Exodus – B
12:14-20 -- original feast of unleavened bread an agricultural feast at the start of the barley festival. 15th to 21st Nissan, not 14 when Passover was. These pastoral and agricultural feasts joined after the shift to the sanctuary (it was a "high" or pilgrimage feast). In ordinary nomadic food, here only one. Here, perhaps, a throwback to a relic after no longer in use. Leaven equals corruption (well all be darned). Excommunication for eating leaven on those seven days.
12:23 -- the Lord delivers people from the destroyer. Interesting how the old anti-evil spirit custom is transformed here. The night of YAH’s power (the J account)
12:26 -- see Peake comment for details of the children's questions today -- the point is that we all owe our existence to God's gracious act which results in the community of faith, not to ourselves.
[Cf. Rabbi Marcio Praeger regarding annual time to ask about our current "place of constriction" which we need deliverance from.]
12:29 -- was it originally just the Pharaoh's son who died and therefore got embellished?
12:31 -- did Pharaoh mean "only for a trip"?
12:38 -- "mixed multitude" with them in Exodus -- were there and are there still, hangers on who are swept up in the events of the day -- through marriage and employment -- cf. the centurion at the cross -- "surely this man was the son of God" --______ (word?)
12:42 -- watch night (vigil of God over people) became a watch night service to them -- so too for us as we recall the vigil of God over his people in the salvation drama of Christ -- an insight into what God was doing while Christ was on the cross and how about now as his "whole creation groans in eager expectation of the salvation of men in all creation"?
-- (April 18/94 -- cf. quotation of widow of five men killed in South America -- "God delivered him from disobedience not death")
12:46 -- no bone broken of the Lamb, do it all in one home location -- and to reinforce the unity concept of the celebration -- solidarity of the group.
12:51 -- on that very day God delivered -- the setting out is the deliverance in a nutshell even if the working out of it was to take years and years, is still in process. Christ's deliverance was on Calvary, but the working out of it was to take years -- years and still is in process "till he comes again".
13:1f -- sacrifice of the firstborn (of children in foundations) strengthened houses! Changed here to consecration and the given reasons (two different ones) for such action. Cf. Christ's death as the firstborn -- consecration into death did indeed give life -- Mary's first child -- the motif runs deep in that culture and still does today -- our firstborn is different, as all first-time experiences of life and death etc. are momentous in their impact.
13:3 -- for by strength of hand the Lord has brought you out of this place -- by no passive wimpiness in this or Christ's action -- but by might of the Lord God brought us out. We are brought out -- but do we still live as though in our "house of bondage"?
13:9 -- a Memorial -- "it is because of what the Lord did for me when I came out of Egypt" -- gives base to the Lord's supper Memorial theology.
13:13 -- "redemption" of a firstborn person set at five shekels (i.e. the person himself was not killed (usually) in Israel (as it was in Canaan)) but the giving over was done by a substitute of five shekels (the rate was set later).
13:17f -- **when Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near, for God said "lest the people repent when they see war, and return to Egypt" but God led the people round by the way of the wilderness toward the Red Sea and the people of Israel went up out of the land of Egypt equipped for battle"
-- I feel this also in my own journey and now see that perhaps that has been God's way with all of us in Christ as we enter into his finished work (the departure) but not so quickly into its working out -- so much of "Egypt" is still in the slaves, we spook back easily into slavery.
13:18 -- "equipped for battle" (uncertain) perhaps "free". In either case -- their preparations were as nothing against the Canaanite chariots, and their freedom was a reality into which they had yet to grow. The scene calls to mind Jesus question to the disciples "are you able to be baptized with my baptism (of fire)... "we are able" -- the scene is that of overconfident youth and expectant "I can beat the world" attitude, which seems to get kicked out of us in the wilderness through which God leads us, lest we repent upon seeing the grim reality of the battle in which we are being somewhat less than victors. Our competence as slaves is irrelevant in a new situation and we all become "babies" as we venture into new turf where others are competent already.
-- how about when kids leave towns and farms and reserves to "seek their fortune" down life's roads? Equipped? Free? When they come into our lives and world is it "assistance" to soften and ease things, or is it the toughening up of the desert which God is trying to do? From whence does the toughness of mankind spring?
-- How much of our enslavement is really spiritual, not "real world flesh and blood" -- the "enemy within" and the "principalities and powers" etc. -- our fears and the "demons of bondage" of so many types do cripple us up.
-- How much of these kid’s lives as they enter the university world is going from "top" of the last one (high school) to the "bottom" of the next -- culture shock and disorientation? How much of the social upheaval and experimentation come from "something has to give way" and loss of cues and turmoil and confusion of social change and aloneness?
