Christmas presents – Christ “presents” the indestructible man

December 14, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

We’re continuing our series on “Christmas gifts” with Jesus presents (pronounced like what is found under Christmas trees) or the verb pronunciation used in this sentence from Science and Health: “Jesus presents the indestructible man. . . “(p. 316).  This week we are focusing on “man” from Mary Baker Eddy’s statement: “Christmas to me is the reminder of God’s great gift, — His spiritual idea, man and the universe. . . (Miscellany, p. 262).

The scribes and the Pharisees asked Jesus for a sign, and Jesus responded that there shall be no sign except “the sign of the prophet Jonas.” (Matthew 12:38, 39). Jonah was rescued after three days and nights in the fish’s belly, but are there other signs besides the obvious resurrection comparison? Does Jonah remind you of the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son, especially since both stories are open-ended, leaving you to complete them with your own lives?

How forgiving was Jonah compared to Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross?  (“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23:34)  Does the gift of an indestructible Life require an indestructible Love (recognized by us humanly as forgiveness)? And has your indestructible Life presented to you by Christ become this life of forgiveness which Jesus stressed in his words and deeds? Or in other words, are you wearing your Christmas gift?

The Book of Jonah is read in synagogues on Yom Kipper, the Jewish Day of Atonement, because one of its major themes is forgiveness. (“Jonah and the Whale, Why the Book of Jonah is read on Yom Kipper” by Nahum Sarna, Bible History Daily, 10/10/2016)  And one of the best Christian inspirational books I have read on the subject of forgiveness is The Shack by William Young, which is coming out as a movie in the Spring in case you want to read the book first.

So now I am pondering that phrase “indestructible man” differently in Science and Health. It is not just the obvious indestructible Life but also man’s indestructible Love “for Love alone is Life.” (Eddy’s poem “Love,” which is also a hymn).

Here are some footnotes from The New Oxford Annotated Bible about the Pharisee Paul’s reference to his own ascending vision:

2. Corinthians 12:.2 -3: I know a person, an oblique reference to himself, following the apocalyptic convention of anonymous authorship. . .Third heaven, Paradise, where according to mystical Judaism one is granted a vision of the blessed.

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Christmas – Gifts

December 7, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, wrote the following opening in her essay entitled “Christmas” in Miscellaneous Writings:   “This interesting day, crowned with the history of Truth’s idea, — its earthly advent and nativity, — is especially dear to the heart of Christian Scientists; to whom Christ’s appearing in a fuller sense is so precious, and fraught with divine benedictions for mankind” (Mis. 320).  During our Wednesday services leading up to Christmas, we’ll be symbolically lighting the candles of our own advent wreath by learning more about some of the symbols of Christmas. We’re beginning this Wednesday with Christmas gifts of which Mrs. Eddy wrote, “Christmas to me is the reminder of God’s great gift, — His spiritual idea, man and the universe…” (My. 262).

Here are some Bible Notes from The New Oxford Annotated Bible:

Psalm 72 A royal psalm that may have been used at the king’s coronation or anniversary. It views the Israelite king as the instrument of divine justice and protector of the poor, ensuring that the riches of creation are available to all; and he is the icon of God’s universal rule. Nonetheless, he is still a human being in constant need of divine help.

Psalm 72:2 The existence of the poor is contrary to the divine will, so the king is to be an instrument of the more equitable distribution of the world’s goods.  72:8 The River, the Euphrates.

Matthew 17:24 Temple tax, equivalent to half a shekel,..used in Jesus’ day for sacrifices and the upkeep of the Temple. 17:26 Just as a king’s children are tax-exempt, so too are God’s children. 17:27 Give offense, offend the devout people who collect the tax.

Many of you have heard the story of Joshua Bell in the DC Metro Station — a talented violinist ignored by the busy throngs. If you don’t know the story, here is a report and youtube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM21gPmkDpI

Last week, a similar violin story popped up on my FaceBook feed, but this video included an uplifting spiritual conclusion. The message at the end is such a gift — how someone always sees the beauty in you — and I thought it was just perfect for this holiday season.  It is actually what inspired me to do a series of readings on Christmas gifts!

http://www.barkvines.com/hallelujah-violin-cover/

Jeremiah III – “If you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses?”

