Exodus 9:13-35; Psalms 141, 143;
2 Corinthians 4:1-12; Mark 10:32-45
The section of Exodus, chapters 3 through 12, which includes today’s reading and tells the story of the freeing of the Israelites from the slavery in Egypt, is one of my favorite Biblical texts. Maybe it conjures up pictures of a young, handsome Charlton Heston and beautiful Yvonne DeCarlo leading the Israelites (that is, lots of Hollywood extras) across the Red Sea (aka, a Hollywood set). Maybe it’s my sheer amazement at the feat itself – one man leading tens of thousands of extremely poor people into the desert – based upon his faith in a voice from a burning bush. Whatever the draw, it is a rich story for the ages.
Throughout the Bible, we read many examples of God’s tremendous love for his people. Time and time again he saves them from terrible circumstances, brought about either by their own hand or by the hands of another. This reading illustrates how God, through Moses, gave Pharaoh lots of opportunity to set the Israelites free without God’s retribution. But he did not listen. Instead, his heart remained “hardened.” And each time, God did exactly as he said he would, whether it was sending the different plagues or drowning Pharaoh’s troops as they chased the Israelites across the Red Sea.
Isn’t that like a good parent? You give your child lots of opportunities to do good, partly to teach them but mostly because none of us relish disciplining our child. This is not the first time, nor the last, that God’s love takes the form of maternal or paternal love. There are many examples throughout the Bible of a parental love so deep: for example, Abraham in Genesis 22; or Mary, Jesus’ mother, scared of potential death for conceiving outside of wedlock, traveling to Bethlehem to give birth to the Son of God. Moses’ mother, trying to save him from death, put Moses into a basket and set the basket in the Nile River where Pharaoh’s daughter found Moses and raised him as her own. I read these stories and wonder if I could ever love my children as much as God loves us. I pray that if I am ever tested the way that Moses’ mother or Jesus’ mother was, I will meet that challenge in the same manner they did.