Morning Psalm 148
1 Praise the Lord!
Praise the Lord from the heavens;
praise him in the heights!
2 Praise him, all his angels;
praise him, all his host!
3 Praise him, sun and moon;
praise him, all you shining stars!
4 Praise him, you highest heavens,
and you waters above the heavens!
5 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for he commanded and they were created.
6 He established them forever and ever;
he fixed their bounds, which cannot be passed.
7 Praise the Lord from the earth,
you sea monsters and all deeps,
8 fire and hail, snow and frost,
stormy wind fulfilling his command!
9 Mountains and all hills,
fruit trees and all cedars!
10 Wild animals and all cattle,
creeping things and flying birds!
11 Kings of the earth and all peoples,
princes and all rulers of the earth!
12 Young men and women alike,
old and young together!
13 Let them praise the name of the Lord,
for his name alone is exalted;
his glory is above earth and heaven.
14 He has raised up a horn for his people,
praise for all his faithful,
for the people of Israel who are close to him.
Praise the Lord!
First Reading Exodus 2:1-22
1Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a Levite woman.2The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a fine baby, she hid him three months. 3When she could hide him no longer she got a papyrus basket for him, and plastered it with bitumen and pitch; she put the child in it and placed it among the reeds on the bank of the river. 4His sister stood at a distance, to see what would happen to him.
5The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the river, while her attendants walked beside the river. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid to bring it. 6When she opened it, she saw the child. He was crying, and she took pity on him, “This must be one of the Hebrews’ children,” she said. 7Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get you a nurse from the Hebrew women to nurse the child for you?” 8Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Yes.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child and nurse it for me, and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed it. 10When the child grew up, she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter, and she took him as her son. She named him Moses, “because,” she said, “I drew him out of the water.”
11One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to his people and saw their forced labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his kinsfolk. 12He looked this way and that, and seeing no one he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13When he went out the next day, he saw two Hebrews fighting; and he said to the one who was in the wrong, “Why do you strike your fellow Hebrew?” 14He answered, “Who made you a ruler and judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “Surely the thing is known.” 15When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses.
But Moses fled from Pharaoh. He settled in the land of Midian, and sat down by a well. 16The priest of Midian had seven daughters. They came to draw water, and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17But some shepherds came and drove them away. Moses got up and came to their defense and watered their flock. 18When they returned to their father Reuel, he said, “How is it that you have come back so soon today?” 19They said, “An Egyptian helped us against the shepherds; he even drew water for us and watered the flock.” 20He said to his daughters, “Where is he? Why did you leave the man? Invite him to break bread.” 21Moses agreed to stay with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah in marriage. 22She bore a son, and he named him Gershom; for he said, “I have been an alien residing in a foreign land.”
Many of the movies I see have a common theme. Toward the end of the movie, there is an apocalyptic battle. At one point during the battle, it looks like the forces of evil are going to win. Of course, the tide soon turns, and the forces of good will prevail, but a skillful director will make you question the final outcome before you get to the final scenes. For example in The Return of the Jedi, it looks like the evil Emperor is going to defeat the forces of the Rebellion. But then Darth Vader remembers he is Luke’s father, and instead of killing Luke, as the Emperor commands, he kills the Emperor. (I hope I did not spoil it for anyone!)
Taking Exodus as a story, yesterday we heard of the extreme oppression of the Hebrew people. But today we get a glimpse that God is up to something. In spite of the order to drown all the Hebrew male babies in the Nile, one manages to survive. Not only does he survive, he is found by Pharaoh’s daughter to takes him to the palace to be raised. Not only that, but the daughter of Pharaoh hires Moses’ birth mother to be his wet nurse. It looks like something very interesting is going to happen with this baby.
But then we get to verse 11. Moses, who was raised in Pharaoh’s palace learn of his lineage somehow. We are not told how. But we are told he went out, “to his people.” He sees an Egyptian beating a Hebrew. Something arose in him, and he became very angry, and he killed the Egyptian. OK, so maybe this is the start of the rebellion. But no, the next day Moses see two Hebrews arguing, and he tries to settle the argument and one of the Hebrews asks him, “What give you the right make a judgment on me, Mr. Fancypants? We saw what you did yesterday, how you killed that Egyptian, and buried him in the sand.”
Moses is now afraid, and he flees for his life.
So much for the rebellion.
Sometimes we think that when God acts, the Almighty clears a wide, level path for the forces of good to travel on, but that is not the case. Often God’s most beloved servants encounter great trials on the way to their greatness. David was to be a great king, but before he could take the throne, he had to the deal with the existing King, Saul, who was trying to kill him. Many of the prophets suffered persecution, and some became martyrs. More than once Jesus had to deal with people who wanted to arrest or kill him.
We know that Moses will eventually confront Pharaoh, and that Pharaoh would eventually free the Hebrew slaves, but it would be a struggle from start to finish. There will be many setbacks.
When we experience setbacks in our walk of faith, that does not always mean we are on the wrong path. It just may mean that many others are on the wrong path, and in trying to get them to turn around, we may make enemies in the process. (Well, more likely we will be greatly misunderstood!) But, when the Word of God points us in a direction, and wise and godly people affirm that direction, we cannot be in the wrong, no matter how many people are marching in the other direction.
What do you do when encounter setbacks? Just remember, even Moses’ murder of the Egyptian did not set God back. It became a part of the story.
Evening Psalm 130
1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O LORD.
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
3 If you, O LORD, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
7 O Israel, hope in the LORD!
For with the LORD there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.