Medic!

When I first began this blog I had no idea where it would lead, or the attention to detail I would be giving the Exodus account.

I had envisioned a quick little weekly blurb – but I have been known to underestimate the Holy Spirit, and he has often grinned at me from underneath his World War II helmet.

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A World War II medic feeding baby birds.

Yes. I often find myself picturing the Holy Spirit as a medic. Traditionally the symbol of a dove has been used, because that is how the Holy Spirit manifested upon Jesus during his baptism.

But that’s not the only manifestation of the Holy Spirit… there is the storm Elijah faced and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

It is simply a choice of how we relate to God, and how God chooses to relate to us.

God has always related to me in the context of history. And I have always enjoyed writing for him… but I do recognize and must respect the signs of burnout. And the Holy Spirit medic has had to step in on various occasions, pulling me back and delightfully ordering me into a spiritual medical tent.

I’ve also got some other projects under my hat which need attention to…

First, (of course) I must attend to some spiritual matters…

…specifically, discerning what the next steps in life are for me. And these must always line up with what God as my spiritual commander has planned.

Second, I’ve got a book to finish.

I am a writer. (In case, you hadn’t guessed already.) I have had a short story collection out for a year, and have been in progress of writing a post World War II/early Cold War novel. There are more details on that project on my other blog.

(Yes. I have run two blogs, posting for the most part weekly.) These blogs are secondary to my larger writing projects.

 

You are welcome to check out my other projects…

I’m on…

Amazon: A. R. Mitchell

Wattpad (a free digital platform for stories): A_R_Mitchell

WordPress: damselflyonabookshelf

 

I will return at the end of August!

Stay tuned!

A Battle of the Wills

Redeeming the Plagues: Part 20

Moses’ D-Day: Part 2

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?”

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.” – Exodus 3:11-12

Listen to that…

You will worship God on this mountain.

Its not… you might, its a solid promise of ‘You will.’

God is consistently making, ‘You will’ promises to us. His covenant is consistently, ‘You will’ – not as a command – but as a blessing.

Look at what he said to Abraham, even though the man had no normal hope of having descendants…

Then the Lord said to him [Abraham], “Know for certain that for four hundred years your descendants will be strangers in a country not their own and that they will be enslaved and mistreated there. But I will punish the nation they serve as slaves, and afterward they will come out with great possessions. You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace and be buried at a good old age. In the fourth generation your descendants will come back hereGenesis 15:13-16

Even when it looks like all is lost – there is still a coming victory –

Genesis 3:14-15…. (Immediately after God confronts Adam and Eve about their sin.)

So the Lord God said to the serpent, “Because you have done this,

“Cursed are you above all livestock
    and all wild animals!
You will crawl on your belly
    and you will eat dust
    all the days of your life.
And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.”

 

Genesis 3:15 is the first prophecy of Jesus Christ’s victory. It is only a curse or an ultimatum for the evil serpent.

Just like Moses when he he fled Egypt, all seemed lost, but that is not true. It only appears like that to our limited human vision. God lives outside of our history, present and future – so he can step in anytime he pleases.

And step in, God did – just like in the Garden, and just like in the lives of Abraham and Moses –

Jesus recognized it as he prayed in Gethsemane.

“Abba, Father,” he said, “everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.” (Mark 14:36)

I used to think this was a passive aggressive prayer. But its not…

This is the reaction Moses had as well. “Who am I that you would send me?”

But Jesus knew who he was. And because he knew identity as a much loved son – and Moses knew his identity as a displaced person – Jesus responded with confidence in his father, while Moses could not.

But we’ll see Moses quietly gain confidence through the rest of his journey. He will learn of his value, and as he learns about the God of his forefathers, he will settle into the role of leader of God’s people and partner with God… fulfilling the promise God gave to Abraham.

 

All Bible verses are from Bible Gateway.

Moses’ Mission Impossible

Redeeming the Plagues: Part 19

But Moses said to God, “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” 

And God said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.”

Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”

God also said to Moses, “Say to the Israelites, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you.’

“This is my name forever,
    the name you shall call me
    from generation to generation.

 

“Go, assemble the elders of Israel and say to them, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers—the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—appeared to me and said: I have watched over you and have seen what has been done to you in Egypt. And I have promised to bring you up out of your misery in Egypt into the land of the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—a land flowing with milk and honey.’

“The elders of Israel will listen to you. Then you and the elders are to go to the king of Egypt Exodus 3:11-18

AKA: Moses tries to weasel out.

