When I think about the Exodus story I have mixed emotions.
One emotion is filled with joy! People (in this case my people Israel) are freed from slavery! They were enslaved and burdened seemingly for no fault of their own. Subjected to cruel and unusual burdens. A xenophobic ruler who attempted a slow genocide of an entire people. The people are freed by the mighty hand of G~d acting on their behalf. A unilateral move of G~d, regardless of the people’s initiative, desire, ambition, and efforts to free themselves. A miracle!
Another emotion is a bit of resentment. The Israelites did not have to struggle to be set free. They did not fight against their oppressors. Why were they favored? This feeling points to selfishness.
Next emotion is for the Egyptians. Why did they have to suffer the plagues? Were they all to blame for Israel being slaves? Was it fair to the average Egyptian to suffer when the Egyptian leaders were actually the ones to blame for Israel being enslaved and mistreated? I am looking for justice.
Then there is this recurring theme “hardened Pharaoh’s heart.” Can a man stand against G~d? Was Pharaoh free to decide as a free willed person, or was G~d interfering with free will here. Here I am looking for independence and freedom.
So I step back a bit from the story and realize that I really don’t understand much of the deeper things of life, and specifically of how and what G~d is doing here on earth. There must be a much bigger plan. An unfolding of some grand scheme. And a mix of grace and justice from G~d which I hardly begin to understand.
Yes, I do want grace, that is to be favored and even protected from the consequences of bad decisions. I do want miraculous door of provision, health, and opportunity open. In essence I do want G~d to intervene on my behalf for a better life.
Yes, I do want justice. I want the bad punished and removed. I want the bad to receive the consequences of their actions. In essence I do want G~d to intervene to insure justice takes place.
At the same time, I want freedom and independence to make my own decisions. It starts happening in everyone’s life around one year old, and we are in the thick of exerting our independence by two years old. We all do this. We want our own way, regardless of any understanding of consequences. Independence is built into our very core fiber. Our parents must limit us, teach us, lead us, guide us. This extends to our teachers, government, and society in general. This really extends to G~d as well, though we do not like that idea.
We want to be free and independent to make mistakes, and we want to be protected from those mistakes! Thus inherently we all desire two opposing principles – freedom and protection. No wonder the process of life is filled with conflicting emotion.
Thus I come back around to a conceptual solution “G~d – Who has a grand plan and design which somehow works all this conflict out for the best.” Big assumption! Big faith! Is there any other good answer?
What is my part in the “grand plan?” Love the Lord my G~d which will result in loving my neighbor as myself.
Here are some study notes:
Parsha Bo 5771.pdf
Parsha Bo 5771.doc