Thursday, August 12, 2010

Exodus Chapters 1, 2, 3

apportionments to the tribes of Israel, with t...Image via Wikipedia

As I read the account of Jacob’s funeral, I thought back to Ronald Reagan’s funeral or even to that of Princess Diana.  In both cases, millions of people were affected by the lives of these leaders and many came to mourn their deaths and to celebrate their lives.

 Jacob, who arrived in Egypt with his family of seventy people, was mourned by a nation in which he sought refuge.  In death, he was honored as a dignitary.  His sons were seen as princes.  All of his sons, accompanied by top Egyptian officials, traveled to the land of Canaan, to the field of Machpelah, near Mamre, to bury him next to Abraham.

Before Joseph died, he prophetically reminded his brethren that God would come to their aid – that God would take them to the land he promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  For some reason, it was already not feasible for his brethren to bury him in the land of Canaan.  Joseph asked that, when they left Egypt, they would carry his bones out with them.  It would seem that the relationship between Israel and Egypt had already begun to sour.

Perhaps, before he died, Joseph was referencing the prophecy given to Abraham in Genesis 15:13 stating that Israel would live for four generations in a land not their own; in a land in which Israel would be enslaved and mistreated.  He wanted Israel to be encouraged that God was Sovereign and in charge of their national destiny.

Exodus ties to Genesis with an affirmation of God’s prophetic word in Genesis 15:13.  God’s word was accomplished and what remained was for God to fulfill the rest of his covenant with Abraham.  Soon, Israel’s descendants were so numerous that the Egyptians perceived them to be a threat to Egypt.  Because Israel did not assimilate into the Egyptian society, they retained their foreign identity which made them out to be “un-Egyptian” and therefore, untrustworthy in the event of conflict.  Acting out of fear, the Egyptians became increasingly harsh toward Israel who finally began to call on the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob for deliverance.

Moses, the man God chose to deliver Israel out of Egypt, was born at a time when newborn boys were ordered to be drowned.  In spite of the hostile world into which he was born, God protected his life and gave him a place within Pharaoh’s family.  Though Moses benefited from living in the palace, he never forgot who he was.  When he saw the injustice perpetrated against the Hebrews, he took justice into his own hands and murdered a man.  To save his own life, Moses fled from Egypt to the land of Midian, where he eventually met God.

When God spoke to Moses in the desert, (Exodus 3: 8 -10), he didn’t ask God what he meant by taking Israel out of Egypt.  Rather, Moses only wondered about him being the right person for the job.  It would appear that Moses was as well acquainted with the covenant made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob as he was with the prophecies God gave them.  Moses knew well that he was the fourth generation born in Egypt but he doubted that he was able to follow God’s directive. 

It is interesting to note that to convince Moses that he was the right man for the job, God had to first reveal himself to Moses.  Moses had to understand who God was in relation to him and in relation to his people, Israel, before he could agree to take on this job.

Even today, our ability to stand for God and to do his will is predicated on our relationship with him.  To make personal decisions which honor God is very difficult unless one knows the God to whom one is deferring.  Young people who choose abstinence in a world that encourages promiscuity; adults who seek to honor their marriage commitment when divorce may seem to be an easier way; employees who work as though honoring the Lord; and so many more scenarios are decisions to stand on when you know who you are serving.  God has always been a very personal God who revealed himself to mankind through a relationship with people he has chosen.
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