This passage about Moses almost getting killed on his way to Egypt is one of the more confusing passages in the whole bible.  God has finally convinced Moses to go free His people in Egypt.  After 5 different excuses, God is angry with Moses and so gives him two special signs to perform.  But it isn’t this that causes God’s wrath to fall on Moses.  It isn’t his previous murder of an Egyptian slavemaster, nor his marrying a Midianite.  So what is it that causes God to come against him in anger?

Moses has just been called to be the leader of God’s people.  He will be the voice of God to them and will give them His law.  But Moses hasn’t followed the law they already have in a pretty significant way.  He has neglected to circumcise his youngest son and in so doing, he has ignored God’s strictest law to date.  When God called Abraham to be the father of His people and the bearer of God’s great Covenant, the sign of that Covenant was circumcision.  In fact, any male who was not circumcised was to be “cut off” (yup, God likes puns as much as I do) from His people.

It is interesting that it is Moses’ foreign wife who saves the day, circumcising his son with a flint knife.  This requirement of her husband’s God disgusted her, so her reaction is understandably harsh.  She throws the skin at Moses’ feet and declares him a “bridegroom of blood”.  But even she realized that if Moses is to be the leader of his people and bringer of the law, he’d better be keeping it himself.  This is a good word for all of us in church leadership today, and yet another reason to thank God for His amazing grace when we fail.

This passage about Moses almost getting killed on his way to Egypt is one of the more confusing passages in the whole bible.  God has finally convinced Moses to go free His people in Egypt.  After 5 different excuses, God is angry with Moses and so gives him two special signs to perform.  But it isn’t this that causes God’s wrath to fall on Moses.  It isn’t his previous murder of an Egyptian slavemaster, nor his marrying a Midianite.  So what is it that causes God to come against him in anger?

Moses has just been called to be the leader of God’s people.  He will be the voice of God to them and will give them His law.  But Moses hasn’t followed the law they already have in a pretty significant way.  He has neglected to circumcise his youngest son and in so doing, he has ignored God’s strictest law to date.  When God called Abraham to be the father of His people and the bearer of God’s great Covenant, the sign of that Covenant was circumcision.  In fact, any male who was not circumcised was to be “cut off” (yup, God likes puns as much as I do) from His people.

It is interesting that it is Moses’ foreign wife who saves the day, circumcising his son with a flint knife.  This requirement of her husband’s God disgusted her, so her reaction is understandably harsh.  She throws the skin at Moses’ feet and declares him a “bridegroom of blood”.  But even she realized that if Moses is to be the leader of his people and bringer of the law, he’d better be keeping it himself.  This is a good word for all of us in church leadership today, and yet another reason to thank God for His amazing grace when we fail.

Death is the last weapon of the tyrant.  In both of today’s readings, we see that played out.  For Pharaoh, the Hebrews were growing to populous.  He feared a revolt, and so turned to his last weapon – he drowned every Hebrew baby boy in an attempt to curb the population.  But God wove even this into His plan and raised Moses in Pharaoh’s own house, Moses who would be the instrument of Pharaoh’s doom.

For Herod, the Hebrews revered John the Baptist.  He feared a revolt, and so John lived.  But his sister-in-law, whom he was having an affair with, turned to this last weapon for him – she called for John’s head on a platter.

Death has become a hallmark of our culture, from TV to Movies, from video games to news reports.  Superheroes win battles by killing the bad guy, and since the year 2000, movie body counts have skyrocketed.  Death is one of our greatest fears, and so we are fascinated by it.

For followers of Jesus, though, death is not the end.  It’s finality, which has made it such a powerful weapon for tyrants, has been removed.  Paul puts it much more succinctly in 1 Cor. 15:55 (which quotes Hosea 13:14), “Death, where is your victory?  Death, where is your sting?”  Jesus has, by defeating death itself and granting us eternal life, disarmed any tyrant we may face.  That alone should give us confidence to face down the oppressors of our world, for there is nothing they can do to us anymore.

Death is the last weapon of the tyrant.  In both of today’s readings, we see that played out.  For Pharaoh, the Hebrews were growing to populous.  He feared a revolt, and so turned to his last weapon – he drowned every Hebrew baby boy in an attempt to curb the population.  But God wove even this into His plan and raised Moses in Pharaoh’s own house, Moses who would be the instrument of Pharaoh’s doom.

