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Jan 18, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 18

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Egypt and Exodus

You freed your people from slavery in Egypt so they could worship you: Free me from sin so I can serve and worship.

Reflection

Exodus 21-23 is “the Book of the Covenant” – a list of rules and regulations that apply the basic laws found in the Ten Commandments to everyday situations that Israel will face as a nation.  Chapter 23 emphasizes the importance of worshiping God alone, keeping prescribed feasts, and obeying and serving God.  There’s no need to linger in these chapters – get the general overview, and save a closer look for later study.

Today’s Reading

Exodus 21-24

Today’s Question

What comfort and warnings does God give at the end of chapter 23?

Join the discussion below!

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  • In chapter 23: 25-26 GOD says ‘If you worship me, the LORD your God,I will bless you with food and water and take away all your illnesses. In your land…………without children, I will give you long lives.’
    There is order to celebrate the festival of unleavened bread, festival of harvests and the festival of shelters. there are instructions not to refuse a poor man justice and not spread false rumours about people. There is assurance of total protection and security from enemies if the people obey the rules of the LORD.
    Please LORD take away all my illnesses and clean me from all my weaknesses. Please help me to place my total trust in you and help me to worship you with all my heart, body and soul.

  • God wants His people to observe and keep the sabbath holy. Do no work on the seventh day.
    Keep the feast of unleavened bread and also the harvest feast among others. Please Lord for the many times I break your rules, I am sorry . Please forgive!

  • At the end of Chapter 23, God says he will reward us for our fidelity. He says, “I am sending an Angel before you, to guard you on the way and to bring you to the place I have prepared.” We are told to obey this Angel, as God Himself has given the Angel authority. (I’m not sure, but I take this as the Holy Spirit; always with us, helping to guide us on our path to Eternal Salvation.) We are told if we serve God and follow His laws, and they were quite descriptive in the previous two chapters, we will be blessed in all we do. Likewise, those whom do not follow God’s prescribed ways will be punished. “I will throw nations into panic” and be with you. We are living in a scary world and it seems so many are choosing to not follow God’s ways but their own (self-interest) ways. After all, we are all human, and although this message is not complicated, it does not make it easy to live at all times. Thankfully, we have a loving and merciful God who wants to see us succeed and has sent His angel to be with us helping to keep us focused on this path of goodness which is Eternal Life with Him!

    • The Holy Spirit was indeed leading the Israelites from destination to destination. However don’t forget about our guardian angels. My guardian angel is with me at all times and I have to keep reminding myself to thank him for being with me. I was once told by an older woman, if you ask your guardian angel what his/her name is, it will be revealed to you. I never heard of this before. So I went to bed that night and slept on it. Believe it or not, the next morning before I opened my eyes and began to formulate any thoughts, the name Nathaniel came to mind! So what is the name of your guardian angel that tries to help you stay focused?

        • Ray, Why of Why not? I have never heard about naming your guardian angel. I remember from childhood “Angel of God my guardian dear…” Why should you not give him/her a name?

          • Dianne: I always thought it was a great way to personalize and relate to your guardian angel too .I believe the article I read on this was from Jimmy Akins on Catholic Answers and he implied giving your guardian angel a name was like naming your dog or making your guardian angel subject to you ..the verse goes ” ever this day be at my side to light ,to guard, to RULE and guide Jimmys explanation was more detailed You may want to follow up with Catholic Answers Ray

        • I did NOT name my guardian angel. His name was given to me (i.e. revealed to me” while I was sleeping and upon awakening). I have several people in my immediate family that are Catholic nuns and was never told this was a no-no. Obviously if you were told otherwise – I am not trying to persuade, I was just sharing.

        • Helena I just looked at your website and found these 2 comments written 4 months ago:

          “Fr. Larry Richards discussed this during EWTN’s daily Mass this morning. He said that his spiritual director recommended asking the Lord to reveal the name of his guardian angel. An EXCELLENT homily. Will air again later and be archived on the website later”.

