Monday, August 02, 2010

Tenth Sunday in Trinity Season: Exodus VI: Knowing Yahweh: Exodus 6:1-7:7

It is not enough to know about God. We must strive to know God, and the central means to that knowledge is in the priestly ministry of the people of God. And this ministry flows into and out of worship.

My Name Yahweh
Moses has just gotten in hot water with the elders of Israel and has brought his case before the Lord (5:20-23). God’s response is initially to remind Moses of his name (6:2-5). God is not talking about mere knowledge of his name; the patriarchs use the name “Yahweh” throughout their narratives. God means that there is some knowledge of Yahweh that will be new: the fact that He is a God who delivers his people and keeps His promises (6:1, 6-8). Yahweh is the God who redeems with “an outstretched arm.” Yahweh is the God of Exodus. God’s word does not seem to affect Israel’s view of Moses because of “shortness of breath” and “hard labor” (6:9). And Moses asks God how his words will have any effect on Pharaoh if his own countrymen aren’t moved (6:10-13).

The Family of Moses
We need to do a little bit of math here to understand the genealogy correctly. We know that God promised Abraham that his descendents would be in bondage for 400 years (Gen. 15:13). However, here in Exodus 6 we find that 400 years has not elapsed between Levi and Moses (vv. 16, 18, 20). If we add these years end to end we get 407 which some have taken to mean that this is merely a symbolic number. But the Apostle Paul gives an inspired commentary on this chronology in Galatians 3, indicating that the 400 years should be reckoned to begin from the covenant made with Abraham (Gal. 3:17). If we estimate the chronology (not being sure exactly when people were born during their father’s life) we might estimate that Israel went down into Egypt proper about half-way through the 400 or 430 years (cf. Ex. 12:40-41). We conclude that “bondage in Egypt” refers to the entire time Abraham and his descendents lived in the land as strangers under foreign domination (i.e. Egypt primarily).

Why this Here?
First, we know that this genealogy precedes the beginning of the heart of the “showdown” between Yahweh and Pharaoh. The genealogy makes sense here to introduce the main characters. Secondly, God has just declared who he is in terms of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (6:3-4, 8). The genealogy here clearly illustrates that for God to be Yahweh, the promise keeping God, the God who delivers his people, he must act now (it’s the fourth generation cf. Gen. 15). Notice also that this passage is concerned to record the “heads of the fathers’ houses of the Levites” (6:25). The redemption of Israel is not coming through the oldest sons of Jacob: Reuben and Simeon. It’s coming through a younger brother (remember Joseph), and it’s coming through the liturgical tribe. It’s not the royal tribe (Judah); it’s the tribe given the task of teaching Israel and leading her in worship.

As God to Pharaoh
After the genealogy, Moses again reminds God that he was not a good public speaker (6:28-30). But Yahweh responds by saying that he has made Moses God to Pharaoh (7:1). Yahweh said something similar when Moses protested that he was not a good speaker. Yahweh told him that he would be as God to Aaron his brother who would speak on his behalf (4:16). The set up is a little different here, and Aaron is described as Moses’ “prophet” (7:1). Clearly, Moses is not becoming Yahweh, but Moses because of his interaction with and knowledge of Yahweh, is being made God to Aaron and Pharaoh. This should remind us of Adam in the garden. Adam enjoyed perfect communion and interaction with God. His communion with God was so perfect that he could be said to be God to the world (cf. Ps. 82). Moses is a picture of righteous image-bearing because he knows and speaks with Yahweh.

Conclusion & Application
Jesus is called the image of the invisible God (Col. 1:15) and the “express image” of His person (Heb. 1:3). And Paul tells us that in Christ, we and the whole creation are being renewed and remade.This is what God has predestined us to: to be conformed to the image of the new Adam, the Lord Jesus (Rom. 8:29). But how are we conformed to that image? By knowing God in Christ (Jn. 17:3, 1 Cor. 2). And the NT ties this “knowing God” to imaging God (Eph. 3:19, 1 Jn. 4:7-8). Therefore we may rightly say that God has made you God to the world. This is not a call to some kind of arrogant, power-tripping lifestyle. This is actually a call to a priestly ministry of redemption which turns to God in prayer and worship and turns to the world in love. Levites lead the armies of God (6:26).

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