Moses was born during the time the Hebrews were enslaved to Egypt, and male children were being thrown into the Nile. Because Pharaoh’s daughter had found Moses floating in a basket and raised him as her own, he grew up in the house of Pharaoh. Moses became the product of two cultures; his adoptive mother immediately identified him as Hebrew and found a Hebrew women to nurse him. (Which just happened to be, if you believe in that sort of thing, his real mother.) But he was raised as a prince of Egypt. He had a crisis of identity when he saw a Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian, one of his own people (Ex 2:11) and he struck and killed the Egyptian. The very next day he tried to resolve a conflict between two Hebrews and was asked who appointed him as judge. “Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” The Hebrews rejected his leadership because they identified him as a member of Pharaoh’s house, and after learning of the Egyptian’s death at his hand Pharaoh sought to kill him. This is when he fled Egypt for Midian, where he laid low for the next 40 years. Continue reading
“God is on my side.” Consider for a moment the arrogance of that statement. We’ve all said it, and probably didn’t mean to infer anything by it. But the implication is that we have a position, a plan for victory, and that God chooses to support our position. The truth is, we don’t even have a side.
Of all the children in a large family, Joseph was the favorite of his father Jacob. (As in Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, also known as Israel.) Joseph was also favored by God. When his brothers plotted to kill him, a band of merchants just happened by and one suggested there was no profit in killing him but he could be sold as a slave. That would get rid of him and they could make a little something on the side. Joseph was carried down to Egypt, which was of course all part of God’s plan. Perhaps that traveling merchant caravan didn’t just “happen by” after all. Continue reading
A couple of weeks ago, our Sunday School lesson focused on how the first Christmas was for a Jewish audience. Joseph and Mary, the inhabitants of Bethlehem, and the shepherds who visited on the night of Jesus’ birth were all Jews. Jesus came first to his own people, knowing he would be rejected, all to fulfill God’s plan.
This week we looked at Christ’s birth for Gentiles. Consider these words of Simeon, who met Jesus at his dedication at the Jerusalem temple:
“Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace,
according to your word;
for my eyes have seen your salvation
that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples,
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and for glory to your people Israel.”
(Luke 2:29-32 ESV)
It had been revealed to Simeon by the Holy Spirit that he would see the Christ in his lifetime. Notice that when Jesus was only weeks old, Simeon recognized he was both light for the Gentiles and the glory of Israel. Sometimes we get this funny idea, even if we don’t put it into words, that throughout the Bible God sort of rolls with the punches. Sometimes we make it up as we go along, but that doesn’t mean God does the same. He didn’t come up with the plan of salvation after Israel failed to keep the Law. And offering salvation to the Gentiles was not some sort of plan B when the Jews rejected Jesus.
God knew all along, and the birth, life and death of Jesus were all part of his great plan. The birth of the Christ is good news for all mankind.