“Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh: Indeed, by a mighty hand he will let them go; by a mighty hand he will drive them out of his land.”
In this story, we find the Hebrew people enslaved by Pharaoh in Egypt. They are working hard, making bricks and Moses goes to Pharaoh to seek time for the Hebrews to go into the wilderness to worship God. Instead of letting them go worship YHWH out in the wilderness, Pharaoh punishes them for even asking. They were yearning to worship but they weren’t allowed. They were yearning to tap into the Deep Well. Pharaoh’s punishment was that the Hebrew people would have to gather straw to make the bricks. They were called lazy and further demeaned and dehumanized. All they wanted was to worship, for it was in worship that they felt free. They yearned to be free.
Moses began questioning God, asking why God was allowing this to happen. At the time, Pharaoh was seen as a representative of Egyptian gods. The worldview at the time affirmed that the gods were okay with human enslavement. When Moses was questioning YHWH about how God could affirm this dehumanizing arrangement, God responded with an absolute negation of slavery. God affirmed the Hebrews’ yearning. God was going to liberate them and offer them salvation from the oppressive Egyptian system.
Today, we don’t find ourselves in systems like the Hebrews experienced in Egypt. We do, however, experience oppression of different types every day. We see people justify oppressive systems like racism and sexism with religious arguments. We might even turn a blind eye to the oppressive systems at work today and deny that they have a grip on our society. This story teaches us that God is always on the side of the oppressed. God is a God who yearns for freedom for all. God is a God who seeks to liberate Beloved Children from the things that keep them bound.
During Lent, we’ve been looking both at individual repentance and communal repentance. This scripture calls us to repent for the ways that we have participated in systems that hold others back. It calls us to reflect on where we may have benefited at others’ expense. It calls us to pause and recognize what the people around us are yearning for because we might be able to be like Moses, used by God for their liberation. Who are the people yearning for freedom in your lives? Where are you participating in or benefiting from systems that are broken? How can you help people be liberated in Christ?
God, you have created our hearts and minds to be free. You have called us to do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with you. We confess that there are times when we receive benefits from broken systems that we turn a blind eye to the harm they are doing to your beloved children. Use us to be vehicles of change, just as you used Moses. Amen.