The LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his land. 3But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and I will multiply my signs and wonders in the land of Egypt. 4When Pharaoh does not listen to you, I will lay my hand upon Egypt and bring my people the Israelites, company by company, out of the land of Egypt by great acts of judgment. 5The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out from among them.” 6Moses and Aaron did so; they did just as the LORD commanded them. 7Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God
46“Why do you call me “Lord, Lord’ and do not do what I tell you? 47I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, hears my words, and acts on them. 48That one is like a man building a house, who dug deeply and laid the foundation on rock; when a flood arose, the river burst against that house but could not shake it, because it had been well built. 49But the one who hears and does not act is like a man who built a house on the ground without a foundation. When the river burst against it, immediately it fell, and great was the ruin of that house.”
This is the Word of the LORD
Thanks be to God.
Said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke. God is doing stuff in this passage. Said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke. There are more than twice as many action words as there are verses in today's passage.
The stage is almost fully set for the showdown between God and Egypt. Moses has been called, and we moved to a first-name-basis with The LORD, the great I AM. Moses and Aaron have appeared before the King of Egypt and made their first demand for release. Pharaoh dismissed them as lazy and increased their workload. The LORD renewed and expanded the covenant, and now the Holy One of Israel is ready to act. Said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke.
Our God is the giver and renewed of life, these actions are stirring up a stale social structure of slave and overseer, laborer and king. Now there is life again in the land, even though the Israelites do not yet know how to live it. Even though the Egyptians still seem dominant, the God of all creation is making things new.
I mean, we can't blame the Israelites for being unsure. These two old men stroll into town declaring that God is going to set his people free, and the next thing that happens is the King of Egypt makes their lives harder, even going so far as to have some of their leaders beaten. Exodus chapter five, which was a couple of Sundays ago, ends with Moses asking God why he has not done anything to redeem his people.
Last Sunday, God responded by renewing and expanding the covenant, not only will the people receive the land that was promised, they will also live in relationship with the one who has brought them out of bondage. "I will be your God, and you shall be my people" says the LORD.
And then, after a break to catch our breath, the LORD continues to share what is already going on: said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke. It's already happening, and will continue to go on. God's intervention in our world is ongoing, even as we have seen in this story that Moses and Aaron have already been made representative of the LORD to Pharaoh, they shall continue. We have also already seen Pharaoh's hardened heart, for he has exercised the influence of his position to make life more difficult for God's covenant people. Said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke.
The action has already begun, it is ongoing, it will continue until the story is complete. The verb tenses are past, present perfect, and future. Said, have made, shall speak. Begun, ongoing, continuing.
The actions of the LORD are before our eyes. We see them in the beauty of creation as the sun rises and paints the world with a spectrum beyond even what our eyes can see. We know that the LORD’s signs and wonders are multiplied in our land when the setting sun pours through our stained glass and lands on the cross with the intensity of molten steel. We know that God is active in the world when our noisy lives are quieted by an encounter with nature.
What more, we know that the hand of the LORD is upon us when we see a small church growing closer to one another and using their newfound energy to reach out to a community that longs for growth and stability. We know that the LORD has stretched out his hand when a congregation that had lost 55% of its members over 10 years turns around and grows 10% in a year and a half. We know that the LORD is active when halls and classrooms that used to sit empty are filled with new carpet, fresh paint, and the laughter of children, youth, multiple girl scout troops, women’s circles and community groups.
We know that God is active among us. We see it in reconciliation within families. We see it in groups who set aside chronic conflicts to do the work of the LORD, and in so doing bury the old conflicts and become brothers and sisters in Christ once more.
The LORD is acting among us, Said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke. God is doing stuff in this passage, and in this congregation.
And though the action of the LORD is good news, it is not always comfortable. The hand that stretches out over Egypt is one of judgment. The Egyptians have falsely set themselves above another people, and have fooled themselves into thinking they have the power. But we know that all power belongs to the LORD.
We know that, but we don’t always live that. We, and we is y’all and me both, are guilty of trying to set ourselves over others. We judge others and less faithful, more broken, less worthy, more sinful. We decide we’re better based on outward appearances, or social circle, by the way a person expresses themselves, or who they love and how. When we do that, we’re inviting judgment on ourselves. The LORD our God acts in the world to lift up the oppressed and welcome the outcast. When we push others down, our world will get upended.
The hard part is, we don’t always know we’re doing it. Moses has been made like God to Pharaoh and Aaron shall speak as his prophet, but this is not the same King of Egypt who had Israelite children killed. This is not the same Pharaoh who enslaved the Israelites in the first place. Those things happened generations back. This Pharaoh has merely inherited the cities that were built by slaves. The house that is built on sand.
We know how the Exodus story ends. We know how the Red Sea parts to let the recently-freed slaves pass, and then breaks against the Egyptian army. We know that God brings the Israelites out. We know that God is acting said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke…
We also know that the LORD is making himself known to us through both blessings and through judgment. But it is always for our long-term good, even when we only see the short-term struggle. Just as the Israelites were bound in slavery, so too the Egyptians were bound in the way the held others down. Their house may have looked great, but when the waters crashed in, it was the ruin that was great.
So God is active in this passage, bringing the people out of bondage, but not all the verbs belong to him. Said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke. Some of those action words belong to people, through whom God acts. People who Jesus challenges to continue to act, do be doers of the word and not merely sayers.
We know God is active in our community, in our denomination, in our congregation, the question then becomes, how will we, and remember, we means both y’all and me, do to participate in what God is doing? There are a lot of verbs around a church: worship, teach, study, build, serve, pray, maintain, give, love, lead, follow, learn, play, God is acting, how then, Presbyterian Church of Lowell, will we continue to build upon the foundation of the Words of God? Said, made, speak, command, tell, to let...go, harden, multiply, listen, lay, bring, know, stretch, bring, did, commanded, spoke. There’s much to do because God is acting, it’s up to us to join in and verb right along with him, knowing that our foundation is firmly in the hands of the LORD who acts.