Tuesday 17 April 2012

Bible Book:

"Pharaoh's chariots and his army he cast into the sea." (v. 4)

Exodus 15:1-21 Tuesday 17 April 2012


This event is central to Jewish spirituality: the liturgyrecounts the destruction of the Egyptians that led to theIsraelites deliverance twice a day. Two stories from the rabbinicaltradition show how the rabbis grappled with this story and itsdeeper meaning beyond the obvious joy at liberation fromoppression.

The first tells of how the guardian Angel of the Egyptians pleadsto God to have mercy on them and so God convenes an assembly of theangels who debate the issues. As the mood of the assembly movestowards mercy, Michael the guardian angel of the Israelites bringsbefore God a brick from Egypt in which is embedded a baby, killedbecause its mother gave birth while working in the brick factoryand the child got caught in machinery - "this is how they oppressedyour children," says Michael and God immediately moves from thethrone of mercy to the throne of justice and the Egyptians aredrowned. Here we are presented with an emotional and passionate Godwho responds to the horror of oppression with the fiery heat ofjudgement.

The second story tells how the angels in heaven joined in thesinging of the people at the drowning of the Egyptians and Godsays: 'Be silent! My creatures are drowning and you wouldcelebrate?' Here the stress is on the universal care of God for allhumanity and the divine one's sense of loss at the death of any ofGod's own creation. Again here is a passionate, feeling, emotionalGod wrapped up in the lives of all creatures.

The Exodus story would of course have been central to Jesus' ownupbringing and in his ministry we see this struggle between mercyand judgement, and the deep feelings of compassion and wrath. Inthe story of the sheep and the goats (Matthew25:31-46) Jesus presents us very much with the God of our firststory, and in his look of love on the rich man (Matthew19:16-22) we see the compassionate one feeling for the one lostto eternal life in his worship of wealth.

To Ponder

Which character(s) in the stories do you identifywith and why?

How do these stories relate to your ownunderstanding of God?

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