Tuesday, December 31, 2013

TJ5: Moses, Mt. Sinai, and Me

Scooter gave out copies of The Story for Christmas this year, with the idea that reading one chapter a day would allow a person to get through the entire Bible every month. I'm not sure yet if I'm a fan of the book ... admittedly, it is an easy way to see the Biblical narrative all at once, in chronological order, with some integration of Old and New Testament passages. However, in the editorial process, Lucado and Frazee were forced (inevitably) to choose which parts of that narrative to omit. The end result: the reader gets part of the story rather than "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." (As anyone who has read Avi's novel Nothing but the Truth can tell you, a partial truth is often no better than an outright lie.)

Regardless, I agreed -- as part of Scooter's advisory team -- to read through the book and be prepared to share my insights at our monthly staff meeting. This week's reading focused on the life of Moses, including the Exodus account (chapter 4), the receiving of the covenant at Mt. Sinai (chapter 5), and all forty years of Israel's wilderness journey (chapter 6). Whew. Four books of the Bible summarized in forty-five pages. At least Lucado and Frazee cut out all the census passages.
Side Note: The first time I read through the entire Bible, I came to the conclusion that the word Deuteronomy meant "Thank God, I am finally through with Numbers."
Moses at Mt. Sinai
But I digress. The reason I am blogging about all this stuff in the middle of my Tour Journal is, of course, that these passages describe the lands I will be visiting in just a few days now. Egypt. The Nile. The Red Sea. Sinai. Even a pre-dawn climb up Mount Sinai. In theory, at least, we will be retracing the route that Moses took when he led the Hebrews out of slavery.

Now there's something to ponder. A mountain so holy that any living thing that touched it was to be put to death -- and not just any death, but a death that did not allow the executioner to touch the victim. (Lucado and Frazee chose to keep that detail in their Exodus synopsis.) And you want me to climb it? Glad that part of the tour is optional. No, seriously, I plan to make the ascent, but only because I don't believe this (Gebel Musa) is the same Mt. Sinai where God rested his glory for so many months. (I certainly could be wrong, but I prefer the Wyatts' still-scorched Jebel al-Lawz, which lies farther east in Saudi Arabia. That's the setting I chose when writing The Voice.)*
Jebel Al-Lawz, Saudi Arabia
Tradition says Gebel Musa is Mt. Sinai, but the tradition dates to two thousand years after the actual incident, so it is a tradition that leaves a lot of room for skepticism.

And here's the second part of my internal war over this tour. How much of what I will be shown is genuine, and how much is Constantinian-traditional? Back to my desire for a time machine. But that isn't going to happen, so I will find myself constantly analyzing what I am seeing and comparing it with the various theories I've researched over the last twenty years. I wish I could just shut down my internal skeptic (note I said "skeptic" and not "cynic" -- like Thomas, I am willing to be convinced if the evidence is compelling) but "just believe" has never been one of my mottos. I see no virtue in blind faith. I am grateful that I serve a God who commands me to love him with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength. 
Side Note: Jesus added that mind part to the original command in Deuteronomy, probably because he was speaking to a post-Hellenic audience who had adopted a Greek mindset -- the same mindset of the culture in which I grew up.
I could go on about this all day, but I think I'm just going to end it here. 

*For a detailed explanation of the reasons for preferring this site, see Mary Neil Wyatt, "Mt. Sinai," at http://www.british-israel.ca/sinai.htm.

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