Joseph and his twelve brothers, the whole family of Israel, settled down in Egypt where they rapidly increased in wealth and number. But a change of leadership in Egypt led to a changed attitude towards the Hebrews, who became oppressed and enslaved. Egyptian brutality knew no bounds, even ordering midwives to kill male Hebrew babies. But thanks to the midwives’ courage, many babies were saved. One such baby was a boy called Moses, whose mother floated him in a little basked-boat right in to the arms of an Egyptian Princess.
Moses grew up inside the palace and so he was intimately familiar within the regime. But he never acclimatised to it. One day, watching his own people suffering under the terrible whip of slavery, he snapped. He murdered the oppressor. But LOVE never wants to make people fugitives. LOVE always wants to set people free.
LOVE wanted to get his people out of Egypt, and to get Egypt out of his people. The first part took a while.
“Moses got up and came to their rescue…” (Exodus 2:17)
Moses begged God to send someone else to lead the Hebrews’ campaign for justice and liberation. He wasn’t good at confrontation and he wasn’t a great communicator. He was scared that if he followed God’s call he’d either get burned up or burned out. Apparently, none of that was relevant. LOVE wasn’t interested in Moses’ view of his self-power, but only in Moses’ capacity to carry LOVE’s power. So LOVE gave Moses a sign: he would become like a burning bush – burning with holy fire without himself being consumed by the flames.
‘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.’” (Exodus 3:14)
LOVE always seeks freedom through liberation. Evil always seeks power through oppression. And so it was with God’s people, slaves in Egypt. Moses and Aaron knew there could only be one winner in the confrontation. But evil resisted LOVE, a confrontation that led to a terrible, inevitable conclusion: death. However, LOVE’s people weren’t totally pure. So if evil was to be killed off, who would be left standing? LOVE’s people were only spared because a sacrificial lamb died in their place, paying, or atoning for their sin. LOVE’s judgment against sin and evil passed over them because of the lamb’s atoning blood smeared over their front doors. Those without the covering of atonement suffered terribly. Eventually, Pharaoh finally released the Hebrew nation to go and worship LOVE in freedom.
It’s tempting to think that all the evil in the world is “out there” or only in other people. The truth is that we’re all involved. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn wrote that, “the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being.” So if LOVE is going to end evil, how can anyone escape being ended? LOVE’s answer is to offer himself to die in our place. LOVE becomes the object of his own judgment so that we might go free. LOVE pays the moral debt that we owe. LOVE dies our death for us. All this is foreshadowed in the Passover.
If it took a while to get the Israelites out of Egypt, it took even longer to get Egypt out of the Israelites. A mindset of injustice, enslavement and hatred is very hard to break. What bit of an enslaved mindset still lives on in us? As we pray today ask LOVE to reveal to us where we are not yet as free as he’d like us to be. Let’s pray particularly for those who have suffered terrible injustice, that they would not be filled with hatred and violence, but know LOVE’s peace and be able to forgive their oppressors. Once freed, these people can become powerful advocates for LOVE’s justice and assist many others to experience it.
Today let’s simply thank Jesus for dying for us to save us from our sins. Jesus is the Lamb of LOVE, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). Jesus is The Lamb that was slain (Revelation 5:12). We have been redeemed by the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect (1 Peter 1:19).
“Go, worship the Lord as you have requested.” (Exodus 12:31)