Exodus 3:11 is the beginning of an interesting conversation. It lasts through Exodus 4:23. Its one we all have with ourselves when we’re confronted with some divine interference that swings out of nowhere, tweaks our nose, or crashes into our life.

The difference is how we approach it. There are two ways:

The Fear

The Go

The Fear looks at the impossible and improbable logistics starting with the questioning of the Creator.

The Go looks at the impossible logistics, their training, who they are and asks, respectfully but excited at the challenge, “What’s your plan?”

To place this in a different context – think about the Mission Impossible series.

The original series is from the 1960s, featuring a team of highly skilled secret agents who were always given missions of critical importance with the caveat that if they were caught and captured, their superiors would deny all knowledge of their existence. This would mean death, torture and imprisonment, if the team couldn’t escape.

The Tom Cruise remake has a similar plot line.

In the original, the team leader, most famously played by Peter Graves, would go to a location and receive a tape recorder, along with an envelope. The recorded message would explain the mission, and inside the envelope would be photographs or documents needed to complete the mission.

It went something like this…

“Your mission, should you choose to accept it… (outlines mission)…”

“As always, should any of your team be caught or captured, the Secretary will disavow any knowledge of your actions. This tape will self-destruct in five seconds.”

Fizzle. Smoke. Boom.

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Imagine:

“Moses, your mission is to go back into the land of your youth and rescue my people. I will be with you the entire way. You and your people will worship me, on this mountain. This bush will not self-destruct any time soon because I Am God. If you are caught or captured I will not disavow you or any of your team. Go do what I’ve called you to do!”

And’s Moses’ reaction is, ‘Why me? Who am I? They’re not gonna believe me, and they’re not gonna believe you.’

Notice… he doesn’t even have to do the super scary stuff yet. He has to travel back to Egypt, then find the elders and have a chat with them. Its none of the booming voice of Charleston Heston, ‘Let my people go!’ Nothing like that.

This is the fear. This is looking at the ‘I’ – and not into the eyes of God.

Worse, this is total lack of faith – saying to God, ‘They’re not going to believe me – not even if you send me.”

Which is pretty brazen. Its almost like saying to God, “Hi, I know you’re out there, God, ’cause you’re right in front of me, but I can’t believe in myself, so I can’t believe in you, or what you tell me.”

And its absolutely backward of the later prophets. By then, as Moses will learn too, they will say, “I trust you God, even though I don’t know how we’re gonna do this. And I don’t think I can. But with you as my backup, and shield – let’s go.”

 

We all have faith crises. There is nothing wrong with those. We are not weak because we have moments where we question things. These crises often draw us up to new levels of trust and expectation with God.

How should we respond in times when we are given assignments?

The Go

The Go is to take action even though you’re scared and have no idea what’s next or how you’re going to pull through.

Abraham lived in the go.

He packed up and left, wandering all over the promised land, down into Egypt and back. Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did a massive prayer walk with God all over the territory that Israel was supposed to occupy. And that three generation prayer walk lasted about 400 years.

Now, its not always that dramatic. We tend to look at the Old Testament and beg not to be sent through times like that.

But God does love a challenge. And He is looking for people to train up as leaders and shepherd warriors like Moses, David, Esther and Zipporah.

And we, as Christians, need to have enough guts and courage to respond.

 

Sources:

All Bible verse are from Bible Gateway. https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Exodus+3&version=NIV

Photograph of Tape from Mission Impossible: http://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/tape-recorder-featured-at-the-beginning-of-mission-news-photo/472971396?#tape-recorder-featured-at-the-beginning-of-mission-impossible-episode-picture-id472971396

“So now, Go!” Moses’ D-Day

 

Redeeming the Plagues: Part 18

D-Day Series: Part 1

[God said to Moses] “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt.Exodus 3:10

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This week is the seventy-third anniversary of D-Day.

In the photograph above, Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower addresses the paratroopers in the hours before the Allied invasion of Europe through Normandy, France.

His orders of the day speech always find me in tears because of its application toward spiritual warfare and the Christian life.

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For too long we have been meek and mild, choosing to ignore those around us who need to see God in a tangible rescuing way.

That was the intent of the Exodus. God was going to interfere in human history, liberating his people. He hadn’t forgotten them.

And Moses reaction is, “Why me?”

He still sees himself as a displaced, adopted kid stuck between two cultures.

God saw a warrior. A shepherd who was built for leadership and justice.

