Sermon 17 Exodus 4 :29 – 5:21 “From Impressed by God’s Signs to Doubly Oppressed by Fearful Pharaoh.”
Reflection/Discussion: Read 3:31 and then 4:20. How do these ‘frame’ the story? Is this kind of behavour common in humanity? In the classic and soon-to-be-epic power struggle that starts in this passage, what is the root problem or question? How is the people’s vision and Moses’ leadership tested here? Where do you see your vision being tested today? Would you want a leadership role like that of Moses?
Summary: this story is framed by the people’s worshipful response when they hear God cares, and their anger at Moses when he has begun acting on God freeing them. This is one of many examples of how sometimes when we are fulfilling God’s call for us to move into Adaptive change and Heart Change it short circuits within the group. It reminds us that sometimes those we are legitimately trying to help will seem to turn on us.
The passage also sets up a couple of the bigger questions the book of Exodus addresses. “Who will God’s people really serve?” Who will own their bodies and souls in the end? Pharaoh thinks he has them both, and in his fear of losing doubles down on his oppression – just like any bully or tyrant or dictator. The other big question is “Who is Yahweh?” and maybe “Where is God?” Pharaoh voices the question, but it is really the one that all of Exodus (and scripture) answers. And when we study scripture we find that Yahweh is very unlike the Pharaohs and Pharisees of the bible and the world. This God wants people to freely choose to be “owned” body and soul, by God. But boy does he have a lot of work to try teach Israel and the rest of humankind that!
This different than Pharaoh God has lots of power (witness the creation control signs) but when push comes to shove he ends up displaced into a feed trough for animals, and hanging on a cross, seemingly powerless by the measures of this world, but in those sufferings and sacrifices shows that there is a greater power, one of chosen service, of chosen sacrifice, of love rather than force, of a way being always open to relationship we do NOTHING to deserve, relationship we can always enter into more deeply by embracing the call to Heart Change.