Grace and peace to you from God and our Lord Jesus Christ.
This week we are re-introduced to perhaps the most important person of the Hebrew (Old Testament) Bible: Moses. For the last many weeks the Hebrew readings have been in Genesis. The readings have taken us through the stories of the patriarchs—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Through the Joseph part of the Jacob/Israel narrative we now have Israel in Egypt and, as we leave Genesis, the Family Israel are doing well in Egypt anticipating a return to the promised land sometime way down the proverbial road.
Now we come to Exodus, the spiritual center of the Hebrew Bible. In the first seven verses of Chapter 1 of Exodus, the Family Israel are seen living out God’s command to “be fruitful and multiply.” All is well… until verse 8 when we learn “a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” As I read the words they have an ominous feel to them. In the very next verse we, indeed, find out that trouble is on the horizon for Family Israel.
Things change—always have, always will. Only change is constant “they” say. So, a new king who knows not Joseph arises and a new administration comes to the land and has different ideas. The new king looks out on his world and is threatened by what he sees. He sees Hebrews and within that mix is the Family Israel. He immediately instigates slavery of the Hebrews and genocide. In a faith perspective the king takes on God. How? God says be fruitful and multiply and be part of My (God’s) good creation and Pharaoh is making creation bad, oppressive, and barren. To say that Pharaoh’s plan is rather counter-productive is obvious. But Pharaoh thinks he is God and, without consciousness, takes on the One God and is starting to look like he’s prevailing.
But Exodus is the story of rescue and liberation because these are two of the characteristics of God. So, into this story of slavery and oppression comes the human agent of the rescuing and liberating God of the Family Israel and his name is Moses. This week’s story ends with a tiny baby being placed by the reeds in the River Nile and saved by God through Pharaoh’s daughter. The same Pharaoh who thinks he is God and the same Pharaoh who starts the battle with God. God’s power is unseen but present—a powerful, holy, spiritual presence.
There is so much more in this reading but suffice it to be only hinted at for the moment. God is there working out life and goodness, just like even now.
Pastor Jeff Blackman