          “A priest who I trust greatly said that if an “angel” says its name is anything other than something ending in -el (from God), it might be better to not give it attention (e.g., Moroni)”.

          Apparently everyone has a different opinion on this topic, I was unaware of this.

          • Dear Luz, thank you for responding to this. I have never heard of the “el” in the name thing either. That is very interesting since Moroni is an example of a false angel and his name might have indicated that. I, too, love Fr. Larry and have heard many of his talks (although not this discussion on naming angels). Having read articles on both sides of this issue, the position as presented by Taylor Marshall makes the most sense to me. The Holy See does not allow it and it has been formally discouraged. The following is from Taylor’s article:

            According to the Directory on Popular Piety and the Liturgy, 216 (under the heading about Devotion to the Holy Angels):

            “The practice of assigning names to the Holy Angels should
            be discouraged, except in the cases of Gabriel, Raphael and Michael
            whose names are contained in Holy Scripture.”

            Taylor’s article further explains that in giving someone a name, you assume authority over it. Just as in this bible study where we learn God changed the name of Abram and Sarai, or in naming our own children, we can see who has authority. However, our angels, in fact, have authority over US, not us over THEM as is in the familiar “Angel of God” prayer…..”ever this day be at my side, to light, to guard, to RULE and guide.” Taylor says, “My angel is not my dog, he’s my instructor”.

            I don’t know where this fits it if someone prays for their angel’s name to be revealed to them and they receive something in prayer. I would be leery of this myself, and I prefer to not be curious about my guardian angel’s name. If the Holy See discourages it, that’s good enough for me and I’ll leave it alone.

            God bless you, Luz!

          • Helana, thanks for your thoughts on the topic. The importance on this topic for me isn’t so much the name of our guardian angel, but that we all have one! How marvelous and beautiful is it to know that God has an angel for every single person. I just finished looking at the homily Farther Richards gave last October to celebrate the feast of guardian angels and it was absolutely beautiful, if you have time take a peak. He even mentioned how the guardian angel help guide the Israelites to the Promised Land. God bless you too Helana : )
            Here is the website: http://tsahaylu.blogspot.com/2013/10/your-guardian-angel-fr-larry-richards.html

          • But if Fr. Larry’s angel’s name is Barabas, how legitimate can it be if the angel’s name must end in “el”? Unless it’s just a joke. I didn’t have time to view this homily myself (it’s 15 minutes long).

          • The “el” ending I just heard of when I read one of the comments after the article Helana posted about. I don’t know how true that is, but my guardian angel happens to end in -el. Fr. Larry’s angel was found in my opinion a little strangely. He prayed first, then flipped open the bible and the first name he came upon was his angel? I don’t know about that one.

            The homily is actually only 10 minutes. You can skip past the first 5 minutes if you want which is the Biblical scripture prior to the homily. It is an easy audio to listen to, you can listen to it while you are doing light chores around the house or something similar.

          • I did watch the homily and it is very good, but Fr. Larry himself says he’s not so sure himself how theologically correct it is to name your angel. Maybe he was unaware of the Holy See’s directives on this.

          • Just curious, which website are you referring to? My website doesn’t have a comment section. Or maybe I am misunderstanding you.

      • Luz, I heard the same thing about our guardian angel from my friend. And, I did prayed and asked, a name came up so clear in my mind: ‘Rachael’. I call this name whenever I pray to him/her since.

  • These chapters are a reminder to us that God requires us to act justly and live in his commandments. This binding covenant requires something from both God and his people. It’s a two way street. One thing I find so difficult in these chapters, however, is the treatment of slaves in Ex 21:3-6, 21:11, and 21:21. Presumably, all the slaves in the household have been circumcised and are part of the covenant, and yet it is permitted to treat them with less justice, in my opinion. I don’t understands God’s ways on this, so I have to believe these ordinances regarding the treatment of slaves is just and merciful. God knows what he is about, as John Henry Cardinal Newman would say.

