Deliverance - Exodus 14:13-20
Reflections by Pastor Penny
Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and his challenging twelve sons – featuring fancy-coated Joseph,
who declares about the difficulties in his life: “God intended it for good.” This week we are in
Chapter 4 of The Story, with the focus on escape from slavery for the People of God.
Deliverance seems like a rather churchy kind of word – perhaps The Great Escape would be a better way to describe the excitement and drama of this section of our history. Remember? This is our story as well as God’s story. Picture yourself in Egypt: desert, cruel tasks for you as a slave, years of your personal history haunted by old memories of lost freedom, and God’s promises – perhaps forgotten?
As always, there is a multitude of ways to focus and turn in this section of the Bible. I’m interested in the echoes of ‘hard hearts.’ I have a favorite heart-shaped rock, pulled from Lake Superior many years ago. Hearts certainly take all kinds of shapes.
The hearts in this week’s section of The Story start with heard-hearted Pharaoh.
We are told that now a new Pharaoh is in charge, who did not know Joseph. He fears Joseph’s
later generations because they’ve multiplied so. Solution to the problem: have the boy babies
killed. But God is protecting and bringing hope. Moses is born, and his mother and sister
manage to hide and protect him. He grows up educated and pampered in the royal household.
Fast forward to the burning bush, when Moses is called by God to go lead the Israelites
out of slavery. Through the 10 plagues, the amazing Passover experience and frantic escape
from what had been home. Finally, the People of God stand at the edge of the sea. It looks
hopeless. Water ahead (I’m guessing no live guards among them), Egyptian army behind –
ready to kill. And Moses tells the people: "Do not be afraid, stand firm, and see the deliverance
that the Lord will accomplish for you today…” Exodus 14:13. And that’s just what happened.
So what? This same promise is for us! God is the same throughout the Bible. We do
not have one God in the Old Testament, cruel and harsh, and a different one in the New
Testament, forgiving and loving. The church tells us that we have one God, whose character
remains the same. This God offers grace and radical forgiving love to those into whom God
breathed life. That’s Me, You, US!
How is my heart being shaped? Where and how do I open my life up to God, who
waits to offer me grace, hope, and a path through – or to walk with me through the dark valley.
As always, it’s our possibility of choosing the path we take that can make a world of difference
in how our hearts are shaped. When the Bible says “Do not be afraid, God will fight for you,”
that’s what it means. Calm down. Look up. Stand still. Pray. Worship. Sing.
We choose! God is always waiting…
If you haven’t read this chapter yet, forge ahead for the next week: The Story, Chapter 5,
“New Commands and A New Covenant”, p. 59 OR order a CD of the whole Story. I’ve been
listening to it, and I love it! (The audiobook can be found on amazon.com!)