Friday, October 09, 2020

Well, who did it then?

One of the paradoxes of the exodus account is the interplay of divine and creaturely freedom in bringing salvation. Moses tells the people that they are to stand by and watch the salvation that God will work at the sea (Exod. 14:13), yet God tells Moses to actively participate in the deliverance by stretching out his hand with the staff, thus dividing the waters (Exod. 14:16); in this participation Moses replicates God’s primordial action of separating the waters on the second and third days of creation (Gen. 1:6—10). Even more strikingly, we find that YHWH calls Moses to “bring my people, Israel, out of Egypt” (Exod. 3:10), whereas he had just told Moses that he (YHWH) would “bring them up” (Exod. 3:8). This correspondence of human and divine action is rooted in our creation in God’s image (Gen. 1:26-28), which allows us to adequately represent God on earth. That God is the ultimate agent of salvation, therefore, does not conflict with the fact that human agents are often used in the process of bringing salvation. And yet, while Moses directly confronts Pharaoh with the demand to let the Israelites go and even stretches out his hand over the sea, it is significant that neither he nor Israel has any direct role in fighting against the Egyptians; this is YHWH’s victory.—J. Richard Middleton, A New Heaven and a New Earth, 84

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