    • I agree with what you say about the treatment of slaves. I also have difficulty reading about the ill-treatment of women in the old-testament. I have to remember that with original sin, God’s “vision” for a perfect world changed. Only here does this horrific treatment of other’s occur. I try and look at how the world currently deals with these issues. We saw slavery abolished and women treated as equal because brave individuals/groups saw these as wrong. These changes occurred because God was working through those who saw these injustices. Don’t get me wrong, the world is far from perfect but God desires our Salvation. We only have to listen to what God is asking of us and then be brave and do His work when called.

      • I agree with you. It is hard for us to read this from where we are in time but I think God meets people where they are and works to transform them little by little. It reminds me of other Bible passages where he allows divorce because they need it not because He wants it, and allows polygamy to continue not because He wants us to live that way but because they were not yet ready to give it up. I guess it’s like peeling back one layer at a time for each of us individually as well as for humanity as a whole. Since God exists outside of time, it is not the slow progression that we experience!

        • Karen, I don’t think God allowed divorce because they needed it, or polygamy because they were not ready to give it up. But rather it was because, as Jesus said, Moses allowed divorce because their hearts were hardened (Matthew 19:8) Even kings were instructed to take only one wife; “he must not acquire many wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away…” (Deut. 17:17)

          However, I do agree that our transformation is a process,
          for our own sinfulness slows us down. But the Lord is very patient with us, because He wants all of His people to achieve salvation.

          • By the words “their hearts were hardened”, I interpreted that to mean they were no ready to listen to God… That’s what I meant by “they needed it”. I guess it was more that they thought they needed it or the wanted it.

          • Gotcha, Karen! Thanks for the clarification.

            God is patiently waiting for us to “be ready” to accept His love and to love others. As Michelle said, “We only have to listen to what God is asking of us and then be brave and do His work when called”. God also waits for us to turn to Him, and He is there, ready to help us. Today’s Responsorial Psalm is just beautiful. “I have waited for the Lord… and He heard my cry. Sacrifice or offering you wished not, BUT EARS OPEN TO OBEDIENCE YOU GAVE ME”… then said I, ‘Behold I come’… To do Your will, O my God, is my delight…” (Psalm 40:8-9)

            I think people throughout the ages have gotten into trouble because they place their own selfish needs above all. When we begin to think about others instead of ourselves, God uses us to accomplish His work, which leads to salvation.

  • The Lord God spoke to the Hebrew’s in ensuring that they do not bow down or allow themselves to be taken by other gods. He knows what is best for His people. True life could only come from God and God alone. If they follow God, the Lord will drive out all obstacles before them. Everything they face in life would be “easier” because God will be with them. Using the analogy of driving out the Canaanites from their lands, God is referring to all obstacles that would prevent the Hebrew’s to becoming a nation of priests and a holy nation. In Exodus 23:25, the Lord promises that all basic needs of the Hebrew’s would be met. That same verse sounds like the coming of Christ Jesus “I will bless your bread and your water; and I will take sickness away from the midst of you”. The warning to His people is that if we fail to follow God and do not remove anything in their path that prevents them from living in God’s way (i.e. by serving other gods), then all that is promised to them would fade from sight.

    Is God’s love conditional? God’s love is consistent through all times – He is Love. And He’s proven his love over and over again during all times from the first man to to walk the Earth to God giving His only Son so that we may live and be saved. If God’s love was conditional, the Hebrew’s and mankind would have been lost. It is this that differentiates God from those gods He warned His people against. They only seek to serve themselves – if you do wrong you are punished never to be returned. God’s Love continues every nano-second of existence to bring mankind back to Him and into the glory of His Love….