We’ve discussed the purpose of the Angel of the Lord and the identity of this particular angel is thought to be Jesus Christ.

Jesus said the same thing to his disciples, and by extension us:

“So now, Go!”*

 

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It’s not about who we think we are…

It’s about who God KNOWS we are.

 

Eisenhower said in detail what the writers of the Bible presumed we already knew…

“You are about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven the many months. The eyes of the world are upon you. The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere march with you.

Your task will not be an easy one. You enemy is well trained, well equipped and battle-hardened. He will fight savagely.

The tide has turned! The free men of the world are marching together to Victory!

I have full confidence in your courage, devotion to duty and skill in battle! We will accept nothing less than full Victory!”

 

 

 

*Matthew 28:16-20 (The Great Commission)

Sources:

All Bible verse references are from Bible Gateway.

Photograph of Eisenhower Addressing the Troops: http://www.loc.gov/pictures/resource/cph.3a26521/

Photograph of Eisenhower’s speech: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/dwighteisenhowerorderofdday.htm

Text of Eisenhower’s speech: http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/dwighteisenhowerorderofdday.htm

Photograph of D-Day Battle from Troop Carrier aka Higgins Boat: http://www.travelthruhistory.tv/visit-national-wwii-museum-new-orleans-la/

The God of Living History

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Redeeming the Plagues: Part 17

Memorial Day Edition

Then he said [to Moses], “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.”

“I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering. So I have come down to rescue them –” Exodus 3:6-8

As I said last week, God exists outside of history. That means He is in our past, our present, and our future. He is the word which holds everything together (Hebrews 1:3).

God introduces himself to Moses by mentioning Moses’ ancestors. Its like a man holding out his hand and saying, “I worked for your father.”

God is saying, “I worked with your father, your grandfather and your great grandfather. We have a covenant, and I have not forgotten it. Moses, its time to saddle up –”

Until that point, the Hebrew people had been enslaved for probably 300-500 years. In our time that would be like honoring a promise left over from the Middle Ages.

How much do we remember about the Middle Ages?

Nothing.

When I speak the spectators at living history events for World War II – which ended seventy-two years ago – most of them have no idea what the Second World War was about. There is no grasp of history. They don’t even understand why the villains of the war were so evil.

Now – imagine Moses.

There’s no direct memory to any of the events God is discussing. Moses was adopted by the Egyptians. He may have restarted a relationship with the Hebrew God (vs. the Egyptian gods) after meeting Jethro, his future father-in-law.

Moses is a complete newbie when it comes to a relationship with this strange Hebrew God who doesn’t come in statue form, likes to hide in bushes and then light them on fire.

There are no history books, no photographs, and barely any written record of events for the Hebrew people for Moses to reference. The Hebrews are enslaved. They are not allowed to learn of their history or culture. They are not even allowed to have a culture.

I was recently in New Orleans, Louisiana and met a local Creole, (a person from Louisiana of mixed heritage – usually Caucasian and African-American who speaks French). He said, “I’ve always been jealous of the Jewish people, they had a written alphabet. They knew who they were. Me, I don’t even know what language my grandparents spoke, or what country in Africa my great-grandparents were from!”

That is the legacy of slavery.

Moses had the same background. His family heritage was the blank slate of slavery’s trauma and genocide, then mixed adoption into a completely different culture… Egypt.  Finally he fled, running into the God of Living History.

Imagine the Hebrew people who knew the histories. I know they wondered. I know they asked, pounding their fists and crying out in agony, “Where are you God? Where is the fulfillment of our promises? What happened to the covenant of our own land, which you, God, promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob? What are we doing in slavery? Has God abandoned us? Did those men die in vain?”

Did those men die in vain?

Bring this back to Memorial Day 2017.

We still grapple with those questions. But I will tell you this –

No. Those we honor from our armed forces did not die in vain.

God has a covenant with each of us. He has made covenant with each of us.

And just as God stepped up to defend his covenant at the cost of his own son’s life – he felt the pain of loss.

God wanted to serve and rescue – bringing freedom to the oppressed. We see God’s heart here with the burning bush, and we’ll see it later with Jesus in the New Testament.

We see a continuation of God’s covenant of fulfillment and freedom, as America was founded with the ideals of religious freedom. The founding documents of our nation are covenants between the government and the people.

Covenants like God had with Abraham.

Kings were often considered divine… unreachable. To make a covenant with them for personal or governmental purposes was unheard of! To have God himself come to Abraham, a nomadic shepherd and make a covenant was even more miraculous!

