This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on September 17, 2017.
For the sake of contextual integrity, let us backtrack the events that have taken place since Exodus 12:1-14. God has enacted the tenth and final plague on the land of Egypt, resulting in the death of every firstborn person and animal whose doorposts and lintel is not covered by the blood of the sacrificial lamb. Now the promise of God to set the captives free unfolds, as Pharaoh and the Egyptians urge the Israelites to go away and carry their plunder with them. Yet, while the Israelites are making their way from Rameses to Succoth, several critical practices are outlined primarily for Israel’s remembrance. Remember the ordinance of the Passover and its significance as on this day the LORD brought you up out of the land of Egypt (Exodus 12:43-13:2). Enact the Festival of Unleavened Bread continually as a remembrance of how the LORD demonstrated His strength in providing your deliverance (Exodus 13:3-10). Consecrate your first born as a reminder to your children that you are here today only by the grace and strength of the LORD who brought you up out of Egypt (Exodus 13:11-16). Finally, just in case the people were subject to convenient amnesia, Yahweh provides pillars of clouds and fire to represent His presence that rests with them and leads them along the way (Exodus 13:17-22).
Armed with a plethora of devices to stimulate the Israelites’ senses for relating to Yahweh, the LORD makes an executive decision to reveal another aspect of His glory in yet another unexpected way. God orders an abrupt U-turn of the Israelite camp back towards Pharaoh and relays the end goal of His plan to His servant, Moses. It is here where the Israelites and we begin to experience the tension of the text. Now the narrator outlines two divergent plans, Yahweh’s and Pharaoh’s, making it obvious that a cataclysmic showdown is inevitable. It’s not long before Israel’s brain cramp sets in signaled by a murmuring motif aimed at Moses and ultimately at God. Moses, displaying potentially a measure of growth and positive leadership, addresses the people’s actions of fear opposed to their hyperboles of the “good life” lived in Egypt. In response to the implicit prayers of Moses towards Yahweh, God recapitulates His plan for the Israelites and conveys to Moses that prayer time is over, now is the time for praxis (faith placed into action).
This text is used for the Lectionary Year A on September 3, 2017.
The life of Moses has been covered by Hollywood to the extent that it may appear common, yet perhaps it is here amongst “the common” things of life that Exodus 3:1-15 provides an opportunity for the preacher to connect with the congregation. For it is in the everyday routine of a shepherd attending to the sheep that we encounter Moses in this pericope (Exodus 3:1). Unbeknown to Moses, what started out as an ordinary, common, day would serve as a trajectory point for a life altering extraordinary encounter with the Holy. Yet, an appreciation of Moses’ past is required to understand the significance of the present.
Here is a man whose life has been nothing less than a roller coaster ride of emotions. From a prince in the palace to a murderer and an alien in a foreign land. This commoner experienced the highs and lows of life. Not to mention, his current profession wreaks with a foul odor designating a lowly position in life. With a resume full of failures, dreams deferred, and a daily routine filled with isolation there is nothing extraordinary about Moses at this point in his life while wandering in his own wilderness.
This text is used as the Lectionary Text for Year A on August 27, 2017.
The subject of the sovereignty of God can be a touchy one within the church. It raises seemingly limitless questions, with seemingly limitless answers depending on one’s subscription to any number of theologies. The nature and scope of God’s sovereignty are often disagreed upon—even to the point of contention—among Christian denominations. But the fact that God is sovereign, whatever that might look like, is a critical tenet for all who profess, “Jesus is Lord.”
The passage begins by highlighting humanity’s ephemeral nature. Not even a great man like Joseph, who had risen to a place of prominence in Egypt, can be remembered forever. What has withstood the test of time, however, are the people through whom God’s covenant with Abraham would be fulfilled. The Israelites have honored God’s creation mandate to “be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28), and their growing number was a sign of God’s presence and blessing. The size of the Israelite population has snuck up on Pharaoh, and he decides to put an end to their growth—he attempts, in effect, to put an end to God’s presence and blessing among God’s people. Pharaoh does not deport the Israelites from his land; he recognizes that they have value to him, and he attempts to exploit it by ruthlessly imposing slave labor upon them. God’s sovereignty shines through, however, as the Israelites respond to Pharaoh’s oppression by further increasing in number. The Egyptians began to loathe the Israelites—after all, as the plagues in Exodus 8 would reveal, Egyptians hate swarms.
This text is used for the Lectionary Year C on February 7, 2016.
When my father got excited, he would rub his hands together. If our favorite football team scored, he would rub his hands together. If he got good news in his business, he would rub his hands together. Guess what? When I get really excited, I rub my hands together. Here’s what’s funny—I never set out to learn to rub my hands together like my dad. I never looked at him and said, “That’s cool. I really want to rub my hands together like my dad does.” Without thinking about it, I just started rubbing my hands together like he did. Because I hung around my father so much, I ended up picking up a lot of his habits. I did things the way I saw him do things.
In the day of Jesus, a disciple would choose a rabbi to follow and literally move in with the teacher while studying with him. Not only would the student learn Scriptures and theology, how to pray, and how to live faithfully, the student would learn everything from the rabbi. The student would literally take on the characteristics and mannerisms of the rabbi.