Tuesday, January 31, 2017

January 31

Exodus 12:14-13:16; Matthew 20:29-21:22; Psalm 25:16-22; Proverbs 6:12-15 

You know how you repeat the things that are important?  Like celebrating birthdays, or marking an anniversary by re-reading your vows, or establishing Christmas traditions?  I often think that God does the same things in Scripture - the really significant things show up again and again.

This repetition is in today's Old Testament reading.  In Exodus 12:14-20, we see God giving the command for Passover (or the Feast of Unleavened Bread), outlining how it should be celebrated, and when.  (God gives the rationale for the Feast in the previous verses of ch. 12.) Then Moses speaks to the people in 12:21-27, passing on God's guidelines and setting a ceremony up for the perpetuation of the celebration.  I love vs. 26 and 27 - "And when your children ask you, 'What does this ceremony mean to you?' then tell them..."

Notice that there's an expectation: that it's when, not if the children ask.  Children love to ask and ask and ask, often the same questions over and over.  They are curious and want to understand, and they want to be part of whatever's going on.  Knowing why and how the celebration will go brings the children into the group "in the know."  Now they belong.  

Notice, too, that it's a question these children ask of the parent(s), to know more of why this feast is part of their life - so personal, so specific.  These children want to hear what it means to the most important person(s) in their lives.  It's not just what does it mean, but "what does it mean to you, Daddy and Mommy?"

Exodus 12:43-49 spells out more rules for the Passover, and then, in chapter 13, Moses gives a fuller explanation of the reasoning behind the Passover, including another role-play moment for when the children ask their questions (see 13:14-15).

The purpose of all this repetition, all this restating, all this explanation is found at the end of our first reading: "It will be like a sign on your hand and a symbol on your forehead that the Lord brought [you] out of Egypt with his mighty hand" (Ex. 13:16).  God is marking his people.  He is redeeming them, and he sets up a way for this wayward group (just watch to see how many times they want to return to Egypt in the coming days and weeks!) to remember his goodness and his rescue.  And God wants this story to be told and retold throughout Israel's history.  Every year, a new child will ask the question "Why?" and every year, the adults will need to remember and rejoice anew.  God designed a constant cycle of questions and answers to keep his people near to him.

I'm reminded of the post I wrote on January 15 (here) about the signs and symbols that mark the faith journeys of individuals and nations in Scripture.  We are people, prone to forget God's goodness and provision, prone to doubt that he'll show up for us once again.  This truth in my own life is one of the reasons I love the Old Testament so much - it is a constant reminder to me of how God has been faithful and how he continues to love even amidst grumbling and rejection.

Lord, let me see today your constant presence and goodness.  How can I weave reminders of these truths into my on-going life?  Teach me to remember.  "Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it.  Prone to leave the God I love.  Here's my heart, o, take and seal it; seal it for thy courts above."  Amen.

- Sarah Marsh

How did God speak to you in Scripture today? Click here to share your reflections on God's word or read past posts. We'd love to hear from you. 

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for this, Sarah. I was really struck by how when the child asks, the parent benefits just as much in the retelling of God's goodness. Good stuff!