Exodus 17 and the Israelites run into trouble. They are attacked by the army of Amalek. But Moses uses God’s staff and not only is the battle won, but the Amaleks are wiped from memory for ever more!
In Exodus 18 Moses’ father-in-law (Jethro) comes for a visit. I’m a bit confused about this: I thought the Israelites were wondering in he wilderness? Anyway, he came to visit. He saw that the people were complaining to Moses every day and all day. So he suggested that Moses choose some capable leaders to listen to the lesser complains and only he deal with the main ones. Good idea!
In Exodus 19 the Israelites have been told to expect a visitor. The Lord himself is coming to speak to them from Mount Sinai. Moses tells them to wash their clothes and be ready. God has strict instructions about the people not going near the mountain. I’ve got a feeling this will end badly. We know that the people are not good at following God’s instructions.
In Matthew 22, the Pharisees are still trying to trap Jesus. They ask him what is the most important law. (22:37) “Love the Lord your God…” and equally, “… Love your neighbour.”
He then asked them a question: “Whose son is the Messiah?” David’s son of course! But Jesus knows the teachings better than they do: he replies, (22:45) “Since David called the Messiah ‘my Lord’, how can the Messiah be his son?”
They have no answer to that. Jesus has done what so many preachers, TV evangelists and “Bible bashers” love to do. Pick and choose the bits of the Bible that suit. It’s a dangerous game to play. The Bible has been translated and rewritten so many times and by so many people that every now and again, there will be passages that contradict each other. But in this case, Jesus knew what he was doing. The Pharisees only know what they know. They take it at face value and are backed into a corner here. If we are to make any sense of the Bible we cannot take it at face value. You have to dig a bit and think what it actually means.
Matthew 23 continues with this same scene and Jesus, in front of the Pharisees and the crowd lays it on for them. They know the law and insist everyone follows it. They enjoy the trappings that go with being a priest. (23:12) “But those who exalt themselves will be humbled and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”
Psalm 27 continues with a cry for mercy! The writer is asking God to answer his prayers. He knows that when everyone else has gone, God will always be there to hold him and support him.
Proverbs 6 continues with its advice to not (6:29) “… sleep with another man’s wife.”
So there was a bit of a mixed bag of themes here. The Israelites have to follow instructions. Jesus knows the Bible better than the temple teachers. God is merciful and, finally, instructions on how to live a good life. The theme would seem to be: follow what God says but remember to stay humble.