I’ve been awful about keeping this all updated, but here’s some of my thoughts as we come to the close of Exodus, which we will finish on Tuesday, November 8th. If you have other thoughts that you’d like to add, please feel free to put them in the comments.
– These people (the Children of Israel) have been in slavery for so long (300-400 years) that they have been significantly damaged and forgotten what freedom and personal responsibility are. (Think of the people that have been in Communist countries for only 3-4 generations!) For this reason God must deal with them in the only language they understand: power and stern talking.
-Even through this stern language we can see a God who’s interested in personal responsibility. He gives them rules about how to live together in a society that can function properly – things like “If your bull gores somebody and you knew that it had a problem and you did nothing about it, you are responsible and must make reparations,” “Don’t lie to each other,” “Don’t cheat on your families,” “Don’t murder.” These are largely all rules about personal responsibility, which you must must understand before you can take the responsibility to know your God more fully in relationship. He is planting the seeds for friendship that can be reaped hopefully in a few generations of healing.
-God gives them the plans for the tabernacle. There are many readings on this, but for our purposes I was impressed that beauty matters to God. These people, who have been slaves, have never had beautiful things to call their own. They have all these skills: metal working, jewelry making, carpentry, spinning, weaving and sewing, but have always been busy making beauty for the Egyptians. This is the first time they’ll build something for themselves and dedicate it to God. And even though He gives them all the plans, there is a lot of freedom for creativity in the creation of the tabernacle.
-Just like the passage where Abraham talks frankly to God about Sodom & Gomorrah, I love the passage in Exodus 33 when Moses and God have another frank conversation. In spite of all that the Children of Israel driving God batty, Moses knows that God cannot act outside His character, and he is willing to call God on this. I don’t see it as a time when Moses “changes God’s mind” but rather, he knows how God truly is and knows what to expect.
-And speaking of Moses, this guy who was afraid of the leadership position God was offering him at the beginning of the book. It’s amazing to see how far he comes as he trusts God and leans on Him to support him to provide the next move. I think that the plagues were like leadership boot camp for Moses – get through that and you can lead anybody anywhere. Funny how conflict and its resolution makes us into incredibly strong people. I think that God often uses these bad things to shape us into better people. The plagues and their destruction weren’t God first plan, but they end up being really beneficial to Moses and the people (at least at first) to see God’s power (see point 1).
-We had a lot of conversations about whether God is arbitrary, at the beginning of Exodus. I kept saying, “Wait to see the big picture.” In my mind God is sometimes willing to make decisions that seem “arbitrary,” and risk being misunderstood because He sees the bigger picture. Our parents may drag us kicking and screaming out of the street, which we find unfair and painful because playing in the street is the “best place.” We may even wail that our parents clearly “hate” us and don’t want us to “have fun” but it’s only as we mature that we can say, “Wow that was stupid.” At no time during the plagues did He not have Moses warn Pharaoh about what was about to happen and how bad it would be, there was always an option to “opt out.”
-I think as we get towards the end of the book we are beginning to see more of that “big picture” of God. And the fact that he’s willing to be misunderstood by us because power, anger and black and white rules are the only language these people understand from an authority figure, tell us something else wonderful about God – that He’s willing to stoop and meet us where we are. He’s willing to take our broken broken attitudes and hearts and heal us no matter how long it may take if we will just choose Him and continue to trust Him.
Was there anything else that we’ve talked about in the past few weeks that really stood out to you in Exodus about who God is and what you’ve learned about him?