-- Cloud and fire -- Bedouin custom of Brazier ahead of the Army to honour somebody perhaps changed to honour God who leads them (JEP traditions differ -- leads, cloud of presence at the tent, fiery cloud that signals to move on) God is the deliverer, we move to freedom as and when he signals (cf. tow truck and stuck persons "trying to be helpful" and getting in the way of being pulled out of a ditch".
-- Our notions of personal/ social liberation have a little of this concept (for ourselves/others). Christ's leadership was of a "led" variety in setting us free, and it worked -- his was the way of death and letting go and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Ours is of ourselves and our own cleverness and profoundly affected by our feelings and preferences and creature comforts.
14:2 -- "tell the people to turn back" -- was it really due to the fortress of Etham? "P" tradition hears in it a "final" lesson regarding the Egyptians and in what direction real liberty (and liberator) lay -- i.e. was it, rather, a "final" lesson to the Israelites to keep them going (or was it the demonstration to Pharaoh?) Note that God again hardened Pharaoh's heart which, in other situations was done to have an effect on the slave mentality.
-- The image of death to baby chickens by "helping" them break out of their shells keeps coming back to me. Are we really helping people by pandering to them, or is God's "wilderness" way really quicker and more thorough and efficient? By letting people be soft and amenable to their "captors" and "masters" do we do an injustice by not letting God toughen us up in a cauldron of life? Or does God liberate us rather by ways and means appropriate to each of our personalities, histories, societies, circumstances, futures, etc.? Is that perhaps why we need to be sensitive to his leading in this business of liberation, because he does know what's best?
14:3 -- bogged down in one's own liberation journey (and look who gets bogged down -- the pursuers!). "They are entangled in the land, the wilderness has shut them in". Apart from being up against God as liberator through his co-operative servant Moses, Pharaoh's assessment would have been correct -- trouble was, he didn't factor in God!
-- So with Christ -- "entangled on the cross" was the popular interpretation, and apart from God, it would be correct. But it wasn't -- apart from God, for God was in Christ reconciling us to himself -- and we also have this "entangled" task of "ministry of reconciliation"... which, apart from God, is a ridiculous waste of time and life.
14:4 -- "and they did so" -- they were obedient and camped and got liberated in the only real road to their liberation -- even though it looks like slavery and death from their point of view.
-- "and they did so" (and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord). I guess perhaps they did so as the water swept over their chariots, but the story doesn't really focus on the "other side". It never does -- it always focuses on God's liberation of his people and the ongoing saga of his liberation of "all creation"... "I when I be lifted up will draw all men unto me". No permanent prodigal sons, the big decision is "if as and when we decide to respond to his love and care and quality of his life." The rest is "interim crap" in which we are losers and the hurt, and the lost, and the confused -- the ones who are really bogged down versus the ones who crossover on firm ground and make camp on the edge of the wilderness in need of liberation through wilderness to "our land of milk and honey".
14:4 and 18 -- "and I will get to glory over Pharaoh" what an interesting phrase -- he did, and in Christ we see it again only more so.
[Reading Exodus is like eating Belgian chocolate --Veeeery rich]
13:20 and 14:2 -- the camp at Etham -- was this a crisis time for Moses? Did he get to his wits end and the slaves he was liberating at Etham "camped on the edge of the wilderness" (with a fortress between them and the "freedom of the wilderness"? Was it at Etham that Moses realized just how much the slave mentality owned the slaves and that he could push on and all be dead, or go the slow route and all be dead (but cleansed as to the next generation)? Etham was the head of the Southern road to the North [running parallel to the road of the Philistines, only several miles inland from it) -- "no, Moses, not the roads at all -- go through the wilderness."
-- if he was a "perceiver" -- the "how-to" aspect of an encourager would be missing. He would be an "all or nothing" type. A "snap out of it" style of counselling. He wanted to go straight from point a to point B. as a closest distance between two points -- so the breaking of Moses daily and letting God lead the people out makes this a story of personal liberation for Moses too -- so perhaps Jesus "grew daily in favour of God and man (cf. the Syro-Phoenician woman and scene in the garden prayer r). Perhaps Jesus’ "if any man does not take up his cross daily and follow me has no part of me" arose from his own participation in the journey -- i.e. he did walk with me.
-- if so, "turn back, Moses" and camp by the wilderness. It must have just about killed him. But I wonder if it was a matter of "keep on keeping on, Moses" -- don't throw the baby out with the bathwater -- don't " cut off your nose to spite your face" don't "damn the torpedoes", don't be "dead right" the good side of his perceiver gift came through in that he also saw what was the mind of God and shared in verses 13 and 14 with the people.
--insert -- 12:35 -- "can I Borrow your dress for the party?
14:2 and 9 -- Moses took them and put them by God's leading, between a rock and a hard place, and let Pharaoh push the issue. The pressure is on in verse 9 when the Army catches up. I.e. the initial pressure of "desire for freedom" was insufficient to get them through the "wall" of Etham fortress to the freedom Road -- despite all their overconfident "going up from Egypt prepared for battle".
[Cf. Redvers for me -- 21/6/97]
13:18, with 14:2, 8, 11 -- they may have been "equipped" (verse 8) and defiant (verse 8) or even under God's strong hand -- but they were not deeply changed -- certainly not changed enough inside to push through the fortress by their own momentum. They were pushed through to freedom by the pressures of life -- by the agenda of Pharaoh -- not the threat of return to slavery (which looked okay compared to the real feared enemy -- death). Moses tipped the scale and kept them at it rather than abandoning it -- in verse 13 "fear not, stand still and see the deliverance of God." They still took leadership from Moses, not enough to go ahead, but they didn't desert to the Egyptians, so God had them do what they were able to do, stand still and be delivered.
-- and so with Christ. We get to the same situation and God says to us, "stand still and see my deliverance" by this sea and before the approaching army -- "fear not, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world".
14:9 -- camping out while en route to freedom -- the needs of food and sleep don't stop no matter what the journey and agenda -- people have all the normal needs and these need to be factored in to any journey -- to freedom or not. And these people were overtaken while camping out meeting those needs, perhaps to their greater surprise because people generally feel good after a good supper -- cf. Psalm "the evening which was cool refreshment to me has turned to terror". Somehow the unexpected (though perhaps predictable) gets to us even more -- how naïve they all were to think it was just them and the fortress enemy in front of them -- life is never that simple. It took 40 wilderness years to change that group from an attitude of slavery to that of a Bedouin (cf. CBC commentator who lived with them for three years -- "they expect to die out there and if they find water, they throw a party versus Americans who have a list of "lifestyle" and if 5% is missing they give up, despair, and commit suicide").
14:10, 11 -- "and the people of Israel cried out to the Lord; and they said to Moses... (bitch bitch bitch). Isn't that the way! We turn to the Lord in our desperation asking for relief, and pot shot at his means of deliverance and/or fail to see him "in this place".
14:12 -- is this not what we said to you in Egypt, "let us alone to serve the Egyptians?" So it was the slave mentality not Pharaoh’s which was the object of the plagues and repeated requests --
all it did was get them a few miles down the road -- permanent change was a generational thing -- because they chose to have it so. How slow the process and how great the cost of our salvation from that which enslaves us! We can move and change ever so slowly -- we do change, but it comes slow -- and we forfeit so much by our reluctance to change out of slavery.
14:13 and 14 -- the basis for this interchange is fear. And Moses replied his "fear not". His instruction is what they can do -- it's not some grandiose and overwhelming task -- but yet it's a challenge! "Stand still and see."
Getting out of the way (Ephesians "sit" and we are raised with him -- cf. watchman Nee) and giving God room to operate is critical for our salvation. Stand still! "The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to stand still".
-- so it is with Christ -- our instinct is to do something both as leaders and as followers and we are all in need of God's salvation of us. Christ had to stay in Jerusalem and walk through a process which is notable by his doing nothing and watching God work out his and our salvation in his own way -- and even so he lost sight of God through the dust and smoke of the chaotic action. He might well have said "for it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness". His "Egyptians" were different -- as ours are and his "wilderness" in an urban city and a local garbage dump were also different as (ours are) but the dynamics are the same -- dying to the world and baptism and resurrection to life on the other side of the pond.
-- "fear not, stand firm". We can stand firm in God's care -- but it's hard when we know not of him. Christ knew and stood firm in God and his fear was taken care of for him and yes he saw God's deliverance of his people through the events (which were him) and the Lord did fight for him (and us) in that day -- the battle is over.
-- I wonder about the Jews and the Holocaust here, though. They were imbued with just such a spirit of life and they died by the millions that Hitler's hand.
14:13 -- "the Egyptians which you see today you will never see again". Rock and a hard place? God will fight for you and by opening the hard place and shattering the rock -- leaving you walking ahead unmolested -- and he does one by doing the other -- if as and when we do our part -- get up and walk on in faith towards the water. "I can dig my shovel in, I can lift it out, I can dump it in the wheelbarrow, I can do it again, and again, and again and I can leave the rest to God to deliver. Deliverance from "today's seen Egyptians."
-- Christ found himself in that type of situation also and God delivered him by opening a way in the barrier and destroying the advancing enemy and through that "way" we also find deliverance at the hand of God and the "Egyptian army" we see today in our own way -- that wants to take us back into slavery we never see again -- and we all have to do is "be still, stand firm, fear not, and see the salvation of God."