And the burden of proof for this covenant’s fulfillment didn’t rest on the Abraham or his descendants – it rested on God.

Its Memorial Day.

Memorial Day started with local women wanting to honor the sons and fathers they lost during the Civil War. The country was recovering from a decisive time in history when it was nearly torn apart. But the covenant held strong.

Memorial Day was a way to bring people together – not only in their sorrows, but in their loss.

And that covenant held strong, as we went to war against aggression throughout the globe and throughout our nation’s short history – we have been a world-shaping voice, bringing the promise of covenant, not dominion over the earth.

The warriors we’ve lost did not die in vain. God has not forgotten their sacrifice. They honored a covenant in way that few ever realize. They did what Christ did. They sacrificed their lives for the sake of a covenant and a rescue.

During World War II – the soldiers went into battle to fight what they thought was a simple case of a global schoolyard bully – but they found death camps.

Death camps full of people who had disagreed or fought against the prevailing force of Nazi Germany – often in the same manner of the American patriots during the Revolutionary War. (They were writers, resistance fighters, rabbis, teachers, pastors, average people and citizen soldiers.)

But these death camps were also full of Jews.

During World War II – the covenant came full circle. Abraham’s children were rescued by those who recognized Christ Jesus as Messiah, and had accepted the covenant of salvation. It was America who pushed for a Jewish state of Israel… fulfilling the covenant that God promised to Abraham.

They did not die in vain.

And if you notice, God says, ‘I am the God of…’

He exists outside of time.

Those men, women, children – who throughout history have given their lives and are to be honored this Memorial Day –

– They’re still alive.

 

(Next week is the anniversary of the invasion of Europe through France – D-Day. We’ll look at Moses’ D-Day.)

In honor of Memorial Day – here is a link to my other blog, featuring a short story: Ghost Unit

 

All Bible references are taken from Bible Gateway.

Photograph is mine.

The God of Your Fathers

Redeeming the Plagues: Part 16

When the Lord saw that he [Moses] had gone over to look [at the burning bush], God called to him from within the bush, “Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob.” At this, Moses hid his face, because he was afraid to look at God.Exodus 3:4-6

History is a living thing to God. He existed outside of it, so each person’s past, present and future, and their individual impact on the world are part of a God-breathed event – just like the Genesis account of Creation. Now, it doesn’t always turn out in a godly manner, free will and the capacity to choose evil over good are prominent throughout our past and current age, however God still stands over it all… and intervenes.

Moses however, doesn’t want to interfere. Sticking up for the little guy back home in Egypt made him a fugitive and now that he’s finally got his life back together, he’s not going to be drawn back into another mess. Yet, Moses responds…

“Here I am.”

This is as good as saying, “Here – Lord.”

I AM is God’s name in the Hebrew. That’s the name he gave Moses permission to address him by.

“Here I am,” is an amazing response to God. Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Samuel, and Isaiah all responded to God like this.

Most powerfully, Christ responds to us like this…

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock…Revelation 3:20

Moses was afraid to look at God. Now, we have the option of inviting him into our home, the home is where our heart is – not the physical building.

Its worth noting that Jesus didn’t kick down the door into Moses life. He drew him in. Jesus, the Holy Spirit and Father God are only SWAT teams against evil. They do not strike the good.* We have options. We are not locked into breech, ready to be fired, forced out a barrel, with a flaming end, on target toward a set bullseye.

God is not a marksman or an assassin. Nor is he a passive watcher. No, he is a hunter. For awhile he watches, then draws us in – like a fisherman with a fish on the line.

The lure for Moses was a bush that didn’t match his surroundings. The lure for others to come to Christ is the compassion and actions you take as a faithful believer.

You don’t need to shove tracts in their faces when kindness will do much more.

 

*With regard to striking the good. Yes, rotten things do happen. Terrible and horrific things are part of our world. But that doesn’t mean we can’t be the change. That doesn’t mean we are helpless against evil. God stepping out to rescue the Israelites in the book of Exodus should be a blueprint to watch how God and a few good kingdom citizens change history for the better.

 

All Bible verses are quoted from Bible Gateway. New International Version (NIV)

List of ‘here I am’ in the Bible: https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=NIV&quicksearch=here+I+am&startnumber=1 (Note: Not all of them are conversations between God and prophets or other major historical figures.)

The Passion of the Lord

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Redeeming the Plagues: Part 15

Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. So Moses thought, “I will go over and see this strange sight—why the bush does not burn up.” Exodus 3:2-3

Did you notice that? The bush burned but was not consumed.

