Friday, January 18, 2013

HaShem, the Great, I AM--Exodus 1-4

Things have gone from great to bad and only in about 2 generations.  Why are we not surprised?  When Pharoah can't convince the Hebrew midwives to kill the boys, he demands they be thrown in the Nile.  I think it's a tribute to Jewish sarcasm that Jochabed does, in fact, put Moses in the Nile--she was obeying the letter of the law, of course.  Naming the child Moses is a fitting (and possibly insulting) reminder to all of her father's genocide, but it becomes a reminder to Moses as well.  He reaches a time of life when he feels real power and attempts to help his people, with disasterous results.  His people don't need help.  They need out--and Moses can't do that so at least he gets out. 

He falls into a family that is a distant relative of his.  The Priest of Midian is referred to by two names:  Reuel, which means friend of God, and Jethro, which means eminence, excellence, more than enough or overflow.  He does indeed find a wise friend of God and an abundant overflow of grace.  He spends the next 40 years of his life with Jethro's family, taking Jethro's daughter as a wife, raising a son and tending Jethro's sheep--asking for nothing in return. 

Meanwhile, things have only gotten worse for the children of Israel in Egypt and God desides it's time to act and decides to use Moses as his working partner.  Remember, God uses us--He works through human agency because He gave us authority here on earth.  Moses gives a bunch of excuses and finally asks God to pick anyone else.  In response, God provides him help but doesn't withdraw His calling--because God doesn't withdraw his callings.  He warns him of what he will face, though I don't know that he's paying attention.  It's a rough partnership and comes with terms that Moses and his family aren't always thrilled about.  It makes you wonder why Gershom wasn't circumcised on the 8th day as all of Abraham's decendents were to be. 

One of the things that amazes me about his conversation with God is that God willingly tells Moses His eternal name as a proof of who has sent him.  The Sons of Israel treat that name, "Ha Shem--The Name", with extreme respect.  The fact that God gave him his name means one of two things:  either Jacob truly did prevail with God in his wrestling and God told Jacob His name, which was kept as a sacred secret, as it is today, or the leaders of Israel were able to recognize it immediately as a powerful gift they had been long awaiting. 

The meaning of The Name itself astounds Me.  It appears, almost as if it is a proof from high school Geometry:  "God exists, therefore all else exists...QED."  We are all derivative beings--we do not exist on our own.  We depend on God for our very existence.  He is the only being that is truly independent of all others, yet He lives in relationship with Himself and chooses relationship with us.   Wow.  He has no need for us and yet hears our cries and rescues us with His own mighty Hand.  If that doesn't draw you to praise, I don't know what could...  

Because He is, what are you?  What are the attributes of God that He has blessed you with in some measure?  Have you thanked Him lately?

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