Continuing a plan to get through the entire Bible in a year, follow as I journal through the reading. I have chosen a straightforward approach that begins in Genesis and ends in Revelation. This will not be an in-depth study or a comprehensive commentary. There are plenty of sources for such material. This is stage one Bible reading, taking the text at face value and sharing impressions.
Today’s reading comes from the book of Exodus, chapters 1 through 3, covering much, from the birth of Moses to his encounter with God in the burning bush. Some impressions from the text:
- “… the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” The seed of Israel takes root in the womb of Egypt. Few things in nature occur as we might imagine before discovering the truth. Children typically don’t figure out how babies are made. The truth of the process, from conception to birth, seems horrifying and implausible to an innocent mind. But the process works as it does for a reason. In a similar sense, Israel’s germination from a single family to a full-blown nation occurred within the peculiar context of Egyptian captivity. At first glance, we regard that captivity as a curse. But like Joseph’s earlier captivity in Egypt, the Israelite captivity served an important purpose in God’s plan.
- A new pharaoh who did not know Joseph rises to power and begins to oppress the Israelites, first placing them into bondage and forced labor, then attempting to quell their numbers though various schemes.
- When Pharaoh tells the midwives to kill all the male newborns, the account tells us “the midwives feared God and did not do as the king of Egypt commanded them, but let the male children live.” Fearing God above men, even the most powerful of men, should be the conviction of every believer. “And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families.”
- Providence is clear in the account of Moses’ birth and deliverance from the condemnation of Pharaoh. Just the fact that his mother hid the newborn for three months proves astounding. Can you imagine? But the fact that he was placed in the basket on the Nile, found by Pharaoh’s daughter, and then nursed by his birth mother defies credulity but for divine intervention.
- The killing of the Egyptian by Moses is often overlooked as little more than a turning point in his story. But this was a significant moral choice. Moses killed a man in cold-blood, “looked this way and that, and seeing no one, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand.” Like so many biblical figures utilized by God, Moses was deeply flawed.
- “God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.” God never forgot his covenant with Abraham, though it may have seemed that way to the Israelites in Egyptian captivity. God works on his timeline, and his moves can sometimes span generations. Indeed, they do more often than not. Believers need to be patient.
- The account of the burning bush is often mocked by atheists and skeptics as ludicrous. Are we truly to believe that a bush burned without being consumed, and that it spoke with a voice to Moses? No, a bush did not do those things. God did. That distinction changes everything, moving the account from the absurd to the wholly rational. God is God. He made the universe. Talking through a burning bush is nothing.
- “But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the children of Israel out of Egypt?” [God] said, “But I will be with you…” That was the gentle response. God could have just as rightly answered Moses directly. Moses was nothing and no one. Moses was a murderer. Moses was a shepherd in exile. But none of that mattered, because God would be with him.
- “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.” Think of what Moses was asked to do. He was commanded by God to enter the court of the most powerful man on Earth and order him to release his slaves. He was to walk up to the king of Egypt, bearing nothing but a staff and a claim of divine commission, and tell Pharaoh what to do. It was nuts! Furthermore, God here tells him that it won’t work! Go tell Pharaoh to let my people go. He won’t. But go tell him anyway. This is astounding, is it not? God works the same way today. The Great Commission of Christianity, to go forth into all the nations and make disciples, is made despite the fact that an overwhelming majority of those reached will reject the gospel. We should not look for acceptance by man as a measure of success.
Return soon as we continue our year-long journey through the text of the Bible.
Catch up on the previous entries: