Old Testament: Exodus (17:1-7)
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink. The people quarreled with Moses, and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses said to them, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you test the Lord?” But the people thirsted there for water; and the people complained against Moses and said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and livestock with thirst?” So Moses cried out to the Lord, “What shall I do with this people? They are almost ready to stone me.” The Lord said to Moses, “Go on ahead of the people, and take some of the elders of Israel with you; take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go. I will be standing there in front of you on the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so that the people may drink.” Moses did so, in the sight of the elders of Israel. He called the place Massah and Meribah, because the Israelites quarreled and tested the Lord, saying, “Is the Lord among us or not?”
- NOTE: The entire session was focused on Exodus this morning including additional chapters.
- Rephidim – last place behind Horab. “R” = to support (next chapter explained)
- Verses similar to those found in Numbers 20.
- Quarrel with Moses but the testing of Yahweh. (Similar to the Devil testing Jesus.)
- It may imply the mountain of God or the source of water and Torah.
- Massah and Meribah = Quarrel and Test
- Joshua is first mentioned here as a great military leader.
- The staff of Moses was almost like a magical wand.
- Amelak became a traditional enemy of Israel.
- Jethro was Moses’ father-in-law who was also a Meridian priest.
- It seems they often use a tent in which to meet God.
- The Israelites may have accepted Yahweh from Jethro’s preaching.
- Moses received advice from Jethro on administering God’s will.
- In chapter 19, the Israelites “really” come to Mount Sinai.
- The Jewish law is also woven in to the story.
- The verses reflect on monotheism, which did not yet happen.
- At that time there were still many gods for hundreds of years yet.
- The group remains at Horab for eleven month.
- Moses goes up and down the mountain multiple times.
- The people meet God in the clouds.
- “Too much holiness can be fatal!”
Additional Exodus Readings for TodayExodus 17Water From the Rock1 The whole Israelite community set out from the Desert of Sin, traveling from place to place as the LORD commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.2 So they quarreled with Moses and said, “Give us water to drink.” Moses replied, “Why do you quarrel with me? Why do you put the LORD to the test?”3 But the people were thirsty for water there, and they grumbled against Moses. They said, “Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to make us and our children and livestock die of thirst?”4 Then Moses cried out to the LORD, “What am I to do with these people? They are almost ready to stone me.”5 The LORD answered Moses, “Go out in front of the people. Take with you some of the elders of Israel and take in your hand the staff with which you struck the Nile, and go.6 I will stand there before you by the rock at Horeb. Strike the rock, and water will come out of it for the people to drink.” So Moses did this in the sight of the elders of Israel.7 And he called the place Massah and Meribahbecause the Israelites quarreled and because they tested the LORD saying, “Is the LORD among us or not?”
The Amalekites Defeated8 The Amalekites came and attacked the Israelites at Rephidim.9 Moses said to Joshua, “Choose some of our men and go out to fight the Amalekites. Tomorrow I will stand on top of the hill with the staff of God in my hands.”10 So Joshua fought the Amalekites as Moses had ordered, and Moses, Aaron and Hur went to the top of the hill.11 As long as Moses held up his hands, the Israelites were winning, but whenever he lowered his hands, the Amalekites were winning.12 When Moses’ hands grew tired, they took a stone and put it under him and he sat on it. Aaron and Hur held his hands up—one on one side, one on the other—so that his hands remained steady till sunset.13 So Joshua overcame the Amalekite army with the sword.14 Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this on a scroll as something to be remembered and make sure that Joshua hears it, because I will completely blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.”15 Moses built an altar and called it The LORD is my Banner.16 He said, “Because hands were lifted up against the throne of the LORD, the LORD will be at war against the Amalekites from generation to generation.”Exodus 18Jethro Visits Moses1 Now Jethro, the priest of Midian and father-in-law of Moses, heard of everything God had done for Moses and for his people Israel, and how the LORD had brought Israel out of Egypt.2 After Moses had sent away his wife Zipporah, his father-in-law Jethro received her3 and her two sons. One son was named Gershom, for Moses said, “I have become a foreigner in a foreign land”;4 and the other was named Eliezer, for he said, “My father’s God was my helper; he saved me from the sword of Pharaoh.”5Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, together with Moses’ sons and wife, came to him in the wilderness, where he was camped near the mountain of God.6 Jethro had sent word to him, “I, your father-in-law Jethro, am coming to you with your wife and her two sons.”7 So Moses went out to meet his father-in-law and bowed down and kissed him. They greeted each other and then went into the tent.8 Moses told his father-in-law about everything the LORD had done to Pharaoh and the Egyptians for Israel’s sake and about all the hardships they had met along the way and how the LORD had saved them.9 Jethro was delighted to hear about all the good things the LORD had done for Israel in rescuing them from the hand of the Egyptians.10 He said, “Praise be to the LORD, who rescued you from the hand of the Egyptians and of Pharaoh, and who rescued the people from the hand of the Egyptians.11 Now I know that the LORD is greater than all other gods, for he did this to those who had treated Israel arrogantly.”12 Then Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, brought a burnt offering and other sacrifices to God, and Aaron came with all the elders of Israel to eat a meal with Moses’ father-in-law in the presence of God.13 The next day Moses took his seat to serve as judge for the people, and they