Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Sunday Sermonette: Deja vu all over again

The events of Exodus 24 et seq clearly seem to be an alternate story, or alternate version of the story we have read so far. Moses has already been up to the mountain and been given the law, but now he has to go again and get a different set of instructions. It all seems inefficient, but as we have seen this is quite typical of the Torah -- it's a mashup of sources that frequently fail to cohere. Anyway, here goes. (This is the NIV.)

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Come up to the Lord, you and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel. You are to worship at a distance, but Moses alone is to approach the Lord; the others must not come near. And the people may not come up with him.”
When Moses went and told the people all the Lord’s words and laws, they responded with one voice, “Everything the Lord has said we will do.” Moses then wrote down everything the Lord had said.
I hope he had at least been taking notes.
He got up early the next morning and built an altar at the foot of the mountain and set up twelve stone pillars representing the twelve tribes of Israel. Then he sent young Israelite men, and they offered burnt offerings and sacrificed young bulls as fellowship offerings to the Lord.
Again, God has this weird fetish of enjoying having animals killed for him.
Moses took half of the blood and put it in bowls, and the other half he splashed against the altar. Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it to the people. They responded, “We will do everything the Lord has said; we will obey.”
Moses then took the blood, sprinkled it on the people and said, “This is the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
I have no idea what the point of this was, but yuck.
Moses and Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, and the seventy elders of Israel went up 10 and saw the God of Israel. Under his feet was something like a pavement made of lapis lazuli, as bright blue as the sky. 11 But God did not raise his hand against these leaders of the Israelites; they saw God, and they ate and drank.
Many people in the Bible see God -- Abraham saw him a few times, Isaac and Jacob saw him, Moses has seen him before. But remind me when we come to Exodus 33: "19 And the Lord said, “I will cause all my goodness to pass in front of you, and I will proclaim my name, the Lord, in your presence. I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion. 20 But,” he said, “you cannot see my face, for no one may see me and live.”" In the New Testament, it is asserted many times that God cannot be seen.
 
12 The Lord said to Moses, “Come up to me on the mountain and stay here, and I will give you the tablets of stone with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.”
13 Then Moses set out with Joshua his aide, and Moses went up on the mountain of God. 14 He said to the elders, “Wait here for us until we come back to you. Aaron and Hur are with you, and anyone involved in a dispute can go to them.”
15 When Moses went up on the mountain, the cloud covered it, 16 and the glory of the Lord settled on Mount Sinai. For six days the cloud covered the mountain, and on the seventh day the Lord called to Moses from within the cloud. 17 To the Israelites the glory of the Lord looked like a consuming fire on top of the mountain. 18 Then Moses entered the cloud as he went on up the mountain. And he stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights.
The forty days and forty nights of course is echoed in the NT. That was also one version of the length of the flood, although as you may recall there were various versions; and there are several other forty day events. I can't think of any particular significance for that number.


4 comments:

Don Quixote said...

People who assert that they are Christian seem to maintain that Jesus was god in some incarnation. So in their belief system, weren't they looking upon the face of god? It's all so confusing ...

Cervantes said...

Yeah, that doctrine of the holy trinity is quite bizarre. God killed his son who was also himself to expiate the sin of Eve eating the apple . . .

Cervantes said...

. . . except he isn't actually dead.

Don Quixote said...

Right. And he knew he wouldn't be dead, so dying was not really dying ...

IMO, "Nisht getoygn un nisht gefloygn." He didn't crawl up, and he didn't fly up. Was Jesus an enlightened man? Absolutely. Was he god? No more than any of us are. We're all the same. Old, pagan religion. Christianity limits mankind's growth with its exclusivity, prejudice, fear of Judaism, and nonsense.