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Unlocking the Mystery of the Bible - Stepping into Exodus

[Note:  Our Wednesday night journey into the Bible continues this week at 6 pm in our sanctuary for anyone who wants to join us.  We are entering into the book of Exodus this Wednesday]

The Bible is a beautiful and powerful book and when it is translated and taught in a way we understand, it begins to shed light into our lives and give us hope.  The key, then, is to make sure we are doing a good job of translating it and making it accessible to you.  That is precisely what we are trying to do on Wednesday evenings, and I hope our time in Genesis has helped you see things a bit more clearly.

Now, let me throw you a curveball.  Genesis is just a preface to what our Jewish tradition considers to be the most important part of their story and heritage.  Genesis just brings us to the doorstep of what really matters:  the exodus.

The first 15 chapters of Exodus give us the bare necessities and foundation of our faith.  The events we hear described give us the answers to two of our most basic questions as human beings:

#1 - What kind of God do we worship and serve?

AND

#2 - How then are we to live given what we know about God?

There will be a lot of details in these chapters, but the key thing is to keep these two questions in your mind.  They will help you sort through the details and wade through the various plagues.

The picture of God that we receive is amazing, encouraging, and awe-inspiring.  The key verse that begins to reveal who God is comes in Exodus 3:9.  God hears the cries of the children of Israel and is moved into action.  This sets up the drama.  God is in a contest with Pharaoh.  Pharaoh represents all of our humanity that is resistant, that is prideful, that is death-dealing.  And God cannot stand to know that evil is prospering, so the Lord sets himself into motion to provide deliverance.

The answer to our first question becomes clear.  God is a God who hears our anguish, our suffering, our hurt and our wounds.  More importantly, God is intent upon providing deliverance to those who are trapped - whether we are talking about those bound up in unhealthy emotional situations, social situations or spiritual conditions.  The God of Israel is a God who desires and acts to provide release and healing.

Secondly, God is a God who will deal with the reality of evil and injustice in the world.  This all becomes symbolized in the powerful and central part of the Jewish faith, the Passover.  Passover actually begins a week from today, and this ritual and liturgy captures both God's mercy to the hurting/oppressed and God's justice for the abuser/oppressor.  Deliverane is given.  Evil individuals and evil institutions are judged.

Finally, we see in these first fifteen chapters our two options.  The first option is trusting God and finding peace/deliverance which leads to freedom, joy and praise.  This response is beautifully captured at the start of the fifteenth chapter in this song of deliverance called the "Song of the Sea" sung by Moses.  The second response is disobedience/hardening our hearts, which leads to frustration and - ultimately - death.

These are the two options:  life or death.  Exodus is stark in this way.  It is meant to be so.  It is meant to serve as a great sign-post of what life is really about.  In this way, Exodus 1-15 becomes a beautiful "gospel."  It sums up the truth of the Bible for us.  First of all, God hears our cry.  This is the foundational affirmation.  We may not always feel this to be true.  There may be times when we feel God is absent or inattentive to our crying and suffering (just ask Job or the men and women who wrote the Psalms), but we rely and trust this foundational truth about God.  When we are hurting, God is moved ot action, and WILL work for our deliverance.  God confronts the wrongs that "seem oft so strong."  This is who Jesus becomes for us.  Secondly, God will lead his people into a promised land.  Finally, he will dwell with his people.

Therefore, we can let the story of Exodus 1-15 speak to us and about us and over our lives.  We can use it as a launching pad for reflection.  How have I been like Pharaoh recently?  What parts in me feel oppressed or hurting?  Maybe I am literally in an unhealthy relationship?  And what comfort can I find in the knowledge that the Lord hears the cries of His children?

We'll cover more in our discussion on Wednesday.  May God continue to help you hear the good news for you and for your life.

~Wes

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