      • Kerry, as you probably have surmised on your own, Our Lord Jesus is everywhere in the Hebrew Scriptures. Liken to our daily lives, we need to have an open heart and eyes wide open to see Jesus with every breath we take. God bless you, Kerry. 🙂

        • God bless YOU, Joe! No, actually, I did not surmise it on my own!! The Lord has revealed it to me through my open heart that has led to lots and lots of study of Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church! I see Jesus in all of creation, what I have learned to call the “liturgy of the world” and I feel him through every breath I take! Glad we are on this challenge together – shalom!!

          • AMEN! : ) I love that idea “liturgy of the world” –the liturgy of creation! Living inside the Word is sweet- feeling him through every breath! Thank you for your insights.

        • Yes, it’s awesome to see the Scriptures come alive! The Lord speaks directly to us, we only have to open our eyes and our ears. “He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 11:15)

    • God is loving and merciful and slow to anger. I could imagine God’s difficult dealings with humanity during the ancient time and probably gets to the point of really steaming and furious.

  • God is very clear: remain faithful, keep His commandments and covenants, and He will provide protection, bless them with food, health, and they will grow into a large and prosperous holy nation.
    God seems to understand that their level of holiness cannot withstand the level of unholiness they are going to encounter from the current residents of the lands they are moving through and going to settle in. I remember this from past studies of Salvation History – it will always be an issue. It is an issue to this day – can we grow up spiritually and be stronger in our faith than those we move among daily? Can we be the people God calls us to be among the faithless, providing light and hope to the despairing?
    It is a matter of trusting God’s providence; He has never/will never abandon His covenant promises, but we must remain faithful to our covenant promises, too, and TRUST.

  • “I will have the terror of me precede you…” While there is much power in this message from God, there is a gentle calmness and comfort in it as well. Follow in God’s way and you will reap many things include the peace that his terror brings. In this day in age, I liken it to the saying “I got your back.”

  • I noticed that in the promises God makes it clear that they will not receive all the rewards in one easy step He says that He will not drive the other people out quickly but will do it “Little by little” explaining that this would ensure the safety of His people. It reminds me of the years of praying that took place before the Berlin wall came down and the rejoicing as a divided nation reunited. We pray that injustices and wrongs will be righted quickly, because we see the pain and suffering of today, but God sees what is really needed to achieve the long-term desired outcome. In making His promises, God like a good father also sets boundaries, not just with the commandments and laws but also with the promised land.

  • 1. Read the Instructions
    2. Follow the Instructions.
    Trust ME you will become a Great Nation.
    Of course only half the people will read the instructions and only a tenth of those will follow any of the instructions. And at some point All will fail to Trust.

    • As parents, we say, “trust me.” But we hear,
      “But you promised!”
      How many times, as parents, have we heard those words? Our memory of our promises often isn’t as acute as our kids’ memories, and they
      can be deeply disappointed when we forget. All children crave promise keeping from the significant adults in their lives. They want to trust
      that we will do what we say.

      • O so true and so important/critical that we stay true to all our statements to our children! We teach so much by our actions.

  • God has instructed us that we have to be faithful to Him, and Him alone. This is a sealing and protection to us – as weak in human. We have to stay close to Him and we are save. I have loved ones whose partners do not believe in God due to their up bring in family faith in their gods, this has cause my loved ones moved away from God , and their children don’t know anything about God. We have to stay close to God and also intercede for them.

    • Amen, Maria. Well said!

      I love what I read in Magnificat this morning; “Each of us is called to be an imitator of Christ. By becoming more and more like Christ we receive a share in his holiness and become COOPERATORS IN THE WORK OF REDEMPTION.” So just think of the power of your intercessory prayer!

      Grace to you and peace.

    • Maria, I so agree with you. I too have family embers who follow false gods and I pray that they come back to the one true God. Staying close and believing is what we need to keep at the forefront, always.

