Friday, June 27, 2008

Safe

“Red Sea to the front of them, Pharaoh at the back – here they were stuck in the middle with God”

It was all about God setting the scene to display His glory, not necessarily to His people this time, but to His enemies. The whole of Egypt was about to learn that there was no messing with God and what God claimed as His own.

The Israelites didn’t see it that way. As far as they were concerned they were stuck between a rock and a hard place. The impenetrable barrier of the Red Sea was in front of them, and the Egyptian army was coming up behind. They didn’t see any way out.

It was a complaint they were going to lay at Moses’ and God’s feet throughout the next forty years – about them dying in the wilderness, brought out of “safe” Egypt to be massacred, and that life was much better before Moses interfered.

Egypt became synonymous with safety, and yet there wasn’t any real safety there at all. Where was the safety in sons being put to death as they were born? Where was the safety in their working conditions as they built whatever it was they built? Perhaps there is a certain safety in “business as usual”, in familiar routines, unpleasant though they may be. People have coping mechanisms that are adequate for a particular setting.

God’s “safe” didn’t have any appearance of being safe at all and yet it was the safest place in the world. It doesn’t look safe but it is, not because of any of the externals, but because of the presence of God.

As I was reading the account in Exodus, the news was buzzing in the background. The report was about the elections in Zimbabwe. The leader of the opposition party had stood down leaving Robert Mugabe a clear path to power. As I was reading it was like the political situation in Zimbabwe was overlaid on the story of the Exodus. The people in Zimbabwe are as much between a rock and a hard place as the Israelites were. In front of them was the election process, behind them were the supporters of Mugabe – intimidating electors, killing more than a few, insisting people turn up an vote for someone they didn’t want in power, but powerless themselves to make a difference.

I don’t know enough about the politics of this country, let alone the politics of another. I don’t know why there is so much silence from those that could raise a banner in support of free elections. I don’t know when living to fight another day becomes more prudent than dying for a cause.

I found myself praying for God to intervene – much like he intervened for the Israelites. Both groups of people were denied freedom. Both groups of people are in need of a deliverer.

One of the on-line newspapers said that “Mr Mugabe has said "only God" can remove him.” It is almost a challenge, isn’t it? If only I were God…

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