That’s what passion is.

That’s what a healthy passion does to a person. It defies the laws of science and energy by feeding itself, and growing larger, and larger.

As Christians we overlook passion. We tend to associate it with erotic love and consider it dangerous.

Yet, here – Christ embodies raw fire and untapped passion, which drives him to recruit a rescuer.

Passion isn’t a dirty word. It’s Jesus Christ himself.

By replacing the passion with the platonic we water down ourselves, our message, our relationships and our lives.

Textbook Christianity and tracts don’t save lives – relationships do.

That burning passion – the burning bush was what made Moses curious. And it will bring others to you. Others who are curious… curious to find the burning bush within you… the passion that lights your eyes and stems from the redeemed heart.

Jesus commanded us.  “You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:14-16

Moses is proof that light attracts those who are curious and willing to search.

 

“Lord, Christ Jesus, God of Angel Armies, forgive us of our stupidity and fear. Teach us to not fear the darkness, or shirk the responsibility you’ve given us. Teach us your bold passion, so that we may walk fearlessly into the darkness and send us forth against our own apathy… for we know where you stand, and we want to be there with you. In the powerful, awesome name of the Messiah – may we never hide again. Amen and HOO-YAH!”

 

*I tend to end prayers with the military cry of Hoo-Yah!, because we’ve lost the meaning of Amen. Amen is actually a command, ‘So be it.’ However, due to modern language usage, that doesn’t sound like a command. So be it, and amen have developed into wishy, washy letter closings. Hoo-Yah – is a ‘yes sir! We mean it! We understand! Will do! Yes, sir!’ Its also similar to the karate ki-yai. A ki-yai is a shout which releases tension and energy. Its usually given before an attack. Think of actor Brendan Fraser in The Mummy, and how he always screams before attempting to strike down an enemy. That is a ki-yai. That is the intent of Amen.

Sources:

All Bible verses quoted are from Bible Gateway, the NIV version.

The photo is from an internet search. No known copyright.

The Angel of the Lord

Redeeming the Plagues: Part 14

“…The angel of the Lord appeared to him in flames of fire from within a bush.” Exodus 3:2

Let’s talk about the angel of the Lord for a moment.

The original Hebrew denotes that this angel is a special messenger of God. That is simply what angel means – a messenger.

I lay that groundwork because multiple sources believe that “the Angel of the LORD” is an incredible messenger. One very incredible messenger of God, who’s very existence is the reason Christianity has a salvation not based in acts – but grace and redemption.

That’s right.

The Angel of the Lord is often thought to be Jesus Christ himself.

This is not the first time we meet this pre-incarnate version of Christ the Messiah. The first time belongs to Hagar, at the well. (Genesis 16)

That is not to suggest we start worshipping angels. Angels protest when we bow down to them. This is seen throughout the Bible. They simply bring the mail, delivering the message to the humans.

How does the Angel of the Lord fit with the Exodus narrative, besides bringing destiny to Moses?

The Angel of the Lord comes back throughout the Bible. And the Angel of the Lord does some pretty serious stuff.

Things we’d never picture Jesus doing. It doesn’t fit with our nice version of Jesus.

This is the unconventional savior we follow…

Remember how I keep mentioning ezer? An ezer is a lifesaver who steps out to rescue in a dire time of need.

That’s what we’re seeing in these verses and situations. A powerful messenger, reaching out to save in the most unlikely situations.

And that’s what Moses is going to become. But first he has to learn who he’s dealing with and what ezer means outside of the Hebraic dictionary.

 

Sources:

All Bible verses and references taken from Bible Gateway.

List of angel of the Lord references from Bible Gateway. (Due to this site’s search engine it includes some passages that I did not list because they were not specifically dealing with the Angel of the Lord.) https://www.biblegateway.com/quicksearch/?qs_version=NIV&quicksearch=angel+of+the+lord&startnumber=1

Angel of the Lord – From Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology Online http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionaries/bakers-evangelical-dictionary/angel-of-the-lord.html

Jesus in the Old Testament: http://www.gordonconwell.edu/resources/Jesus-in-the-Old-Testament.cfm

 

Moses and the Mountain of God

Redeeming the Plagues: Part 13

Now Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian, and he led the flock to the far side of the wilderness and came to Horeb, the mountain of God. (Exodus 3:1)

Moses is about to complete his basic training. He’s been thrown out of his comfort zone in Egypt, chased through the desert, beaten up bandit bad guy shepherds, married a kick-butt Bo-Peep, had a kid and is now the security detail for a flock of sheep.

