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Our lives as history

Last Sunday night I began a new series in the book of Exodus and, as always, I felt both excited and daunted. Excited because I haven’t spoken on this part of God’s Word before and I’m looking forward to unearthing new treasures. Daunted because I know it’s going to be hard. I’ll be dealing with weighty matters, difficult passages, truths pertaining to life and death, and the majesty of the person of God.

Exodus feels particularly daunting because it contains the paradigmatic story of salvation in the Old Testament. It is redemption wrapped up in history. It is foundational theology writ large in story. It is epic in its proportions (as Hollywood discovered years ago) and profoundly spiritual in its particulars.

Eugene Peterson makes the following observation: ‘When Israel wrote about God, she wrote history. Among other peoples in the ancient world there was nothing comparable. Israel’s neighbours wrote down historical data – the reign of kings, lists of cities conquered in battle, treaty obligations, business transactions – but none of them wrote history, narratives in which the decisions of people and the response they lived were told in relation to the decisions of God and his actions. When Israel’s contemporaries wrote about God, they wrote myths and legends – hearsay gossip about the gods, not true stories about persons. The Hebrews were the world’s first historians’.  

Exodus, though enormous in scope, is directly applicable to our personal circumstances. Our lives are history. Every day God is at work. We can choose to live by faith, in accord with God’s purposes, or to live by unbelief, in sin and rebellion. Let’s choose faith.