29 January 2010

Jan 29

Reference links:

Old Testament

Plagues, plagues, nothing but plagues. At least there are lots of good pictures to show the vast amounts of human suffering that a supposedly loving God was willing to subject the Egyptian people to (and certainly some of them were innocent of evil against the Hebrews).

First, frogs. I am sure a plague of frogs would cause a lot of damage, but I cannot help but giggle at the description.
I will send a plague of frogs across your entire land. The Nile River will swarm with frogs. They will come up out of the river and into your palace, even into your bedroom and onto your bed! They will enter the houses of your officials and your people. They will even jump into your ovens and your kneading bowls. Frogs will jump on you, your people, and all your officials.
After frogs, God plagues Egypt with gnats. All of the dust in the land was turned to gnats. At this point, in addition to the very serious problem of gnats, the Egyptians are probably experiencing significant structural stability problems; a sizable chunk of the ground in a desert country could be considered dust. The plague of gnats also has the distinction of being the first plague Pharaoh's magicians cannot duplicate. This leads them to say that this event must be from God. The magicians have a pretty high opinion of their skills if they figure that anything they cannot do must be God's doing.

Next, flies. To show his power, this time God spares the region of Goshen where the Hebrews live. Yes, this time. Apparently the first few plagues afflicted the people of Israel as well as the people of Egypt. The people of Israel probably hated Moses even more after that.

After that, God sends a deadly plague against all of the Egyptian's livestock and killed it all. Next God sends a plague of festering boils. But Pharaoh still will not relent. However, this time we learn a bit more about the nature of Pharaoh's intransigence:
But the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and just as the Lord had predicted to Moses, Pharaoh refused to listen.
Why would the Lord do that?
By now I [the Lord] could have lifted my hand and struck you and your people with a plague to wipe you off the face of the earth. But I have spared you for a purpose -- to show you my power and to spread my fame throughout the earth.
The plagues are a power trip. He could have just done something to enable the Hebrews to leave Egypt (something equally violent, I am sure, but less sadistically drawn out). Instead, he wants his reputation as a cruel and powerful being to spread throughout the earth. I guess it has, but somehow people have been fooled into thinking that his violent murderous ways are "good" and "love".

Oh yeah, and God sent a bunch of hail which left all of Egypt in ruins and killed everything and everyone that was out in it. But Pharaoh still refused to change his mind.

Another thing I noticed: each time Moses asks Pharaoh to let them go, he asks the Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go temporarily so that they can worship God in the wilderness. However, we know from Moses' earlier conversation with God in the burning bush that really the goal is to get the Hebrew people back into the land of Canaan. Rather deceptive of Moses, in my opinion.

New Testament

Jesus blesses children. The Kingdom of Heaven belongs to people who are like children. It's hard for rich people to get into heaven because they do not want to give up their stuff. The twelve disciples will judge the twelve tribes of Israel in heaven.

Psalms and Proverbs

Nothing particularly noteworthy in the Psalms today. Proverbs teaches us not to guarantee a friend or stranger's debt. If you find your self in such a situation,
Now swallow your pride;
go and beg to have your name erased.

Don't put it off; do it now!
Don't rest until you do.

Save yourself like a gazelle escaping from a hunter,
like a bird fleeing from a net.
Good advice. Money lending between friends can be a huge source of problems. Better to just give what you can in ways that you do not expect to have repaid (whether that be a gift of money or other forms of help).