That may not seem important, but I’d like look at this progression in the form of a widening sphere of influence.

Moses, as an Egyptian had influence but no real power. Suddenly he takes the law into his own hands, and it results in him losing his status as “Very Important Law Abiding Citizen.” (Who could have, eventually, had a hand in releasing the Israelite people.) This results in complete and total loss of influence.

Moses runs. He meets a woman. She’s a woman who can give him a run for his manhood, and still look like a lady. She’s fire to his oil lamp… warmth to a soul who’s been destroyed and displaced. He rescues that woman and her sisters.

This rescue is a small increase of influence. What follows is shelter with a tribal family and a marriage. Moses finds himself with a wife and son. Then, he’s placed in charge of not only his personal resources, but his father-in-law’s resources.

God gave Moses a wife and son to support – but they are also supposed to support him in his endeavors. This is the family network. This is the balance husband and wives strike to make a partnership. And it must be an equal partnership. A woman who can defend her own will not stay with a man who doesn’t or isn’t willing to partner with her.

This is also the test. This is the work-life balance all leaders struggle with. We have few details on Zipporah and Moses’ marriage, but in the beginning years, it seems to be working out.

Moses is placed in charge over his father-in-law’s sheep. He’s defending a massive flock of brainless animals from bandits, lions, wolves, and other poisonous creatures which live in this desert region. He has to make certain none of them wander away. He has to care for them like helpless children. They are a commodity easily replaced, but they are also a food source. They are vital to the tribe for their survival as a people.

Shepherds are warriors. They are the protectors of the weak. That is why Christ was portrayed as a shepherd. Not just any shepherd – the Good Shepherd. (John 10:11-18)

The moment Moses shows himself capable and the next logical step for him would be tribal leader, replacing his father-in-law – there’s this flicker off in the distance, near the Mountain of the Lord.

Moses’ reaction is curiosity. And notice – he takes the sheep with him. He’s not abandoning them – he’s guiding them toward the light.

Guiding others toward the light of God reignites passion. That is what a good shepherd does.

And this is what Moses will be doing with the chosen people… leading them from slavery, to sheepdom, through the wilderness, where they learn who, and what they are – not in the eyes of their master – but in the eyes of the covenant-making God.

Remembering the Covenant

Redeeming the Plagues: Part 12

During that long period, the king of Egypt died. The Israelites groaned in their slavery and cried out, and their cry for help because of their slavery went up to God. God heard their groaning and he remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob. So God looked on the Israelites and was concerned about them. (Exodus 2:23-25)

While Moses is off in what is to become his version of basic training and leadership academy, the Israelites are still in slavery. While Moses is learning how lead through being a husband and father – the Israelites are still victims of enslavement. They are helpless. They continue to hold fast to the faith, and God remembers.

Well… actually God never forgot. The only thing God ever forgets is our sins, when we ask for forgiveness, because we haven’t done our best or our hearts aren’t in the right place for the situation.

We just celebrated Easter, which is considered the New Covenant. Jesus’ death on the cross is the culmination of God’s historical plan for all humanity. The Old Covenant involved Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. This Old Covenant laid the groundwork for the New Covenant.

A covenant is a sacred bond of promise between two parties, which has dire consequences if broken. Many have compared it to marriage, or a business contract, but in a day where marriage is unfortunately falling to the wayside, both these explanations fail.

It gets especially complicated when we’re talking a multi-generational scope of time that no human being could live through or have a living memory of.  That is why we’re dealing with God. He is the only one who can already make this covenant happen. Its not just about Jesus. Jesus and the plan for redemption is barely on anyone’s radar.

And God seems to have turned away.

Where else does God seem to turn away?

The crucifixion. The moment where Jesus, his son – is dying.

Both were massive rescue operations. Both dealt with enslaved helpless people – moving them from victim, to victorious.

It takes awhile to see that shift occur, but we live in a post-Resurrection world. We are free. We are not victims. We don’t have to live in slavery toward things that kill us. We don’t have to live powerless and in fear.

That is the power of the resurrection… when God turns his back and motions, “Follow me.”

Have a victorious Easter – and new life in Christ!

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All Bible verses are from Bible Gateway. For clarity purposes, the New International Version has been used.

Image from: https://mudpreacher.org/2009/04/07/i-know-the-tomb-was-empty/