Monday, January 10, 2005

Heroes of the Exodus

I teach a Bible study on Wednesday nights, and we've been crawling through the Old Testament since September. There is very poor video of some of the classes -- you can watch by clicking on the links on the right side of this page. Good audio will soon be available. In fact, if you're interested in purchasing cds of the current material, let me know.

So much for the commercial.

Last week, I did a basic overview of the first part of the Book of Exodus -- a remarkable story of how God was working behind the scenes to get his people out of slavery in Egypt and back into their promised land. The story is told in such a way that there can be no doubt: God delivers them. They did not deliver themselves. And one reason why this story has survived is to let us know that the same God who delivered them, promises to deliver us as well.

Something struck me as I was prepping for last week's class, though.

The Bible is a book that tells the story of how God has dealt with his people throughout the ages. And I'm fairly conservative in how I deal with the text of the Bible. However, I often try to show people that what the Bible actually says is often very different from what we think it says or have been told it says.

Case in point: many people think the Bible is anti-woman. This is simply not true. Historically, people (mostly men) have used the Bible to subjugate women, but one must twist Scripture to do so -- just like you would have to twist Scripture to justify slavery.

When you look through the first part of Exodus, you read several stories where people engage in heroic acts. But it's not Moses. It's the midwives of Israel -- the ones who defied the order to kill Israelite babies. It's Moses' mother who risks her life in order to save her son. It's Moses' sister who stands guard over him. It's the Pharaoh's daughter who defied her father to raise Moses. It's even Zipporah -- Moses' wife -- who corrects his disobedience.

It's very striking that early in the Bible, in this grand patriarchal society, the writer of Exodus goes out of his way to show how God uses women to keep the story moving forward.

What was ironic is that while I was sharing this insight with the 50-75 people crammed into an overcrowded and overheated room, directly across the hall people were bickering over what women should and should not be "allowed" to do.