Day 19-- God is near--"Seeing and Believing"--Ex 12:31 - 15:21
January 19, 2021, 7:00 AM

Day 19 Exodus 12:31-15:21

Seeing and Believing

Some questions cannot be answered, at least not by me or Alistair.  We sit and work, sit and talk, sit and wrestle. We read the same scriptures you do, and we even have some of the same questions, but we cannot always come up with a neat and tidy answer. This bible study will be known for that—our inability to respond to every question. Portions of scripture will remain mysterious to us. But we can answer some questions.

“Didn’t God love the Egyptians too?” was a poignant question we were asked last night. And the clear answer is, of course, yes, God did. But the pervasiveness of evil prevented the Egyptians from freeing God’s chosen people, the Israelites. The pervasiveness of evil made the Egyptians follow the newly released Israelites into the dried sea bed, not because of faith, but because of their anger and desire to obliterate the people of Israel. The simple answer would be: the Egyptians did not love God, and were actively antagonistic towards God.

And so the Egyptians are referred to as having hardened hearts, and exhibiting a towering rage against the Israelites, God’s chosen people. A people group that were cared for directly by God. A people group chosen by God to carry the lineage down through the ages, and to culminate in the earthly arrival of his son, Jesus. What we need to know as we read is that there is a plan that God sees that we cannot, a plan to overcome evil, a plan for God to abide with his people for eternity, and this is the way there.

We read verses like the following one, which made me smile because it told me how well God knew his chosen people, how well he knows us: Ex 13: 17 “When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was nearer; for God thought, ‘If the people face war, they may change their minds and return to Egypt’.” God was already protecting the Israelites from themselves and their own flawed decision making in order to ensure their safety. He will not always be so protective, as we will see. Once he has saved his people, he will allow them to make the choice, over and over again, of whether to follow him, or whether to go their own way. Remember that Pharaoh himself was given at least ten chances throughout the story of the plagues to change his own mind and heart about God, and he consistently chose not to do so, preferring to put his own power above God’s.

The Israelites, as we will also hear again and again, were certainly not perfect people, and God challenges them repeatedly too, challenges their issues of control, challenges their wants and desires, challenges their strength and their endurance, challenges their faith. Theirs is not a perfect relationship, but God has a plan. A bigger plan. A plan for all of humankind, not just for the Israelites. But for now, the Israelites ARE the plan, and we need to stay in this place to hear the story that will lead us to the Messiah. One writer said it this way: Pharaoh had a plan to ruin Israel. As a result of that, God had a plan to ruin Pharaoh.

Our contemplation by Teresa of Avila says it this way: “Sisters, we don’t have to look for reasons to understand the hidden things of God…[we] will not understand.” But we are encouraged to wrestle, like Jacob, for the blessing. For now I will trust that God knows the master plan, as he says in the book of the prophet Jeremiah: "For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." (Jer 29:11)

Ultimately today--deliverance! Celebration! The people of Israel (the descendants of Jacob), numbering well over a million, have crossed the Red Sea on dry land by God’s providence, have overcome the Egyptian army with God’s help, and in the first recorded song in our bibles, Moses sings joyfully and triumphantly of this victory over death, ending with “The Lord will reign forever and ever.” His sister Miriam joins in with tambourines and dancing, and the people of Israel will now begin their long, 40 year trek through the desert. So today—we end with joy, pure joy.



Comments

01-20-2021 at 8:24 AM
Mother Laurie
Hi Carolyn--I hear you! We'll talk about this at Bible Study this morning.
01-19-2021 at 3:16 PM
Carolyn Kovarik
I am not happy that the God I love and worship found it necessary to kill all the firstborn in the land of Egypt.
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