Thursday

‘I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…’ (vs 7-8)

Exodus 3:7-15 Thursday 8 July 2021

Psalm 16

Background

Being brought to a ‘broad land’ reminds me of the experience of walking through a tunnel or cave and emerging suddenly into the light – the open horizon is so welcome and reassuring after the closed walls of a cramped dark space. God has seen the tight place of captivity and oppression that the Israelites are suffering and now promises to intervene to bring them to freedom in a broad 'promised land'. The word ‘deliver’, or in some English translations ‘rescue’ (e.g. NIV and GNT), does not quite convey the force of the Hebrew word in other contexts, which is sometimes translated ‘to snatch away’ – a very active and forceful intervention of God. This prepares the reader for the dramatic account of the plagues to come.

God decides to send Moses to enact this, saying "So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt." (v. 10) Is this verse a call, an instruction, or a description of how things will be? Moses is not confident about the task and a dialogue begins about the identity of Moses and of God. Moses asks God, "Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh?" but God’s response is an answer to a different question: "I will be with you" (v. 12). This meeting with God on the mountain is not just about Moses being given an experience which will inform his understanding of God, but is more about a relationship between Moses and God being set up so that from now on Moses understands himself in a different way. The way he sees himself is to be less about just himself, and more about the fact that God is with him. This will become the pattern for the whole people of God when the people also are brought to that same mountain (in this chapter called Horeb, but later named as Sinai). The pattern of divine encounter enabling a new understanding of oneself in relationship with God will be repeated for all the people together as they receive God's law and proceed towards the Promised Land.

 

To Ponder:

  • When facing daunting situations in your own life, how do you relate to the question Moses asks: "Who am I to do this, or deal with this?" And how  do you feel about the answer God gives in reply: "I will be with you"?
  • Where in your situation or in the life of the world do you see tight oppressive places, and where do you see the hope of a good and broad land, one of 'milk and honey'?

 Prayer

Rescuing God, I pray for all who feel oppressed and trapped; may they experience the wideness of your love. Help me to hear your call to serve, and when I feel unable to respond, help me to know that you are with me. Amen.

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