5 November 2014Exodus 6:2-13
“I will take you as my people, and I will be your God. You shall know that I am the LORD your God, who has freed you from the burdens of the Egyptians.” (v. 7)
Through Moses, God takes the initiative to engage creatively with the overwhelming crisis facing the Israelites in Egypt: their enslavement, their broken spirit and the extreme cruelty imposed on them. God promises to set the Israelites free.
To address the crisis adequately, God had unveiled to Moses and Israel a new 'name'. A 'name' crystallises the truth about God that is adequate to the challenge God must deal with. God's new 'name' is conveyed in English through the word LORD (verses 2, 6, 10, 13). Behind it is a Hebrew word, never to be pronounced by a faithful Israelite, which connects God to the verb 'to be' (See Exodus 3:15). So the LORD is the holy Source of all life and existence, the One on whom all things depend; and the Creator and Sustainer is now also revealed to be Israel's Liberator.
But there is continuity as well as novelty. The LORD was formerly known (to the Patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob) as El Shaddai, or "God Almighty" (verse 3). "God Almighty" had established a 'covenant' with the Patriarchs. (A covenant is a structured agreement between two parties, comprising a gift and a set of obligations.) God's gift to the Patriarchs, their families and descendants, was to be their possession of Canaan (roughly modern-day Israel and Palestine).
Now the LORD, addressing the Hebrew slaves, promises to incorporate them into the ancient covenant (verse 7) so that they become heirs of the promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
The crucial first step towards the fulfilment of the covenant promises is to set the Israelites free. Moses (a poor speaker, but to be helped by Aaron, verse 13) is charged to persuade the Israelites to believe in God's promise of freedom and Pharaoh to permit it.
- In the Christian view, God's best name is Love. Nothing must be said about God which cannot be an expression of divine Love. In what way do these convictions affect the way in which we read the Old Testament?
- Jesus affirmed that God's creative energy of Love is released most powerfully among oppressed and persecuted people. On that understanding, where are we to look today to perceive God at work?
- Note in this passage the persuasive power of words. In your experience, what makes preachers and evangelists persuasive? And what in your own heart makes you deaf to their appeal?