“O give thanks to the LORD, call on his name, make known his deeds among the peoples. Sing to him, sing praises to him; tell of all his wonderful works.” (Psalm 105:1 – 2)
As you may or may not remember, the Old Testament pass this week was the calling of Moses. Last week I/we skipped over the portion of scripture that told of his birth and being taken into the household of the Pharaoh. And the lectionary skips over the part of Moses’ personal rebellion at the Hebrews’ Egyptian overlords. We found ourselves this week at the burning bush, and considered Moses’ acceptance of the calling of the Divine. The passage from Exodus tells us (and Moses) what the Lord God’s intentions were for the people that had been enslaved by the Egyptians. Slavery seems to be a recurring theme in the story of the Hebrews/Israelites/Jews. Have you considered, beloved reader, how we might be “enslaved” in our modern day? And by whom?
“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Seek the LORD and his strength; seek his presence continually.” (Verses 3 – 4)
I cannot help but wonder if seeking the Lord and “calling & choosing” is related or has a causation factor. “I sought the Lord / And afterward I knew / He moved my soul to seek Him, seeking me.” (“I Sought the Lord” by Jean Ingelow, 1878)
“Remember the wonderful works he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he uttered, O offspring of his servant Abraham, children of Jacob, his chosen ones.” (Verses 5 – 6)
It is often been said – sometimes jokingly and sometimes seriously – it might have better if the Divine had chosen another nation of people. But the fact is, the Divine chose humanity. Not only chose, but created. Something in us causes us to seek (as Ingelow wrote in her poem). But it is not a 100% guarantee that we will seek and/or find the Divine. The Lord God is the best (and according to some opinions) the only thing worth seeking. But the truth is, sometimes humanity seeks and finds things that are detrimental to the human body, psyche, and spirit. Even then, things do not always go well.
“Then Israel came to Egypt; Jacob lived as an alien in the land of Ham. And the LORD made his people very fruitful, and made them stronger than their foes, whose hearts he then turned to hate his people, to deal craftily with his servants.” (Verses 23 – 25)
Here we come to the crux of my considerations today. How doe we deal with the fact that sometimes it seems like those who are called and chosen – who earnestly seek to the measure they are capable – find trouble? This is a question that perplexes many writers and readers of the Old Testament. The psalmist strongly alludes to (okay, out-rightly states) the fact that the Lord God turned the Egyptians against the Hebrews. Now stop and consider this, beloved reader. The Lord God caused Joseph to be taken to Egypt, put into a position of power so that he could save his family from the famine only to condemn and consign them to slavery in Egypt. NOT that it was Joseph’s intention! But that is the way it played out. Consider also that Jews were targeted by segments of Russia, and then Germany after that. And their homeland (according to them) was taken over by Palestine (who felt it belonged to the Palestinians); actually, that happened a few times in the history of the Israelite/Jewish people. It is not surprising that they might say, “choose someone else!”
Consider further that it is not just the Jews that have been oppressed and persecuted. I venture to say that every nation in history has been pressed upon and oppressed – hunted, persecuted and killed – by some other group of people or nation. Now for a moment, take out the adjective/modifier “Christian” and consider my title with any and all group designation. How do we, humanity, live up what we feel we are called to be and do if we are persecuted, oppressed, hated, hunted, and killed for who we are?!
Think about this deeply, beloved reader. Down to your bones! The ranks of humanity are filled with good, compassionate, caring people who seek the good and seek to do good. And these are people who others seek to . . . . eradicate. It is a story told with tears, anguish, and suffering.
Furthermore, how do we reconcile the Lord God that the psalmist says turned the Egyptians against the “Called and Chosen” people, and the Lord God who appeared to Moses in a burning bush declaring that the “I Am” was going to save them.
“He sent his servant Moses, and Aaron whom he had chosen.” (Verse 26)
And then the psalmist says, “Praise the LORD!” (45b)
I suspect even Preacher and Seeker would be perplexed by this!
[After several long and deep sighs] I was raised and taught to believe in all things, praise God. And if the psalmist was anything like me, that is probably true for that writer as well. [Another sigh] Making sense of disaster and suffering; framing it so that it fits into one’s context and world view. If the Old Testament is the story of the Hebrew/Israelite/Jewish nation, it is just as much and more perhaps of trying to fit that into their world view and context. We do the same thing, beloved reader, we do the same thing.
Living a Christian life that stays true to Jesus’ teaching and example, and that brings glory and honor to our belief in the Divine. It is a daily struggle. May you, beloved reader, use all of the Divinely bestowed tools at hand to continue your authentically faith-inspired journey. Shalom & Selah!