Exodus Day Five
July 7, 2020, 4:00 AM

Where is the one who is wise?
Where is the scribe?

Where is the debater of this age?
Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?
…God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise;
God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;
God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not,
to bring to nothing things that are.

1 Corinthians 1:20, 27-28

The Women of the Exodus
Those memorable words from the opening of 1 Corinthians make me mindful of the first two chapters in Exodus. In the world of the Bible, where the men were front and center in history making; God often signaled big, salvific paradigm shifts through the agency of faithful women.

Truly…
God turns the wisdom of the world on its head.
God uses what the world doesn’t value, to do great things.
God works through what the world thinks weak.

In the opening of Exodus, the Hebrew nation is brought low by a powerful king and kingdom.
Everyone is crying out from under the heavy load: “During those many days…
the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help.” (2:23)

“Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God.
And… God heard their groaning,
and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob.
God saw the people of Israel—
and God knew.” (2:23-25)

Yes, he knew. However, the salvation God sent began in an unlikely way.
Five faithful women: Shiphrah, Puah, Jochebed, Miriam and Pharaoh’s daughter.

Two lowly midwives who defy the mighty Pharaoh and risk their lives to practice the first instance of civil disobedience in the Bible. Being the channel through which God continued to fulfill his promise to bless and extend his people.

An unnamed Levite woman (unnamed until Ex. 6:20) who defies the Pharaoh and keeps her “good” son safe in secret for three long months. She knew there was something special about him, and she knew that God wanted this child alive. But she still had to have the courage to be obedient!

And the child’s sister – unnamed here, too – her shrewdness in bargaining with the Pharaoh’s daughter in such a winsome wise way. Seeing that the plan comes to a good end. Her brother safely delivered to his mission.

And Pharaoh’s daughter. Again, unnamed. In that context, part of the elite ruling class. She could have had anything her heart so desired. Yet, a gentile woman, chose to have compassion on an undesirable Hebrew child.

I quoted Mark Scarlata’s words on this unlikely kindness this past Sunday from his delicious theological commentary on the Exodus, “The Abiding Presence”“The instrument of Pharaoh’s demise is planted within his own garden and raised by his own family. His daughter’s actions represent a foreshadowing of the divine response to the oppression of Egypt. She has ‘come down’ and has ‘seen’ the child and has heard its cry.”

This gentile young woman of royalty, with no chips in the game, reflects the saving ways of God. She comes down, she sees the need, hears the cry, and saves the child. Just as God is going to do by the middle pages of the book of Exodus with his people.

“God chose what is low and despised in the world,
even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are.”

Of course, the Corinthians passage I’m quoting is about what God has done in Christ. Jesus was not the conventional Savior. Afterall, who saves the world by dying on a terrible, despicable Roman monstrosity of bloody execution? Truly confounding.

How about the thought of God beginning to save the world by two helpless, messianic, infant boys, who are birthed, and nurtured and protected by their unassuming mothers, who go the extra nine yards in faithfulness to ensure they make it to their destiny of saving the world?

We talked on Sunday of the connection between Moses and Jesus. Their Stories parallel in so many ways, as we saw. But there is an uncanny parallel in the Story with the mother of Jesus, too. (If I were Roman Catholic, I suppose I would say, “the Virgin Mary.” But being a garden-variety Protestant, I’ll leave it with Mary, the mother of Jesus.) Of course, she must have been subjected to a great deal of gossip and disgrace for her unconventional pregnancy. The public reverberations certainly much more tsunamic in that day than in our own lax moral times. At great personal cost, Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38). Mary sang a song. The song, known as the Magnificat in Luke 1, is a song that could have been easily sung in Goshen on the eve of the first Passover. In fact, Mary may have even been thinking about God’s dealings in the Exodus as she uttered her words of praise, understanding that her son would be the greater Moses.

My soul magnifies (Magnificat!) the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on
the humble estate of his servant.

For behold, from now on
all generations will call me blessed;

for he who is mighty has done
great things for me,
and holy is his name.

And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud
in the thoughts of their hearts;

he has brought down the mighty
from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;

he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,

to Abraham and to his offspring forever.

Luke 1:46-55

 

Give thanks for the faithful women through which God has moved in mighty ways!


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