7 February 2016 – Studying the readings for the day INTRODUCTION The three passages set this week urge us to look again at our relationship with and understanding of God.
We look at the passages in an interesting order, first exploring Jesus’ encounter and then back to the setting in Exodus. It is likely that the disciples had made the connection between these two events, which perhaps influences their response. Significantly, rather than having a space made for God- the shelters, echoing the tabernacle/temple- God draws the disciples themselves into the cloud. For men who have been brought up on the story of the Exodus, the cloud is the very presence of God. No wonder, as one of our group reflected last week, that they were terrified as they were enveloped by cloud.
Moses encounters God on the mountainside more than once in Exodus. Look back to the preceding passage and you will see this is the second time he has descended with the law. A point of Bible trivia; in the earlier period people didn’t know how to translate the idea of Moses’ face glowing and being covered by a veil. They seemed to understand that instead the word used the same as that for horns, and that when he returned from Sinai he had horns upon his head. This is shown in images across the generations; and indeed in the chancel in Chitterne is a wooden carving of Moses, complete with what look like rams’ horns upon his head. If you want to explore this interesting conversation further, just have a look with Google!
Finally, we come to the passage in 2 Corinthians. It is interesting to note that this letter was most likely written in the mid-late 50s AD, probably before Luke’s gospel. Paul compares these two ideas of encounter with God. The one, mediated through Moses and the Law, the other so direct because of Christ that we ourselves have the opportunity to be transformed into God’s image.
We concluded our study asking the question:
‘Which relationship with God fits best to your understanding of your faith: the covenant/Law or God’s free gift of Grace?’
READINGS AND NOTES
Exodus 34.29-end, on www.biblegateway.com
2 Corinthians 3.12-4.2, on www.biblegateway.com
Luke 9.28-43a, on www.biblegateway.com
We ended with Compline, what an excellent service it is.