Devotional Thought for our Days:
6 “Therefore, say to the people of Israel: ‘I am the LORD. I will free you from your oppression and will rescue you from your slavery in Egypt. I will redeem you with a powerful arm and great acts of judgment. 7 I will claim you as my own people, and I will be your God. Then you will know that I am the LORD your God who has freed you from your oppression in Egypt. 8 I will bring you into the land I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. I will give it to you as your very own possession. I am the LORD!’” 9 So Moses told the people of Israel what the LORD had said, but they refused to listen anymore. They had become too discouraged by the brutality of their slavery. Exodus 6:6-9 (NLT)
Now it becomes clear that what took place on Sinai, in the period of rest after the wandering through the wilderness, is what gives meaning to the taking of the land. Sinai is not a halfway house, a kind of stop for refreshment on the road to what really matters. No, Sinai gives Israel, so to speak, its interior land without which the exterior one would be a cheerless prospect. Israel is constituted as a people through the covenant and the divine law it contains. It has received a common rule for righteous living. This and this alone is what makes the land a real gift. Sinai remains present in the Promised Land. When the reality of Sinai is lost, the Land, too, is inwardly lost, until finally the people are thrust into exile.
As I read these two quotes above, as it talks of people who are discouraged and inwardly lost, they resonate with me. A lot of my ministry is helping people who think they are lost realize that they’ve been found, The role of a shepherd/pastor is to bring people home who are broken and lost.
Israel was there in Egypt, it wasn’t where they belonged. They would later confuse the belonging to being attached to real estate, and when they lost that and were taken in captivity again, they had already lost the belonging that made the land special in the first place.
It wasn’t the dirt they lived on that made them special, it was who they lived with, as God shared His glory with them. It was the interior life, as we dwelled with God that made the place special. It was the fact that they were aware that God had claimed them…
Even as He claimed us.
At Sinai, the people couldn’t do anything but dwell in God’s presence. They struggled with the glory, they struggled with depending on God for food (manna again!) and water. They struggled with idolatry, and with obedience.
Yet they lived in His presence, and they had access to the restoration God provided.
There is a lesson here, as we remember how dependable God was at Sinai, how eagerly He would restore those who came for forgiveness. He was there for them, He would rescue them again and again.
He will rescue us, and refresh our shriveled interior life, and help us to again live in His glory. For He has claimed us as His own> We are His people, whom He loves.
Discouraged by the evil you see in this world? The brokenness you feel in your life and the brokenness in the lives of those you love? There is hope, there is the promise. You are His!
Ratzinger, Joseph. The Spirit of the Liturgy. Trans. John Saward. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2000. Print.