In Mel Brooksâ€™ 1981 film History of the World-Part 1, Moses strides down the mountain with three stone tablets.
â€œGod gave us fifteenâ€”â€
Oops! Moses (played of course by Brooks) dropped one. It shattered. Hmmm?
â€œGod gives us ten commandments.â€
Charlton Heston, surely closer to Mosesâ€™ appearance than Mel Brooks, witnessed the commandments being created, word-by-word, phrase-by-phrase. A holy fire blazed and cut each rock-bound letter. How many people are more familiar with Cecille B. DeMilleâ€™s 1956 The Ten Commandments than the Bibleâ€™s top ten list? I mean, isnâ€™t DeMilleâ€™s film really a documentary?
Long ago, at my regional United Methodist annual conference, with a thousand clergy and laity in a tense debate over the values of faith, a young pastor stood and declared that all churches should have the Ten Commandments visibly posted in the sanctuary. Every parishioner, every Sunday, would be reminded of Godâ€™s laws.
With loudspeakers amplifying his voice, he declared, â€œIt should be exactly as the Bible said!â€ Continue reading →
Numbers 21:4-9 – The 4th Sunday of Lent â€“ for Sunday, March 15, 2015
â€œThe people became impatient on the road. The people spoke against God and Moses . . .â€ (Numbers 21:4-5)
The people spoke against God and Moses . . .
I didnâ€™t have to read too many verses (though I did!) to seek a Lent-appropriate verb. This scene from Numbers was familiar, with the Children of Israelâ€”free from the injustices of Egyptian slavery and sojourners in the wildernessâ€”complaining to Moses. Like todayâ€™s kids (and adults) on a road trip with a destination that never seems to appear around the next curve or over the next hill, their protests included meals. The foodâ€™s bad! Not enough. Not the right kind. Not what you promised. Not what weâ€™re used to eating.
It wasnâ€™t only their stomachs that were growling!
I donâ€™t have to read about the snakes God sent. I donâ€™t have to read about how those wandering whiners were eventually contriteâ€”after a multitude of nasty snakebitesâ€”and then spoke again to Moses. They would be good. They could be better.
Exodus 33:12-23 – The 19th Sunday of Ordinary Time â€“ for Sunday, October 19, 2014
â€œMoses said, â€˜Please show me your glorious presence.â€™â€ (Exodus 33:18)
Near the end of the conversation with God at the burning bush, Moses moped about not being eloquent. â€œI am slow of speech and slow of tongue,â€ claimed the guy (in Exodus 4:10) whoâ€™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 riverâ€™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 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 Godâ€™s presence. Continue reading →