I was happy to see this book flowed like Genesis, by incorporating the whole story book format. I enjoyed the first book and I feel a little apprehensive each time I start a new book because I have no idea what to expect. I keep thinking will the novelty wear off, will my interest dissipate or my momentum dwindle? I know I am only finished the second book, but this is totally uncharted waters and secretly I am still waiting for the one that reads like stereo instructions.
From what I understand Genesis illustrates the creation of the world and humanity while Exodus embodies the scriptural groundwork of the Bible such as the Ten Commandments. The other major difference is in Genesis God seemed to focus on communicating with individuals, when in this book he is attempting to reach an entire nation.
It is kind of like He used Moses as a spokesperson for His national advertisement campaign; however, the key messages were not focused on getting the Israelites on board with a product, but with a belief.
I referenced numerous readings trying to wrap my head around the concept and basically they explained that God was trying to prove His existence to a nation of unbelieving people because He had taken a four hundred year vacation. God needed to convince everyone to get back on board with their beliefs and in order to restore their faith some pretty drastic measures were taken. God also needed Moses to be an innovative salesman to earn the trust of the people and prove His existence to an entire society of non-believers. Some people hand out pamphlets and make personal appearances, but God went above and beyond on the experiential executions. (Sorry for the marketing references, but I think it fits)
God equipped Moses with a sidekick named Aaron, and some serious miracles. I know when I think of the word “miracle” I think happy life changing events, but in this case it has a darker connotation, the ten plagues of Egypt! Now we are not talking simple parlour tricks here. Moses turned the Nile River bloody; covered the city with frogs; turned dust to gnats; infested homes with swarms of flies; infected the livestock with disease; covered humans and animals in boils; abolished crops, animals and people with thunder, hail and fire; and covered Egypt in complete darkness with a giant swarm of locusts. The final plague was the most horrific. God killed all firstborn males in Egypt, only sparing the Hebrew’s children if they covered their front doors in sacrificed lamb’s blood; which I learned is called Passover. The whole scene is pretty morbid and makes me think of a horror movie where in one night a crazy sociopath goes on a rampage and kills hundreds of people only deterred by lamb’s blood. Now to be clear I am not saying God is a sociopath killer in any way, it’s just the place my brain goes from watching too many horror movies.
The part of killing that many people because the Pharaoh was such a stubborn asshole really irks me. What great leader would let his people suffer so much through all nine plagues and then in the end if they managed to survive they lost their first born sons too. All of this just because the Pharaoh was too proud to release the Israelites who he wrongfully enslaved in the first place? Now was God justified in killing that many people to make a point, to prove his power had no limitations I can honestly say no, but was it necessary to get the end result he desired, perhaps? To relate to this situation you could reference any war throughout history and ask the same questions. Usually when freedom is up for grabs and it takes the death of thousands to win this precious commodity. The only difference here is on God’s side; Moses was equipped with better resources than the Pharaoh. To be fair Moses did ask nicely each time giving the Pharaoh the chance to release his slaves and chose not to do so.
Besides the ten plagues I think the other biggest take away from this book for me is the Ten Commandments because they lay the ground work for Christianity concerning ethics, worship and basically provide guidance. After all, the one commandment that Anthony initially shared with me was partially what intrigued me to pursue this religious exploration journey.
I think it was my logolepsy (obsession with words) kicking in, but what he said was beautiful and made an impression, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and love your neighbor as yourself.”
From God’s point I can see creating the commandments was a necessity because when you are talking about 600,000 people you need to keep some kind of order to prevent total chaos. He basically demonstrated his ultimate power to the Israelites with the plagues and by parting the sea, so was this partially a tactic of intimidation or was God trying to win over the people with his acts of salvation? It is kind of like how our society uses punishment as a deterrent for criminals, if God showed the people what he was capable of, would this deter them enough to act in an acceptable manner and “be a good person?” Also did his actions instill fear into the people so they felt obligated to worship God instead of choosing for themselves? Perhaps this was part of his plan all along because if you refer back to the idea that this was a campaign, what better way to spread to word of God and influence other nations to follow in his footsteps than with an entire nation already backing you. I may be reading into this too much, but if you look at the entire plan from a business perspective God is a genius!
With the commandments he basically sets up a set of rules for the people to follow: concerning gods there is only to Him; if you worship anyone or anything else you and future generations will be punished; you will not misuse His name; remember the Sabbath because it is very important to God as it represents his work; honor your parents and be respectful; do not kill anyone or sleep with anyone else’s wife or husband; do not steal; do not lie; and last but not least do not desire what you do not have. If you analyse these rules to me they sound pretty reasonable; however, the only one that sticks out to me is where God says you cannot worship anyone else besides him otherwise you and future generations will be punished. There is that fear tactic being applied again. I think what God has to keep in mind is that if people are happy, leading a good life, being a good person, and showing love to everyone, there is no need to instill fear as their devotion and belief will come naturally.
From what I am understanding as I go along this journey of mine, is belief starts inside of you and cannot be forced or applied through fear, it has to be natural. As I travel further down this path what I absorb from faith will be expressed throughout my daily actions and reactions to life. It is like I am filling up a large bucket and the key ingredients are praying and reading the bible, but the space where belief goes is still empty. I feel impatient, almost like I am waiting for a light switch to go on, that may or may not. Perhaps I just have to wait and when my heart is ready it will all become clear and everything will fall into place.