A Summary of the Word of God from Exodus 19-33
God called to Moses from Mt. Sinai and said, “Say this to the people: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:4-6, ESV).
So Moses said this to the people, and they said, “We’ll do it!” Then, Moses told God that the people were in. As a result, God brought Moses up Mt. Sinai to reveal to him what it meant for the people to be covenant and kingdom people.
God gave them ten main rules to follow, and eventually dozens others. He said, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, from the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:1, my translation).
1. Don’t have any gods except for me.
2. Don’t make, worship, or serve idols.
3. Don’t utter my name falsely.
4. Remember the Sabbath by keeping it holy.
5. Honor your mom and dad.
6. Don’t murder.
7. Don’t commit adultery.
8. Don’t steal.
9. Don’t give false testimony against your neighbor.
10. Don’t covet your neighbor’s stuff.
God spoke these things to Moses, while the people stood far off yet close enough to hear.
After that God called Moses to the top of the Mountain, where he received the law from God. He took with him, Joshua, his helper, told the elders to wait until he got back, and started up the mountain. He was gone for a total of 40 days and 40 nights on the mountain, where God gave him two tablets of stone with the law written on it.
Meanwhile, the people realized that Moses was gone for a while, so they made an idol out of all their jewelry from Egypt, a cast metal calf. Then, some said, “These are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt” (Exod 32:4, my translation).
God saw that they had done this and became angry. He wanted to destroy them and start from scratch with Moses, but Moses reminded God of the patriarchs to whom he’d made a vow. God listened to him and relented.
Well, when Moses went down and saw for himself what Israel had done, he got angry, too. He broke the tablets God had given him on the ground. Then, he took the calf idol they had made, burned it up with fire, ground it into powder, threw it onto the water, and made the people drink the water. He was angry.
After Moses confronted Aaron about it all, because he was in charge, and had had one night to sleep on it, he told the people that they had sinned a great sin, but that he would try to work it out with God.
God listened to Moses, but said that he would blot out all the names from his book of those who had sinned, and he sent a plague on them.
Yet God remained faithful to his promise to the people. He said that he’d send an angel with them so they could conquer the land, but that he wouldn’t go with them. Moses did not like this new plan, so he asked God, if they could talk.
The Story of Redemption from Exodus 16-18
For the next three months, the people of Israel journeyed from the Red Se to the wilderness of Sinai. Right away, the people started to grumble to Moses. When they made it to the wilderness of Shur, they found no water. Once they finally found water at Marah, they couldn’t drink it because it was bitter. They complained to Moses, and Moses brought the complaint to God. So God showed him a log, which, when Moses threw it into the water, made the water sweet. They ended up finding a better source of water at Elim and camped out there.
Something similar happened in their desert wanderings with food. Two and half months into their journey — when they had apparently run out of food — they came to the wilderness of Sin. All the people cried out to Moses and Aaron, “We wish we would have died in the disasters of Egypt, where at least we had food, because you brought us out here to die of hunger!”
So God told Moses his plan. He said, “I’m going to rain down bread from heaven so they can eat, but I’m going to give them a day’s worth of bread at a time. That will give them an opportunity to build trust by obeying me.” It was like a test that God wanted them to pass.
The test was that God would give them meat in the evening and bread in the morning. He would give everyone just enough for the day, five days a week, and on the sixth day, he would give enough for two days. That way they could have a day of rest every week, where they didn’t have to gather and prepare food. All this so they could build trust with God.
The people named the bread “Manna”, which means “what is it?” because they hadn’t see anything like it. It was like coriander-seed wafer that tasted like honey.
This is how God fed and sustained the people for the next 40 years while they were in the desert, all the way until they entered Canaan.
This bread was so important and symbolic that God asked them to put some of it in a jar to keep forever.
After they left the wilderness of Sin, it happened again: they doubted God. They couldn’t find any water so they fought with Moses about it; they were about ready to stone him. They said, “Why did you bring us out of Egypt? To let us, our children, and our animals die of thirst?”
Moses told God, and God had him strike a rock, out of which flowed water for the people. That place was called Massah and Meribah, because that’s where the people quarreled and tested God, wondering if God was even with them. Massah sounds like the Hebrew word for quarreling and Meribah sounds like the word for testing.
Then, exactly three months after they had left Egypt, they entered the wilderness of Sinai. Here, for the first time since they left, they were able to relate peaceably with God. It was here that God revealed his whole heart with them about who they were and what he wanted for them, words they would never forget.
[For the previous story in this series, read “The Birth and Calling of Moses” here.]
On the way back to Egypt, moses met Aaron, and they went to the Pharaoh together to convince him to let the people go. They said, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.'” But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD that I should obey his voice and let Israel go? I do not know the LORD, and moreover I will not let Israel go.”
Pharaoh went even further: he took the request to mean the Hebrews had extra time on their hands, so he made them work even harder than before. Now, they had to gather the straw, which the Egyptians had done before, and still make the same amount of bricks. The Israelite foremen accused Moses, saying that it was his fault, and Moses, in turn, accused God of doing this evil.
God responded by saying, “I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob and promised to give them the land of Canaan. I will bring you out of slavery to the Egyptians with great signs, I will redeem you, and I will bring you to the land I promised your fathers.”
Then Moses and Aaron went back to Pharaoh, but his heart was hardened and he wouldn’t let them go. So God broke Pharaoh’s spirit with ten different disasters:
That was the last straw (no pun originally intended), and Pharaoh actually let them go. Here’s what happened: at midnight, God struck down all first born males, except those who had the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. That night was called Passover, because the LORD passed over their homes. While it was still night, Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and told them to leave Egypt for good.
So that day, after 430 years of slavery in Egypt, the people of Israel left Egypt to inherit the Promised Land. As you might guess, Pharaoh changed his mind yet again and came after them in the dessert, but God drowned Pharaoh’s soldiers in the Red Sea before they could catch up to the people of Israel. The people passed through the Red Sea on dry ground, because God has parted the waters for them. When they got to the other side, Moses and the people sang to the LORD a new song and made their way home.
The twelve sons of Israel moved to Egypt to meet Joseph. Eventually Joseph and his brothers died, but the children of Israel grew strong and multiplied all over the land.
A new Pharaoh came to power in Egypt, one who didn’t know Joseph. He was afraid that the people of Israel would become too big and overtake them, so he oppressed them by giving them more work than they could do. But the more they were oppressed, the more they grew. So the Pharaoh decided on a new tactic: to kill all newborn Hebrew males.
Well, one particular family from the line of Levi had a beautiful baby boy. His mother hid him for a few months, but when she couldn’t hide him anymore, she made a basket out of papyrus reeds, asphalt, and pitch that would float on the Nile, where the king said to toss all the baby boys. As it turned out, Pharaoh’s daughter saw him floating and took him out of the water. She named him “Moses,” because Moses sounds like the Hebrew word for “to draw out.” Moses grew up as Pharaoh’s grandson.
One day he was among his people, the Hebrews, and saw an Egyptian beating one of his fellow a Hebrew. He made sure no one was looking, then he killed the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. The next day he realized that the word had gotten out about the murder, so he fled the country in fear of Pharaoh and settled down in the land of Midian.
He married a woman named Zipporah, who was the daughter of the priest of Midian, Jethro. He became a shepherd and kept the flock of Jethro, his father-in-law.
One day, when he was with his flock on the west side of the wilderness at Mt. Horeb, God appeared to him through a bush that was on fire. The bush was burning, but it didn’t burn up. When Moses turned to see the bush, God said, “Moses, Moses!”
When he came near the burning bush, God made him take his shoes off. Then he explained that he was the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and told him that he had seen the affliction of his people and that he had heard their cry. He said to Moses, “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10).
In response, Moses brought up five issues, but God answered them all. 1. Moses said, Who am I that I should do this? God said, “I will be with you.” 2. Moses said, What should I say your name is? God said, “I am who I am.” 3. Moses said, “They will not believe that you appeared to me,” and God gave him two miraculous signs so that they would believe. 4. Moses said, “I’m not good at talking,” and God said, “Who made man’s mouth? Didn’t I make it? Go and I’ll teach you what to say.” 5. Finally, Moses just said, “Oh, please send someone else!” And God gave him Aaron to help out.
