I am who I am…..

8 02 2011

DAY THIRTY-NINE : Exodus 1 v. 1 – 3 v. 22; Matthew 26 v. 1 – 30; Psalm 19 v. 1 – 6EXODUS – some 400 years after Joseph welcomed his honoured family into Egypt, the situation is quite different. Joseph is gone and forgotten, the Israelites have ‘multiplied’ and the Egyptians feel threatened, Pharaoh especially. People aren’t so very different, today, are they, when we here people suspicious of ‘others’, demanding they return home….

The Hebrew midwives are named (and Pharaoh isn’t !) – Shiprah and Puah – they are true heroines, standing up to Pharaoh, fearing God more than a human, when they refuse to kill all newborn males.
Plan B – send in the soldiers. Here’s another ‘holocaust’.

God’s plan of freeing His people begins with a vulnerable baby, whose life is threatened from birth (Joseph and Mary’s flight into Egypt with the infant Jesus!).

Moses’ mother and sister orchestrate his rescue, creating the first ‘Moses basket’ (if only they’d patented that idea !). God’s favour is shown in the way Pharaoh’s daughter places Moses in their care to be nursed, even paying them for the privilege.
The name ‘Moses’ means ‘He who draws out’, reflecting how he was drawn out of the water to be saved. The Israelites will find their freedom through the waters of the Red Sea.

Moses has a passionate streak of justice for his Israelite people, and murders an Egyptian he sees beating up a Hebrew slave. When Moses discovers his secret sin is known, he flees for his life – Pharaoh is after him, to kill him. Moses settles in Midian, his chivilrous actions (driving away some nasty shepherds) win him the favour (and a wife, Zipporah) of the priest, Reuel.

God is stirred (nothing of note has been heard from God for around 400 years, since Jacob’s arrival in Egypt with his 70-strong family), and is about to use Moses to bring liberation, freedom for his enslaved people.

Mt. Horeb is another name for Sinai – significant Holy Mountain. Moses’ call involves a vision of God, in a bush burning but not perishing, and he hears God’s voice. The symbol of fire often indicates God’s presence, judgement and cleansing (refining). Such a rich passage, this.

Moses is standing on Holy Ground – not only because of the presence of the Lord God, but also because God is interacting with Moses, calling him to serve a greater cause – that is always, still, holy ground.

God is about to launch a great rescue, and wants Moses to take the lead. Moses asks loads of questions – well, you would, wouldn’t you. In particular, he needs to be sure it’s God calling, so asks His name.
“I am who I am….thus you shall say to the children of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you”.
The name “I am” signifies the One who is always present – a great name of comfort to the afflicted Israelites in Egypt – “I am” is with you !
God identifies Himself as the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, so He’s got a proven track record !

Firstly, Moses will have to face Pharaoh (a different Pharaoh to the one Moses had fled some 40 years before), and seek to lead the Israelites away. God suggests it may not be that easy, and He may have to prove His might and power.
Mmm. The scene is set.

MATTHEW – the scene is also set in our NT passage today for God’s intervention and great rescue plan. The chief priests had laid their plans with Caiaphas’s approval. Jesus is anointed in Bethany – a beautiful expression of extravagant devotion, preparing Jesus for the day ahead. Nothing can be too extravagant, too valuable, to offer up to God in devotion. Jesus has already told us to have a concern for the poor (yesterday, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked etc.), and that opportunity will ALWAYS be before us. Here, this woman is remembered for her expression of love towards her Lord.

Judas accepts thirty pieces of silver for leading them to Jesus, and then joins the ‘brothers’ for the Last Supper, the Passover meal – itself a meal celebrating God’s activity in history, bringing freedom and escape.

THE LAST SUPPER – the simple and powerful image of bread and wine, body and blood offered for our redemption, our salvation. What an expression of exuberant love for each one of us. Jesus shows He knows of Judas’s actions, bringing him into the open in front of the others….
they sang a hymn (last act all together, praising God for His deliverance….little did the disciples know what was to happen next) and went out for a walk to the peaceful gardens of the Mount of Olives – a place Jesus often stopped, quietly, prayerfully, overlooking Jerusalem city. Tonight, He needs this more than ever…..

PSALM – the expanse of the heavens, the whole universe declares God’s glory, His handiwork. Breathtaking beauty and wonder. What an awesome God we have.

My re-created thoughts :

Languishing in prison,
Joseph intepreted the dreams
Of the wine-butler and the bread-baker
Bread and wine
Wine and bread
And for them the message of Life and Death,
Death and Life.

For us, too, this Bread and Wine
Wine and Bread
Is a matter of Life and Death,
Death and Life.

Whoever eats this bread, lives forever.
Feed me now and evermore!

AMEN.

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