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“The Choosing People” of Passover

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As Jewish people around the world prepare to celebrate Passover on April 10th, it’s worth recalling an often-ignored aspect of the Exodus story. The Midrash, a nearly-2,000-year-old collection of elucidations of the Biblical text, suggests most of the Hebrew slaves, despite the miracles around them, felt too fearful to follow Moses out of Egypt.

In this sense, “the people of choice” described in the Bible were as much a choosing people as a chosen people. Even at the Red Sea, Midrashic sources say that God only split the sea once the Jewish people took the first courageous steps into the water.

In this sense, and in this season, God can still perform miracles but we must partner with Him in the process. This is also true for the Easter message of salvation and redemption, isn’t it? Liberation and salvation are gifts from God. But it’s up to human beings to take the first steps.

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  1. Gene Printz-Kopelson  •  Apr 5, 2017 at 12:09 am

    Michael…wonderful! Thank you!
    Fwiw, it was Nachshon who took that first brave step into the split Reed Sea!

  2. Raoul  •  Apr 5, 2017 at 4:18 pm

    There's no evidence whatsoever that Israelites were slaves in Egypt or that they left in a large exodus. The exodus is a myth. Judaisim is just the first, and most tribal of three demented Abrahamic religions that no rational, scientific person would ever believe.

    • Jennifer Rothnie  •  Apr 7, 2017 at 3:34 pm

      I suggest you read "The Bible as History" by Werner Keller. It has many chapters surrounding Abraham, Egypt, Joseph, and the Exodus where it gets into the archeological evidence for it. "Patterns in Exodus" is also a more recent documentary that dives into some of the archaeological and other historical support for there being slaves in Egypt and for the Exodus as well.

      And while the specific history of the Israelites is contained mostly in scripture, there is ample evidence that Semitic people traded with Egypt and were even taken as slaves.
      http://www.haaretz.com/jewish/archaeology/1.713849

      Archeology continues to support the historical narratives of scripture. (For example, Hezekiah's seal found just last year in Jerusalem.) Often, people make claims that "we haven't found outside corroboration of this, therefore it didn't happen/exist" only to have the evidence of a person, place, or event found shortly after.

    • Gordon  •  Apr 10, 2017 at 3:18 am

      Many rational, scientific persons believe Christianity, to say nothing of Judaism & Islam (the 3 religions I believe you reference). In fact, there are quite a number of them are Nobel laureates. (e.g. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christians_in_science_and_technology#Currently_living)

  3. Aaron  •  Apr 7, 2017 at 3:45 pm

    Excellent points Michael. As always you bring an interesting collaborative perspective to the table. The debate over who initiates the partnership between human and God has been unresolved since its inception. There are multiple passages and contexts that show God as the initiator and multiple passages and situations where God expects man to step out in faith. It has been my experience that God does the initiating, but he wants people to respond to Him in a loving way. In the Exodus account, He starts the ball rolling with Moses. The Israelites are given the plan and path to freedom, but they have to follow it. In the New Testament, God initiates the plan for salvation, the Messiah does the heavy lifting to clear the path, people are then left to choose. I think you are right in that God wants a partnership, but he does far more of the work than we often give him credit for. It seems he works on a grander scale than we can perceive in our space/time bound finite state.

    As for the evidence supporting the Exodus, there is plenty. As is always the case, it comes down to who is interpreting the evidence and what they are looking to find. It's easy to dismiss evidence as inconclusive, just as its easy to declare evidence irrefutable. An honest look at the evidence for the Biblical Exodus shows a case that can be made either way. It very much depends on ones initial assumptions. Of course the scientific method requires documented observation and iteration. The best source we have for documented observation of the Exodus is the Biblical account. We have no means of iteration. This presents the skeptical mind with a quandary.

    The correct approach is to have a open minded, intelligent conversation. The Christian message is to love ones' neighbor and even one's enemy. These topics can be the starting point for great conversations and lasting friendships. Dogmatic statements about what we think we know have no place in a civil discussion. This need to constantly be right and vindicated in our beliefs, is perhaps our greatest flaw. I have to assume that if there is a Devil this is one of his best tools and greatest pleasures. What would we find if we honestly investigated the Exodus together in a loving manner with each other's best interests at heart. Perhaps something more profound that definitive evidence for the Exodus.

  4. Michael Waits sr  •  Apr 7, 2017 at 6:35 pm

    Ur photo with ur grandchild and wife is stunningly beautiful. Praying a strong and rich blessing of Gods grace on u and ur clan. Also; have carried a debt of gratitude for years since u explained on air ur reconciliation of ur conservative beliefs with ur very much loved and progressive minded mom. I had struggled mightily with the same scenario and ur disclosure was helpful to me and since…thank u.

  5. Greg  •  Apr 8, 2017 at 2:11 am

    As always…succinctly stated and powerfully put!
    May we all appreciate our God-given power and right to choose…our agency to pick our path. God gives us evidences (miracles) and hints (scriptures and revelation), but will force no person to join Him in His glory.

  6. Raoul  •  Apr 11, 2017 at 9:58 am

    "As for the evidence supporting the Exodus, there is plenty. " cite said evidence, please.
    There's evidence for Lazarus being razed from the dead, too. There's evidence of Jonah being eaten by a whale; biblical evidence. Bronze Age, Middle Eastern fairy tales.
    "Our god given right to choose." Provided you're not an Amalakite; a people so despised by your "God" an entity sprung from the primaries minds of dehydrated, psychotic, semetic sand-people, that he demands their murder. Reasons dear Lord?

    • Denise  •  Apr 29, 2017 at 1:32 am

      Because they sacrificed their babies in the fire to Baal, something that God despised as he considers children precious.

  7. Freddy  •  Apr 11, 2017 at 10:02 am

    "God initiates the plan for salvation, the Messiah does the heavy lifting to clear the path"
    The disgusting, immoral degeneration of vicarious redemption(i.e. Salvation) eroding the fabric of morality, "the golden rule." Only a deeply psychotic person would relish the disgusting practice of the Bronze Age semites of "scapegoating."

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