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Exodus: Holy Ground, Cold Feet (2017-0625)

. 5 min read

24-25
June 2017, Christ Mountain Top
      New member; VBS song
Call
to Worship, Psalm 105:1-11 or 1-6
Children,
Exodus 3.1-22
Message,
Exodus 4.1-17
Children:
Moses
at the bush
God
has heard their cry
I
AM
Message:
Objections
to faith:
      That God is made in our own image, simply
a reflection of our social context or our personal desires. Instead of people
of faith “plundering the Egyptians”, this is “Egypt” plundering people of faith
for their metaphors, that it is you and I who are created in God’s image. Such
a god, made in our image, does not imagine, much less engineer, sweeping social
change, because such a god is “extrapolated from social reality” (Brueggemann, Prophetic Imagination”, Kindle location
364). Those are the gods of Egypt – extrapolated from the Nile River, the
rising of the sun, and the Pharaoh himself. That is not, however, the God of
Exodus, the God of biblical faith.
      This objection is kin to Karl Marx’
critique of religion as “opiate of the people”, keeping people in bondage to
the systems of power that oppress them. The real question, when you encounter
the Exodus story, is “Whose religion? Whose religion is the opiate?” Is it the
religion of Pharaoh, of empire? Yes, that is designed to keep people under
Pharaoh. Is it slave religion, the message that Moses the prophet declared?
That’s dangerous faith, faith that stands up to injustice and declares “Thus
says the LORD: Let my people go.” As we move forward in the story, it appears
that Moses’ message is as much for Israel as it is for Pharaoh, that is, it has
an evangelical component. Israel struggles to know how to pray, at times crying
out for relief to Pharaoh, rather than to the LORD (5.8, 5.15; Brueggemann,
Kindle 459).
In
our story, we are introduced to God as “I AM WHO I AM, the God of Abraham, the
God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”

      This is a God who is NOT extrapolated from
social reality, a God whose existence is not a projection of our context or
desires or dependent on our state of mind. Instead, this God shows up to choose
and create a new social reality, to call a slave people to become a holy
nation. Instead, this God is the one on whom our existence depends. I AM WHO I
AM. A totally unsatisfactory answer to a genuine question by Moses. But a
question that makes one thing unmistakably clear: God is on the loose.

·       A
free God. A God who does not need me or you – but who freely chooses Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob – and now Moses – as friends. God is on the loose.
·       A
free God. A God who can inhabit a bush, light it on fire, and keep it burning
without burning up – this free God can do anything and yet chooses to use us.
But what if we don’t want to? God is on the loose.
·       A
free God who does not play along with the empire – whether it is the empire of
Egypt, the empire of consumer capitalism, or the empire of my half of a bedroom
I share with my brother. A free God who chooses slaves as “my people”, to
proclaim good news to the poor, to set free those who are in prison – such a
God is liberating, yes, but demanding and terrifying as well.
And
Moses, standing on holy ground, gets cold feet.
God
is on the loose.
Why
cold feet now?
·       Had
murdered a slave master, identified with the slaves as his people and with
their cause as his
·       Failure
·       Because
he took off his sandals?
·       Holy
Ground – Before GOD. Holy = OTHER, not ME.
God
is on the loose, and God just hijacked his life
·       When
we act out of our indignation or pride, our resources or competence, we’re
comfortable with that. But when we act out of our weakness and God’s power,
we’re scared to death.
·       When
the choice is ours, we own it; when it is God’s … we equivocate, we waffle.
·       When
it’s our idea, we’re 100% in agreement. But when it belongs to someone else, we
discover our capacity for criticism and maybe we even sulk.
God
is on the loose, and Moses is not happy about where this is going.
The
conversation sounds a little like a child negotiating with a parent. The first
two objections
are raised as questions, legitimate questions, yes, and
God responds.
·       Exodus
3:11
 “Who am I that I
should go to Pharaoh, and bring the Israelites out of Egypt?” [I will be
with you]
·       Exodus
3:13
 they ask me, ‘What is
his name?’ what shall I say to them? [I AM … God of Abraham…]
The
next
two objections
are offered as statements or semi-questions. To each of
these, God responds with a question.
Exodus
4:1
 “But suppose
they do not believe me or listen to me, but say, ‘The LORD did not appear to
you.'”
Exodus
4:2
 “What is that in
your hand?” [a staff?]
      The Resource issue: the resource of
authority
            The first resources we need are in
our hands (Dave Gibbons)
Exodus
4:10
 “O my Lord, I
have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor even now that you have spoken
to your servant; but I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”
Exodus
4:11
 “Who gives
speech to mortals?” [you?]
      The Competence issue
Exodus
4:13-14
 But he said, “O
my Lord, please send someone else.” 
14 Then the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses
      The REAL issue
God
is on the loose, and Moses is not sure he wants to be along for the ride. Business
literature, Jim Collins, on the “bus”.
“In
these biblical narratives God is constantly present in places where no one
would logically expect God’s future to emerge, and yet it does, over and over.
There is nothing in these stories about getting the wrong people off the bus
and getting the right ones on to accomplish great ends and become the best
organization in the world. This God who pursues us is always calling the wrong
people onto a bus that isn’t expected to arrive. The reason for all of this is
that God chooses, within the mystery of God as the Other who cannot be
described and confined within the schemes and imagination we develop, to unfold
the future of the kingdom among people and places of this kind.”
Alan
Roxburgh;Fred Romanuk. The Missional Leader. (Kindle Locations 280-284).
God
is going to do something great. But God doesn’t require great, or even good,
people to do it. God takes a murderer. God takes a failure. God takes a reluctant
person. God takes someone who is resource-poor. God takes someone who is
incompetent. God wants to take you and me, and do with us whatever God desires
to do. God is on the loose, and no matter our objections, God is out to upend
the empire and make slaves his chosen people.
Resource:
New Interpreter’s Bible, Exodus, Brueggemann
      Prophetic Imagination, Brueggemann
      The
Monkey and the Fish,
Dave Gibbons

      Alan Roxburgh;Fred Romanuk. The Missional
Leader: Equipping Your Church to Reach a Changing World