Where Do We Go From Here in 2021?: Lessons Learned from Exodus and Leviticus
From the time of the Israelite’s departure from Egypt in Exodus through the 40 years they spend in the wilderness, God is reshaping and re-training the Israelites from the bad habits they had developed and accepted while enslaved by Pharaoh for over 400 years. The reflection period can be viewed as not only an indication of other nations who would later fall out of favor with God for turning away, but also foreshadows the 40 days of Jesus fasting in the desert in that both situations required trust and faith in God.
Today in the United States many for the first time are starting to clearly see all the ways we have fallen, both as a nation and more importantly individually. The events of 2020 leading now into 2021 are even more chilling in the respect that we are truly seeing how much we are enslaved. And while many are feeling that the enslavement is from others and the powers at bay, in reality we have enslaved ourselves. The irony of the story of Moses helping to set the Israelites free is only the beginning, as it would take God 40 years to reshape and retrain them again, so that they would be ready not only to live free again but to be in his favor once again. As God re-establishes a new covenant with his people, they truly come to realize their fall but in doing so rediscover God and their path to freedom, which ultimately and solely relies on God’s guidance and his favor. It is no wonder to me that the Israelites are still alive and exist even today. God made a promise to them, and he always keeps his promises. What astonishes me as I read the early scriptures is that the Israelites had fallen so much that it took God three and a half books in the bible (from the book of Exodus through Deuteronomy) to retrain his people to daily worship and discipline towards his commandments. Maybe that in itself should be enough for us to understand this massive amount of scripture may not have been just for the Israelites during this period of time, but perhaps also for us right here and now today.
I have often times heard fellow Catholics speak as if the Old Testament is just as its name might imply – “old”. However, if you really read into the scripture you can see that it is not out dated at all. Rather the contrary, it lays out a framework we can still use today to get ourselves back to being right with God once again – both individually and as a nation. The questions are really these: are we willing to admit our guilt and sins?; are we willing to give up something in return – an offering, or penance, if you will?; Are we ready to sacrifice and discipline ourselves again to get back on the right path with God again? In order to do all of this we have to learn how to get comfortable living uncomfortable, where we solely rely on God and have faith he will provide us with our “daily bread”.