Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Exodus Part 2 - Through Water

(part one is here)

After the people if Israel cried out to God a redeemer was sent, Moses, and because of God working through him they were enabled to leave the land of slavery.

Exodus 12:31
During the night Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the LORD as you have requested.

I can imagine this seemed quite a shock to the people. They had seen the suffering of the Egyptians, and I'm sure they had experienced some level of suffering as well. God had protected them from the plagues, but I'm sure the slavemasters were not so kind to them during that time. Then suddenly they had their chance, their opportunity. They could leave. Not only that, but they were able to plunder the Egyptians at the same time and bring plenty of provisions with them.

I'm sure the group moved slowly. It would have been very large and with children and the elderly, as well as carts, heards, and everyone wondering what was really going on, where they were going. I'm sure there were many questions, but also a peace. God was leading them to freedom.

I can imagine the thoughts as they came upon the Red Sea, the last obsticle between them and freedom. I'm sure there were many theories on how they would cross that body of water, or guesses as to how long it would take them to go around.

And then tragety - the army was after them, they were trapped. They came to a realization I'm sure all of us encounter at lest once in life. Just because the bonds of slavery are broken, just because we are given freedom, doesn't mean we are free.

This is seen in various ways in the Christian life. There are still trappings of the "old man" even tho he is dead. There are habits, addictions, memories, thoughts, any number of things that can hold us back, keep us tied to the past. In my experience, it's always just when we think we're free that they sneek up on us. I've often imagined it as some sort of bungie coard that lets us get so far from our past and then suddenly snaps us back. Suddenly freedom doesn't feel very free.

The answer for the Israelites, and for us, was going through the water. I feel that baptism in Christinity is both over-emphasised and under-emphasised. It is seen as a great symbol of our position, of our aligning with Christ in life and in death, but for the average person I don't think the perspective is right. I know for a long time it wasn't for me.

When John called out "Repent and be baptized" it was before Christ's death, before the way was opened up to us. Baptizm for him was a symbol of change, of cleansing, of complete trust in God to save, before salvation comes. That's the part of baptism I feel is so often neglected, at least in my experience. As the Israelites stood on that shore, there were two options - lay down and be killed or sent back to slavery, or go through the water and be saved. Altho I'm sure to most both options looked like death. Going through the water for them was a great matter of faith, of things unseen, not of things experienced.

When we talk of baptism it's usually either as an infant or one who has already been "saved" and has experienced God's grace. I think baptism could be made broader, could be opened up for those who are willing to try, who are wanting to experience God's salvation even if they haven't yet. It could be a first step to God, not a final symbol of what has already happened.

This is going against the regular thought on this subject, against tradion, and probably wouldn't fit even with my denomination's stand on the topic. I do think it fits, however, in the historical context of the experience.

Baptism is a step of faith, it's trusting for salvation when there seems to be none in sight. It's a step towards God, a symbol of extreme need and desperation just as much as a symbol of that salvation being recieved through Christ's death and resurection. It can be a first step that places us in God's hands and out of reach of what enslaves us.

1 comment:

Lindy said...

Love it Steph. Both parts are so well done.