Who God is When We’ve Forgotten Who He is | Exodus 3.13-15


But Moses said to God, “If I come to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your ancestors has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” He said further, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your ancestors, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you’:

This is my name forever,
and this my title for all generations.

Exodus 3.13-15

Oh this could be for us. The people had been so far from there God, that they may have even the forgotten his name. I feel like this is a similar time to where we are now, with people needing to be told the name of God and reminded who he is and what he does.

God says that this is his name for every generation. Even now? Could this somehow be a model for how Christians today are to live in this world where people have forgotten the name and identity of God? What if we lived as if God is not “The One Who Must be Defended”, “The One Who Judges & Condemns”, “The One Whose Way of Living Must Be Forced Upon Societies”, “The One Who Must Be Pleased”, “The One Who Accepts All”, or even “The One Who Saves Us”.

How would our lives look if we read this Exodus passage, saw this name, title, and covenantal nature and lived embracing this name and identity: The One Who Simply Is, and Is Ours.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Our infinitely compassionate (and delegating) God | Exodus 3.7-8


Then the Lord said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey….
Exodus 3.7-8

Notice the verbs hear that God uses to describe how he relates to his people. He observes, hears, knows, and comes down. How intimate, tender, and powerful. Also, it’s a little funny that he says that he has come down to save if his people right as he’s commissioning Moses to do it for him.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Proof that God’s Right? When He Is. | Exodus 3.11-12


But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” He said, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.”
Exodus 3.11-12

Haha. God pretty much says, “this will be the sign that I am right. When everything I’m saying ends up happening”. And so Moses’ assurance in the moment is a promise for the future.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

History, Theology, & Wrestling with God | Genesis 32.24-32


Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.
Genesis 32:24-32

Some Historical thoughts: Where the heck did this story come from?  It’s certainly looks like a later insertion into the story (it has no connection whatsoever to the surrounding verses and is never mentioned again in the OT), but where did it come from? That last verse implies it may be simply to explain the dietary habits of Israelites that arose in some other way. But really, why appeal to such an odd, powerful, and incredibly profound story for such a simple message.

Some Theological thoughts: Holy crap, what a concentrated text of such meaning. Jacob “wrestles” with God, and it’s in the midst of his greatest stress and travail. It testifies to us how our greatest struggles in life are often wrestlings with God himself. We get a new name, we bear life-long scars, and it affects our ancestors for years to come. But we are blessed, and we know God all the more deeply. May we wrestle with God.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

How Christians can read Old Testament horror | Genesis 34.25-31


On the third day, when they were still in pain, two of the sons of Jacob, Simeon and Levi, Dinah’s brothers, took their swords and came against the city unawares, and killed all the males. They killed Hamor and his son Shechem with the sword, and took Dinah out of Shechem’s house, and went away. And the other sons of Jacob came upon the slain, and plundered the city, because their sister had been defiled. They took their flocks and their herds, their donkeys, and whatever was in the city and in the field. All their wealth, all their little ones and their wives, all that was in the houses, they captured and made their prey. Then Jacob said to Simeon and Levi, “You have brought trouble on me by making me odious to the inhabitants of the land, the Canaanites and the Perizzites; my numbers are few, and if they gather themselves against me and attack me, I shall be destroyed, both I and my household.” But they said, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”
Genesis 34:25-31

On one hand, I am glad that the story does not leave itself as a justification of this woman’s rape as long as the individuals were circumcised (as the verses before this segment seemed to suggest–it was a ploy to trick the rapists into being in pain). On the other hand, the other women in the story, the wives of the men killed, are not treated much better (although admittedly, it doesn’t seem like Jacob’s sons rape them like Dinah was raped).

Okay, so what can Christians pull from this story? Mainly, we should be shocked that these people are “the circumcised”. These are the covenantal people. They have the covenant of God carved into their bodies. And yet, they receive the full judgement of God. They did not escape judgement. In fact, they perhaps received a harsher one than most other people in the Old Testament. I don’t think ancient Israelites would have taken circumcision so lightly as to just chuckle at that having been a deceitful turn that the sons of Jacob did. Rather I think they would have taken it very seriously that this people were a circumcised people that God’s people destroyed.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God’s Sovereignty, Moses’ Will | Exodus 3.4


When the Lord saw that he had turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”
Exodus 3.4

What an interesting interplay between God’s Sovereignty and human will. The angel, or an expression of God, calls out to Moses and then waits for his response. The text then makes a point to say that it was only after God saw Moses obey the call and come to him that he begins speaking his promises and showing his identity to Moses. God here shows patience, and waits for Moses.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

When morning came, it was Leah | Genesis 29:25


When morning came, it was Leah! And Jacob said to Laban, “What is this you have done to me? Did I not serve with you for Rachel? Why then have you deceived me?”
Genesis 29.25

I can’t remember who told me, nor can I remember what pastor they were quoting (I think it was Tim Keller), but this verse is a pretty powerful one. We all go into marriage thinking we are marrying a “Rachel”, but in the morning, it is always a “Leah”.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Responding to the Covenant | Genesis 35.9-13


