Some quick observations this evening. I am weary in my soul, snippy with my tongue, hypocritical with my daughter, and testy with my husband. The only one in this house who likes me right now is the dog. She’s curled up in my lap here in front of the fire while my daughter takes her shower and my husband is in bed early. He doesn’t like it when my daughter and I argue, and it seems that the older she gets, the more we rub each other raw. I am so frustrated with her tone of voice and sarcasm I could spit nails.
(Not really sure what that means, but my mom used to say it! Probably she started it when I was eleven! I’m paying for my raising, that’s for sure!)
Now that we have full disclosure of what’s going on in my head, be forewarned that my comments on today’s reading might be colored with my mood!
God came down in a blast of fire and smoke and gave Moses the 10 Commandments. The sound of a ram’s horn sounded several times. People in the crowd were forbidden to approach the mountain…but who would have wanted to in the first place? There was fire. There was smoke. The ground trembled and quaked. Sounds like Mt. Sinai was a volcano! (Again, my realistic side tries to find natural backdrops for supernatural events.) Why was Moses not affected by the smoke? Ugh. I can’t stand a camp fire. The smoke gets to me (I’m thankful for gas log fireplaces.) I remember when I was pregnant with my daughter and lived in Central Texas, smoke from fires in Mexico blanketed the region in the middle of the hot summer. I could not bear to go outside. Maybe it has something to do with my recently diagnosed asthma! At any rate, Moses went and spoke to the Lord, and the Lord answered him in such a way that the whole camp heard him.
Did they hear his voice? Or did they hear the rumbling of the mountain/volcano?
God gave Moses some other rules to live by. I have to admit that I am completely stumped by this one:
“When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not satisfy her owner, he must allow her to be bought back again.”
The word for “slave” here is ‘amah, which can mean anything from a maid-servant to a slave to a concubine.
I just have to shake my head in confusion over this rule and chalk it up to those cultural differences. Women have so little rights in many Middle Eastern cultures even today. It’s difficult to imagine, though, a father selling his daughter to be a concubine. Lot offered up his virgin daughters to the seedy street people. I guess it was an accepted practice. But why was that okay to God? Why was it okay for a man to have more than one wife? Why didn’t God just tell them NOT to sell their daughters as slaves? Isn’t slavery a bad thing?
This is one of those issues I will have to just give up the Lord and ask for wisdom and insight. Perhaps if I were more knowledgeable about the culture of the day, I would understand rules like that one a little better.
What about this one, though?
“Anyone who dishonors father or mother must be put to death.”
Whoa! The politically correct anti-spanking crowd surely cringes at those words! I wonder if that punishment ever had to be meted out in the course of history or if the mere threat of it held the behavior of the people in check. The word for “dishonor” above is qalal, and it means to curse, dishonor, or treat with contempt.
These passages also contain the often quoted “eye for an eye” provisions of Mosaic law. It’s good to read them in context. God didn’t say that a man who puts out another man’s eye must lose his own eye. Instead, it says that the compensation must match the injury. If a man hits his slave (not a good thing!) and puts out the slave’s eye, he must let the slave go free. But if he intentionally kills another human, he must be killed. There are many “just” rulings in these passages. It’s interesting that these come right after Moses’ father-in-law, Jethro, advises him to delegate some of his authority and appoint trustworthy men to act as judges in disputes. God’s timing in delivering these rules was right on target for the Israelites. A huge swath of people wandering in the desert needed boundaries to keep them from ending up killing each other, and Moses was granted even more authority than he had had before when God brought him up the mountain in the sight of all the people.
Tonight my dear husband settled the dispute between my daughter and me by taking himself out of the room. (Our dog used to do that! He’d leave the room if an argument was in progress!) I realized at that moment just how childish I had been in that moment and how much I need the Lord to search me and show me my transgressions. They are many.
Thank you, Lord, for Jesus!!
I’ll close with the words of the old hymn, one of my grandma’s favorites: I Need Thee Every Hour, by Annie S. Hawks:
- I need Thee every hour, most gracious Lord;
No tender voice like Thine can peace afford.
I need Thee, oh, I need Thee;
Every hour I need Thee;
Oh, bless me now, my Savior,
I come to Thee.
- I need Thee every hour, stay Thou nearby;
Temptations lose their pow’r when Thou art nigh.
- I need Thee every hour, in joy or pain;
Come quickly and abide, or life is vain.
- I need Thee every hour; teach me Thy will;
And Thy rich promises in me fulfill.
- I need Thee every hour, most Holy One;
Oh, make me Thine indeed, Thou blessed Son.