Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Day 38: A New King and the End of the World

Exodus 1, 2, 3 & Matthew 24:1-28

These chapters tell us about a new king in Egypt taking control who did not know Joseph or the story of Joseph. This new King, or Pharaoh, didn’t know his history books and so made drastic changes in the policies of the day. In Matthew Jesus, our new king, gives us words about the end of the world that might make many of us nervous.

Exodus 1:

A new King who knew Joseph not comes into power in Egypt close to 400 years after the Israelites have moved there. He decides that there are too many foreigners, too many Israelites. He is motivated by fear, afraid that they would one day over power the Egyptians. Remember that in Genesis they had been honored guests given the best of the grazing land in Goshen and even asked to care for Pharaoh’s flocks. This all happened while the rest of Egypt was enslaved by Pharaoh after the famine.
This Pharaoh who does not care about the favored status, becomes afraid of losing power. He is so afraid that he orders the Midwives to kill every male baby at birth. These brave midwives do not fulfil his order, telling the Pharaoh that the Israelite women give birth before they can get to them. They are resisting in any small way they can.

Exodus 2:

This passage tells us of the family of Moses’ origin. He is a Levite by birth. When he is born his mother hides him for as long as she can in their house. When she can no longer do that, she builds a wonderfully constructed basket boat to hide in the reeds to keep Moses safe.
Miriam watches over the basket to make sure Moses is well. The Pharaoh’s daughter finds the bay and Miriam is quick to offer up her own mother as nurse to care for the child until he is weaned and can be brought to the palace. God used these women as agents for salvation.
Moses was not the holiest of men. We learn that he committed murder and hid the body, but once he is found out he flees. He does however, seem to have an inherent sense of justice, for when he sees the seven (there is that number again) daughters of Reuel being bullied by the other herdsmen, he defends them and waters the flocks for them. Reuel, also called Jethro welcomes Moses into his tents. Moses marries Zipporah, one of Jethro’s daughters.

Exodus 3:

Moses sees a bush burning but not consumed by fire and goes to take a closer look. He is told he is on holy ground. God names Godself for the first time “I am who I am” or “I will be what I will be” The God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel reveals Godself as a stable, secure and infinite God, Yahweh.
God commands Moses to return to Egypt to set God’s people free. God promises to make the situation one that is so uncomfortable for the Egyptian oppressors that they will be so glad to see them go that they will give them many gifts.

Matthew 24:1-28

Jesus speaks to the disciples about the destruction of the Temple. It was destroyed approximately 40 years later in 70 CE. Jesus speaks to his followers telling them that there will be many who come claiming to speak the truth, claiming to be the Messiah, but they are not to be trusted.
This section of Matthew is apocalyptic literature. It is so hard for us to understand because we don’t really have anything that equates to it today. The closest I can imagine we have is the genre of dystopian science fiction. Deliberately dark and overwhelming scenes intended to make the reader/hearer understand truths they might not recognize in their own context.
The Apocalypse, or end of days, end of the world, is not on a set timetable. Jesus tells them do not look for the future of the “second coming”. Jesus is already among us, the Messiah has arrived and is ushering in the kingdom of God.

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