Thoughts for Thursday 18th June 2020

Psalm 86:1-10; Exodus 12:43-49; Hebrews 2:5-9


Thursday 18 June - Rev.  Jerry Eve


Just one word emerges for me as I read these passages today, and that’s sometimes all we get from the text – except that one word can actually be enough. That word today is bones, and it can be found in Exodus 12:46. Why is it, I found myself wondering, that the Israelites at Passover weren’t to break any of the bones of the lambs they roasted and ate?


Possible answers have included 1) the need for haste – there just wouldn’t have been time to extract the marrow as would normally have been, or 2) the meal was to be eaten reverentially, and to break the bones in order to suck out the marrow would have been indecorous.


Sometimes though these mitzvot (which is Hebrew for ‘laws’; the singular is mitzvah) just don’t seem to have any apparent practical purpose. Which is not to say that there isn’t one. It may be, for example, that some of them are there simply as a test of our obedience.


Whatever the reason, though, this is a mitzvah that then surfaces for us as Christians in John 19; where, after breaking the legs of the two criminals who were crucified along with Christ, the soldiers then come to Jesus and find him already dead. When, although one of them then plunges a spear into his side, his legs are left intact. This was done, we read, in order to make the scripture come true. This is a direct reference to Exodus 12. At the beginning of John, Jesus is described as the ‘Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world’ (John 1:29), and at the end is then likened to a ‘Paschal Lamb’, with no broken bones.


There’s another thought I have today, and that’s that if you trawl through those first five books of the Bible known as the Torah (i.e. the Law), then there are 613 mitzvot. Take away the 365 negative ones (= days of the year) such as, ‘Do not commit murder,’ and you are left with 248 positive ones such as, ‘Observe the Sabbath’. Which is traditionally thought of as equalling the number of bones in a human skeleton.


It isn’t possible these days for Jewish people, or indeed anyone else, to observe all the legislation there is. Many of the regulations relate to, and require, the Temple in Jerusalem. Its destruction in 70 AD consequently led to a massive restructuring of Judaism, just as Christianity (Jesus having distilled the whole of the Law down from 613 mitzvot into just the one word, Love) was in its infancy.


By way of a prayer we close today with a piece of music based on Ezekiel 37:1-14, and The Valley of Dry Bones. A spiritual written by the remarkable American writer, civil rights activist, diplomat and professor, James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938), and equally remarkable brother, the musician and civil rights activist, J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954), it was originally called Dem Bones. This version is called Dry Bones instead, and it’s by the Delta Rhythm Boys:


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