Yahweh and the ancient intercessors (Ps 99:6-99:7)

“Moses and Aaron were among his priests.

Samuel also was among

Those who called on his name.

They cried to Yahweh.

He answered them.

He spoke to them in the pillar of the cloud.

They kept his decrees.

They kept the statutes that he gave them.”

We see that there are 3 main figures of the past that dominate, Moses, Aaron, and Samuel. Moses and Aaron were called priests. Samuel was more of a prophet intercessor. They cried to Yahweh who answered them in the cloud pillar. Why were these ancient ones of Moses, Aaron, and Samuel successful? They kept the decrees and statutes of Yahweh. These decrees and statutes came directly from Yahweh, so that there was very little dispute about them.

Yahweh confronts Job directly (Job 38:1-38:3)

“Then Yahweh answered Job out of the whirlwind.

‘Who is this that darkens counsel?

Who speaks words without knowledge?

Gird up your loins like a man!

I will question you.

You shall declare to me!’”

Now finally, we hear from God himself. It is Yahweh, the God of Moses, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob who speaks. He speaks to Job out of a whirlwind as he had done to many of his prophets. He had spoken to Moses in a cloud. Here there are 2 speeches of Yahweh and 2 responses of Job. Yahweh poses a series of questions to Job. He said that Job was speaking words without knowledge. He told him to be like a man. Even though Job is not Jewish, the God of Israel and not the almighty Shaddai was going to question him directly.

These outcasts now look down on Job (Job 30:9-30:15)

“Now they mock me in song.

I am a byword to them.

They abhor me.

They keep aloof from me.

They do not hesitate to spit at the sight of me.

God has loosed my bowstring.

God has humbled me.

They now have cast off restraint in my presence.

On my right hand

The rabble rises up.

They send me sprawling.

They build roadblocks from ruin.

They break up my path.

They promote my calamity.

No one restrains them.

As through a wide breach they come.

Amid the crash they roll on.

Terrors are turned upon me.

My honor is pursued as by the wind.

My prosperity has passed away like a cloud.”

Once again, in colorful language, Job complains about the rabble around him. He did not like what they were doing to him. They were mocking him with various songs and stories. They did not like him. They spit in his direction when he came near to them. They really had no restraints in his presence since God had abandoned him. This rabble of outcasts sent him sprawling to the ground. They blocked his path. They were bullies to him since no one stopped them in their conduct. They already were the outcasts of society. They came at him just like through a hole in the wall. They just rolled over him. All of Job’s honor and prosperity was gone like a wind or cloud. Here today, but gone tomorrow.

Ezra tells of the disobedience of Israel in the wilderness (Neh 9:16-9:21)

“They and our ancestors acted presumptuously.

They stiffened their necks.

They did not obey your commandments.

They refused to obey.

They were not mindful of the wonders you performed among them.

They stiffened their necks.

They determined to return to their slavery in Egypt.

You are a God ready to forgive.

You are gracious and merciful.

You are slow to anger.

You abound in steadfast love.

You did not forsake them.

Even when they cast an image of a calf for themselves,

They said.

‘This is your God who brought you up out of Egypt.’

They had committed great blasphemies.

You in your great mercies did not forsake them in the wilderness.

The pillar of cloud that led them in the way did not leave them day.

The pillar of fire gave them light on the way by which they should go.

You gave your good Spirit to instruct them.

You did not withhold your manna from their mouths.

You gave them water for their thirst.

Forty years you sustained them in the wilderness.

They lacked nothing.

Their clothes did not wear out.

Their feet did not swell.”

Despite the great love of God, the Israelites would not obey him. They actually wanted to return to Egypt. However, God was forgiving, merciful, gracious, and slow to anger. He was steadfast in his love so that he did not forsake our ancestors. Even though they were blasphemous and created a golden calf, in his mercy he did not forsake our ancestors. He sent a pillar of cloud and fire to guide them. He gave his Spirit to instruct them. He gave them manna and water to sustain them in the wilderness. They lacked nothing as their clothes did not wear out nor their feet swell.

 

Ezra tells the Exodus history of Israel (Neh 9:9-9:15)

“You saw the distress of our ancestors in Egypt.