  • My faithfulness to God allows me to persevere in living out an unswerving commitment to do good to everyone and look at them as Christlike. I was ones a financial administrator of our Diocese and one morning our Bishop intended to join our brief morning prayer before working for the day. He gave us a brief homily to treat every person coming to the office as Christlike. As office Manager, I saw to it that our reception clerk has a chair for every visitor coming to the office. It so happened that our Superior- Consultant of the Bishop have not heard the kind homily of the Bishop, and she turn up to office after three days and surprisingly, saw new chairs in the reception area and one right in front of the disk of receptionist, she hurried up called some boys to remove them saying they were unnecessarily cost time for others to stay longer especially the disturbance may be created to the work of the receptionist (she was really a very mean lady). Some Parish Priest usually come to turn in their daily collection to the receptionist and they were very thankful to sit in a cool office after like hours driving in an non-aircon car in the heat of the sun. So that day I heard the loud voice of the Priest asking the Receptionist for his usual chair to remit fund, and even came to my office grumbling about that chair. I was so surprised and embarrassed that moment and quickly stand up and offered my chair. So I asked an apology, keep quite and took it to myself for the blame, then we made good for those chairs on the following day.

  • Even though I have never been able to understand all the ground rules of God’s requests, for instance, “you shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.” Exodus 23:19 However the people at that time understood it. God’s plan was simple. Listen to me, obey my Word and you will reap the benefits! It seems to me that God said something similar to Adam and Eve.
    Will we, meaning I, ever really listen?

    • These obscure laws made perfect sense to them. But fortunately, we don’t have to get bogged down or worry about this stuff, because, really, I don’t know anyone today who plans to boil a young goat in anything, let alone it’s mothers milk!
      And yet the Scriptures offer timeless truths, because we discover, in between the lines, are hidden words that speak to our hearts today. The key to it all is, as you say pnkyB4brain, is “will we listen?”
      Perfect timing for today’s first Scripture reading, where Samuel says, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”…

      • Marianne, excellent points.
        I am going to try opening my soul, my mind, my heart and my ears to God’s Words today from everyone that I encounter. This should prove to be an interesting experiment! I only hope it will bring me such satisfaction and joy that I will continue this daily!

        • I bet you will, pnkyB4brain! For when we have an open heart, receptive to HEARING and not always just ASKING, we are blessed to actual RECEIVE His Word. The joy it brings is immeasurable. Especially if we pay it forward…

  • The Lord, your God, you shall worship; as your true God I will give you all that you need. Those who believe in me I will take care of. Faith, trust, and believe in the one and only God. Amen!

  • God promises to send “an angel” to protect and guide” the Israelites to the promised land. I see this “angel” as St Michael” I was reminded of the prayer we recite after daily mass

    Saint Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
    and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
    by the Divine Power of God –
    cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
    who roam throughout the world seeking the ruin of souls.
    Amen.

    I am also reminded that God has also given each of us a Guardian Angel

    Throughout the reading I noted how eagerly the people said “We hear and obey” And then went about ignoring the very words they had previouslyacknowledged
    How many times in our life are just like the Israelites

    • Amen, Barbara Ann, I pray to St Michael daily, for he is there to protect us not only on the battlefield (physical warfare) but also in spiritual warfare. Our armor is the Word of God, our shield is our covenant with God.

  • In the new study on the Prophets, Messengers of God’s Mercy, Session 2 opens up recalling the times we are currently reading about, that Israel will be his “treasured possession” and “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation”. Comparisons are drawn between Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, an unfaithful woman, and God’s relationship with Israel, an unfaithful nation. And yet, in spite of the infidelity, God sends an angel to watch over them; he assures that He will be with them and bless them, if only they are obedient. “You shall serve the LORD, your God; then he will bless your food and drink, and I will remove sickness from your midst” (Ex 23:25)

    I read in a footnote in my NAB that references to Gomer’s prostitution may refer to her worship of other gods. I think the strongest message I get from my studies is the unfaithfulness of the Hebrews when they refused to walk with God, thought they could do it on their own, or worshipped other “idols”, which we discussed elsewhere could be ANYTHING that detracts from our relationship with God. We can also find hope today that God will send His angels to protect us. We are reassured of His love for us over and over again. How much in our lives do we take for granted? May we realize that ALL blessings, all our creature comforts, come from Him.

