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EXODUS
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1.4 Exodus
The Desert Experience
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Exodus - desert
 The desert experience

We started in Egypt

Yahweh overcame Pharaoh

Passover memorializes divine
Intervention

Yahweh - warrior god

Opened the Reed Sea
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The desert experience

Moses leads the people into the desert.

Where are we going?

Mt. Sinai and the covenant experience.
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Theme


Tonight focus on the early desert
experience.
Note the theme:
– God’s gracious care of the people
in the desert.
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Route
 Route in the desert.
 Don’t know the actual route.
 Educated guesses.
 Place names lost.
 The southern Sinai route is
favored.
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One view of the desert
 One view of the desert experience
in ch 16 – 18
 Not so much to trace the steps of the
Israelites
 But to show the tension between the
Israelites and Moses
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One view of the desert
 Desert – a place and a symbol

In scripture:
 place of revelation
 training ground for faith and
obedience
 Survival is not guaranteed
 People must help each other to
survive
 Need to survive fosters a trust in God
 People hear God more clearly –
unencumbered by civilization
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Refuge
 Desert functions as a place of
refuge from oppression

Israelites from Pharaoh
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Temptations
 4 temptations in the desert

1 To go back to the previous condition

2 To hoard what you can – survive
(food)

3 To give up

4 To believe that God is not enough
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2 Lessons
 Result: 2 lessons about God


1 God is there in the desert and
journeys with his people
2 We must learn dependence on God
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Focus
 Remember

God does not call Israel to live in the
desert

But to cross the desert to live in the
promised land
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Analysis of Texts
 Chapter 16
 Notice the grumbling motif
 Read Ex 15:22-24
 Read Ex 16:1-3
 Why no punishment ?
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Theme
 God’s gracious care of the
people in the desert.
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Analysis of Texts
 Chapter 16
 “Bread from heaven”
 Read Ex 16:4
 Read Jn 6:41
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Analysis of Texts
 Chapter 16
 Read Ex 16:6 – 12
 The grumbling motif represents:
 The temptation to reject God’s
saving plan
 A form of temptation - theological
despair
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Analysis of Texts
 Again God responds:
 Not with punishment
 But consistent with the theme:
God’s gracious care of the people
in the desert
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Analysis of Texts
 Quail and Manna
 Read Ex 16:13-15
 God’s gifts are quail and manna
 Both are natural occurrences
 Biblical author uses to show
how God cares and provides for
his people
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Analysis of Texts
 Manna
 The tamarisk tree on the Sinai host two
insects
 Their natural secretion drops to the ground
 It hardens in the night air
 The Bedouins prize this delicacy for its
sweetness
 This is probably the substance that the
Israelites gathered in the early morning as
bread – manna
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Analysis of Texts
 Quail
 Species of small bird migrates
Europe => Sinai in Spring and Fall
 In migration across the Mediterranean
they can encounter shifting winds
 Migration becomes a fight for survival
 Upon reaching land they set down
exhausted and can be captured easily
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Analysis of Texts
 Biblical author uses:
1. Plight of the Israelites
2. Naturally occurring phenomena
to demonstrate:
1 – Gods gracious care
2 – How God encourages and
responds to faith
 God is forming his people in the
trials of the desert
 We (the readers) are treated to a
lesson in faith
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Analysis of Texts


Chapter 17
More grumbling at Massah and
Meribah
 Massah means “the test”
 Meribah means “the quarreling”
 Read Ex 17:2-7
 Etiology – cause and origin of
place name
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Analysis of Texts


Chapter 17
The battle with the Amalekites

Read Ex 17:8-16
 The Amalekites controlled the caravan routes
between Egypt and Arabia
 Waged war against the Israelites
- possibly saw them as a threat
 The author is dealing with them harshly, note v
14b
“I will completely blot out the memory of Amalek from
under the heavens.”
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Analysis of Texts
 Chapter 17
 Some authors see this story as a legend.
 What is a legend ? – a narrative whose
purpose is to edify
 Think of Davy Crockett – real person,
enhanced by legend
 Here the subject of edification is Moses
 In the battle he is heroic in his fearless
adherence to God’s instruction
 He is a model of faith
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Analysis of Texts
 Chapter 18
 Meeting with Jethro – Moses’ father
in law who brings Zipporah Moses’
wife.
 He is a priest of Midian, a Midianite
 He is a non-Israelite who recognizes
the power of Yahweh over other
gods
 This reflects a time when the
Midianites were friendly with the
Israelites – later they will be
enemies.
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Analysis of Texts
 Chapter 18
 Organization and appointment of minor
judges
 This undoubtedly occurred at a later time
 Organization and judicial appointments are
indications of a sedentary culture
 Here a subsequent experience is being read
back into the desert experience
 Thus a later solution is attributed to Moses
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– End
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Exodus as Paradigm of the Spiritual
Journey
EGYPT
foreign land
not at home
darkness
place of bondage
oppression
doubtful future
limitations
old self
dissatisfaction
doubts
struggle
faith tested
fears
anger
God acts
despair
critical event
hard to trust
insight
searching
possibility
questions
courage to envision
inklings of hope
calling toward freedom
looking back
search for wholeness
sending forth
“Endings”
PROMISED
LAND
DESERT JOURNEY
“Neutral Zone”
commitment
promise
solidarity
inner strength
trust
deep reliance
on God
new peace
new life
future open
community
New home
possibility
new dreams
liberation
“Beginnings”
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