Tuesday 8th September 2020
Exodus 34: 10 – 28
He said: I hereby make a covenant. Before all your people I will perform marvels, such as have not been performed in all the earth or in any nation; and all the people among whom you live shall see the work of the Lord; for it is an awesome thing that I will do with you.
Observe what I command you today. See, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Take care not to make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you are going, or it will become a snare among you. You shall tear down their altars, break their pillars, and cut down their sacred poles (for you shall worship no other god, because the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God). You shall not make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, for when they prostitute themselves to their gods and sacrifice to their gods, someone among them will invite you, and you will eat of the sacrifice. And you will take wives from among their daughters for your sons, and their daughters who prostitute themselves to their gods will make your sons also prostitute themselves to their gods.
You shall not make cast idols.
You shall keep the festival of unleavened bread. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, as I commanded you, at the time appointed in the month of Abib; for in the month of Abib you came out from Egypt.
All that first opens the womb is mine, all your male livestock, the firstborn of cow and sheep. The firstborn of a donkey you shall redeem with a lamb, or if you will not redeem it you shall break its neck. All the firstborn of your sons you shall redeem.
No one shall appear before me empty-handed.
For six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even in ploughing time and in harvest time you shall rest. You shall observe the festival of weeks, the first fruits of wheat harvest, and the festival of ingathering at the turn of the year. Three times in the year all your males shall appear before the Lord God, the God of Israel. For I will cast out nations before you, and enlarge your borders; no one shall covet your land when you go up to appear before the Lord your God three times in the year.
You shall not offer the blood of my sacrifice with leaven, and the sacrifice of the festival of the passover shall not be left until the morning.
The best of the first fruits of your ground you shall bring to the house of the Lord your God.
You shall not boil a kid in its mother’s milk.
The Lord said to Moses: Write these words; in accordance with these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel. He was there with the Lord for forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.
The God who had made Himself known to Abraham delivered His people from bondage in Egypt, sustained them through the wilderness years and guided them to the land He had promised their forebears. The covenant theme binds together promises made and the fulfilment of those promises in the life and death of Jesus Christ. In so doing Exodus becomes the catalyst upon which Biblical history is assured and fundamental truth is based. At the heart of the Exodus narrative is the focus on the divine name, the nature of His presence and the significance of the sacrificial Passover lamb.
September, of course, for the Methodist Church marks the beginning of a new year; a time when new ministers and church treasurers take up their appointments and when the regular cycle of committee meetings at church, circuit and district level begins again, the occasion very often being celebrated on the first Sunday with the annual Covenant Service, in memory of the first covenant with God.
September, for us too, heralds a new beginning in our thoughts and plans for the future. One of the most important things for any believer is to be able to discern where God is leading and, having discerned, to respond and follow.
When someone asked the British photographer and pioneering director William Friese-Green, what was the most creative aspect of making films, he answered, “The frame”. Not the fabulous locations, the scripts or working with great actors – but the frame. When we are surrounded by so many opportunities and able to see so much potential for what lies ahead, it is vital that we discern where our own path lies. Discerning, and accepting, what we believe we are called to do gives us clarity and freedom and allows us to focus our energies. We all need to listen for that “still, small voice.” That goes for us all, you and me.
Do not give up…When you first begin, you find only darkness and as if it were a cloud of unknowing. You don’t know what this means except that in your will you feel a simple, steadfast intention reaching out towards God…reconcile yourself to wait in this darkness as long as necessary, but still go on longing after him who you love. (The Cloud of Unknowing – 14th. Century)