16 January 2016

Stone 2 - Exodus

The second stone is on the book of Exodus.

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At the end of Genesis, Joseph was in a position of high status in Egypt. As a result, when his father and brothers and the rest of the family came during the famine they lived comfortably and thrived.

This came to an end when it was time for a new king to come into power. Unlike the old king, the new one did not know Joseph (Ex 1:8) and he was afraid that the numerous outsiders might one day turn on them. Remember that God had changed Jacob's name to Israel (Gen 35:10)? Well, all these descendants are now refered to as the Israelites. Pharoah enslaves them and forces them to do hard labor (Ex 1:13-14)

Also remember how Joseph had mentioned that the situation his brothers put him in were meant for evil but God meant it for good (Gen 50:20)? I find an interesting parallel here in Exodus. So the new Pharoah decided he wanted to kill all of the sons of the Hebrews by having them thrown into the Nile River (Ex 1:22). Moses was one of the sons born at that time. He was placed in the river in a basket (Ex 2:3) and at some point downstream, none other than the daughter of the very Pharoah who ordered him killed picked him up (Ex 2:5). What Pharoah intended for evil, God intended for good.

That Hebrew outsider known as Moses got to grow up in the home of the Egyptian king. Wow!

It would appear that Moses was aware that he was an "outsider" and not really an Egyptian. In fact, he actually kills an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew (Ex 2:11-12) It states that the Hebrew was one of his people which makes me think that Moses knew he was not truly an Egyptian despite being raised in the house of the King of Egypt. Afraid, Moses runs away for a while (Ex 2:15) - I understand, though, that Moses was not necessarily afraid of Pharoah but possibly something else such as the Israelites refusing to accept him.

Some time later Moses encounters the infamous Burning Bush. While this seems preposterous for many, I cannot help but think that if we believe that God created the universe and all the life within it, why is it so hard to think God is capable of this? He spoke it all into existence so we know He can speak. How about burn a bush without consuming it...? Easy. Even in chemistry class I have had students soak dollar bills in a solution of alcohol and water and set them on fire and watch as they do not get consumed. So, yeah, I am pretty sure God can handle this one.

What I find to be a bit more curious is yet again another similarity to the people of today when it comes to doing what God calls them to. God calls Moses to go back to Egypt and help the Israelites get out. There is a pretty lengthy exchange between Moses and God where Moses tries to peddle off a bunch of excuses as to why he is not the right guy for the job or other generic objections. (Ex 3:11, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13, 6:12) I know I have been guilty of this at times too. Our flesh wants nothing more than to rationalize it away.

So Moses hooks up with his brother Aaron and together they go to tell Pharoah to let them all go. They are denied and the plagues start coming and Moses and Aaron ask Pharoah several times more and still they are denied and the plagues keep persisting - a total of 10 in all.

The tenth one is to kill all the firstborn sons (Ex 11:5) unless you have the mark of blood on the door (Ex 12:7). Exodus 12:13b says "...when I see the blood I will pass over you." What a striking connection to the lamb who was slain and whose blood covers us so that on judgement day when God sees the blood of Jesus he will pass over us as well.

After this plague Pharoah finally lets them go. However, it is not long before Pharoah changes his mind and chases after them (Ex 14:5). Fast forward to the Red Sea where the waters are parted, the Isrealites cross and the water comes crashing down on the Egyptians (Ex 14:28-29)

How quickly we fall back on our selfishness! All these Israelites, who were just freed from some pretty harsh conditions are complaining about food and water. No doubt, feeding that large a crowd for several days in the wilderness would be no small task. I am pretty sure there were not MREs back then, either. Nonetheless, God is able to provide. Oh, how we grumble. Perhaps if we only knew...

After a long time wandering around the countryside the Israelites finally come to Mount Sinai and God works up the Ten Commandments for Moses to bring to the people along with several other rules that will help to set them apart as a nation - to bring them closer to becoming holy. How awful, then, to see the group blatantly violating the first two laws - and so soon after experiencing what they just had experienced at the base of the mountain.

Much of the second half of the book of Exodus is sort of slow, dry, and repetetive. In short, there are lots of instructions for creating several things followed by all of the instructions repeated as they are completed. The main attraction is the tent for the Lord. This tent is to be a holy place where the Lord can come and dwell among the people. Right in the middle of these instructions and creation, though, is the golden calf story (Ex 32) which is the violation of the first two commandments. This really angers God. Luckily for the people, Moses was there to intercede.

There seems to be a great deal of confusion over some of these Old Testament books and all the rules within them. However, I think it is really important to take the entire book in context rather than just reading a single verse.

Here are a couple more videos from the Bible Project that do a really nice job walking through in an easy to understand way.

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