Peace be with you!
Divides run deep in societies: African Americans vs. Caucasians, rich vs. poor, abled vs. disabled, and [whatever “it” is] that divides your community. The events following the Michael Brown shooting in Ferguson, Missouri have shined a light on the deep need for healing and reconciliation in the community. My step-dad, Kim, keeps asking if we have gone back to the 1960s when segregation was still prevalent. As the protests and other events continue in Ferguson, the deep-seated emotions overrun any peaceful resolutions in the near future.
Exodus opens with the oppression of the Israelites by the Egyptians. The new Pharaoh does not know Joseph and is fearful of the Israelites who are numerous and could join forces with the Egyptians’ enemies (Exodus 1:8-10). The Pharaoh’s goal is to weaken the Israelites’ numbers, and he tries to do so in three ways. First, the Pharaoh enslaves the Israelites to build two new supply cities, Pithom and Rameses (Exodus 1:11). The Pharaoh hopes the heavy labor would be too much for the Israelites and decrease their numbers. Second, when their numbers continue to increase, the Pharaoh instructs the midwives to the Hebrews, Shiphrah and Puah, to kill the male babies but to allow the female ones to live (Exodus 1:16). However, the midwives respect and serve God and allow the male Hebrew babies to live (Exodus 1:17). Third, the Pharaoh demands the Egyptians to throw all of the male Hebrew babies into the Nile River (Exodus 1:22). However, God and the women go against the Pharaoh. God blesses the Israelites with children, even when they are enslaved and physically exhausted (Exodus 1:12). Using God-fearing midwives who protect innocent life, God works against the Pharaoh to keep his promises to Abraham and Jacob.
When a Levite couple has a son, the wife hides the baby for three months until he grows too big (Exodus 2:1-2). The mother plasters a papyrus basket with bitumen and pitch and put the baby in it to float down the Nile River (Exodus 2:3). The idea must have been terrifying for the mother as she puts her faith in God by trusting he will protect her son in the river. However, the mother trusts God will send her son to a person and place where he will be able to grow up.
The baby’s sister follows the baby and sees the Pharaoh’s daughter take the basket out of the river when she goes down to bathe (Exodus 2:4-5). The baby’s sister approaches the Pharaoh’s daughter and asks, “Do you want a Hebrew woman to nurse the baby?” (Exodus 2:7). Pharaoh’s daughter says, “Yes, take the child and I will pay you wages” (Exodus 2:8a, 9). The Hebrew girl goes and gets her mother to nurse the baby (Exodus 2:8b). When the child grows up, the Hebrew woman gives him back to Pharaoh’s daughter who names him Moses – the one drawn out of the water (Exodus 2:10). Even the Pharaoh’s daughter has sympathy for the Israelites and saves the one who, in the providence of God, will rebuke the Pharaoh and take the Israelites out of Egypt.
God claims the Israelites as his people and continues to bless them, even when they live in a foreign land. God protects his people from genocide through the two midwives and Pharaoh’s daughter. As we continue exploring Exodus in the coming weeks, we will see the Israelites struggle with their identity as God’s chosen people.
As we struggle to understand the Ferguson situation, may God lead us to find long-lasting salvation. God sent Jesus to break down the divisions in the world by healing and lifting up the oppressed through peace and reconciliation (Ephesians 2:14-15). God hears the cries of the people in Ferguson, like he heard the Israelite’s cries in Egypt, and he will deliver the people out of oppression. God will heal the people in Ferguson through the peace and salvation of Jesus Christ.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for saving Moses through Pharaoh’s daughter. Help us to break divisions among us. Lead us to heal the oppressed through the grace, peace, and love of Jesus Christ. Thank you for giving us the identity as your people. Amen.
Please answer the following reflective questions in the comments below. Please agree to disagree and be respectful to each other. (If you have not already done so, please also take a moment, to sign the behavior covenant by commenting on it.) You can answer as many questions as you would like.
- What kinds of divisions are you affected by? How do they affect your life or identity? How can you be apart of the reconciliation God brings into the world through Jesus Christ rather than being part of the problem?
- What does it mean to be God’s people?
- How do you experience salvation?