Exodus 8 and 9 tell of the Egyptian plagues. The Pharaoh is refusing to let the Israelites go. Moses is commanded by God to tell the Pharaoh that Egypt will be afflicted. Frogs, gnats, flies, the death of the livestock, festering boils and finally devastating hail storms. At first, the magicians try to show that they have the same powers, but they fail. Even after the Pharaoh has let Moses take his people (who have not been plagued) out into the wilderness to pray, he still refuses to let them leave Egypt.
Matthew 19:14 is one of the better known of Jesus’ commandments: “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.”
He’s said this before, hasn’t he? We need to be like children. They take things at face value and are without the sarcasm and irony which afflicts modern adults. It’s an Old Testament plague, isn’t it? Have you given someone a genuine compliment lately? Have you told someone how you feel?
“Hi! How are you?” [Please don’t ask. I’m having a bad day but I want to keep it to myself.]
“Oh, fine, how are you?” [My pain is a bit worse today. But I don’t want to burden you. In any case, I’m too busy. I wish you’d never asked.]
“Great, thanks. Bye!” [I almost told them how I am really feeling. Shame I didn’t have more time.]
[Wish I’d said…]
[Wish I’d said…]
Today’s Matthew reading finishes with some difficult words. Jesus tells a rich man that he must give up everything he owns to find treasure in heaven. The disciples are told that they will rule over the twelve tribes of Israel (a rare direct connection with the earlier reading).
He finishes with these words (19:30) “…The greatest now will be the least [when the world is made new]… The least important will be the greatest…”
So don’t be complacent of assuring your place in heaven. It’s something we need to keep working at.
Psalm 24 is one of my favourites. It’s a hymn, but I can’t remember which one at the moment. Perhaps you could let me know? “The Earth is the Lord’s and everything in it.” Who may climb up to heaven? Only the pure.
Proverbs 6 is a bit of a strange one after the readings above. The theme seemed to be clear: be like a child, pure of heart. But then this reading is instructing us in financial advice. Don’t cover a friend’s debt. You will be caught by what you have said. Erase your name from the deed, and don’t rest until you have done it.
Sound advice, but what is it doing here? Don’t tell me: the Bible isn’t just the word of God on matters concerning the spirit. It’s a guide book for sound living too.