November 16, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

The Bible readings this week begin and end with these metaphors for the Christ — the “lamb to the slaughter” and the “fisher of men.”  But in the middle of the readings is a favorite Bible verse of mine: “So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men, what makes you think you can race against horses?” (Jer. 12:5, The Message)  Running with horses is being moved by the energy of the Spirit, so Jeremiah had the Christ AND the Comforter by his side!  It is also a great reminder for everyone “worn out” by this presidential race; like Paul, our real race is for that “incorruptible crown” (I Cor. 9:25).

The Book of Jeremiah requires careful reading because sometimes the prophet Jeremiah is speaking and sometimes God is speaking, but there is no “Jeremiah said” to tell you when the conversation has switched. It reminds me of the Book of Job with its extensive conversation in human consciousness about the nature of God.

Are you noticing more similarities between Jeremiah and Jesus? Here are some that I spotted this week:

First, Jeremiah compared himself to a “lamb or an ox that is brought to the slaughter” (Jer. 11:19), which is the same prophecy for Jesus in Isaiah: “he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth” (Isa. 53:7). And that is also the difference — Jesus used his healings and his resurrection to speak for him.

Second, Jeremiah was instructed not to have a family (Jer. 16:2), and Jesus “acknowledged no ties of the flesh” (Science and Health 31:4).

Third, both Jeremiah and Jesus foresaw the destruction of Jerusalem and its Temple.

Fourth, both use the symbolism of calling followers to be “fishers of men” (Jer. 16:16 and Luke 5:10). This week I was pondering that familiar story of Peter’s deep sea fishing which resulted in a broken net; and then after the resurrection, fishing on the right side with a sturdy net. Jeremiah also asked his people to cast their faith on the spiritual side so they could see that the physical destruction of Jerusalem was not the destruction of them. The Israelites didn’t listen to Jeremiah, but that’s the same lesson we learned in Hurricane Katrina – that all the material stuff isn’t us!

Mary Baker Eddy gives this explanation of these fishing stories:

Faithfully, as meekly, you have toiled all night; and at break of day caught much. At times, your net has been so full that it broke: human pride, creeping into its meshes, extended it beyond safe expansion; then, losing hold of divine Love, you lost your fishes, and possibly blamed others more than yourself. But those whom God makes “fishers of men” will not pull for the shore; like Peter, they launch into the depths, cast their nets on the right side, compensate loss, and gain a higher sense of the true idea. Nothing is lost that God gives: had He filled the net, it would not have broken. (Mis. 111:4)

Since National Bible Week is approaching, I also like this quote:

Christian Scientists are fishers of men. The Bible is our sea-beaten rock. It guides the fishermen. It stands the storm. It engages the attention and enriches the being of all men. (My. 295:17)

The term “pastor” is used frequently in Jeremiah in the King James Version, but pastor doesn’t always translate as the Bible or clergy. For example, in Jeremiah 12:10: “Many pastors have destroyed my vineyard, they have trodden my portion under foot, they have made my pleasant portion a desolate wilderness.”  Other Bible translations use the words “shepherds” or “rulers” instead of pastors, broadening that rebuke.

 

Jeremiah II – “Peace, peace; when there is no peace.”

November 9, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

Jeremiah warned the citizens of ancient Jerusalem that their authority figures “had healed the hurt of the daughter of my people slightly, saying, Peace, peace; when there is no peace” (Jer 6:14). He urged the people to build up their own faith in God to protect and inspire them, instead of relying on physical organizations, such as the monarchy or the Temple.  If you are striving for true peace, especially after this unsettling election, you may find comfort in the inspired Word of the Bible, and especially in the story of Jeremiah who would not permit a spiritual death in his people although he saw destruction all around him.

