January 27, 2015

Exodus 18-20 - Jethro, priest of Midian and father-in-law to Moses, heard the report of all that God had done for Moses and Israel his people, the news that God had delivered Israel from Egypt.  Jethro had taken in Zipporah, Moses’ wife who had been sent back home and her two sons...Jethro brought Moses his sons and wife there in the wilderness where he was camped at the mountain of God...

Moses went out to welcome his father-in-law.  He bowed to him and kissed him.  Each asked how things had been with him....Jethro was delighted in all the good that God had done for Israel in delivering them from Egyptian oppression.  Jethro said, “Blessed be God who has delivered you from the power of Egypt and Pharaoh...Now I know that God is greater than all other gods because he’s done this to all those who treated Israel arrogantly.”  

The next day Moses took his place to judge the people.  People standing before him all day long, from morning to night.  When Jethro saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What’s going on here?  Why are you doing all this, and all by yourself, letting everybody line up before you from morning to night?...This is no way to go about it.  You’ll burn out, and the people right along with you.  This is way too much for you--you can’t do this alone.  

Now listen to me.  Let me tell you how to do this so that God will be in this with you.  Be there for the people before God, but let the matters of concern be presented to God.  Your job is to teach them the rules and instructions, to show them how to live, what to do.  And then you need to keep a sharp eye out for competent men--men who fear God, men of integrity, men of incorruptible --and appoint them as leaders over groups organized by the thousand, by the hundred, by fifty and by ten.  They will be responsible for the everyday work of judging among the people.  They’ll bring the hard cases to you, but in the routine cases they’ll be the judges...Moses listened to the counsel of Jethro and did everything he said...Then Moses said good-bye to his father-in-law who went home to his own country.

Three months after leaving Egypt the Israelites entered the Wilderness of Sin...As Moses went up to meet God, God called down to him from the mountain...”if you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure.  The whole earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.  This is what I want you to tell the People of Israel.”  

Moses came back and called the elders of Israel together and set before them all these words which God had commanded him.  The people were unanimous in their response:  Everything God says, we will do.”  Moses took the people’s answer back to God.  

God said to Moses, “ Go to the people.  For the next two days get these people ready to meet the holy God...so at the third day they’ll be fully prepared, because on the third day God will come down on Mt. Sinai and make his presence known to all the people...A long blast from the horn will signal that it’s safe to climb the mountain.”  

Moses went down the mountain to the people and prepare them for the holy meeting...On the third day at daybreak, there were loud claps of thunder, flashes of lightning, a thick cloud  covering the mountain and an ear-piercing trumpet  blast.  Everyone in camp shuddered in fear...God called Moses up to the peak and Moses called up.  God said to Moses, “Go down...and then bring Aaron back up with you.  

So Moses went down to the people.  He said to them: God spoke all these words:  the 10 commandments...All the people, experiencing the thunder and lightning the trumpet blast and the smoking mountain were afraid...Moses spoke to the people, “don’t be afraid.  God has come to test you and instill a deep and reverent awe within you so that you won’t sin.”...God then said to Moses, “Every place where I cause my name to be honored in your worship, I’ll be there myself and bless you.”


John 17 - Jesus said these things.  Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said: “Father, it’s time. Display the bright splendor of your Son so the Son in turn may show your bright splendor...And now, Father, glorify me with your splendor.  The very splendor I had in your presence before there was a world.  I spelled out your character in detail to the men and women you gave me....And they have now done what you said, they know now, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that everything you gave me is firsthand from you.  

For the message you gave me, I gave them; and they took it, and were convinced that I came from you.  They believe that you sent me.  I pray for them...While I return to you, Holy Father, guard them as they pursue this life that you conferred as a gift through me, so they can be one heart and mind as we are one heart and mind ... 

Now I am returning to you...I’m not asking that you take them out of the world but that you guard them from the Evil One...make them holy, consecrated -with the truth; Your word is the consecrating truth.  In the same way you gave me a mission in the world, I give them a mission in the world...

I’m praying not only for them but also for those who will believe in me because of them and their witness about me.  The goal is for all of them to become one heart and mind.  Just as you, Father, are in me and I in you, so they might be one heart and mind with us....The same glory you gave to me, I gave to them so they’ll be as unified and together as we are--I in them and you in me.  Then they’ll be mature in this oneness, and give the godless world evidence that you’ve sent me and loved them in the same way you’ve loved me... 

Righteous Father, the world has never known you, but I have known you, and these disciples know that you sent me on this mission.  I have made your very being known to them--who you are and what you do--and continue to make it known, so that your love for me might be in them, exactly as I am in them.