When I read the book of Exodus, I can’t help but think that the people of Israel were on a family holiday.
It sounds silly, I suppose, but as you read the retelling of the wilderness experience throughout the Bible, there are honest reflections recounting the difficulties they endured (and the difficulties that they brought upon themselves), but those accounts always seem tinged with a touch of gilded longing: ‘Remember when God took care of us in the wilderness?’
Do you have a family holiday that was full of difficulties, that now, years later, seems like a blessed thing?
What do you remember most about it?
Read Exodus 12:37,38a.
Take note of who went on this journey.
Were they all of one age or gender?
Sometimes I forget who was on this incredible journey from Egypt to the Promised Land. Although the Bible numbers men, there were many women and children along for the ‘Promised Walk’. And many other people went up with them …
What are the demographics of your congregation?
If our current statistics show us anything, the odds are, there is probably a certain greying of those who worship on Sundays. Generally, this is not purposeful, but somewhere along the way, the Promised Walk became too hard for some to keep up.
From the very beginnings of Israel’s history, intergenerational life was a given. The people of God moved in their family groups striving together to learn how to be God’s chosen and beloved people. No-one was left behind; according to the Scriptures, not even those who were ‘outsiders’ were shed during the difficult times.
Who are the people in your congregation who may be overlooked?
Which groups are sometimes marginalised?
All along the journey, God had been watching over the people of Israel. Leading them by fire and cloud, encouraging them and equipping them to be an intergenerational community guided by his word, God also chose their direction because he knew their hearts and the difficulties they would encounter in being Promised Walkers.
After their release from Egypt, there might have been an urge to take the shortest route possible. Excitement would have made them take shortcuts, but God knew that the people needed time and skills to succeed as a community.
Read Exodus 13:17,18a.
After Pharaoh let the Israelites go, what did God lead them away from and why did he do that? Which way did he lead them instead?
What are some of the ‘battles’ that you and your faith family face in the wilderness?
What does the road out look like?
Who will fight those battles?
How are those people being equipped?
As we continue on the journey together, I hope that you are blessed by the travel with each other as members of God’s family. When you look back on this Promised Walk together, I hope that you rejoice in spite of the struggles along the way, as you see the people of God still walking to his Promised Land.
This feature story comes from The Lutheran August 2019. Visit the website to find out more about The Lutheran or to subscribe.
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