Through the Bible in a Year – February 19

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

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 nationĀ  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



Through the Bible in a Year – February 16

Exodus 12; Acts 22; Psalm 60-61

Reading the Exodus narrative – one is struck by the sheer force of what is happening – that this Exodus is only brought about through immense cost, a cost that must perpetually be remembered in the redeeming of the first born.

Through the history of Israel, this night is to be remembered, for it is the night on which God said to them conclusively, ‘You are mine’, with everything that that means. As the prophets will remind the people many many years later, it is not through any goodness of their own tat God has done this, it is not a matter for pride. They do not choose Yahweh for their God. He chooses them, as at first he had called Abraham.

Over and over again in our faith, we make far far to much of our response to God’s call. Here in this Exodus passage it is laid bare – frail Moses, and doubting people are rescued. God creates a people for himself – as many many years later he will do conclusively in Christ.

As Israel was commanded to retell the story, so also Paul we note tells over and over again the story of his ‘conversion’. It is something which he had nothing to do with. It is the profound archetype of ‘becoming Christian’ – it has nothing to do with us – it has everything to do with God, and what is more it lays upon us now a duty, to live as dearly loved children.

Becoming Christian is not our choice – perversely we try to make it thus, but it is not – the only choice we have is whether or not we will live into the fullness of that calling

Through the Bible in a Year – February 12

The Scheme for January and February can be found here

Exodus 4-5; Acts 18; Psalm 53-54

We thought yesterday about how we are still dominated by the Narrative of Death – and Moses too is fearful. This Strange God, the ‘I AM’, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who IS Life challenges Moses to his core. HE is exposed before him – his weakness, his fallibility, his stumbling speech. As he is afraid of Life, so he knows that the Israelites are not ready for this Life.

God in his infinite mercy, meets him where he is. As before he had bargained with Abraham over Sodom and Gomorrah, so too he gives him something ‘magical’, which Moses is still at a level that he will entrust himself to it [Pharaoh’s magicians do the same – Ex 7:8-13], he gives him Aaron – but all the same God’s anger is kindled in the face of such unbelief and it is only through blood that Moses is protected.

As Moses and Aaron draw near to Pharaoh, as Life is revealed in the servants of the LORD, immediately the Death Narrative struggles to re-assert itself. Knowing that its time is limited, it seeks to take to itself all that it can. In the midst of this conflict, Moses pleads with the LORD for a quiet life. But this Life is not quiet. Moses has little comprehension of what he is caught up in – no sense of Awe, that God’s purposes are infinitely greater than simply changing the mind of Pharaoh – rather that in the Exodus which he will effect for his people, his Glory may be revealed.

This is the Gift that is given to the Church – to reveal his Glory in the resurrection of Christ – present amongst us – Manifested in lives of worship and holy obedience.