• Episode 100: Deuteronomy

    Deuteronomy, Devarim, Words. Moses’ words recall his uneasy relationship with speech all the way back to his conversation with God at the burning bush. Moses recounts Israelite history from the Exodus on, continually reiterating that he will not cross into the promised land with his people. This melancholy reminiscing of Moses is likely a product of later editors who crafted this text to fit their contemporary religious reforms around the 7th Century BC. God is more narrowly defined and religious practice is centralized under the authority of the temple priests. This context provides interesting possibilities for the narrative of Lehi and his family in the Book of Mormon. To what…

  • Episode 99: Numbers

    Numbers, Bamidbar, In the Wilderness. The children of Israel journey in the wilderness, encountering death, failure, rebellion, and hope. In this largely imagined past there are profound ties to psychological and philosophical questions. Moses struggles with his responsibility as leader and prophet while the people murmur. The threat and reality of divine violence are ever-present, even when God’s mercy and love shine through the cracks. The staff of Moses has been a consistent symbol of divine authority and force, but does God have a new way to offer Moses that involves persuasion and gentleness through speech? The Brazen Serpent is raised in the wilderness, offering to heal all who look…

  • Episode 98: Exodus 35-40; Leviticus 1-27

    Can we properly understand the Old Testament if we skip reading some of its chapters? In this longer-than-usual episode, Ben and Christopher tackle Exodus 35-40 and the entire book of Leviticus. This intimidating section of scripture was difficult to approach, but with some help from the great Rob Bell, much of the seemingly irrelevant and bizarre has taken on relevance and profound meaning. In this Priestly manual, the sons of Aaron are invited to participate in the tending of the sacred space created in the Tabernacle as part of a new creation extending beyond it. Israel is called to be this new creation because the LORD has delivered them from…

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  • Episode 97: Exodus 21-34

    Ben and Christopher discuss the laws put forth in the Book of the Covenant. These laws have an Ancient Near Eastern context mirrored in contemporary legal codes in the same context. The general exceptions are in how they treat the disadvantaged of society. Nephi’s killing of Laban finds its justification in these verses. The LORD gives instruction on how to construct the tabernacle, being a representation of the cosmos in creation and Eden. Moses wins an argument with God after the people worship before a golden calf. What are we to understand about God and His relationship with the people from this event?

  • Episode 96: Exodus 18-20

    Moses and the Children of Israel have been delivered from slavery and brought out of Egypt by the power of the LORD. As Moses struggles to bring the people into a relationship with the LORD, he receives wise counsel from his father-in-law Jethro: By creating a bureaucracy, Moses might better govern the people. While this counsel is timely and practical, it also leads to the loss of a deeper experience and relationship Moses was modeling. The Messianic type here is reminiscent of the ministry of Jesus. What moments with God do we lose out on in our daily quests for efficiency? As Moses ascends Mount Sinai, the people are invited…

  • Episodes 94 & 95: Exodus 7-13; 14-17

    Ben and Christopher combine two weeks’ readings into one podcast on the core of the Exodus narrative. The LORD afflicts Egypt with 10 plagues before Pharaoh agrees to let the Israelites go. The God of the Hebrews triumphs over all others and displays his matchless power in their deliverance. The narrative is summarized and repeated in the poetic verse of chapter 15, which is likely a much earlier source of the story that could be attributed to Miriam as a prophet. The LORD continues to deliver his people in the wilderness from thirst, hunger, and enemies.

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  • Episode 93: Exodus 1-6

    In this episode, we begin the Book of Exodus. God begins to fulfill the promises made to the patriarchs when he raises up Moses to lead his people out of bondage in Egypt, and while they won’t make it to the promised land until the Book of Joshua, Exodus provides the foundational story of the creation of the nation of Israel. The Book of Exodus can be divided into three parts: First, we witness the power of the Lord as he extends his arm against Pharaoh, sending the ten plagues and finally parting the Sea of Reeds, which swallows up Pharoah and his army, letting Moses and the Israelites escape…

  • Episode 92: Genesis 42-50

    The story of Joseph in Egypt is found in texts outside the Bible. Not only do we see it woven deeply into the Book of Mormon narrative, but the account in the Qur’an adds fascinating details. Comparing and contrasting these narratives, Ben and Christopher develop the central point of the story: forgiveness. Despite all that has happened to him, Joseph finally sees God’s influence in bringing about the salvation of his family from famine. Even if not every single thing that happens to Joseph is specifically orchestrated by God, Joseph’s willingness to forgive his brothers is ultimately the mechanism by which God works the miracle of reuniting and saving his…

  • Episode 91: Genesis 34-41

    This week the Come Follow Me curriculum omits a few chapters in Genesis. Ben and Christopher discuss these anyway since they touch on important themes. Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah in turn all make choices that put their legitimacy as heirs in question. Jacob returns to Bethel to establish a mode akin to temple worship. Isaac dies, and the presence of both Esau and Jacob hints at final reconciliation between the brothers. Joseph’s story begins, interrupted by the narrative of Judah’s impropriety. This contrasts with Joseph’s character and legitimacy as the heir of the birthright of Israel. Joseph is sold into Egypt and the Lord is with him through it…

  • Episode 90: Gen 28 – 33

    The story of Jacob repeats previous themes from the stories of Abraham and Isaac. How does Jacob view his relationship with God and others and how do these relationships affect each other? Why might Jacob struggle to forgive and what other things does Jacob struggle with before and after being named Israel (one who struggles/strives/perseveres with God)? Jacob often fears the outcomes of situations that work themselves out. Does Jacob learn to trust God?