God appeared to Jacob again when he came from Paddan-aram, and he blessed him. God said to him, “Your name is Jacob; no longer shall you be called Jacob, but Israel shall be your name.” So he was called Israel. God said to him, “I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall come from you, and kings shall spring from you. The land that I gave to Abraham and Isaac I will give to you, and I will give the land to your offspring after you.” Then God went up from him at the place where he had spoken with him.
Genesis 35.9-13

Here is God renewing the Abraham covenant with Jacob. Notice that this is not a new covenant, but a passing of the mantle of stewardship on to Jacob. This is the same covenant we are under, except this mantle of stewardship has gone to, and stayed with, Jesus himself.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Wrestling with God: History & Theology | Genesis 32.24-32


Jacob was left alone; and a man wrestled with him until daybreak. When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket; and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him. Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.” But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.” So he said to him, “What is your name?” And he said, “Jacob.” Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel, for you have striven with God and with humans, and have prevailed.” Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.” But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?” And there he blessed him. So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life is preserved.” The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip. Therefore to this day the Israelites do not eat the thigh muscle that is on the hip socket, because he struck Jacob on the hip socket at the thigh muscle.
Genesis 32:24-32

Two strands of thinking here:

Critical-Historical: Where the heck did this story come from?  It’s got to be a later interpolation (it has no connection whatsoever to the surrounding verses and is never mentioned again in the OT), but from what?  That last verse implies that the story came about simply to explain the dietary habits of Israelites. But really, why appeal to such an odd, powerful and incredibly profound story for such a simple message?

Biblical-Theological: Holy crap, what a concentrated text of such meaning. He “wrestles” with God, but it’s in the midst of his greatest stress and travail. It testifies to us how our greatest struggles in life are often wrestlings with God himself. We get a new name, we bear life-long scars, and it affects our ancestors for years to come.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

A quick note on why everything you think about angels might be wrong | Exodus 3.2


There the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of a bush; he looked, and the bush was blazing, yet it was not consumed.
Exodus 3.2

It seems that in other parts of Scripture–both Old and New Testaments–the writers seem to think that this is God himself showing up in the bush. Heck, this account itself makes that claim. So, I’m wonder if angels aren’t so much heavenly beings with their own individual personalities, but rather incarnations (pun intended) of “parts” of God. Maybe certain attributes, perhaps? And so, maybe it is the case that all the stories about angels and heavenly hosts and battles really are more symbolic of general spiritual forces rather than individual beings with their own personalities and such. Maybe they are not “representatives” of God, but are just God in certain forms. Perhaps they are like pre-incarnations? I think we need a new vocabulary to talk about this. Either way, this text clearly says “the angel of the Lord appeared” and then the rest of the story says it’s YHWH himself.

If you want an even more provocative thought. Recall Job, when the “angel Satan” does a bunch of stuff to Job? Well, Job goes on to say that the Lord has done those things to him, and both times he does this, the text clearly says, “Job did not sin with his lips or ascribe wrong to God.” “Satan” does something, Job says God did it. The Bible says Job is right.

Lastly, as a disclaimer on these Marginalia posts. These are my stream of conscious thoughts as I read Scripture. They are not fully-formed doctrinal positions. I think it beneficial not to shield people from even the craziest left-field questions that pop up in one’s mind, but to invite them into the thinking process.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

God’s Camp is Our Camp | Genesis 32:1


Jacob went on his way and the angels of God met him; and when Jacob saw them he said, “This is God’s camp!” So he called that place Mahanaim.
Genesis 32:1

Jacob experiences God here, says that this is God’s camp, and yet the name he gives it means “two camps”. I love this idea. The camps that are God’s are also ours. We have an “ownership” of sorts in God’s presence. His presence “belongs” to his people. It also speaks of devotion. Where He camps, we camp. The good news of the covenant? In Jesus, the whole world is God’s “camp”. Therefore, the whole world is our inheritance.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

The Echoes of History & Abraham| Genesis 24.22-23


When the camels had finished drinking, the man took a gold nose-ring weighing a half shekel, and two bracelets for her arms weighing ten gold shekels, and said, “Tell me whose daughter you are. Is there room in your father’s house for us to spend the night?”
Genesis 24.22-23

On a random historical note, though it is clear that these stories come from older narratives and traditions written down much later, it is interesting that these stories still have features that would have been accurate for the time at which the story took place, millennia before the story was written down. You can see an example here. At the Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology, you can see artifacts from this area and supposed time (where I have seen with my own eyes the type of jewelry that this would be referring to). From doing that, it really looks like things such as these bracelets and gold rings were used for currency a lot more at this particular time in history. Later on, in a story such as this you would have more references to gold, money, cattle, or more established forms of bartering.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.

Moses the Levite? | Exodus 2:1


Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.
Exodus 2.1

These are Moses’ unnamed parents. It’s interesting that the text makes a point to say they are both Levitra, the priesthood branch of the family. Notice that both Aaron and Miriam, Moses is siblings, would have also come from the priesthood side of the family. I wonder if this gives Miriam a certain Priestley role in the community as well? Either way, I never noticed that Moses and Aaron are both Levites. This gives Moses a much more priestly, rather than prophetic, role in what he does, and the function he serves in the story and the community.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.