We all know the story about how Jesus overthrew the moneychangers in Herod’s Temple because it had become “a den of thieves” (Mark 11:17). Did you know that Jeremiah spoke those same words about Solomon’s temple (Jer. 7:11)? In his book about Jeremiah, the translator Eugene Peterson wrote,

This sermon by Jeremiah is so important to us. It is especially important in times of success, when everything is going well, when the church is admired and church attendance swells. We think everything is fine because the appearances are fine and the statistics are impressive. The church is never in so much danger as when it is popular and millions of people are saying, “I’m born again, born again, born again.” (Run with the Horses, p. 67)

But what if your church has the opposite situation and appears empty? Jeremiah asks that question as well:

Who is wise enough to take all this in? Who has heard the Eternal speak and can explain His ways to others? Can anyone say why this land has been ruined and left a wasteland, a desert where no one dares to travel? (Jer. 9:12, The Voice)

My tent is destroyed,

and all my cords are broken;

my children have gone from me,

and they are no more;

there is no one to spread my tent again,

and to set up my curtains. ((Jer.10:20, New Revised Standard Version)

I have been studying Jeremiah for his insights into the direction of our church, locally and globally, and one term Jeremiah uses that I find helpful is “defenced city.” (From King James; other translations use “fortified city” or “fortress.”)  For example, “Why do we sit still? assemble yourselves, and let us enter into the defenced cities, and let us be silent there:” (Jer. 8:14).  In our Church Manual, there is a provision which states: “The prayers in Christian Science churches shall be offered for the congregations collectively and exclusively” (Manual, 42:1-3).

Jeremiah always had his defense system because God told him,”I have made thee this day a defenced city, and an iron pillar, and brasen walls against the whole land.  . .” (Jer. 1:18).  In Miscellaneous Writings, Mary Baker Eddy wrote about her method of prayer:

   Three times a day, I retire to seek the divine blessing on the sick and sorrowing, with my face toward the Jerusalem of Love and Truth, in silent prayer to the Father which “seeth in secret,” and with childlike confidence that He will reward “openly.” In the midst of depressing care and labor I turn constantly to divine Love for guidance, and find rest. It affords me great joy to be able to attest to the truth of Jesus’ words. Love makes all burdens light, it giveth a peace that passeth understanding, and with “signs following.” (Mis. 133:22-31)

So, there’s our reminder about the peace-giving power of prayer — in our churches collectively and exclusively, and as individuals in our own prayer-closets!

Here are some Bible notes from The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Fourth Edition:

Jeremiah 7:4 – The Temple was regarded as a place of sanctuary where one might seek refuge from reprisal. . . .The people believe that their mere presence in the Temple renders them safe. . . .Although liturgical tradition expressed God’s protection of Jerusalem and the Temple, it is deceptive to think that this necessarily assures God’s protection. The threefold repetition implies that the phrase had become a cliche. (p. 1072)

Jeremiah 7:12 – Shiloh was destroyed during the early Philistine wars. . . .The memory of Shiloh was important for Jeremiah’s own family, descended from the priests of Shiloh through Abiathar, David’s priest who was exiled to Anathoth by Solomon. (p. 1072)

Jeremiah 7:31 – The valley skirting Jerusalem to the south and west was likely the site of many fire-pits for garbage, but also the site for sacrificing children in fire for divine favor. The custom was practiced even by Israel’s kings, but was proscribed in the reform of King Josiah. (p. 1073)

Jeremiah 9:10 – Lamentation is the technical term for the funeral dirge. (p. 1076)

Jeremiah 9:15 – Wormwood, an extremely bitter and poisonous herbal extract (p. 1076)

Jeremiah I – “to root out and to pull down”

November 2, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

In the gospel of Matthew, Jesus asks his disciples, “Whom do men say that I am?”, and they replied, “Some say that thou art John the Baptist; some Elias; and others Jeremias, or one of the prophets.” (Matthew 16:13, 14) What was special about Jeremiah (Jeremias) that men remembered him when they spoke of Jesus? How can Jeremiah’s story help us with our lives today and with our viewpoints about the health of today’s government or today’s church? In Jeremiah 1:10, this major Old Testament prophet was given the mission “to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant,” but what do we learn when we’ve been thrown down?

My interest in Jeremiah began a few years ago when I read a book by Eugene Peterson, translator of The Message, entitled Run with the Horses: the Quest for Life at its Best. This title is from Jeremiah 12:5 in which Peterson translated God’s words as:

“So, Jeremiah, if you’re worn out in this footrace with men,

what makes you think you can race against horses?

And if you can’t keep your wits during times of calm,

what’s going to happen when troubles break loose

like the Jordan in flood? (The Message, Jeremiah 12:5)

It is inspiring to think of Jeremiah as a religious maverick, as was Mrs. Eddy.  Both saw a spiritual and universal dimension to worship that was rejected by their contemporaries.

