I recently heard on radio 4 that ‘a traveller doesn’t know where they are going and a tourist does not know where they have been’. One journeyer does not appreciate the way ahead, the other does not recognising the importance of the path behind. I do not wish to be like either one; wandering aimlessly in life not knowing how I get to where I am heading or nor having any idea how I came to be here in the first place. I want to be one who looks both ahead and behind and finds strength, solace and direction in understanding.
‘You have seen what I did to Egypt and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to me. If you will listen obediently to what I say and keep my covenant, out of all peoples you’ll be my special treasure. The whole Earth is mine to choose from, but you’re special: a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.’ Exodus 19: 3-6 (MSG)
The Israelites had been slaves for many generations since their ancestor Joseph had died. They had become slaves and been ruthlessly treated. During their time in Egypt the passing generations had gradually adopted the customs of this culturally rich nation. They dressed and put make up like the Egyptians, ate their tastes in food, became used to living in the style of housing, they ate on Egyptian designed plates with Egyptian style cutlery and drank Egyptian speciality tea. They read the language, spoke the language, understood the traditions and worshipped the same gods. They even walked like an Egyptian ( 🙂 )
God was calling them out of the land and out of a nation of people. They were not Egyptians they were Israelites and they needed to find their own identity again.
Not only did the culture became ingrained in their way of thinking they had become accustomed to the role of slavery. They were told where to go, what to do, given boundaries to live in, ordered to follow certain rules and to obey without question certain people. They had become so used to taking on the mantle and chains of slavery in a foreign land that God had to call them into a wide free space to find out their personal and co-operate identity.
We see God speak to them to start kick-start the truth of their identity in the verse above. He tells them “You are not to be slaves to men, you are a free people. You are not objects to be owned with a number – you are precious children, my special treasure. Far from being nothings and nobodies remember you are a chosen people, a priesthood, holy nation. Not only have you been chosen there are times when I carried you myself to freedom and made a safe place for you. “ This was Father God calling imparting truth into his children
The life in the desert was to be a time of re-adjustment for the people. They had to learn afresh how to be free, loved, powerful, holy, treasured and Gods. This was time to learn a whole new way of being, way of thinking to a new way. God’s way.
Today: Say out loud to yourself ‘I am not to a slave to men, I am a free person. I am not an object to be owned I am a precious child, God’s special treasure. I am not a nothing and a nobody but I am part of a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation. Not only have I been chosen there are times when has God carried me himself to freedom and made a safe place for me. “