Psalm 37:27-33; Exodus 26; Matthew 25:1-13

Psalm 37:27-33  “Turn from evil and do good and abide forever” is the simplest advice in the this psalm and perhaps in all the Psalms.  And probably the most difficult to perform because it assumes we possess and inner will strong enough to turn away from the pleasures and apparent rewards of doing evil.  Sometimes, yes, we can turn away from evil on our own.  But we’re rarely successful–and this is why we pray, “Lead us not into temptation.”

But even then, temptation trumps will even though there is a clear reward for turning from evil, following God, and consequently doing good: “The just will inherit the earth and abide forever upon it.” (29), (which surely must be a verse that Jesus adapted into the Beatitudes.)  

Moreover, those who have turned from evil will be a positive influence on others because “The just man’s mouth utters wisdom and his tongue speaks justice.” (30). The just man is wise because the very foundation of his being is centered around God’s love and goodness: “His God’s teaching in his heart— his steps will not stumble.”(31)

And for us, who are creatures working under the terms of the New Covenant, there is something even more effective in our heart than us fully absorbing God’s teaching: it is the saving power of Jesus Christ, who transforms our lives into the just man described here so much more effectively than our own will.

Exodus 26  This is one of those chapters where we fully comprehend that “God is in the details.”  Instructions ranging from the dimensions of the Tabernacle down to “fifty golden clasps” (26:5) and straight-off engineering, “twenty boards, two sockets beneath the one board for its two tenons and two sockets beneath the other board for its two tenons.” (26:21)

These are more than mere architectural details.  The details of the Tabernacle are a in one way a recapitulation of the Creation Story in the sense that God devotes his energy and attention not only to his own creation in nature, but also asks of humankind, created imago deo, to devote the same care to that which is created by our own hands.

This attention to detail required of anything built to the glory of God and must have been in the minds and hearts of all who have undertaken great creative works–from the cathedrals of the 12th century to the frescoes of Renaissance Italy to the works of JS Bach.  I wonder what subsequent generations will look back on as the great creative works of our time?  

Matthew 25:1-13  The parable of the Ten Bridesmaids works at many levels.  Ten is one of those Biblical numbers connoting “complete” or “completion.” So, perhaps Jesus is making a not very veiled reference to the Church–these are bridesmaids, after all–which will be complete at some point in the future.  Although complete, it will not be perfect, as represented by the foolish bridesmaids.

Some in the Church will have ignored the warnings that the Master will indeed return, even after a long time.  And having ignored the warning, they will be unprepared, and suffer the consequences of being shut out of the party.

We need to be careful and avoid over-interpreting here.  I don’t think Jesus is telling us that foolishness leads to losing one’s salvation, but foolishness certainly has suboptimal consequences.  For me, this is a parable about personal responsibility and using the resources God has given me as wisely as I can while working in the Kingdom.

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