Exodus 17-19; Acts 25; Psalm 66
There is the powerful theme of patience woven into today’s readings. On the one hand the tremendous patience of Paul, who seems to have been all but forgotten as the world continues to turn. Two years he has spent imprisoned waiting for a hearing, the governor Felix has been and gone and now Festus is the governor. But Paul continues is his faithful obedience, although seemingly invisible to those around him
On the other hand we see the impatience of the children of Israel and the foreshadowing of a deadly impatience in Moses. Moses is such a clearly written character in the Exodus narrative – fearful and fretful in front of Pharaoh and indeed the LORD himself – now frustrated at turns with the Israelites and with the LORD. On the surface much anxiety, little faith. This impatience is contrasted with the Patience of the LORD, who despite everything sees this people as his treasured possession and a priestly kingdom, a holy nation.
To our eyes this makes little or no sense, even if we did not know where the story was heading, the children of Israel surely have proved themselves to be in no way worthy of such treatment. They promise “Everything that the LORD has spoken we will do . . .” and yet we know that they are utterly double minded
Yet there is something here we do not see for Moses is later revealed as a hero of faith. Nowhere in the Exodus narrative is this shown – but the book of Hebrews includes him as an example of faith – one ‘who persevered as though he saw him who is invisible’
A deeper story is at play that we tossed around in the flotsam and jetsam of life can only guess at. Things happen for which there is no accounting. Amidst Moses anxiety – trying to hold the show together, comes his father in law, Jethro. Moses had obviously, somewhat like Joseph would many years later, to put his wife away. But she who has been sworn to him as a bridegroom of blood is returned along with his sons. God’s salvation is worked out in strange and wonderful ways and we see the life of God being fed back into the community by the outsider Jethro, who acknowledges the LORD and teaches Moses how better to administer his people.
Oft times our anxiety is rooted in the apprehension that we see all that is and yet something far more profound is going on. Discerning that this is the case we too are called to patience, a waiting on God. If he leaves us for two years in prison, so?? His ways are past working out – we are called to perseverance – which is at the last as we see in the book of Revelation, the hallmark of those called by God.
Our judgement of what is happening is so very dulled
The Salvation of God is such outrageous Grace that we can see no way to it – he works with that that is nothing in our eyes – the unseen, humble, the meek, the mourners and merciful – the undiscerned – embodied in faithless Israel – a nation almost invisible in the annals of history – hidden away – God is working his purposes out, year after year. And so outrageous is God’s Final answer to humanity, that many will refuse to believe