December 4, 2014
Exodus 1:1-14 & 22
These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.
Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. . . .
Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: “Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live.”
Joseph: Mary, we really should be there by now, but all these bathroom stops are making the trip take twice as long.
Mary: Sorry Joe. I’d say it’s your fault, but this isn’t exactly your child is it. ;0) So how much longer did you say till we get there?
Joseph: Mary, why don’t you be the storyteller today?
Mary: Sure. It was a dark and stormy night. . . . only kidding. First, let’s remember where we’ve been so far. We started with God creating the world and everything in it. Then we spoke about Adam and Eve and that crafty serpent and the end of Eden. God reset things again with Abraham and Sarah and he made some pretty astonishing promises to them. From Abraham we moved to Isaac and then Joseph and now we have twelve tribes and they all lived in Egypt.
Joseph: Egypt started out like a land of promise didn’t it?
Mary: Yes, but it later turned into a place of chaos. Those Pharaohs crucified our people. Imagine the very people of God reduced to slaves.
Joseph: Then Pharaoh made the ultimate move of un-creating. He issued an order to drown all the Israelite baby boys in the Nile River.
Mary: Isn’t it amazing Joseph, how God started to save his people through a tiny baby named Moses. His parents kept him as long as they could hide him and one day they built a small boat, an ark if you will, made of reeds and held together by tar. They put him in the little boat and floated it out into the Nile.
Joseph: Yes, and isn’t it like God to have Pharoah’s daughter rescue this baby and for the future deliverer of Israel to grow up in the palace of the oppressor.
Mary: You always do this! Joseph, it’s my day to be the storyteller. You are such a story hog. O.K., Joseph, has it occurred to you yet that this baby in my belly, who we will name Jesus, will be the way God starts to save the world for the last time. He starts with a baby.
Joseph: Go on. And can we pick up the pace just a bit?
Mary: With the donkey?
Joseph: No! Mary, with the story.
Mary: O.K., the boy grows up. He flees Egypt in fear of his life. Forty years later he’s wandering around with a herd of sheep and he comes across a mysterious bush. It’s on fire but it is not being burned up. God speaks to him there, calling him to “Set my people free!” Moses goes to Pharaoh and nine plagues later they are sacrificing lambs as the main course of the Passover Feast and smearing their blood over their doors. Next thing you know, Moses is leading Gods people through the Red Sea on dry ground.
Joseph: As a baby he was saved from the Nile and now as a man he is being delivered through the sea. And don’t you love it when the Creation obeys the Creator like that! Even the wind and the waves obey God.
Mary: So God delivers his people through Moses faithfulness out of Egypt, the land of slavery, and onto the promised land. But there was a small problem.
Joseph: I remember. They didn’t trust God could keep his promise.
Mary: There it is again. When trust fails everything falls. God let the hard hearted generation wander around in that desert for forty years.
Joseph: That’s another amazing thing about our God, Mary. He will wait out a hard hearted generation only to turn around and keep the promise to their children.
Mary: That’s right. Obedience is inspired by trust and trust is won by love.
Joseph: Time to wrap Mary.
Mary: Really Joseph. . . . You want me to just skip Mt. Sinai and the Ten Commandments and the golden calf party and the manna from heaven and the water from the rock and the construction of the tabernacle and the Ark of the Covenant O.K. have it your way. My mother was right, you never really know a person until you take a road trip with them. ;0) So forty years later, they enter into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey, and they lived happily ever after. And if you believe that, I’ve got some ocean front property in Babylon I’ll give you a deal on. Haha.
I’ll leave it with this for the day: God keeps promises. It’s who he is. Let’s just keep praying for this baby, Jesus; that he will have the courage of Moses and be mighty to save as God has promised.
The Experiment: We did a trust fall a couple of days ago. That’s what I would call the break through of trust. That’s what it’s like to put your trust in Jesus, to come to grips with the fact that only he can save us from falling. It’s the kind of trust it took to walk out into the middle of the parted waters of the Red Sea, knowing they could crash in on you at any time but trusting that God would deliver them through it.
Today we are going to try a trust walk. Trust calls for a big leap of faith at the beginning, yet it requires a long process of following Jesus after that. We learn to walk by a trusting faith and not by mere eyesight.
Get a blindfold and put it on a child. Now turn the child around a few times to disorient their sense of direction. Try the first half of the walk with the child behind you, holding your belt or shoulder as you lead them through obstacles and around corners and such. In the second half of the walk, you will walk beside them, giving them detailed and clear instructions on how to move forward without being able to see. This works best outdoors where you have to walk through tight spaces and under low hanging limbs and across rough patches of ground and around trees. It can also work inside. Get a bunch of plastic cups and/or balls of different sizes and scatter them across an open room with a chair here and there. The adult talks the blindfolded child from the starting line through the obstacles without touching any and on to the designated finish line. After doing this, switch up the roles and you wear the blindfold.
The exercise makes tangible the need to listen carefully and to demonstrate complete trust by following directions all while having no ability to find one’s way alone. This is what God taught Israel in the desert years. This is how Jesus guides our steps through the Holy Spirit throughout our lives.
Keep remembering the big story!
PEOPLE GET READY! JESUS IS COMING!
Get the Daily Text delivered to your inbox fresh every morning. Subscribe HERE.