So Moses went back to Jethro and got permission to leave and to complete his mission. Then, Moses set out for Egypt with a staff in his hand.
Last night we went exploring in the Fisherman’s Wharf area of San Francisco to find a great place to eat, and we happened upon Boudin Bakery and Bistro. We wanted Italian food, and we got much more than just a meal. Here’s what happened.
Soon after my wife and I walked into the Bistro, we learned that they had a museum, which documents the bakery’s history back to 1849 California Gold Rush. (I knew very little about San Fran or the Gold Rush.) We put our name down at the host stand for a table and found the museum.
The man who was taking tickets for the museum told us we didn’t have to pay the $3 entry because we were going to eat there. He told us, “I’m here to answer any questions you have,” and before we started the tour he reminded us that he was there for questions.
I took a few steps past his booth, and turned around. I hesitated, then decided to ask him a question:
“So what’s the most interesting aspect of the museum to you?”
His answer blew me away, and I realized almost instantly that I would have missed an amazing presentation if I had simply failed to ask.
He started, “We’ll, as an historian and curator of this museum, I’ve got a lot of favorite parts.” I had no idea he was an historian or a curator, but he was both! He proceeded to pull out his iPad for a presentation, moved to the first display, and for the next 15 minutes straight he unloaded one of the most intriguing presentations of the history of San Francisco, the Gold Rush, and Boudin’s bakery.
He went on talking about the original coastal line, the three persons who discovered the first signs of gold mines, and the murderous history of the city. The most intriguing aspect of the story to him seemed to be about the injustices of a man named “Shanghai Kelly.”
Shanghai Kelly used to “Shanghai” people, which meant that he tricked people into becoming sailors — and made good money at it, too. In just 18 months San Francisco had grown from 200 poeple to 36,000 people. Oftentimes the sailors who shipped those gold-seekers to San Francisco abandoned their captain once they docked at Bay, leaving the captain without his mates. As a result, Shanghai Kelly made money filling those spots with other people, sailors or not!
He got people drunk, and once they were passed out, would put them on ships, sending them 50 miles out to see with a captain, and they became sailors against their will. Or he would get them with his trapdoors. This is what it means to “Shanghai” someone — to kidnap someone to be a sailor — and because it took a long time to get back to where they were kidnapped from, it could take 2-3 years off someone’s life.
As the museum curator finished his speech to me, Rachel, and a few others by this point, a sense of satisfaction shone from his face. He had looked like a mere ticket taker, but in reality, he had more to share with us than we could literally imagine.
Yes, I could have stared at museum walls instead of listening to him, but to hear from the mouth of an historian was ten fold better.
From this experience, I realized that, just like with God, this man was simply waiting for us to ask. He wasn’t going to force himself or what he had to offer on us; he was available, ready, and willing. He was just waiting for us to ask. Once we did, he delivered to us more than we asked or imagined he would say.
This blog is part of “The Story,” a redemptive meta-narrative from world history.
When the people multiplied on the earth, the sons of God saw that the daughters of man were attractive. And they took as their wives any they chose.
God saw that the wickedness of man was great, and that every intention of his heart was only evil all the time. So the Lord regretted making humanity to the point of emotional grief. So he said, “I will destroy every creature from the face of the earth–people, animals, and birds.”
But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord. Noah was a righteous man, blameless in his generation, and he walked with God. Noah had three sons: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. So God told Noah about his plan to destroy every living thing–people, animals, and birds. But, he said, I will make a covenant with you. Bring your wife, your sons, and your sons wives, along with two of every animal and bird. Put them in an ark that they might continue to live with you. Then, God told him exactly how to make the ark: With Cypress wood, 450 feet long, 75 feet wide, and 45 feet tall, and with a lower, middle, and upper deck. Noah did all the the Lord commanded him.
Then, God said, “Go into the ark, you and all your household, for I have see that you are righteous before me in this generation” (Genesis 7:1). So seven days later, God sent rain for 40 days and 40 nights. Noah had just turned 600 years old. His whole family got in the ark, and God shut them in it. The rain water rose from the earth so that it covered the tallest mountain by 20 feet. Everything and everyone left behind died–people, animals, and birds. And the flood waters remained for 150 days.
On the seventh month on the seventeenth day, the ark came to rest on top of the mountains of Ararat. The waters abated for another two and a half months. They waited until 40 days after that and sent out a raven. It flew around and didn’t do much. Then, Noah sent out a dove, which came right back. He waited seven days and sent out the dove a second time. This time it brought back a freshly plucked olive leaf. After seven more days, they sent out the dove, but it didn’t come back.
When Noah was 601 on the first day of the first month of that year, the earth was dry. Then, after two months, God told Noah and his family to get out of the boat. When they got out, Noah built an altar and offered a sacrifice to the Lord of every living thing on the ark. The aroma was pleasing to the Lord, who said to himself, I will never wipe out the people with a flood.
God commanded Noah and his sons, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth.” Also, “Just like I gave you the plants to eat, now you can eat animals.” Then, God made a covenant with Noah to never to wipe out every living thing on the earth. He said, “I will put a rainbow in the sky and every time I see it, I will remember my covenant to you.” Then, Noah lived for 350 years after the flood. His sons–Shem, Ham, and Japheth–settled down and filled the earth.
by Chad Harrington
20 August 2015
I’m celebrating this important day in my life by recounting the 20 best gifts I’ve been given in the last two decades (even though these gifts don’t exactly fit the typical category of “gifts”). I don’t always recognize his gifts in my life, and even when I do, I still don’t understand how he does it.
But the Creator, the living God of the resurrected Messiah has done things in my life. Of that I am sure.
As of today, 20 August 2015, I’ve been a Christian for 20 years, so here are 20 things he’s done for me in the last two decades of my walk with Christ.
If I had been born in a different family, I would have turned out much different. God must have given me such great parents, because I’m a blockhead and I needed a pastor for a father, an angel for a mother, and my sister, Ashley, to make me tough (or so she claims). For them I am thankful.
I have many memories of being alone in my life; I’m not sure if that feeling is common—because loneliness can happen even in a crowd—but it’s true of my story. I don’t mean just that I’ve been by myself too much, but that I’ve experienced loneliness much of my life (and as the picture above shows, probably for a reason). Perhaps moving from Canada at a young age or struggling to fit it in school encouraged it. Whatever the cause, I now regard learning to be alone as a blessing, because it comes with major blessings.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but my personal experiences with the Lord during middle school were unique. Without them, I’m not sure I would have made it through high school. God allowed me to experience him in everyday life, and I was on cloud nine for at least my eighth grade year. My mind was blown with his presence for what seemed like the first time, and those experiences forever shaped me. Truly life changing.
Part of being filled with God’s presence was experiencing him through specific answers to my prayers. I remember sitting in the library of Grassland Middle School during a Fellowship of Christian Athlete’s (FCA) meeting as an eighth-grade student, asking God to use me. He answered that prayer by helping me lead FCA that year and announcing over WGMS our Wednesday morning meetings. The group grew and it was exhilarating to participate with God in that growth.
Looking back is often 20-20, and I took for granted the men who mentored me throughout my life, starting in grade school. People like Bob VanFleteren, Josh Brown, J.P. Robinson (above), David Sanders, and Tim Anderson—men who aren’t family—but took me under their wing and mentored me throughout my childhood, even into adulthood.
One of those men who mentored me was Grant Howard; he challenged me, and two others in the youth group, to read the entire New Testament. While it took me two years to finish reading all 27 books of the NT, the experience was truly life-changing. The Gospels alone took me a year, but experiencing God in his Word for what felt like the first time ever radically formed my personality. I was forever changed.
The end of my Freshman year marks the first dark season of my soul. For the first time I doubted the reliability of the Bible, the nature of Jesus, and the reality of God. I was depressed, anxious, and lost, and those close to me knew it. God allowed me—without harsh treatment—to voice my doubts and questions. Even more, he led me out of the darkness to find him again.
