent, bribery, or oppression of foreigners. He wants us to rest on the 7th day and let our fields rest during the 7th year. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I believe farmers today still do this to help maximize yield in their crops.
In our last reading we talked about disputes and God’s resolution for those. Today gets into some laws to protect your property and also laws to help our attitudes and communication. It’s all helpful stuff. He wanted to be sure his people had all they needed for a good start in their new home.
Where there any statements that surprised you? Verse 29 surprised me (as it appears in this particular translation. Perhaps you are reading from your own Bible and not the link above. In any event, verse 29 in the above translation simply reads “You must not hold anything back when you give me offerings from your crops and your wine. You must give me your firstborn sons.”
Disputes happen. I was a paralegal for many years before retiring. Working in a law office opened my eyes to humanity on so many levels. People can be ruthless and cruel. People can be greedy and disrespectful. It can be a handful to keep them in line and understanding the system. Not all negligence is punished. Not all familial issues can be resolved with dignity and grace. Without laws in place, there would be more chaos then there already is.
I can truly identify with Moses having to sort out disputes such as this. You may recall several readings ago when Moses was visited by his father-in-law, Jethro. You will recall Jethro had a solution to help Moses from losing his mind in handling all of the people’s disputes.