Here are some Bible Notes on Jeremiah from The New Oxford Annotated Bible:

Jeremiah lived during the critical years spanning the “golden age” of the Judean king Josiah (640-609 BCE) and the subsequent fall and destruction of Jerusalem and the deportations of the Judean population into captivity (597-586 BCE), all at the hand of Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon. . . .The traditional assumption. . .is that Jeremiah began his ministry in 627 BCE (Jer. 25:3) and prophesied until well after the deportation of 586 BCE. . . .Jeremiah, along with his friend and scribal colleague Baruch, was forcibly taken as a hostage to Egypt, where he is last heard speaking judgment oracles against the community in the years following 586 BCE. (p. 1057)

Jeremiah 1:11 – Almond tree, a very early blooming tree

Jeremiah 1:13, 14 – The pot was boiling over as first Assyria and then Babylon exercise expansionist imperial policies against Judah and its neighbors. (p. 1059)

Jeremiah 3:16 – Ark of the covenant, Judah’s central religious symbol had likely been removed in military attack and was no longer present in the Temple by Jeremiah’s time. Later tradition ascribed to Jeremiah the securing of the final secret resting place for the Ark of the Covenant, where he hid it following the destruction of the Temple (2 Macc 2:4-5) on Mount Nebo, the same mountain near which Moses’ secret burial site was located. (p. 1064)

The above Bible Note on Jeremiah 3:16 references 2 Maccabees 2 which reads:

It was also in the same document that the prophet, having received an oracle, ordered that the tent and the ark should follow with him, and that he went out to the mountain where Moses had gone up and had seen the inheritance of God. Jeremiah came and found a cave-dwelling, and he brought there the tent and the ark and the altar of incense; then he sealed up the entrance. Some of those who followed him came up intending to mark the way, but could not find it. When Jeremiah learned of it, he rebuked them and declared: “The place shall remain unknown until God gathers his people together again and shows his mercy. Then the Lord will disclose these things. . . . (2 Maccabees 2:4-8 New Revised Standard Version)

I love this traditional view of Jeremiah burying these religious symbols in a sepulchre so that their immortality could be brought to light (Science and Health, p. 582:23); or as we sing in our hymn, “And as we rise, the symbols disappear” (Hymn #108).

Giants (aka mighty dual-ism)

October 26, 2016

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Do we ever feel like grasshoppers compared to our big government, big banks, big pharma, or any other big problems that we might encounter? What is the symbolism of these giant mixtures of good and evil, the semi-metaphysical, the semi-pure?  Mingling material and spiritual may lead to “mighty” conflicts in our life; and pardon the pun, some mighty dual-ism (duel-ism).

We’ve all heard about Goliath, but were there other giants in the Bible? Remember the giants who scared the children of Israel away from the Promised Land?  Have you heard of the famous Og, the king of Bashan, whose 13 foot long iron bed became a tourist attraction in Ammon?  What about the four sons of the giant in Gath, all of whom were killed by King David’s family and servants?

I remember in Sunday School wondering about those “five smooth stones” David selected from a brook before battling Goliath. He only used one stone, so what purpose were the others? Then in preparing these readings, I discovered there were four more giants which adds up to five giants conquered by five weapons of truth (or stones or swords). That is a very cool connection for a precocious Sunday School class!

In Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy writes of the five erroneous postulates and of the five physical senses as the basis of pantheism. Pantheism is defined in the Webster 1828 Dictionary as “the doctrine that the universe is God”; a contemporary definition is that the Universe and God are identical. According to the son of science educator Carl Sagan: “My father believed in the God of Spinoza and Einstein, God not behind nature, but as nature, equivalent to it” (Pantheism in Wikipedia).

I have a much better understanding of this subject in Christian Science after reading this article by Helen Wood Bauman:

The denial of error is essential in the healing method of Christian Science. And the basic claim of error, or mortal mind, the claim that needs the most thorough and emphatic denial, is pantheism—the belief that life and intelligence arise from and depend upon matter. Until this belief, which is so deeply embedded in human thought, is understood as unreal, as sheer delusion, the healing of sickness and sin is likely to be protracted or unfinished. . . .