stood around him from morning till evening.14When his father-in-law saw all that Moses was doing for the people, he said, “What is this you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit as judge, while all these people stand around you from morning till evening?”15 Moses answered him, “Because the people come to me to seek God’s will.16 Whenever they have a dispute, it is brought to me, and I decide between the parties and inform them of God’s decrees and instructions.”17 Moses’ father-in-law replied, “What you are doing is not good.18 You and these people who come to you will only wear yourselves out. The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.19 Listen now to me and I will give you some advice, and may God be with you. You must be the people’s representative before God and bring their disputes to him.20 Teach them his decrees and instructions, and show them the way they are to live and how they are to behave.21 But select capable men from all the people—men who fear God, trustworthy men who hate dishonest gain—and appoint them as officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.22 Have them serve as judges for the people at all times, but have them bring every difficult case to you; the simple cases they can decide themselves. That will make your load lighter, because they will share it with you.23 If you do this and God so commands, you will be able to stand the strain, and all these people will go home satisfied.”24 Moses listened to his father-in-law and did everything he said.25 He chose capable men from all Israel and made them leaders of the people, officials over thousands, hundreds, fifties and tens.26 They served as judges for the people at all times. The difficult cases they brought to Moses, but the simple ones they decided themselves.27 Then Moses sent his father-in-law on his way, and Jethro returned to his own country.Exodus 19At Mount Sinai1 On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai.2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.3 Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel:4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine,6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the LORD had commanded him to speak.8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the LORD has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the LORD.9 The LORD said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the LORD what the people had said.10 And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people.12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death.13They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”14After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes.15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled.17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain.18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the LORD descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently.19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.20 The LORD descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up21 and the LORD said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the LORD and many of them perish.22 Even the priests, who approach the LORD, must consecrate themselves, or the LORD will break out against them.”23 Moses said to the LORD, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’ ”24 The LORD replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the LORD, or he will break out against them.”25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
The Response: Psalm (78:1-4, 12-16)
1 Hear my teaching, O my people; *
incline your ears to the words of my mouth.
2 I will open my mouth in a parable; *
I will declare the mysteries of ancient times.
3 That which we have heard and known,
and what our forefathers have told us, *
we will not hide from their children.
4 We will recount to generations to come
the praiseworthy deeds and the power of the Lord, *
and the wonderful works he has done.
12 He worked marvels in the sight of their forefathers, *
in the land of Egypt, in the field of Zoan.
13 He split open the sea and let them pass through; *
he made the waters stand up like walls.
14 He led them with a cloud by day, *
and all the night through with a glow of fire.
15 He split the hard rocks in the wilderness *
and gave them drink as from the great deep.
16 He brought streams out of the cliff, *
and the waters gushed out like rivers.
The Epistle: Philippians (2:1-13)
If then there is any encouragement in Christ, any consolation from love, any sharing in the Spirit, any compassion and sympathy, make my joy complete: be of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility regard others as better than yourselves. Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others. Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. And being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death—even death on a cross. Therefore God also highly exalted him and gave him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bend, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Therefore, my beloved, just as you have always obeyed me, not only in my presence, but much more now in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who is at work in you, enabling you both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
The Gospel: Matthew (21:23-32)
When [Jesus] entered the temple, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him as he was teaching, and said, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” Jesus said to them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” And they argued with one another, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet.” So they answered Jesus, “We do not know.” And he said to them, “Neither will I tell you by what authority I am doing these things. What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ He answered, ‘I will not’; but later he changed his mind and went. The father went to the second and said the same; and he answered, ‘I go, sir’; but he did not go. Which of the two did the will of his father?” They said, “The first.” Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are going into the kingdom of God ahead of you. For John came to you in the way of righteousness and you did not believe him, but the tax collectors and the prostitutes believed him; and even after you saw it, you did not change your minds and believe him.”