Posted on November 7, 2018 | Posted by Annie Saunders
I don’t know if you’ve ever taken a course on world religions, but I’d highly recommend it. It’s fascinating to learn about other nations/culture’s perspectives on spirituality and religion–and though some might only recognize the differences, to me, it proves humanity’s cohesiveness.
The trickiest part about religion courses, however, is when you get to hear your own religion discussed in an academic way. Though it’s always respectful and accurate, it is still kinda weird.
If you haven’t already guessed, I’m currently in a world religions class and recently we’ve been studying Judaism–which has been familiar and eye-opening.
Looking over the texts of the Old Testament (okay so Judaism doesn’t call it the Old Testament, it’s the Torah…but you see what I mean.) I realized how much I love the story of Moses. Of course right now, Moses’ exodus from Egypt is nowhere near our liturgical calendar–but I can’t help but feel that this passage of the Bible is incredibly timeless, and for me personally, incredibly relevant. His is the story of carefree soul becoming a shame-filled runaway, and haven’t we all, more or less, been there too?
Therefore, bear with me (and Moses) as we leap into liturgical anachronism.
The story pretty much takes up all of Exodus, however I’d like to focus on Moses’ encounter with the burning bush. God says to him, “I have surely seen the affliction of My people who are in Egypt…Therefore, come now, and I will send you to Pharaoh, so that you may bring My people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt,” (Exodus 3:7, 3:10.). Moses is tentative to take up the Lord’s mission, feeling unworthy and unable to successfully convince the Israelites or Pharaoh that God sent him. God then responds, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord?” (Exodus 4: 11).
A man of two worlds, Moses doesn’t initially define himself as a Hebrew—he doesn’t even know the God who calls Himself “I AM WHO I AM.” He is a murderer, hiding in a land far from his people, his family, and his friends. But even in that lowly place, God knows who Moses is—God sees and understands him, and God comes to him. Though Moses is still weary to take up God’s task, God’s commandment is impossible to deny because in the end, it is God who created Moses. In a sense, God says to him, “I made you, so I’m making you.”
But God also tells Moses that he will be there with him throughout it all, he will never be alone. This core concept perpetuates the teaching that God comes to his own, stays with his own, and helps his own. “His own” can be understood as the Jewish people themselves, but it can also be interpreted as his believers (A.K.A. us), or even humanity as he is the creator of all.
The shame and inadequacy Moses felt is beautifully restored into conviction, strength, and redemption. For a higher power to take an interest in such a soul and reshape it for a greater purpose is healing and provides us hope. I myself haven’t led a group of people across a parted sea, nor have I climbed Mount Sinai into the direct presence of God…but it’s good to know that like Moses, the mistakes I make or the bad places I fall into, are redeemable.
[Featured Image: “Moses 2: The Burning Bush” by Paris Tavonatti-Wartick, 2013, mirror reflective acrylic and oil painting]