You heard the cry at the Red Sea.

You performed signs and wonders against Pharaoh,

And all his servants and all the people of his land.

You knew that they acted insolently against our ancestors.

You made a name for yourself,

That remains to this day.

You divided the sea before them.

They passed through the sea on dry land.

You threw their pursuers into the depths,

Like a stone into mighty waters.

You led them by day with a pillar of cloud.

You led them by night with a pillar of fire.

You gave them light on the way in which they should go.

You did come down upon Mount Sinai.

You spoke with them from heaven.

You gave them right ordinances and true laws,

You gave them good statutes and commandments.

You made known your holy Sabbath to them.

You gave them commandments and statutes.

You gave them a law through your servant Moses.

You gave them bread from heaven for their hunger.

You brought water for them out of the rock for their thirst.

You told them to go possess the land that you swore to give them.”

Ezra then told the story of how Yahweh had protected the Israelites from the time of their oppression in Egypt until they took possession of the Promised Land. He heard that cry against Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He performed signs and wonders as they crossed the sea without getting wet. He led them through the desert with a cloud during the day and a pillar of fire at night. He spoke to them at Mount Sinai. He gave them ordinances, statutes, laws, and commandments. He gave them the Sabbath also through Moses. He fed them with bread and provided water for them. He helped them get to the Promised Land.

God takes possession of his Temple (1 Kings 8:10-8:13)

“When the priests came out of the holy place, a cloud filled the house of Yahweh, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud. For the glory of Yahweh filled the house of Yahweh. Then Solomon said.

‘Yahweh has said that he would dwell in thick darkness.

I have built you an exalted house,

A place for you to dwell in forever.’”

The cloud that had hung over the Israelites as they left Egypt showed up here. This is the cloud of Yahweh that was so prominent in Exodus. His glory filled the temple. King Solomon said that he had built a great house for Yahweh to remain as his house forever. This seems to put God in a physical place. Quite often it was referred to as a place for the name of Yahweh. Yahweh moved from the cloud to the temple.

The cloud guides the Israelites (Ex 40:36-40:38)

“Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on each stage of their journey.   But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not go out until the day that it was taken up.  For the cloud of Yahweh was on the tabernacle by day, and fire was in the cloud by night, before the eyes of all the house of Israel at each stage of their journey.”

Whenever the cloud was taken up from the tabernacle, the Israelites would set out on each stage of their journey.  If the cloud stayed, they did not move.  By day it was a cloud, but at night there was fire in the cloud.  They continued their journey in stages.  At the end of this book they have not reached the Promised Land.

The new world order (Gen 9:1-9:17)

 “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.  The fear and dread of you shall rest on every animal of the earth, and on every bird of the air, on everything that creeps on the ground and all the fish of the sea.  Into your hand they are delivered.  Every moving thing that lives shall be food for you.  Just as I gave you the green plants, I give you everything.  Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood.  For your own lifeblood I will surely require a reckoning.  From every animal I will require it and from human beings, each one for the blood of another, I will require a reckoning for human life.    Whoever sheds the blood of a human, by a human shall that person’s blood be shed.  For in his own image, God made mankind.  And you, be fruitful and multiply, abound on the earth and multiply in it.”

God blessed Noah and his sons and told them to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth.  Thus we have the second creation story that like the first asked humans to multiply.  Once again, humans are to dominate animals, birds, and creeping things.  Everything that lives is to be their food.  Now the only restrictions are not to eat flesh with its life or blood in it.  We already have a food restriction that will appear in the later Mosaic Law.  Also there is the blood oath. Whoever sheds human blood must shed their own blood, because humans are made in the image of God.  This is the beautiful thought that humans are next to God.  It also reinforces the power of humans over the created world.

 “Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am  establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’  God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations.  I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.  When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds,  I will remember my covenant which is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh.  The waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh.  When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’”

God established a new covenant with Noah and his descendants.  There will never be another flood.  The sign of the new covenant is the bow in the clouds that is the rainbow. This rainbow commits humans to a continual relationship with God.  This rainbow after the rain is the eternal sign of God’s relationship to man, all living creatures, and earth itself.  What a nice ending to this terrible flood story.