BETWEEN THE TEXTS
• We jump forward quite a lot this week moving from Exodus 3 to 12. A lot happens in between our selected reading!
• Remember, Exodus is all about two things – knowing God and vocation. Exodus is an account of knowing God through personal experience and how it is that God would call a nation to their vocation of being a blessing to the whole world.
• Chapter 5: Moses finally responds to God’s call (chapter 3), teams up with Aaron and gets to Egypt where he finally meets Pharaoh. It does not go well! It looks like this great mission has failed before getting off the ground as Pharaoh, with a very hard heart against Moses and Aaron’s God (Yahweh), hardens up the hard labour of the slave class masses. Moses’ people, as a direct result of his demand to Pharaoh to let the Hebrews go out into the desert to “serve” their God in a festival, demands that the slave labour force now are to make bricks without the usual supply of straw. They have to gather their own straw from wherever they can find it. • When the slave leaders protest, Pharaoh makes things even tougher. They have to make their same quota of bricks without any straw at all! You can see why the people are not exactly diving in to believe in Moses of follow him! • But, God has the plan. This is God the Commander-in Chief and mighty warrior getting ready to annihilate other gods in a show of complete dominance and power. Chapter 7:1-6 shows the plan in a nutshell. • Then we get to the “signs and wonders”, a few of which are in the form a “plagues” of various things. Here’s how it works…
• The gods of Egypt:
o Three levels of gods in a pantheon of 100’s of gods. o Chief god, Amon Ra – Sun God. o The sun makes light and its rising and setting brings order to creation o The sun god takes an ordered journey everyday. The sun sinks into the underworld (night time) every day and there is a constant battle between Ra and Sem, the chief god of the underworld. Ra gains the vistory every day and rises again everyday. o Pharaoh is Ra’s incarnate son on earth who has to perform various rituals daily to assist his “father” Ra in this ongoing battle to keep chaos and evil at bay, so that prosperity and life continue… o Because Egypt lives on the waters of the Nile and did not know where this great water came from (No one did until the 19th century!), it was believed to come from the underworld. The Nile is a flooding river. Every year it floods and provided excellent flood plain conditions for crops. The underworld from where the water comes must be continually held back/defeated so that the floods come and life goes on. o Animals are symbols of these deities at work
• The signs the God performs are set in this belief system. His defeat must be total and completely outside this system of belief, lest he just be seen as one of the many gods!
• Pharaoh is a god. He sees himself that way and his people see him this way. He must be destroyed for sake of God’s people and God’s plan to use this holy nation he has created to bring HIS blessing and life to all nations (including Egypt!)
• Chapter 5:1-12:36 is the contest between the Lord and Pharaoh • SIGNS 1-3: Defeat of the powers of the underworld: Blood of the Nile, Frogs, Flies – all powers of the underworld in Egyptian thinking. The first two signs are copied by the sorcerers of Egypt but the third (the flies) acknowledged as being by the hand of Israel’s God. (8:16-19). Interesting that frogs were regarded in the pantheon of gods as being the gods of protecting women in childbirth – remember what Pharaoh did to Moses’ generation? Also interesting – this first defeat shows God’s power over magic, occult and dark spirits. • SIGNS 4-6: Defeat of the powers of the earth: Mosquitoes/gnats, cattle plague and dust into boils for all living creatures (yuk!). Interesting that the plague of flies shows the first separation between what happens to Egyptians and Hebrews. (read 8:20-24) • SIGNS 7-9: Defeat of the powers of the sky: Hail, Locusts Darkness across the land (no light – think about Amon Ra and Pharaoh and their place/roles….). In the plague of Hail, Pharaoh actually seeks forgiveness (9:27-25) and ask Moses to intercede for him to the Lord. Pharaoh does this a