Reading #1 – Exodus 18
Reading #2 – Psalms 50
Reading #3 – Lamentations 5
Reading #4 – Hosea 9
Reading #5 – 1 Corinthians 7
Exodus 18 – Jethro, Moses’ Father-In-Law. Moses had sent his wife and children back to Midian before the Exodus most likely because he needed to concentrate on the task at hand (2-4). Jethro was the high priest of Midian so when he heard about all that had happened, he rejoiced because the G_d he served had shown the Israelites and Egyptians who was G_d and who was not (10-12). When Jethro witnessed how Moses was using all of his time to judge between people, he encouraged Moses to recruit known people known for leadership to judge minor issues and only bring the most important or hard to judge issues for Moses’ review (17-23). Upon hearing this, Moses had the choice to either become prideful to his destruction or listen to the instruction and honor G_d and consequently his families and nation (24-26).
Psalms 50 – G_d the Judge of the Righteous and the Wicked. The gifts we are given come in a “rough condition” and are often overlooked. When we misuse our gifts to edify ourselves or fill our selfish needs, we preempt G_d’s direction for our life. We may hide our misdealings by appearing to be “Pius” but G_d sees beneath the exterior to expose our heart (3-6). In life, we offer sacrifices to appease people under the guise of “a sword for the Lord and of Gideon” (Judges 7:20). G_d does not judge these sacrifices, He judges the motivations of the heart. Because all that we possess belongs to the Lord, the only appropriate gift is the “motivation and the condition of our heart”. For this reason, we are not judged for the amount of time spent at work, the hours we spend with a little league or Boy/Girl Scouts, the number of times we served as elders/deacons. What we are judged on is “why we did ___” (17-23).
Lamentations 5 – A Prayer for Mercy. The choices of the nation’s leadership, priests, and subsequently the nation at large brought the nation to where they were (17-18). There was nothing the prophet ask of the Lord that would be suitable except “have mercy on us” (19-23). Asking for forgiveness does not restore the crown nor back time up to the point where we committed the sin. Asking for forgiveness removes the barricade between you and the Lord (Isaiah 59:2) so that healing can begin.
Hosea 9 – Ephraim is Punished. Ephraim was the 2nd son of Joseph but was put ahead of his brother Manassah in the eyes of Jacob (Genesis 48:17-20). For this reason, Ephraim was given the best part of the land in honor of his father Joseph (Joshua 16, Isaiah 28:1). This precious gift was misused and because of it, it was removed from Ephraim and the nation would go back into exile in Assyria (3). When we become so accustomed to a “quality of life”, it is the human tendency to become complacent and find no joy in it and then we frown on it when this happens, destruction is one choice away. G_d’s intention for Ephraim/Israel was for it to be prosperous but the well-laid traps had circumvented that plan. When the nation chose the G_d it would serve, the Lord G_d of the Universe would not fight against them so He let them follow the path they chose. Forgiveness begins with repentance or, “a 180-degree change of heart” (6-11). As long as their sins remained as a barricade between the nation and the G_d called them, every intended plan would result in destruction. The prophets had warned the nation about their sinful actions and what would happen to them. The answer to their prayers for the salvation of the city would be in the framework of their sins or, “the consequents of their actions” (12-17, Ezekiel 14:3-7). It is important to note that not every person in the kingdoms of Israel and Judah was wicked. For this reason, there would be survivors of the destruction that would come back in the exodus from Babylon. When we sin, we impact the lives of those who are connected to us, surround us, and/or interface with and this is the crux of the problem (21-23).
1 Corinthians 7 – Teachings on Marriage. Marriage is a difficult concept because, when two people come together in the sanctity of marriage, interests become divided (1-4, 32-35). Correction in this covenant is especially difficult because we don’t want to offend G_d nor do we want to offend our spouse; yet, if we don’t correct each other, we are saying “I approve” (Numbers 30:3). Because sin is so enticing, Paul’s recommendation is that “if the young man is enticed to sin with the virgin, he should marry her and give no room for sin in his/her life (36). In G_d’s eyes, marriage is not a “just until” but, “through it all” so each partner needs to carefully consider the vows they are saying “I do” to (39-40).