Mary Baker Eddy denied again and again the belief of pantheism. In fact, she made the first sentence in the vastly important “scientific statement of being” such a denial. This statement is found on page 468 of “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures,” and the beginning sentence reads, “There is no life, truth, intelligence, nor substance in matter.”

To believe that the use of this first sentence should be avoided in the practice of Christian healing is to believe that one of the most powerful arguments in such healing should be discarded. The importance of this denial of pantheism is shown in the position it is given in “the scientific statement of being.” One sometimes hears that it is wrong to use this first sentence at the time of the birth of a child. Nothing could be farther from the fact. One who denies pantheism for the new infant is starting him off in human life with a definite release from the binding error that he is dependent upon flesh for his life, his substance, and his intelligence. (The Denial of Error” by Helen Wood Bauman, from the December 21, 1963 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel).

Wow! I had never thought about the Scientific Statement of Being as such a powerful denial of pantheism and what a reminder that the child we see physically is never the child that God sees. That is definitely a blow to error — the fire melting the frost.

On page 269 of Science and Health, Mrs. Eddy capitalized Pandemonium, which is the demon-filled capital of hell in John Milton’s poem Paradise Lost. (Yes, Mrs. Eddy has other quotes from Paradise Lost, and I’ve included a painting of Pandemonium on the research page.)

Here is some research on the Rephaim or giants:

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

REPHAIM

ref’-a-im, re-fa’-im (repha’-im, from rapha’, “a terrible one “hence “giant,” in 1 Chronicles 20:4, . . ., “sons of the giant”; the King James Version, Rephaims): A race of aboriginal or early inhabitants East of the Jordan in Ashterothkarnaim (Genesis 14:5) and in the valley of Rephaim Southwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8). They associated with other giant races, as the Emim and Anakim (Deuteronomy 2:10, 11) and the Zamzummim (Deuteronomy 2:20). It is probable that they were all of the same stock, being given different names by the different tribes who came in contact with them. The same Hebrew word is rendered “the dead,” or “the shades” in various passages . . . In these instances the word is derived from rapheh, “weak,” “powerless,” “a shadow” or “shade.”

http://biblehub.com/topical/r/rephaim.htm

REPHAIM, VALE OF

. . . This was a fertile vale (Isaiah 17:5), to the Southwest of Jerusalem (Joshua 15:8; Joshua 18:16; the King James Version “Valley of the Giants”), on the border between Judah and Benjamin. Here David repeatedly defeated the invading Philistines (2 Samuel 5:18, 22; 2 Samuel 23:13 1 Chronicles 11:15; 1 Chronicles 14:9). It is located by Josephus between Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Ant., VII, iv, i; xii, 4). It corresponds to the modern el-Biqa`, which falls away to the Southwest from the lip of the valley of Hinnom. The name in ancient times may perhaps have covered a larger area, including practically all the land between Jerusalem and Bethlehem, where the head-waters of Nahr Ruben are collected.  Click here for a good map:

http://bibleatlas.org/valley_of_rephaim.htm

So, David as a shepherd boy was in a land of giants. No wonder he needed to be prepared with five stones!

The mingling of material and spiritual left the Israelites with an illusion of giant problems. Yet, God multiplied the Hebrews after a generation in the wilderness so that they could cast out the giants when they finally entered the Promised Land; and David’s government matured to conquer the remaining giants roaming his kingdom. With the Christ (Caleb/Judah) and the Comforter (Joshua/Ephraim), we cannot fail to fulfill the promise!

“Elect Angels”

October 19, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

Don’t you love the title of this Wednesday’s readings? It is a quote from I Timothy 5:21, and it makes me think differently about this presidential election.  I’ve included a poem and some Sentinel articles on the research page which are also very helpful for these elections. Here is John Randall Dunn’s definition of “God’s elect”:

Who are the elect but they who elect to think rightly—to reflect God, Love, Principle? The right thinkers, those who elect and strive to be spiritually-minded, are therefore the hope of the race. Theirs is the privilege of uncovering and annulling the secret efforts of mental suggestion to befuddle and control thought, to keep in darkness through mass hypnotism men and nations. It is their privilege and duty to halt mortal mind outrages and atrocities through the understanding that the Lord God omnipotent reigns, and that there is no Mind but His; to know that Love is and cold barbarism is not; to know that God’s kingdom, the reign of harmonious being, is come, and that evil, war, hate, greed, misunderstandings, minds many, and all the etceteras of hell and suppositional demons, are nought but phantoms of the night, and therefore are not happening in the realm of Truth. (“Look up, and lift up your heads,” by John Randall Dunn from the April 20, 1940 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

I also appreciated this article on “Saying goodbye” which was addressing the sadness of divorces, moving on, passing on, but which could also apply to the time after an election when a preferred candidate doesn’t win. James Robert Blunt wrote:

Pray over relationships until you can honestly give everyone his or her proper name: God’s elect, His very own child, image, likeness, or idea. Nothing can impede our spiritual progress—not even our own or others’ false classifications. Mrs. Eddy clearly spells out the requirements for all healing in this concise statement: “To live so as to keep human consciousness in constant relation with the divine, the spiritual, and the eternal, is to individualize infinite power; and this is Christian Science.” (“Saying goodbye,” by James Robert Blunt from the September 20, 1982 issue of the Christian Science Sentinel)

The Second Epistle of John is dedicated to the “elect lady.” No, I am not predicting an election outcome; “elect lady” is a reference to a local church. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 2146)

At the end of the readings are some of Mrs. Eddy’s prayers about government found in Prose Works. There have also been some helpful short podcasts (under 10 minutes) on Sentinel Watch about prayerfully supporting the upcoming elections and which you may access here:

http://sentinel.christianscience.com/sentinel-audio/sentinel-watch

I would love to hear your angel-messages on this topic. Please share online (via the reply button) or in person at our Wednesday meeting.

Help Meets

October 12, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

These Bible readings were selected last week — before the emotions unleashed over the past few days. When I was preparing these readings, I was tempted to skip over three obscure verses in Exodus because of the raw anger expressed in that story, yet that “hardness of heart” is so timely, how can I leave it out? Now back to the blog I had written originally.

———

Mary Baker Eddy quoted this poem in her autobiography, Retrospection and Introspection:

Ask God to give thee skill

In comfort’s art:

That thou may’st consecrated be

And set apart

Unto a life of sympathy.

For heavy is the weight of ill

In every heart;

And comforters are needed much

Of Christlike touch. (Ret. 95:4)

Who are our comforters? Who are our help meets? Is it our spouses, our family, our friends, communing with nature, good laws, the judicial system, a Good Samaritan?

The Bible always seems so conflicted about women — are we help meets or not?  These three verses in Exodus (Ex. 4:24-26) truly highlight how differently Bible scholars will characterize women. (When I told my husband about these verses, he complained, “I don’t hear Joel Osteen talking about that!” Yes, the events are gory, but the subject is really about interfaith marriages, divorce, hardness of heart, and the role of women as helpers or hinderances.)

In summary, the male Hebrews in Egypt were all identifiable due to the covenant of circumcision, yet at least one of Moses’ sons born in Midian was not circumcised. On the way to Egypt, Zipporah, the pagan daughter of a priest, performed the ritual, which apparently saved Moses’ life as the Lord “met him and sought to kill him.” Zipporah and sons were then sent away, so she becomes either a divorced ungodly character or an heroine, depending on which commentator you read. For example, here is the traditional view from a commentary on Bible Gateway:

Zipporah, as a woman of Midian, did not share the spiritual values of her notable husband who found himself acting against the sacred tradition of Israel. This may be one reason why he named his second son Eliezer, meaning “The Lord of my father was my help.” To keep the peace, Moses compromised with his unbelieving wife and withheld circumcision, the sign of God’s covenant, from Eliezer. The Lord intervened, and as a sign of divine displeasure, Moses is stricken with a mortal disease. Both Zipporah and Moses became conscience-stricken over the profanation of God’s covenant, and Zipporah yields. Moses is too prostrate to take a knife and circumcize the child, so his wife severed the boy’s foreskin and, throwing it down before Moses said, “Surely a bloody husband art thou to me.”

