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October 11 | Exodus 3:1-10


 

DAILY READING

 

REFLECTION


When the Lord is the Deus ex machina

by Dan Kidd


In 1987, Christopher Reeve donned the blue suit and red cape one final time, for what would ultimately be a lackluster conclusion to his Superman series. Reeve convinced Warner Brothers to make another Superman movie after the previous one had not lived up to anyone's expectations. He found himself deeply unsettled by the constant threat of nuclear war, and the stand off between Russia and the United States, where both countries we creating and stockpiling nuclear weapons in efforts to gain military advantage and preventing the other from attack. Reeve saw in this predicament a centuries-old theological question. If someone were all-powerful and entirely good, why would they not intervene and set the world to peace again? In the movie, Superman flies in and removes all the weapons from both countries--only eventually to conclude that this doesn't actually fix the problems of violence, enmity, or the competition for power. Interestingly, the movie concludes with a resolution more-or-less aligned with the now-and-not-yet tension we find in the Biblical witness.

The Lord does not prevent or relieve all of the violence or suffering in our world. I trust this isn't news to you. We live in a sin-soaked world where people hurt and hurt each other. Often God responds to our suffering by joining with us in our pain--ministering to us with his presence and peace, healing us in spirit and sometimes our bodies. And God promises a final resolution to all suffering, where death, mourning, pain, and tears will be no more. But there's something else. The Lord is not deaf or blind to evil or suffering. Sometimes God hears the cries of his people and responds with intervention. Today's passage is one such instance.


Moses, having fled from Egypt to Midian after killing an Egyptian, was met by the presence of the God of his ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The Lord beckons him onto holy ground, speaking to him from a flaming-but-not-burning tree, and he tells Moses that he has indeed witnessed the misery of the Hebrew people; he has heard the tortured cries as they slaved away under Egyptian oppression. The Lord, faithful to his promise to bless Abraham's descendants so that they might bless the world, would intervene on their behalf in an amazing and powerful way. God would send Moses, in his name, to lead the Israelites out from their captivity in Egypt and into "a good and spacious land, a land flowing with milk and honey." God was faithful to this promise, and the Israelites were led through the Red Sea, and eventually into the promised land and Pharaoh's army was drowned for their relentless pursuit of oppression.


We serve a God of goodness and justice; the Lord who hears our prayers. My prayer today is that we would see the presence and power of the Lord in all things. That we would enjoy his presence and care for us in our seasons of sorrow and suffering; that we would receive in faith the promise of the Lord's restoration of all things; and also that we would not miss the ways the King is intervening in our world even now. Let us not forget to celebrate when our God hears our petitions, our cries, or our needs and acts on our behalf--however he might do so.


PRAYER PRACTICE

Prayer of Noticing: As you enter into your time of prayer, ask the Lord to bring to your mind a few ways God has intervened in your life lately. Spend 2 or 3 minutes quietly, prayerfully allowing God's Spirit to bring things to mind where your heart was changed, where goodness prevailed over evil, or when you saw healing. Once a few things have come to mind, thank the Lord for being a God who hears are prayers and responds to us. If there's anything you would like to ask of the Lord today, take time to do so. Consider writing your prayer down, so that you'll remember it later.








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