Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Advent and the Exodus

Tim Chester
November 28th 2016

I was confused and distressed.
I couldn’t find any comfort.
I lay awake at night.
I didn’t know what to say.
I groaned when I remembered the good old days.

Any of these statements sound familiar? I wonder how many you could tick off.

They are all sentiments expressed in the opening verses of Psalm 77. And they are followed by the Psalmist’s questions: “Has God forgotten to be merciful?” “Has his unfailing love vanished for ever?”

Yet the Psalm ends with a great expression of confidence. Something happens which makes the Psalmist ask a very difficult kind of question: “What god is as great as our God?”

What’s brought about this transformation? It’s not down to any change in his circumstances. There’s no hint of that in the Psalm. Something else has changed. And whatever it is, it’s surely a secret worth knowing. Here is something that enables us to face life with confidence—even in the midst of regret, heartache and struggle.

The answer is that the Psalmist appeals to the story of God. “To this I will appeal,” he says in verse 10, “the years when the Most High stretched out his right hand.” It’s followed by four resolutions “to remember the deeds of the LORD”. The Psalmist determines to let the story of God shape his understanding of God and his understanding of himself.

For the Psalmist that meant remembering the story of the exodus. He alludes to the plagues on Egypt and he describes the parting of the Red Sea. The exodus story kicks off when God meets Moses at the burning bush. “I have come down,” God tells Moses, “to rescue them from the hand of the Egyptians” (Exodus 3 v 8). God came down to reveal himself, to liberate Israel from slavery and to form them as his own people. This was the great defining moment for Israel. And it’s recalling this moment that so radically changes the Psalmist’s perspective on life... the rest image

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