One day at work typing along I heard a suspicious scratching sound. Oh my. I assumed I had a mouse. Peered over the side of my desk and there wedged between the wall and the back of my desk sat a possum. Pink nosed, grey furred, beady eyed possum. I kinda freaked out. My coworkers rushed in and we spent the next half hour using a broom and box to capture the little guy. My employees started mocking me for my earlier yelling and dancing. "Mindy! Its cute, just look!" And off came the lid. The possum seized the opportunity, jumped out of the box and ran for freedom. We couldn't find him. I spent the rest of the day on the phone with my landlord with my feet tucked up on my chair.
The book of Exodus is large and important. I'm covering the first half this week. The theme of this section of Exodus is that God is powerful enough to rescue his people. He sees and rescues suffering people. This book is an encouragement to me to trust that God will answer when I hurt.
In the beginning of Exodus, the family of Jacob, the Israelites, have resettled in Egypt to afford themselves the protection of their second in command very forgiving brother Joseph. 400 years later and the Israelites have taken seriously God's instruction to be fruitful and multiply. The saga continues.
Pharaoh and Fear:
The new Pharaoh has not studied history and knows nothing of Joseph. Pharoah decides that the Israelites are a liability. To combat this fear he implements two drastic measures. The first is to enslave the people and the second is to order that all their baby boys be killed. Anytime a group of people are targeted because of their demographics it's heartbreaking. And just like today, fear and greed combine for some awful circumstances. What happens ultimately to Pharoah should serve as warning to us all.
Using fear as an excuse for cruelty leads to self-destruction.
Midwives, Mama and Miriam:
Exodus contains stories with some amazing heroins who saw horror around them and refused to bow to despair. The midwives were told to throw all the Israelite baby boys into the river. They refused. When Pharoah turns to orders to kill baby boys there is at least one brave mom who finds a way to protect her son, Moses. And the big sister who watches over Moses speaks to all women about the important role we play in protecting others. God used these women to protect a baby to change the course of history.
Love is the only weapon large enough to battle fear and win.
Moses and the call:
Moses is rescued from the Nile, raised as a prince, later kills a man in anger and ends up hiding in the wilderness herding sheep. Chapter 3 shows our unlikely hero face to burning bush being told to go rescue the people. Moses has an honest and scared question. "Who am I, that I should go to Pharoah and bring the Israelites out of Egypt". And God says "I will be with you". Truth is that nothing about Moses qualifies him except that God will go with him. Nothing about Moses' messed up background prevents him from being used as long as God is on the journey.
The best answer to our identity questions is that we are not alone.
So after much whining, Moses heads back to Egypt to tell the Israelites that God has promised to set them free. I love this verse. "And when they heard that the Lord was concerned about them and had seen their misery, they bowed down and worshiped." I'd like you to know that God is concerned for you also. I know what I can't breathe, tightness in my chest, weight of sorrow feels like. I also know that God is faithful to help on those hard days. He is good. All the time.
Faith is not a promise for no pain. Faith is knowing pain is not the end of the story.
Imagine being Pharoah sitting in glory surrounded by wealth and with power at his demand. In comes Moses, the fugitive sheep herder, which a message from God to let the Isrealites go. Pharoah replies
"Who is the Lord; that I should obey him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go"
Which hastens back to the promises to Abraham. The point of the whole nation of Israel is to be a light to the world to show a way back to relationship with the creator. Pharaoh's question is about to be answered in spectacular fashion. The coming plagues, rescue from Egypt and parting of the Red Sea spread the word about this God across the known world.
Sometimes grace speaks loudest in our suffering.
My saga continued. Turned out we had 8 possums, a couple of raccoons and some rats all living in the crawl space under my building. A full team of exterminators caught the critters. The dry wall and all the insulation was replaced. Vapor barriers and air cleaners were installed. Environmental specialists signed off. I sighed in relief and set back to work typing, typing, typing. And then, I heard rustling. I searched boxes and behind my desk. Low and high. Sat back down. Rustling. Took a deep breath and peaked in my garbage can. There sat a big fat mama possum. She apparently had been sitting there right by my feet all morning. This time I quietly put a box over the garbage can, didn't tell another soul and marched out to the field next door. Set the possum free. I called the landlord again.
I'm telling you, my own personal plague of possums makes me feel for the Egyptians and the Israelites as they dealt with the plagues of Exodus. Blood, gnats, hail, locusts and five other nasty signs and wonders wrecked havoc. My pastor says that one of his goals in life is to learn his lessons quickly. Soon Pharoh's refusal to submit hit the point of no return. The last plague meant that every first born son in Egypt died. Massive heartache. When that happened, all of Egypt finally begged Israel to leave. Which is where we pick up next week.
The longer it takes to learn, the more pain involved
When my possums invaded I called my landlord. He had the authority and resources to provide help. When caught in consequences from failure or am under attack from outside it makes sense to call the one who has power to rescue. Exodus shows what can happen when God is called.
Patterns of Evidence is a documentary about the archeological footprint that point to the historical Exodus. I love this sort of thing. Rent or purchase by clicking on the photo.
Exodus tackles the hard topic of pain and suffering. Why do we hurt? Does God care? Does He act? Kay Arthur's book "When the Hurt Runs Deep: Healing and Hope for Life's Desperate Moments" unpacks some of these questions with lots of grace. If you are in crisis or healing from a deep pain please consider finding this book at the library or click the photo to buy a copy.
Great detail and art in these two Read Scripture YouTube videos for the book of Exodus. Check them out at the links below or their website www.jointhebibleproject.com if you are interested in seeing more from these talented artists.
You can click on this infographic to make it larger. Check out some thoughtful Exodus questions that go along with the infographic from NewSpring Church here.
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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