For Herod, the Hebrews revered John the Baptist.  He feared a revolt, and so John lived.  But his sister-in-law, whom he was having an affair with, turned to this last weapon for him – she called for John’s head on a platter.

Death has become a hallmark of our culture, from TV to Movies, from video games to news reports.  Superheroes win battles by killing the bad guy, and since the year 2000, movie body counts have skyrocketed.  Death is one of our greatest fears, and so we are fascinated by it.

For followers of Jesus, though, death is not the end.  It’s finality, which has made it such a powerful weapon for tyrants, has been removed.  Paul puts it much more succinctly in 1 Cor. 15:55 (which quotes Hosea 13:14), “Death, where is your victory?  Death, where is your sting?”  Jesus has, by defeating death itself and granting us eternal life, disarmed any tyrant we may face.  That alone should give us confidence to face down the oppressors of our world, for there is nothing they can do to us anymore.

The Mustard Seed.  The Yeast.  We love these parables because they comfort us.  “Just a little bit of Godliness spreads.  Goodness is contagious.  Your little act of kindness has larger consequences.”  So we tell and retell them, we study them, we refer to them, and we ponder them in our hearts.

The Hidden Treasure.  The Pearl.  Not quite as comforting, but still we find them intriguing.  “Do whatever it takes to attain the Kingdom of Heaven.  Give up all you have because the Kingdom is worth so much more.”  These are less beloved because they require something of us, namely sacrifice, something we don’t do very well.  Still, we ponder them.

The field.  The net.  These are less known because they are less told because they are scary.  “Good and bad live together, and in the end they will be separated.  The good go to God, the evil are trashed, or burned up.”  Try to tell that one to a neighbor.  These are used usually only in a negative sense since the most important part (that the angels do the sorting, not us) is usually forgotten.

Yet all three sets are encouragements to Godly living.  Whether promise, challenge, or warning, these parables all point us in the same direction.  And since different people need different motivators, and some of us need different motivators at different times, we need to read all six together rather than just choosing the ones we like.  But then, isn’t that the way we should read all of scripture?

The Mustard Seed.  The Yeast.  We love these parables because they comfort us.  “Just a little bit of Godliness spreads.  Goodness is contagious.  Your little act of kindness has larger consequences.”  So we tell and retell them, we study them, we refer to them, and we ponder them in our hearts.

The Hidden Treasure.  The Pearl.  Not quite as comforting, but still we find them intriguing.  “Do whatever it takes to attain the Kingdom of Heaven.  Give up all you have because the Kingdom is worth so much more.”  These are less beloved because they require something of us, namely sacrifice, something we don’t do very well.  Still, we ponder them.

The field.  The net.  These are less known because they are less told because they are scary.  “Good and bad live together, and in the end they will be separated.  The good go to God, the evil are trashed, or burned up.”  Try to tell that one to a neighbor.  These are used usually only in a negative sense since the most important part (that the angels do the sorting, not us) is usually forgotten.

Yet all three sets are encouragements to Godly living.  Whether promise, challenge, or warning, these parables all point us in the same direction.  And since different people need different motivators, and some of us need different motivators at different times, we need to read all six together rather than just choosing the ones we like.  But then, isn’t that the way we should read all of scripture?

On Sunday, Jan. 28, we welcome Gary and Mary Lou Sander to the pulpit to share God’s word and their mission work in Colombia.  The Sanders led our mission team that served in Medellin this last summer.  After the service, all are welcomed to join us for a Baked Potato Bar lunch.  Everything is provided, but as our first CHIC fundraiser, we ask that you come prepared to donate the cost of your meals to our CHIC students.  Finally, we gather upstairs again for our Annual Meeting.  We’ll vote on leaders and a budget for the coming year, hear about suggestions for a new leadership model for our church, and form a leadership team for our Jill’s House Ministry.  Plan for a long morning and join us!

On Sunday, Jan. 28, we welcome Gary and Mary Lou Sander to the pulpit to share God’s word and their mission work in Colombia.  The Sanders led our mission team that served in Medellin this last summer.  After the service, all are welcomed to join us for a Baked Potato Bar lunch.  Everything is provided, but as our first CHIC fundraiser, we ask that you come prepared to donate the cost of your meals to our CHIC students.  Finally, we gather upstairs again for our Annual Meeting.  We’ll vote on leaders and a budget for the coming year, hear about suggestions for a new leadership model for our church, and form a leadership team for our Jill’s House Ministry.  Plan for a long morning and join us!