I’ve missed blogging, both on this blog and on our Travel Adventure site. I usually say these posts are more for me – as a diary of where my life was going, where it went and where it needs to be (this site is more for where it needs to be). As I am aging, I see more and more the need to have these events documented somehow. I am so sad I never blogged about all of our motorcycle adventures (many were pre-blog days) nor do I have a good journal of our early years in Florida (2004-2011). I started a few journal entries to keep our daughter informed of those times – but until I actually began blogging, those memories are now about lost except on some digital and paper photos “somewhere.”
So where does my life need to be right now? I know in times of stress and great need, I dive into my Bible. While I have a daily regimen where I start my day in the Word of God (Bible), that time is usually my “quiet” time where I read from a plan and then look for what God is teaching me or showing me from those particular verses or chapters. I love it when I read something and can say, “WOW, I really needed that today.” And that is more common than not. But of late, I have a longing to hear specific answers to prayer sooner rather than later – as I am sure many of us are in the same boat.
Today, after I didn’t really get the “aha” moment I needed, I had to dig deeper. But let’s not be mistaken, this week, God has answered a few prayers very clearly – so I know He is at work on the one current and most pressing need. But it hasn’t been enough (yikes, I am telling Him He hasn’t done enough)??? That’s where I LOVE my God, the Creator of the Universe, the maker of the heavens and earth, the Father of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. As a Christian, I don’t mean to disparage my God in anyway of using an acceptable “Christian” term for God….I’ve loved learning more about His names as recorded in both the Bible and Torah. Until He shows me otherwise, I’ll use what is easiest. I know HE understands!
I have a new resource to help me when I need to go deeper. Actually, I have another resource that led me to Dennis Prager‘s The Rational Bible: Exodus – God, Slavery and Freedom. A former colleague and I have stayed in touch for over three decades! He is a man I’ve respected since I met him in training school. It wasn’t until last month, I finally met his wife, “virtually” since that is the only way he and I have kept in periodic contact. They are of the Jewish faith. He wanted me to “meet” his wife (virtually) because she is more or less the family Biblical scholar – my term, not theirs. She teaches a class on Biblical texts and she was a bar and bat mitzvah tutor. After we have talked on the phone and exchanged a number of emails for her to help me better understand some Biblical texts, she is a scholar to me! Oops, I got off track. They offered to send me their spare copy of the pictured and referenced book which is what this post will ultimately be about!
It is a bit of a slow but VERY interesting read. I read Exodus last month and am now in Leviticus – so it is hard to go too quickly at this point. Had I had it while reading Exodus, I am sure I would have consumed the book – which probably is like being on a diet, going off and deciding to eat everything in sight! Not the best way to do a Bible study or learn about God! So every few days as time will allow, I will read a few pages. And today, it was a WOW moment.
I’ve titled this “In the Wilderness” as I think that aptly describes my spiritual life. I’ve been reading and studying the Bible seriously since November, 2004. So out of the over five decades when I came to a conscious decision to become a follower of Jesus, I’ve really only grown to know and understand what that really meant over the last 16 years. It looks like it will take me a lifetime to begin to really grasp Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians:
…for this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I ask that out of the riches of His glory He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. Then you, being rooted and grounded in love, will have power, together with all the saints, to comprehend the length and width and height and depth of His love, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Ephesians 3:14-19
Both my husband and I love history. Whenever we travel to new places, we are sure to visit the local museum to learn the history of the area. Imagine for us history buffs, we can learn the history of mankind in our Bibles – right at our fingertips. And what that history includes! But today, I just want to focus on one small aspect of the most important part of the history of Israel. If you don’t know much about the history of Israel, this is part of the introduction to an interesting to learn a little about this amazing nation:
A history of Israel is one of persecution, struggle, oppression and survival. Long before Jacob became Israel, since the ancient beginnings of Genesis, this tiny nation has been in a constant state of survival. From the moment of Abraham’s arrival in the land of Canaan, God’s people have been surrounded by enemies on all sides.
Over the course of its history, time and time again, this band of 12 tribes has faced extermination, yet today stands among the worlds elite.
It is no coincidence that on the worldwide center stage is a country the size of New Jersey. Since the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, to the Caesars of Rome, Palestine has been caught in the middle of power struggles amongst empires.
….God’s chosen people have faced persecution from nearly every single empire that has dominated the earth from the beginning of time. From the slavery of the Ancient Egyptians, to the Holocaust of the Third Reich, how is it possible that this nation today stands so strong?
