A Word to be Lived?
Lord, I am grateful for today, the potential and the privileges of it. Help me make wise use of each hour.
Read Exodus 7:25-8:32
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
The gift of imagination and the ability to see familiar things from a fresh perspective is another reason for gratitude to God.
“We are given this book so that we can imaginatively and believingly enter the world of the text and follow Jesus …. There is no word of God that God does not intend to be lived by us” (Eugene Peterson). I find myself reflecting on these claims as I read this text today. Whatever could it mean to live today’s word? How does it enable us to follow Jesus? If these chapters aren’t somehow problematic for you, perhaps they’ve become too domesticated and familiar! Maybe you could try entering into today’s reading, imagining yourself in the shoes of Moses, Aaron and their community, or Pharaoh, his elite and ordinary Egyptian families.
Through the centuries, people have responded in different ways to the questions about living this narrative. In 373 AD, Gregory of Nazianzus explained a series of disasters in his community in terms of the Exodus plagues, and called all his people (without distinguishing “righteous” or “wicked”) to repent. In recent years Kenyan and Zimbabwean critics of their own governments have compared their nations’ problems to the plagues God allowed in order to set his people free. One Jewish commentator, Francine Prose, bravely stands in the shoes of the Egyptians and compares “her childhood adoration of the plagues as recited in the Passover Seder with her realization as an adult that the plagues had human victims” (7:24; 8:18,20,22). Dietrich Bonhoeffer advocated reading Scripture “over-against ourselves” rather than “for ourselves”—that is, allowing the texts to reflect and interrogate us. Perhaps we begin to live this word when we ask if the communities we identify with (family, work, church, and nation) are today sometimes more like the Egyptians or more like the God-led Israelites. We know which one they should be like!
Sometimes we can interpret Scripture “in such a way that it supports rather than subverts corrupt and sinful practices.” How can we try to avoid this? What does this text say to you?
Father, I want to stand under Your Word’s authority. I need Your Spirit to instruct and illuminate it and to correct me whenever necessary.