God’s Go-To Guy

Exodus 33:12-23 – The 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, October 19, 2014

“Moses said, ‘Please show me your glorious presence.’” (Exodus 33:18)

There's a new sheriff, er Moses, in town . . . Christian Bale will soon play Moses in the movies.
There’s a new sheriff, er Moses, in town . . . Christian Bale will soon play Moses in the movies.

Near the end of the conversation with God at the burning bush, Moses moped about not being eloquent. “I am slow of speech and slow of tongue,” claimed the guy (in Exodus 4:10) who’d soon lead the Children of Israel to freedom.

Really? (I can’t image Moses/Christian Bale, in the upcoming Ridley Scott film “Gods and Kings” being slow of speech! Charlton Heston’s Moses didn’t have a “slow tongue!”)

Much of Exodus depicted a whining, wondering, and willfull Moses. He cajoles, he vents, and he seethes. The precious child once plucked from a river’s bulrushes becomes the pushy man who persuades THE CREATOR OF THE WHOLE DARN UNIVERSE WHO IS CONTINUING TO CREATE AND ACCOMPLISH A WHOLE LOT MORE WHICH IS FAR BEYOND THE UNDERSTANDING OF MERE MORTALS to reveal the Holy name (which, in Hebrew, was gratefully shortened to Y-H-W-H instead of T-C-O-T-W-D-U-W-I-C-T-C-A-A-A-W-L-M-W-I-F-B-T-U-O-M-M.) Moses alone first received the radical and community-building commandments from God (and then the commandments again after some nasty idol business). Moses continually convinced God that the escaping, fake-deity-making, heartbreaking, and bellyaching Chosen People were worth saving.

Moses talked.

God listened.

God talked.

Moses listened. (Well, most of the time.)

Based on the various accounts of Exodus (including the chatty Exodus 33:12-23 example of the God and Moses dialogs) Y-H-W-H and Mister Moses were the Abbott and Costello (or Key and Peele for you moderns) of the Old Testament.

Moses, forever with one more request, requested in the thirty-third chapter of Exodus that God show God’s presence. Continue reading →

I’ve Broken All Ten

Exodus 20:1-4, 7-9, 12-20 – The 17th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for Sunday, October 5, 2014

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You must have no other gods before me…” (Exodus 20:2-3)

Moses with tablets of the Ten Commandments, painting by Rembrandt, (1659)
Moses with tablets of the Ten Commandments, painting by Rembrandt, (1659)

When teaching classes in churches, I occasionally tested students on the Ten Commandments.

Write ‘em down.

Right now.


No sneaking a peek at the twentieth chapter of Exodus. No furtive glances at your neighbor’s efforts. No searching the Internet. No asking leading questions of me, the guy giving the pop quiz.

The Ten Commandments are easy to remember. There’s only ten, and so you never exceed the need for the readily available opposable thumbs (2) and flexible fingers (8). Furthermore, even the most verbose of the commandments can be crash-dieted to a reasonable handful of words.

The post-quiz review was enlightening . . .

Which one(s) did you forget?

What order did you put them in?

Did you add a “new” commandment? (In my experience, youth and adults often substituted a variation of the golden rule—treat your neighbor as yourself—for one of the traditional Godly edicts in Exodus.

Isn’t #3 all about not using four-letter curses with God’s name at the beginning, middle, or end? (Nope, not at all . . . unless you disagree with me! What do you believe #3 means?) Continue reading →

Belief or Disbelief?

Exodus 17:1-7 – The 16th Sunday of Ordinary Time – for September 28, 2014

“The people argued with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” (Exodus 17:2)

The Children of Israel complained about the lack of available beverages. As usual, they were as petulant as they were parched.

The people argued with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.”

This was the time of the exodus. This was the reality between the memory of slavery in Egypt and the promised freedom in the land of milk and honey.

Forget milk. Forget honey.

Water. Now.

How precious water is . . .
How precious water is . . .

Without water, they’d wither. Moses rightly feared, as the people grumbled, that the last act his fellow desert sojourners had would have strength for would be used to cast stones at him.

Water is more crucial than food. If a body’s fluid isn’t replenished, the kidneys will be compromised; there will be days, at most a week or two, until death. The weak and sick will likely die first. Then the children and elderly will perish. The strong won’t stay strong for long.

As someone who has spent time backpacking, I know the importance of access to water. I’ve tramped extra miles to camp by a creek or pond. H2O weighs about eight pounds per gallon—one of the heaviest items in my pack—but the water filter and bottle would be one of the last things I’d discard in an emergency. Forget the tent. Forget the change of underwear. Forget the dehydrated food (just add water!). I’d abandon much to keep the final drops of life. Continue reading →