Last month, at Messy Church, we explored the beginning of Moses’ story. When he was a young man, an Egyptian prince, he was forced to flee Egypt into the wilderness. There he met his wife and worked as a shepherd for his father-in-law. This month we will hear about God’s call to Moses to return to Egypt and deliver God’s people from the hand of their oppressors.
Moses was a reluctant hero, but despite his misgivings, he did what God asked and returned to confront Pharaoh. Pharaoh was not at all willing to so easily let this slave workforce simply leave and so in the negotiations God applied more and more pressure on the Egyptians to release the slaves. First there was asking, then a demonstration of God’s power by Moses’ brother’s staff turning into a snake and back into a staff. Pharaoh was not impressed. Then followed ten plaques, the water of the Nile turning to blood, being overrun with frogs, biting gnats, swarms of flies, diseased livestock, painful boils, thunder and destructive hail, locusts eating up the crops, 3 days of darkness and finally death of the firstborn, including Pharaoh’s own son. Pharaoh had had enough and said, GO. After they had left, Pharaoh changed his mind and sent his soldiers to get them back. They caught up with them just before the Red Sea. God parted the waters and the Israelites passed through. When the Egyptians tried to go through, the seas engulfed them and they were killed. This is an epic story.
God prefers to not simply overpower humans, but to work with us
I would like you to notice that God worked through people. God could have just snatched up all the Israelites and set them down in the promised land, but instead God asked, God negotiated, God applied pressure, God gave the Egyptians every chance to co-operate in the plan God had. It always surprises me that it took ten horrendous plagues before Pharaoh caved in to the pressure. God prefers to not simply overpower humans, but to work with us, despite our imperfections, stubbornness, down right stupid pig headedness.
I often hear people say, where is God in any particular calamity, be it Holocaust, hurricane, tragedy. I think that in fact God was involved long before the final cataclysm. God warns but we ignore. God gives us the means to prevent, but we have other agendas. God prods us to act, but we choose to be complacent. We only have to look at our looming climate change crisis to see the story playing out again. Polar ice melting, strange weather, violent storms, drought are all signs that we need to make a change and yet we argue over pipelines, we invent new ways to squeeze every last drop of oil from the earth, we build more parking lots and roads for the cars we so adore.
We may shake our heads at the Egyptians stubborn refusal to acknowledge God, but are we so different?
Join us for Messy Church, Wed. Feb. 11 @ 5pm!