It’s dawn and the ESV Literary Study Bible awaits. This morning I begin in Exodus with the Exodus. God has just finished hammering the nation of Egypt with “10 mighty blows” which the ESVLB says is the meaning of the original Latin for “plague”.
From the opening salvo of the passage on through the end of the Pentateuch (heck include the rest of the Bible) the major theme present is the glory of God in delivering his people. This is the penultimate old testament moment of salvation. It is met with worship first because people love to see God work but soon afterward the cycle of murmuring and judgment sets in.
A key moment for me was actually the salvation of Jethro, Moses’ father in law.
Now I know that the Lord is greater than all gods, because in this affair they dealt arrogantly with the people.” -Exodus 18:11 ESV
For me it’s a significant quote for a couple of reasons. First it is the salvation moment of a human being who turns and recognizes that there is no God above YHWH. Second, thanks to Michael Heiser I’ve been thinking allot lately about the gods of the nations surrounding Israel. I’m not going to replicate his work you can read it for yourself. Many of the gods which the nations worshiped are what we would recognize as demons – that is, fallen angels. Jethro’s comment opens up a world of cultural understanding when we combine it with God saying that he executed judgment on the gods of Egypt through the plagues. (Exodus 12:12, Numbers 33:4) God wasn’t merely attacking the mentality of the Egyptians in the plagues, he was rendering judgment on the spirit beings behind the idols which Egypt worshiped.
What follows is of course the glory of the law, the prescriptions for the temple and it’s construction. The core of the latter part of Exodus then is a mirror to it’s first part. Exodus begins with the Glory of God in delivering his people through Moses, and ends with the glory of God being reflected upon and through his people with the building of the sanctuary by Bezalel (Exod 31:2). The climax of the book of Exodus is also it’s meaning and purpose. As the Law is given and the tabernacle constructed, the glory of the Lord comes down and floods the tabernacle completely. Glory, the glory of God is the purpose, reason and theme of the book of Exodus. God is with his people, unworthy as they may be. This is the great theme of the Christian life is it not? We are not worthy but He the one who made, and also redeemed us for the purpose of his glory is worthy.
As I was reading through the ordination of Aaron and his sons in Exodus 29 I was struck by an ESV translation that is absolutely … well… dorky. One of the prescriptions for the ordination was smearing blood on the right ear, thumb and big toe of the priest. Without getting into the why of the ceremony I was hugely perturbed by the translation of “…great toes…” in Exodus 29:21. In Leviticus 8:23,24; 14:14,17,25 and Judges 1:6-7 the exact same word (בֹּ֥הֶן ) is translated as a normal English rendering of “big toe”. Nobody that I’ve EVER heard has refered to the largest toe on your foot as a “great toe”. It may be literal but i’s just plain weird and there’s absolutely no meaning lost by translating it consistently as “big toe”. Alright it’s a goofy rant but come on, it’s a goofy translation.
It’s not long after the ordination instructions (great toes and all) that Israel comes unhinged and through the hand of Aaron the anointed high priest comes the infamous golden calf, “I threw the gold in the fire and out comes this golden calf Moses! Honest!” What a feeble argument. Moses the model intercessor saves the people’s lives by pleading for them and even offering his own life. Out of this stupendous failure on the part of Israel rises the Levitical priesthood. Which brings me to the brief opening to the book of Leviticus – the priests handbook.
The first three chapters contain only half of the material dedicated to sacrifice in the book of Leviticus, but it also marks the point at which most people “tune out”. Moving from the glory of Exodus to the gory details of Leviticus however serves to underscore an important point. The way to God is through sacrifice.
Psalms 20-28 form an excellent worship backdrop and bring closure to the day’s reading. From a prayer for the king (see 1 Timothy 2:1-2) to the suffering servant, to trouble, triumph and meditation and hope in the glory of the Almighty, the worship of God is embedded in the daily life of his people through the Psalms which as always depict the highs and lows of life amid the reality of God’s sovereign glory.
Now then, my favorite quote today from the ESVLB is at the header to Psalm 23.
When we carry over the meanings of these provisions to the human level, we luxuriate in the comprehensiveness of God’s provision for those who follow him.