Upstairs/Downstairs


Wendy is a big fan of the British TV series “Downton Abbey.” I’ve seen a few episodes, but I never got “into it” the way she has. I do know the basic premise, however: The connected, yet separate, lives of the aristocratic residents and lower class employees of Downton Abbey. I’ve been told (though I never watched it myself) that it’s similar to and old series called “Upstairs, Downstairs.” The well-to-do upstairs residents vs the downstairs workers.

The characters in “Downton Abbey” may live in the same house, but they still live in different worlds. They clearly interact, but those interactions are tightly controlled and structured.

At the beginning of this week’s chapter, God tells Moses of Israel that:

Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me  a kingdom of priests and a holy nation

So God was calling Israel to be that connection between God and the rest of creation. The first instruction that God gives is for the people to consecrate themselves, purifying themselves for their new relationship. Unfortunately, Israel baulked. When it came down to it. Israel didn’t want to get too close to God. Rather, they insisted that Moses speak to God on their behalf, in essence acting as a “priest for the priests.” So Moses went up the mountain, while God came down to the mountain, so that they could talk, while the people remained below, afraid to experience the glory of God.

Of course, the “meat” of this week’s reading is the 10 commandments.

My feeling is that the rules of the 10 commandments, as well as all of the other laws that weren’t included in this reading, were needed because the people decided that they were too afraid to be in that direct relationship that God desired. In the New Testament, Paul declares that a Christian is not bound by the law, and the law brings death, not life. Not that the 10 commandments are bad, or a mistake. Rather, the law was a “stopgap” measure to act as a surrogate for a direct relationship with God.

So, any thoughts? Am I completely out in left field with this?

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