  • As I said yesterday in a reply, God’s covenant is conditional. To experience its blessings, Israel must keep His covenant, obey its terms (which are spelled out in Exodus 20-23).

    Yahweh promises to guide, assist, nourish and multiply his people, to inspire fear and discouragement in their enemies, to make them victorious in battle and to give them possession of all Canaan, not immediately, but gradually as they become numerous enough to fill it.

    He does warn them on the other hand against all acts of disobedience, especially worshipping the gods of the Canaanites, imitating their evil actions, neglecting to destroy their Massebas and concluding alliances with them.

    So basically If they don’t keep His covenant, they may as well be “no people” at all, their number blotted from the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 32:21)

  • I wanted to add this:

    23:20 I am about to send an angel – This angel will lead the people to the promised land. The people of Israel have witnessed this angel at the confrontation with Pharaoh at the Red Sea (14:19).

    23:22 listen attentively – If the Israelites obey the angel, Yahweh will drive out the inhabitants of the land before him.

    Exodus 23:23 indicates that if the Israelites obey the angel, Yahweh will drive out the inhabitants of the land before him (v. 23). Those victories are attributed to Yahweh by means of the first person—“I will be an enemy to your enemies.”

    23:25 I will remove sickness – The bounty of the land at God’s hand will ensure good health.

    23:26 miscarriage or infertile – Reflects God’s promise to make Abraham’s descendants like the stars of the sky and sand on the seashore (Gen 12:1–3; 15:1–6).

    23:27 I will release my terror before you – Israel’s enemies will be terrified (15:16; Josh 2:9).

    23:29 in one year – The Israelites will gain the promised land through a progressive campaign of displacement.

  • As I have been reading more of the Bible than I have in my entire life, with Genesis and Exodus, today while at Mass I felt such a closeness to the scripture and strong spiritual feelings toward Jesus. Tears began to flow as I thought of my deceased Mother, and how close she was to God, now believing she was welcomed into heaven with the open arms of Jesus. It was like my own Epiphany of what the Bible is relaying to me. This is my only response to today’s question, “I now know the comfort and warnings God gives me at the end of chapter 23. “

  • What struck me is that both the rewards of keeping their Fidelity, and the consequences of failing to be faithful to God’s requests/requirements are both VERY HUGE!!!
    Like other posts here, I also am reminded of, and greatly comforted by, the Angels that God sends to us to help us. Both our personal Guardian Angel, and also the 7 Archangels.
    I was recently visiting with a wonderful Nun about our son. She encouraged me to pray for the intersession of St. Raphael. He is known as a powerful healer, a powerful guide for people, both physically traveling, and spiritual journeys searching for truth, awareness, knowledge, etc, and he is also known as a guide for selecting a good spouse.
    I pray for his intersession for our son directly, and also for wisdom/guidance/strength for my wife and me to make good decisions for him. In fact, that is exactly why I am traveling this week.

    Blessed St. Raphael, Glorious Archangel, you are illustrious for your gifts of healing, guidance, wisdom and grace. you are a guide of those who journey by land, sea, or air. you are consoler of the afflicted and refuge of sinners. I beg you assist me in what I need, and in all the sufferings of this life, as once you helped the young Tobias on his travels. Because you are the “Medicine of God”, I humbly pray you heal the many infirmities of my soul, and the ills that afflict my body. I especially ask of you the favor of healing and guidance for ____, and the great grace of purity to prepare ____ to be the temple of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

    • That’s a beautuful prayer, Kevin. May you be accompanied by the angels as you travel this week, and may your son be healed, body and soul.

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