…and now you know…the r-r-r-rest of the story!
He died nearly a year ago—February 28, 2009 to be exact. His resonant voice and unique delivery gave him an unmistakable presence on American radio.
“Hello Americans, I’m Paul Harvey. You know what the news is, in a minute, you’re going to hear…the rest of the story.”
If you listened to him, you’ll remember that Paul Harvey prefaced every humorous anecdote with his signature, “For what it’s worth…” and always concluded every broadcast with, “Paul Harvey…Good day.”
You may not know that his wife Lynne, whom he called “Angel,” produced his radio programs and developed his most famous segment. She was a pioneer in broadcasting and is credited with establishing 10:00 p.m. as the time for broadcast news. Lynne was the first producer inducted into the Radio Hall of Fame.
Paul Harvey’s “Rest of the Story” radio segment mesmerized me. Usually, the story began with a person who faced a challenge. A poor inventor. A fatherless child. An unwed mother. In brief detail, he described the hurdles the person faced in order to make a life. Then, as he reached the climax of the story when the characters were in chaos or confusion or distress, he broke for the commercial break. It drove me nuts.
At times, I sat in my car on the driveway, listening to him drone on about the Bose Wave Radio or some other item he was trying to hawk. All I needed was the 30 second conclusion to the story before I could turn off my car and go inside the house.
But I always waited to hear the rest of the story. If I had exited my car too soon, the story would have gone unresolved and my perspective on main character would have been much different.
Today’s reading brings us right up to the commercial break of the greatest story of all.
INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS
Exodus 32. What irony! Moses is on Mt. Sinai receiving the Ten Commandments from God—and the rest of Israel is already breaking them. This chapter proves you can take Israel out of Egypt, but you can’t take the Egypt out of Israel.
Exodus 32:9-14 is frequently debated in theological circles. Did Moses really change God’s mind? And if so, what implications does that make about God’s omniscience? Due to space constraints, I’m not able to fully explain myself here, but it does seem to me that Moses changed God’s mind. Isn’t that an aspect of prayer? Jesus explains more about it in Luke 11:5-8.
The Bible Background Commentary makes an interesting observation about Exodus 32:19 : “The breaking of the tablets, though a result of Moses’ anger, is not a fit of temper. The severance of a covenant was typically symbolized by the breaking of the tablets on which the terms of the agreement were inscribed.”
Aaron’s excuse for making the golden calf in Exodus 32:24 is so pathetic that’s it’s hilarious (and insulting).
Exodus 33:11. “The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend.” My heart years for a relationship with God like this. I wonder what kind of a price Moses paid in order to enjoy this.
Matthew 27:6. Note the callousness of the chief priests. Judas has just thrown the “blood money” into the temple and then killed himself. The chief priests, though, were more concerned with what to do with the money than they were about Judas’ life.
Matthew 27:9-10. Although the quoted Scripture is attributed to Jeremiah, it really comes from Zechariah (Zechariah 11:12-13). Believe it or not, this was intentional. The Bible Background Commentary explains: “Jewish scholars could cite some texts while simultaneously alluding to others. Matthew here quotes Zechariah 11:12–13, but by attributing it to Jeremiah he also alludes to a similar text that he wishes his more skillful readers to catch (Jeremiah 32:6–10; cf. 19:1–4, 10–11).”
Psalm 33:3. Why sing to the Lord a new song? Because it offers new perspectives on who God is. The same old song gets…old. If you aren’t a songwriter, you might consider writing a poem to God, or a letter expressing to him what he means to you.
Psalm 33:4-5. These verses form the heart of this psalm and give us the reason for singing a new song. Every word of God is right and true. He’s always faithful. He loves righteousness and justice. The earth is drenched in his unfailing love. Do you believe?
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THE WORD MADE FRESH
Place yourself in the middle of today’s reading in Matthew. Peter, the heart and soul of the 12 disciples and confidante of Jesus, has just denied him three times. Utterly defeated, he wanders away and weeps bitterly.
Judas, the articulate, educated administrator of the 12 has just betrayed Jesus, and in absolute remorse, commits suicide.
Jesus is then ushered before Pilate to be tried on false charges. Everyone in Jerusalem realizes the lawyers prosecuting him know how to work the system to win a conviction.
This whole Jesus thing is quickly unraveling.
Do you feel it? Do you feel the sense of desperation?
Probably don’t, because you know the rest of the story.
But what if you didn’t know the rest of the story? In the middle of his darkest moment, what would you tell Peter? What would you tell Judas Iscariot?
I’d tell Peter, “You’re going to be okay. Eventually you and Jesus will work everything out. You might feel distraught because you denied Jesus, but hold on for the rest of the story.”
I’d say to Judas, “You really messed up. I can’t understand why you’d betray Jesus, but his ability to forgive is far greater than your deepest, darkest sin. Don’t end your life because Jesus can restore you. This doesn’t have to be the end of the story.”
Now let’s turn the tables. You’re in the middle of your story. What might Jesus be saying to you?
It’s always a mistake to define our lives by the events that occur in the middle of the story.
Fortunately, there’s always the rest of the story. It’s called hope.
- What spoke to you in today’s reading?
- Who do you identify with most in Exodus 32? Why?
- Have you ever defined your story while still living in the middle of it? How did the rest of the story change you?
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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.