When Moses was restored to health, relations in the home were not congenial, for he went on alone to Egypt, and Zipporah and the two sons went back to her home in Midian. Of this unhappy incident, Alexander Whyte says, “There are three most obscure and most mysterious verses in Moses’ history that mean, if they mean anything at all to us, just such an explosion of ill-temper as must have left its mark till death on the heart of Moses and Zipporah…When Moses became the mighty leader and law-giver of Israel, there was the episode when Jethro, his father-in-law came out to the wilderness to see Moses and brought with him Zipporah and the two sons. The union was devoid of any restraint for Moses graciously received them and neither disowned nor ignored his wife and sons. But after this visit during which Jethro gave his over-burdened son-in-law some very practical advice, nothing more is said of Zipporah. She disappears without comment from the history of the Jewish people in which her husband figured so prominently. “Neither as the wife of her husband nor as the mother of her children did she leave behind her a legacy of spiritual riches.” How different it would have been if only she had fully shared her husband’s unusual meekness and godliness and, like him, left behind footprints in the sands of time! https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/all-women-bible/Zipporah

Now, here is a more contemporary spin from U. S. News:

Zipporah plays more than a supporting role in the future of the Israelites. … Moses is at risk of losing his life, except for the intervention of Zipporah. The entire fate of Israel rests with her. She, the pagan daughter of a priest, stood up to God….

The story may also be saying that marriage to foreigners can be a good idea and work out well and that, within the family structure, women may be more active in the religious sphere than men. …

A new novel, Zipporah, Wife of Moses, by Marek Halter, puts a fictionalized spin on Zipporah by making her the “Cushite” or Ethiopian wife of Moses. Halter portrays Zipporah as a proud, black-skinned woman who refuses to marry Moses, even after bearing his two sons, until he accepts God’s mission to lead his people out of slavery. In this version, it’s Zipporah who changes the destiny of Moses and his people. “Zipporah is black, and a foreigner, and she poses the problem of how we relate to the other,” says Halter. “Moses is ignorant, so Zipporah becomes his principal adviser.” Zipporah, the outsider with black skin, helps Moses fulfill his destiny as a liberator of the enslaved.

http://www.usnews.com/news/religion/articles/2008/01/25/zipporah-may-be-obscure-but-the-wife-of-moses-mattered

Who do you think was the real Zipporah? And was Moses’ severed relationship with Zipporah the “hardness of heart” that Jesus referred to when the Pharisees asked about Moses’ law of divorce?

If we are to be as merciful as the Good Samaritan, helping strangers; then what kind of help meets should we be for our spouses, our closest friends? What about relatives, fellow church members, friends, and others? First, Moses’ wife was his help meet, and later he relied on assistants under the advice of his father-in-law. But really God was always his Help Meet and Comforter, his ever friend whom he knew “face to face.”

Does Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, remind you of a type of Melchizedek? According to my Wikipedia search, Jethro was a “revered chief prophet in the Druze religion.  The Druze believe Jethro was a ‘hidden’ and ‘true prophet’ who communicated directly with God and then passed on that knowledge to Moses.” What an example Jethro provides of hospitality and Universal Love everywhere, undivorced from truth!

Here are some Bible notes:

Exodus 2:15 – Midian, probably in northwest Arabia. The Midianites, said to be descendants of Abraham and Keturah (Gen 25:2), were caravans whose routes stretched across Sinai to southern Palestine. Moses meets his future wife at a well, a pattern appearing in the stories of Rebekah (Gen 24) and Rachel (Gen 29).

Exodus 2:16 – Seven daughters, making a total of twelve female figures featured in the life of Moses, the deliverer of the twelve tribes.

Exodus 4:20 – Moses’ staff, which he used as a shepherd, has now become the staff of God, the instrument through which he and Aaron exert divine power. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, pages 84, 85, 88)

David and Absalom – In the House of Love forever

October 5th, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

This Wednesday, we are finishing our series on King David, including finding some of David’s connections with the New Testament and with our textbook, Science and Health.  Have you noticed that Mrs. Eddy begins and ends the text of her book with a shepherd (p. vii) and a Psalm (p. 578)?  Throughout the triumphs and trials of his kingdom, David continued to sing his psalms of mercy and joy in the Lord — a joy that wasn’t the result of a supply of wants, but a joy having its source in God Himself.