14:50 -- why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward -- Jesus in the Garden, Moses at the seaside, freedom ahead and enslavement and death encroaching from behind -- tell the people to go forward -- and you, you don't cry to me, get lifting up your rod and dividing the sea, so they can go through on dry ground. Leadership must lead through obedience and go forward first and with great flamboyance "command the sea to part." How can people follow in faith of their leader leading in faith and obedience -- for in God is our salvation and in him we can all (leaders and led) follow. Cf. Robert Tilton's off-the-wall-ness that liberates those who have ears to hear and how my "giver" side has been fed, lead, taught, healed, and liberated into maturity. "Don't cry to me (about self or others) -- tell the people to go forward!" And so Christ leads us, having cut a way through and we walk through to our salvation on dry and solid ground – a way opened ahead and the enemy behind destroyed to the "glory of God over ‘Pharaoh, and his chariots and horsemen’".
14:17 -- I (God) will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them (to their own destruction)"
-- the hardness of the self-righteous pursuit of those escaping from our grasp and control. The pursuit of the vindictive, the vengeful and blind and those filled with fury of a "sure thing" and their own might and the righteousness of their cause like______ and_____in pursuit of_____(withheld) -- God opens the way out for him which he has and is doing "on hard ground" and God hardened their hearts (perhaps by having the real nature of their level of development rise to the surface in action and incite them to pursuit of "a surely vanquished former intimidator") to pursue him -- and if they do so it will be to their own destruction. For God will deliver and the Egyptians didn't have to die -- but their hearts were made hard -- they acted out of their hearts and they couldn't even see their own peril in the returning waters -- so bent on an easy catch were they.
-- and so are the powers of darkness destroyed as they pursue Christ and his band to the promised land only to have their hearts hardened and eyes blinded to the destruction that is of God -- we are set free, and the principalities and powers are removed -- free at last in his kingdom -- lots of dross to be removed but living on a different side of the Jordan -- oh freedom! O freedom!!
-- and I (God) will get victory over Pharaoh (backed by a fortress and well supplied) and all his chariots and horsemen -- overwhelming as they are indeed to us ("fell into a panic") they are no match for God and to the victor goes the glory.
14:12 -- the people had yet to learn faith/trust as Moses already had -- our leaders are pushed through experiences ahead, and then they walked easy(er) because they've already been there. So to say "stand still and see the victory God is giving us", can only come from someone who knows. And they are believable (one shall chase 1000, two shall chase 10,000!). Where was Aaron in all this? Was he one of the "two" in the above situation, or was Moses alone quite alone in walking first?
Jesus was alone. And he made the day through his faith.
14:15 -- a time for prayer and the time for action -- now get moving and shut up -- "I will speak to you in action" as God says
14:19 -- the big moment in Jewish history (likeA.D. For Christians) the crossing of the sea -- the epitome of the Exodus -- the memory of the events of that day bring down through the years and bring joy to us all -- like those of Easter and the Friday -- Easter crossing of the great Sea barrier in life -- death itself and the last vestige of enslavement the world holds on us -- even after all other enslavements are gone and died to -- the one big one -- the motive for so much that followed in all these people's heritage and that of our own. Like Abraham's baby, and the flight, so this also and so later the exile and return -- piece by piece they heard and grew into it and then that amazing fullness of experience in the fullness of time -- Christ and the event that sucked all the experienced before and after itself into itself the death and resurrection and ascension of Christ. Hallelujah!
14:24-5f -- what a deliverance -- they just got over and all hell broke loose -- see the Psalm 77-1 to 7 f account as well -- whirlwinds and tornadoes and torrential rain and lightning and thunder and floodtide! The Egyptians were so intent on their fleeing captive slaves and their own potential gain in resource and/or vengeance that they didn't even see it coming or respond to the danger. Horses balk at natural disasters that are impending -- but too late -- they were stuck in their own pursuit up to the axles, all that remained now was death -- the working out of the reality they had chosen to ride into.
So also with Christ -- the victor across and the curtain was torn, earthquakes and storms and graves open -- what a momentous scene -- burned into the memories, as were the realization that "when morning came "they were all alive and well in Christ was there as well in their midst as Moses was -- the body of Christ they were to grow into being -- the called out ones, in process to the fulfillment of the freedom they now tasted.
-- the barrier was not a sea this time but death itself and the passage was opened and Christ crossed by faith and we to "walk with him" because "of God we are in Christ Jesus" -- we are placed in Christ and walked through death when he did and live the resurrection life now "as we abide in him and he in us".