Our high school band was called SDG, short for Soli Deo Gloria. We wrote some great songs, recorded a demo, and played a dozen shows or more. Above all that, God gave me great friends in Blake (bass), David (lead singer), and Isaac (lead guitar). To this day, they are dear friends, and God has used them to save me in high school.
My dad always said I was being persecuted when I received ridicule for my faith (struggling though it was) in high school, and I always told him he was being dramatic. Persecution was for martyrs, not me.
Later in life, though, I realized that the social antagonism I received in high school was indeed a form of persecution. Now, I was a bit of an odd ball, anyway–kind of a weird kid–but that wasn’t the major source of my hardships; association with Christ was, though. And it happened during my first dark season. I count this as gift, because I learned how to deal with antagonism early on in life, which has served me well as I’ve gotten older and matured.
The further I get away from my years at Ozark Christian College (OCC), the more thankful I am. While OCC literally made the list as one of the top “25 Colleges with Worst Return on Investment,” I confidently assert that it was the best college for me and for where I’m going in life. I learned about leadership, public speaking, writing, research, ancient history, ancient languages, theology, sociology, some philosophy, and hermeneutics, all of which have guided me and will continue to serve me as a well out of which I will drawl for years to come. On top of that, I didn’t know a soul, so I learned how to make friends, those whom are now some of my favorite people on planet earth.
Before I left home, I prayed for a mentor in college, and God gave me three: Dave Rizer, Josh Quade, and Peter Buckland. Dave discipled me (and we played a lot of Skip-Bo too), Josh taught me about the five levels of ministry (and how to listen to the Spirit again), and Peter Buckland taught me to ask the question of myself, “What kind of man do you want to be?” for every decision. Immeasurable gifts did God give me in those men.
I went overseas at the age of 20 and lived there for nine months, experiencing some of the best and worst times of my life. It took me years to admit it, but I regret going, which is another story altogether.
God is the Great Redeemer and used that time in various ways, but it was an unwise decision to go.
He allowed me to go, anyway, because he’s not controlling and because he cares that I grew up a little, even if it was the hard way. I learned the depths of his redemption first in Cyprus. One day I’ll tell the story of the “pain at Karpaz,” which is the name of this picture, which I took while I lived in Cyprus nearly nine years ago.
Having experience church in its most basic form while living overseas and studying Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, God gave me a deep love for His Bride, the Church. I had no idea how much God cared about her until my twenties. His heart breaks for her, and now, so does mine. It’s an ineffable gift that gives more and more the older I get.
I’m a little hardheaded, as I mentioned, which is perhaps the reason God continued to bless me with mentors throughout my early, mid, and late twenties. These men were the likes of Thad DeBuhr, Jim Harris, Robert Coleman, Billy Henderson, and Joseph Hagen. They learned patience by bearing with me under immense questioning, struggles, and victories as I passed through my quarter life crisis. They taught me valuable lessons that have deeply formed my personality. Lessons include sonship, decision-making, humor, joy, passion, intentionality, discipleship, love, and commitment.
In my mid-twenties, I wanted to put my lofty thoughts of engaging the materially poor into action by living among the poor; I just didn’t expect to experience poverty.
About a year into my stay at the Richland Hills Apartment complex in West Nashville, I identified bedbugs, which led to a solid month of exterminating those vermin, waking up in a panic most mornings for about a month afterward in fear that they were still there, and moving out of my apartment in a hurry.
I’m thankful that God let me not only to know the materially poor, but know poverty (at least in limited form). It’s real and it’s hard, and I’m better for having experienced it more personally than I had before that time. Also, I got to meet the guys at the Bink (pictured below) after I moved out of West Nashville into the Crieve Hall area of South Nashville. Knowing these guys was totally worth the bugs (except for Paul, pictured far left).
This one is challenging for me to write, because I don’t totally understand how God’s calling works; I hold it loosely. But to the best of my knowledge, the Lord has called me to teach and to write for and in the Church, making faithful disciples of Jesus by the power of the Spirit to the glory of God.
I resisted the notion of a specific—or vocational—calling for most of my life. However, it seems by providence, fruit, and feedback from various people I trust in life that God has given me a specific calling. I didn’t require this (or even really expect this from God), but he gave it to me anyway, and for that I’m super thankful. He guided me in deeply personal ways as I found it. It wasn’t easy to find, but I spent most of my twenties searching and finally landed on teaching and writing.
Discerning a sense of calling to teach and write led me back to Seminary. I say “back to Seminary” because I went immediately out of college and returned three years later.
During the quarter life crisis of my early twenties, I dropped out, giving up a significant scholarship from Asbury Theological Seminary. After three years of working as a “normal person”—not a seminarian, nor a pastor, nor a pastor in training—I decided to finish Seminary. God was kind to me, even though I looked more like a yo-yo than a human during those years.
I graduated from Asbury December of 2014 with a Masters in Biblical Studies. You can access an article I published in The Asbury Journal or email me for a copy of my thesis: chad[at]redemptionarts.org. That’s proof in the pudding for ya that I actually graduated!
I thought I had experienced the depth of my own depravity at several points over the last six years, but every time I reached the bottom, it just got deeper the next time. I consider this a gift, because self-knowledge of any type, at least according to Teresa of Avila, is a gift. I am broken, but God is making me beautiful in the midst of my brokenness.
When I was in high school driving to the movie theater, I distinctly remember telling my dad in a moment of raw honesty, “I believe Jesus died for the sin the world, but I don’t believe he died for me.” Those words were more insightful of where I thought I was at then and more profoundly honest than I knew at the time.
Now, however, I know that Jesus died for me, even me, and that he loves me personally and deeply. Can’t explain it any better than that, but I know it in my bones. Sometimes it takes life experience to learn things like that.
I remember it well the feeling that came upon me as a nine-year-old boy walking into my room when I felt the hand of God upon me. It was time to surrender my life to Christ. The feeling was light. I was convicted and yet I had peace. I wanted to become a Christian, and I decided to follow Jesus.
I’m thankful that today, 20 August 2015, 20 years after being baptized into Christ, I had that experience nearly two decades ago as I passed through my upstairs bedroom door at 112 Cottonwood Circle when I responded in surrender to his love. What a journey began that day and what a journey will be the next 20 years.
When I’m 49 years old, I hope to write a piece like this again. Maybe I’ll call it “The 20 Best Gifts of My Second 20 Yrs.” Like this list, though, those 20 gifts will only begin to recount what he has done for me.
I’m excited to finally release the site! David Story has been working on this way harder than I deserve, and it’s been a joy to journey with him to see it finished. He’s done an amazing job building it, making into reality what was once a dream. Really, this website is a massive art project, an invitation to see beauty from brokenness.
For a long time I tried to deny the Broken–that we were broken, that I am broken. But it’s true.
I am, and you are.
We are broken.
The story doesn’t end there, though–that’s only the beginning.
I chose the words, “beauty from brokenness,” because they’re simple and clear (and alliterated!). My hope is to share stories of beauty from brokenness here. I focus more on physical examples, without neglecting the invisible aspects of those redemption songs. My aim is that these stories, communicated through various art styles, will enliven your soul to see Beauty all around you.
I chose the written, visual, and spoken arts simply because they most easily communicate in website format, and because they’re fun for me. I’d much rather share in person, but this will do for now. The written arts are my bread and butter. The visual arts are my weak point, so please forgive any weak pictures or low quality videos that I make (also, please affirm true visual artists that will grace this site). The spoken arts are my wheelhouse; I’m learning them and having fun.
Here’s the first experiment I did with RedemptionArt. The experience was magical, and when it happened to me, I got a taste for what was to come with RedemptionArts. I wrote the words and on my first take, the music and words lined up perfectly. Here’s raw redemption from my first try about two years ago:
The RedemptionArts blog is for you and for me and for God–that we might all enjoy the beauty that comes from brokenness. Sing with me this redemption song, because it’s all we’ll ever have.
Photo: by Chad Harrington just outside of Freetown, Sierra Leone.