The Jewish Passover was instituted by God through Moses as an annual observance, to ensure that God’s people could never forget the cost paid to redeem them. The night God visited Egypt in judgement, every Israelite household was spared the just sentence of death, because a lamb was slaughtered in substitution. A millennium and a half later Jesus observed the Jewish Passover with his friends, instituting a new ‘passover’ for a New Covenant. For he was the true and final Lamb of God whose shed blood would once and for all take away the sin of the whole world.
The “plagues of Egypt” as they’re generally titled were a series of mighty acts of God against Pharaoh & Egypt. Mighty acts which speak a consistent message from God to Pharaoh, through Moses’ words & actions as God’s agent. The message they speak is that the Lord God of Israel, and not Pharaoh king of Egypt, is supreme over all the forces of nature and over the land of Egypt itself. That God, not Pharaoh, is in charge. The message however is not only for Pharaoh. It’s also for Israel .. that they might know who’s in charge, and whose plans succeed, and so learn to trust their God. We the church of today are their inheritors, and we too no less must know that he is the Lord.
In a busy culture, and indeed a busy church, what matters most? Jesus gave a clear message on the subject by his deeds and his words. Hearing the word of the Lord matters more than being busy in his service.
God’s best for his people always is his gift of himself that we might worship him forever. Everything else is preparation for that. God’s faithfulness to his promises and to his people is assured. But faithfulness for us means allowing that God’s best comes in God’s time, which is often not our’s.
The Bible does comedy better than most would think. And the interaction between Moses and God after God has called Moses to serve as his agent in rescuing Israel from slavery, would almost do justice to Monty Python. Here is Moses the reluctant, indeed petrified, emissary, trying every argument to get out of such a monumental task. If you’ve felt terrified when God directed you, then know that Moses did too. God however will continue to call and use deficient people, as he has always done, to his glory.
In one of the best known and most curious Exodus passages, God reveals himself as holy (set apart) beyond imagining – and yet a personal and knowable God, a suffering God and a ‘people’ God. This God intends to be known by people and to work with people to save the people he loves.
The Bible is God’s story and it only has one hero. The same is true of the biblical Book of Exodus. One question Exodus answers is “Who’s in charge?” It lets us see that God is in charge, that he has ultimate authority on Earth no less than in Heaven, that his plans and purposes will carry the day in history, which in fact is his-story. From this piece of history we may grasp more clearly the need Jesus came to fulfil as Saviour. As the story begins, God shows himself faithful to his people, supreme over all would-be authority, and committed to using unlikely people to fulfil his saving purposes.
The new year “proper” (when things start happening) is an apt time to make a conscious choice to serve the Lord only. Judas was esteemed with the greatest of love, extravagant love. But it was not enough to prevent him becoming a betrayer. You too could go out from the table of the Lord, and build your kingdom rather God’s Kingdom.
Ordinary Sunday 3, Yr C
Psalm 19 is regarded as one of the most eloquent pieces of poetry in the Bible, and indeed one of the more profound in history. It brings together two poems to constitute a hymn, extolling God’s self revelation of his perfections through the Creation (his works) and the law (his word). The psalmist then invites us to ask for forgiveness and inner change – a target not truly attained until the word became flesh (John 1:14).
Ordinary Sunday 1, Yr C
A great part of worshipping the Lord “in the beauty of holiness” is ascribing to him his holy attributes, such as glory and strength (or power). Such is what Psalm 29 invites us to do at its beginning. But remarkably the content is devoted to just one attribute of God, his voice. The Lord’s voice is not merely a vehicle of communication; it is a practical instrument of his divine activity in the cosmos. The only fitting response is to assemble in his temple and cry “Glory!” That is possible supremely through Jesus Christ who is God’s glory.