I thought it might help if I wrote down my thoughts so far on the Psalms: What kind of literature are they? How are they to be read and interpreted today?
The Bible repeatedly says that idols, being false gods, are little use. There is plenty of mockery of them to make the point. I love this detail...
The next day, when the Philistines came to strip the slain, they found Saul and his sons fallen on Mount Gilboa. And they stripped him and took his head and his armour, and sent messengers throughout the land of the Philistines to carry the good news to their idols and to their people. (1 Chronicles 10:8-9)
We are forever looking for things God has done for us for which we can give him thanks. Things he has done for us and for no other people. That could be a temporal thing - we want things he has done for our generation and not for previous ones. That could be a spatial thing - we want things he has done for our village / town / county / nation and not for others. It could be both at once - things he has done for me and me alone.
Psalm 105 is a total contrast. It starts
Oh give thanks to the
call upon his name;
A1 Moses doubted (32:1-6)
B1 Covenant under threat. Moses’ intercession (32:7-14)
C1 The broken tablets (32:15-19)
“It is most fitting that the Sabbath be the sign of this covenant. Israel, as we have noted, is a new creation. This is a new people of God, whom he intends to use to undo the work of the first man. Also, the tabernacle is a microcosm of the created order, a parcel of edenic splendour established amid the chaos of the world. The Sabbath is not just a reminder of the original creation in Genesis 1 and 2, but a reminder of God’s re-creation of the cosmos in the tabernacle.”
A bit of background information for those who are interested. This coming Sunday I will be preaching on Exodus 25-31. Desmond Alexander's book, From Paradise to the Promised Land has some very helpful things to say. Below are some excerpts
The ten commandments are framed as negative statements. Does that mean that they are negative in purpose, and restrictive of freedom? Not at all:
“A negative command is far more liberating than a positive one, for a positive command restricts life to that one course of action, whereas a negative command leaves life open to every course of action except one.” (Motyer, page 215)
Looking at Exodus 19-24 for Sunday morning, I'm struck by the structure of the law there. It is anchored with back-references to the deliverance from Egypt in chapter 19 and 20:1-2, and the climax is a meal shared by 74 of the Israelites in the presence of God in chapter 24. They enter heaven, and they eat and drink without dying.
See Exodus 18.
I've long puzzled over Jethro's role in Exodus, and I think I'm making some progress at last.
Jethro features in Exodus 2 (as Reuel, where he welcomes Moses the refugee), in Exodus 4 (where he sends Moses back to Pharaoh in peace, although Moses hasn't been strictly honest about the nature of his mission), and in most detail in Exodus 18.