Here are some Bible notes:

II Samuel 19:20 – House of Joseph, the northern tribes, Israel, as opposed to Judah.

II Samuel 19:25-30 – Ziba had accused Mephibosheth of plotting to take the throne. Mephibosheth here defends himself, saying that Ziba refused to help him to flee with David, and he could not leave on his own accord because of his physical condition. David’s decision indicates that he does not know which of them is telling the truth. (The New Oxford Annotated Bible, p. 474.)

Who do you think was telling the truth — Ziba, the servant; or Mephibosheth, the grandson of the anointed King Saul from the tribe of Benjamin? David told them to divide the land between them.  Did young King Solomon use a similar strategy when faced with two women — both claiming to be the mother of the same baby? If the true mother wouldn’t let Solomon divide the baby, then who might be the rightful owner of Saul’s land?   (I didn’t find this comparison in any commentary, although most scholars believe Mephibosheth’s affection was for his master, not for his property.)

Did a New Testament Saul, also from the tribe of Benjamin, originally choose the side that persecuted the Anointed One? Did this Saul let a “thorn in his side” stop him from claiming his place at the King’s table?  (The Bible doesn’t state exactly what Paul’s thorn was — some commentators think it might have been something physical such as poor eyesight; others think it was a strictly emotional battle over guilt which is why he writes so much on grace.)

We need the enthusiastic Pauls in our midst. Paul knew no borders in his outreach — geographic or cultural or religious. In my Bible study, I have really begun to see Paul as a symbol of the Comforter because, despite the thorn in his side, he was always “earnestly striving” to give birth to the real spiritual man. I think having that grace to see the real man in yourself and others is the true “primitive Christianity” desired in our Manual of The Mother Church (page 17).

Does anyone have anything to share from our study of David? There is a “leave a reply” link at the bottom of this blog, so I’d love to receive a response from those who have been reading along!

David and Absalom – Finding the Comfort and the Christ in Crisis

September 21, 2016

http://www.christianscienceneworleans.org/WedReadings.html

During our Wednesday services, we’ve been studying the shepherd-king David in all his glory, but now there are challenging times in his kingdom, which began with his own household. David has been forced out of Jerusalem by his son Absalom, and so he has retreated to mourn at Mount Olivet, known in the New Testament as the Mount of Olives. These readings include how David responded to his betrayal, including his own words from the psalms he wrote during this experience.

Are you spotting more similarities between David and Jesus?  David’s son betrayed him; an enemy cursed him and threw stones at him; and lame Mephibosheth, whom David had taken into his own home, appeared disloyal. Throughout this ordeal, David continued to express mercy, a quality so clear in Jesus that he was called “the son of David.”

Another similarity which is not as obvious is that one of David’s priests was called Zadok.  Melchizedek, king of Salem (ancient Jerusalem) brought bread and wine to Abraham, since Melchizedek was the priest of the most high God (Genesis 14:18). Then in Hebrews, Jesus is described as being “a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 7:17).  (We actually did a Wednesday service on “Melchizedek? Melchisedec Who?”, and I like thinking of Daniel’s Zadok as providing a holy connection between the Old and New Testament priesthood.)

Both Jesus and David had gloomy nights on Mount Olive, but Jesus’ disciples slept. David’s household was awake and weeping with him, and different friends nourished David  and his mighty men.  In our Time for Thinkers Book Club, we’ve asked:  If Jesus’ disciples had been awake and supporting him in prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane, with all they had learned, would they have brought in the millennium? (Science and Health, p. 34)  David taught us mercy, but Jesus’ lessons were so much more!!

In our next readings, we will find out if Ziba was lying about Mephibosheth, if the cursing stone thrower reforms, and if David regains his kingdom. My husband thinks this is all quite the soap opera, so you will have to stay tuned in!

If you are wondering why I am spending so much time on David, here is an interesting article by William McCrackan from the December 1916 Christian Science Journal where he wrote, “Metaphysically considered, Christian Scientists are entitled to consider themselves direct descendants in the royal line of David. . .” and then he compared the “key of David” to our own “key to the Scriptures.” (Science and Health, p. 499, which has Revelation’s quote about the key of David). I’ve learned so many lessons from studying David which have opened up the Scriptures for me, and I’d love to hear your inspiration as well!