Tuesday 04 November 2014

Bible Book:

“Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let my people go’.” (5:1)

Exodus 5:1 - 6:1 Tuesday 4 November 2014


This compelling story speaks for itself. Theunderlying drama is the clash between:

  • the experience of soul-destroying enslavement, with thestruggle to survive getting ever more desperate as conditionsgofrom bad to worse
  • a demand for respite (even a glimpse of freedom), raisingexpectations that are brutally suppressed by a superior power.

Was the aspiration to go into the wildernessworth the trouble it caused?

Woven into the drama are two competing models ofleadership:

  • Pharaoh the tyrant. He is contemptuous of Israel's God;contemptuous too of the Hebrews, insisting the slaves are lazy andwant a holiday only for sex (so that they outnumber even more theindigenous population: verse 5). As tyrants do, he ratchets up theoppression to quell rebellion.
  • Moses, God's prophet, speaking only what God gives him to say.He has no political power to win his way. Indeed things have gotworse since his intervention. But he unburdens his soul to God,articulating his puzzlement, his needs and complaints: to which Godresponds with a promise, that God's commitment to Israel'sdeliverance will soon be enacted. And Pharaoh will find himself putin his rightful place, unable to resist God's will.

To note:

  • LORD is used in English versions of the Bible to refer to themysterious name - never to be pronounced - of Israel's God. See Exodus3:13-15 and 5:1.
  • The "taskmasters" (verse 6) were Egyptians who were appointedby Pharaoh. Accountable to them were the 'supervisors' (verse 10),who were Hebrews. In verse 16, "your own people" refers to the factthat the Hebrews were Pharaoh's subjects.
  • Bricks were made from mud from the river Nile, which was mixedwith sand and shredded straw, and hardened in the sun after beingplaced in brick-shaped wooden boxes.

To Ponder

  • In our contemporary society, all groups and organisationsregularly ponder the issue of 'authority'. Who has it? How is it tobe exercised? How can it be challenged? To whom are people with'authority' accountable? Reflect on your experience of 'authority'in your family, your congregation and your workplace orschool/college. To what extent do the models of Pharaoh and Moseshelp?
  • Regarding spiritual leaders in churches, does the model ofJesus reinforce or qualify the style of Moses? How do congregationssupport their lay and ordained leaders to be disciplined in privateprayer? And if you are part of a congregation, what do you do?
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