Hold on to your Horror! A Key to Reading Difficult Stories
It is important to understand that throughout the Biblical texts there exists an ongoing tension between fulfilling the covenant that Israel has been called to and their repeated return to old destructive patterns.
The Book of Exodus records Israel’s struggle to leave behind the oppressive culture from which they escaped. Without the ability to fully envision the new way of life God was calling them to, they were repeatedly tempted to return to the only way of life they had ever known: slavery under Pharaoh. This is often recorded as a conscious struggle, for instance between Moses and those wishing to return to Egypt where they could at least expect to be fed. At other times the Israelites adopt oppressive measures without question and this remains in the text as a testimony to the reality of the struggle. Therefore our horror is entirely appropriate and not to be glossed over. By reading the text this way we unlock its transformative power to ignite that same tension in our lives. When do we uphold biblical vales of justice and compassion for the weak? When do we participate in unjust systems without question?
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