The answer can be found in the Old Testament. The first five books of the Bible make up the Jewish Torah, or, the Books of Moses. It is in these books that the history behind God’s people is revealed. (from website: A History of Israel)
Today, I am surrounded by loved ones, friends and acquaintances who are in the midst of at least one personal crisis such as health issues, employment problems, financial needs and the hardest, loss of a loved one. No matter what I may be going through, or any of my loved ones, there is always someone who is suffering an even greater crisis. All this helps me put whatever I may be going through in perspective.
So my WOW moment came from Exodus 2:24-25 and further discussion from Mr. Prager:
And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew. Exodus 2:23-25
Let’s back up a little bit. Mr. Prager raised the question after reading these verses, “If God intervened during the Exodus, why didn’t He intervene at other times?” I’m going to heavily quote from his book, The Rationale Bible: Exodus while I try to explain my heart. You see, it’s not my place to tell about the struggles of others in my life (unless they’ve shared it openly). All I can say now is that I have been nearly “paralyzed” from doing life because of the struggles of loved ones.
“God works according to His own inscrutable timetable. But from our perspective God never seems to step in early enough. When the Torah describes God as ‘remembering,’ it does not mean the same as humans remembering, that He’d forgotten. God did not forget and then remember. God ‘remembering’ means God has decided to act.
“However, even excepting that meaning, the obvious question remains: why didn’t God decide to act earlier — whether in ancient Egypt or elsewhere since then? Indeed it would appear that when it comes to rescuing the just and the unjust, much of the time God doesn’t act at all.
“To such questions, we have no answer. Ever since the Biblical book of Job, people have asked why the God of the Bible allows the just to suffer. One can only say, as the medieval Hebrew saying goes, ‘if I knew God, I’d be God” (lu yidativ, haytitiv).
“The Exodus raises an additional question however – – especially, for obvious reasons, among Jews: God intervened to stop the suffering of the Jews in Egypt, why didn’t he intervene to stop the suffering of the Jews in Europe during the holocaust? One can, of course, ask the identical question regarding other nations mass murders: the sixty million-plus Chinese at the hand of their own communist regime; the twenty to thirty million murdered by Stalin’s communist regime; the six million Ukrainians also killed by Stalin’s regime; the one out of every four Cambodians killed by Pol Pot and his communist regime; the mass killings of Armenians by the Ottoman Turks; the slaughter of Tutsis by Hutus in Rwanda, and so many others.
“But when Jews ask this question, it is often in light of a divine intervention many Jews do believe occurred – – The Exodus. One possible answer to bear in mind is God allowed centuries to elapse before intervening to stop the enslavement and mass murder of the Israelite children in Egypt. On that basis, one could argue God also intervened in Europe – – though only after allowing 6 million Jews to be murdered. That, of course is in no way an emotionally satisfying answer. But it does illustrate why citing God’s intervention in ancient Egypt may not be a valid basis on which to challenge God about the Holocaust. A Hebrew in ancient Egypt whose son had been drowned in the Nile could just have validly asked, ‘why didn’t God intervenes sooner?’
“In the final analysis, regarding God’s not intervening to stop unjust human suffering, I have three responses:
“First, if God always intervened to stop evil, human beings would not have free will; we would be robots.
“Second, the only possible answer to the problem of unjust suffering is ultimate justice in an afterlife. As I will demonstrate later, if God is good, it is axiomatic there is an afterlife. Moreover, as we will see in a number of occasions, the Torah does affirm an afterlife, despite its relative silence on the issue – because of his desire to keep us human beings preoccupied with this life.
“Third, I have always been moved by an argument put forward by the late American Rabbi Milton Steinberg: the believer has to account for the existence of one thing – unjust suffering; the atheist has to account for the existence of everything else.” (Quoted directly from The Rationale Bible: Exodus God, Slavery, and Freedom, pages 28-30.)
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to continue reading this wonderful book! As a Christian, I have read and understand so much Christian literature on the subject of suffering. You can’t live to be my age and not have endured suffering. As a parent and now a grandparent, you can’t have children and watched helplessly as you see these dear hearts (and gifts from God) struggle and suffer in their own way with life. But I just needed a new and a fresher approach to what my heart has been going through.
While I am a non-denominational Christian (but closely align with the Southern Baptist Convention Baptist denomination), I have had one saying about Catholics. Ok, maybe two! I am so grateful for their stand on the sanctity of life and for the preservation of marriages. Now I have a greater appreciation for Jews, while I have been aware of this, is their ability to keep their history alive! You see, their history is really His-Story and His-Story is my story!
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. James 1:2-3
A friend exhorted me as noted in the comments below. So I need to add something that I actually found by a Pastor who wrote a book review on The Rational Bible. Because my life has so many distractions right now, I’d rather post his thoughts and say I agree with him 💯%
(Please note, I am not being paid for this review. It is straight from my heart.)