I have generally found the book of Exodus to be a real downer. After all God does for those people, how do they repay Him? Rebellion, disobedience, complaining, and that debacle with the golden calf. They even go so far as to kvetch about the food.
The kids and I have read through the book of Exodus chapter at a time over the past couple of months. So much of the story I love, and I see its role in the foundation of the people who would bring us Jesus. But then it gets to the hard part: desert life, complaining, outlandish rebellion, and amazingly long and detailed explanations for the construction of a Tabernacle. My dilemma was whether we should continue reading or skip all those lengthy details.
We plowed ahead, and a little research into the symbolism and meaning of the implements of worship in the Tabernacle paid off. Our lessons led to interesting discussions and blessed us, but I was still bothered by the backdrop of disobedience. It didn't matter that I had read this book before, I couldn't help but wonder if anyone would get out of that desert unpunished and alive.
Then it hit me. Exodus 39:32 - "Thus all the work of the tabernacle of the tent of meeting was completed; and the sons of Israel did according to all that the LORD had commanded Moses; so they did." (NASB)
Through it all, there were always people who stayed obedient. They followed God's instructions. There is no record of anyone doubting, stealing a little excess gold, or disobeying the instructions. I dare you, just take a look at the specific instructions God gives for the construction of that Tabernacle. If I were given these instructions and commanded to build a Tabernacle, I might just sit down and cry. I was proud of myself for successfully putting together a ready-to-assemble table I bought for my daughters. Never mind a couple of mysterious pieces left over and instructions written by someone whose native language is Chinese, I put that thing together! That is the extent of my talent. A Tabernacle? No way! But they did it. They trusted God when He said that he would give them the skill and the knowledge. They pressed forward, and relying wholly on God-given skill, they crafted the holy implements, tools and furniture that would serve in the Temple for centuries to come.
Through it all, through the darkness and confusion, despite being surrounded by people who would never let go of evil, there were obedient and godly ones. There were people who took a hold of what God had revealed to them through His miracles, and never let go. Suddenly, Exodus is not so enigmatic to me. Suddenly it is here and now, real and tangible.
We live in a world where children are still sacrificed, but we have changed the names of the idols. Pharaohs still rule, but their titles are different. Golden calves may not be so common, but scratch the surface of so many false things, and that same rebellious spirit is apparent. The good news is that there are still people who hear and obey, people whose hearts are attuned to God's leading, people who use their lives to create something beautiful and holy in service to the Lord.
Thank you Exodus, I needed that fresh, gentle breeze of hope.