A Child's Lenten Meditation-Day 1





1 These are the names of the sons of Israel who went to Egypt with Jacob, each with his family: 2 Reuben, Simeon, Levi and Judah; 3 Issachar, Zebulun and Benjamin; 4 Dan and Naphtali; Gad and Asher. 5 The descendants of Jacob numbered seventy[a] in all; Joseph was already in Egypt.
6 Now Joseph and all his brothers and all that generation died, 7 but the Israelites were exceedingly fruitful; they multiplied greatly, increased in numbers and became so numerous that the land was filled with them.
8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country."
11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.
15 The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, 16 "When you help the Hebrew women in childbirth and observe them on the delivery stool, if it is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live." 17 The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live. 18 Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, "Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?"
19 The midwives answered Pharaoh, "Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive."
20 So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. 21 And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.
22 Then Pharaoh gave this order to all his people: "Every Hebrew boy that is born you must throw into the Nile, but let every girl live." (Exodus 1 TNIV)

Our story begins in Egypt where the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, live, and multiply, and become so numerous that Pharaoh becomes afraid of them, and tries to kill their children. It's hard to believe that there could be people out there so evil that they would kill babies, but there were, and there are. These people don't know, or don't care that we are all important, because we are all made in the image of God. In this story Pharaoh is afraid of the Hebrews, he is afraid that they will get too strong and will take his kingdom away, so he tries to get rid of the boy babies so they will be weak. But he doesn't know who he is dealing with, or that the Living God made the father of these people a promise. His name was Abraham.

Do you remember, have you been told the story of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? God called a man, out of a lot of other men, in a place called Ur. He told him "I will make you into a great nation. and I will bless you: I will make your name great and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and whoever curses you I will curse; and all people's on earth will be blessed through you." Genesis 12:2-3

Do you ever wonder what God was up to there? Why did he want to pick out one man, from thousands of other men, and to make a covenant, that means a very strong sort of promise, with him? 


I guess we will have to back up a little farther, because, as with all good stories, any starting place finds us in the middle of another story and we may have to go back to an earlier story to make sense of it.


You see, before there was Abraham there was Noah. I'm sure you have heard of him. God told him to build a boat, because He "saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the human heart was only evil all the time. The LORD regretted that he had made human beings on the earth and his heart was deeply troubled. So the LORD said, "I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race that I have created-and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground-for I regret that I have made them." But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD." (Genesis 6:5-8)

Why would God regret that he made us? Do you remember the story of what He said when he first made us in the beginning? He said that it was very good. (Genesis 1:31)


To understand why, it would be good to understand what God made us for. It's a big long story that happens before this story, that is, before the story that I want to tell you about today. But if you look at your Bible some time and read about when he made humans you will see that He made us to be His image on the earth. In other words, we were supposed to be like Him and do His work here. In the time of Noah, there was only one man who looked anything like God, or found his favor.


But because there was one man, God did save Noah, and the animals for him to take care of, and then he made a promise, a very important promise. "Never again will I curse the ground because of human beings, because every inclination of the human heart is evil from childhood. And never again will I destroy all living creatures as I have done. 
As long as the earth endures,
seedtime and harvest,
cold and heat,
winter and summer,
day and night,
will never cease."
Then God gives Noah instructions, much like he gave to Adam and Eve, to be fruitful, multiply and subdue the earth. But there is more. He says, 
"Whoever sheds human blood,
By human beings their blood shall be shed;
For in the image of God
Has God made human kind."
There it is again, those words, "image of God." It matters a lot to God if people kill other people because he made us in His own image. We are part of his family.

The people in those ancient days made images or idols that were their gods. They believed those images were the presence of their god on the earth. The people who wrote the Bible were probably thinking of that when they wrote that we are made in God's image. They meant that we are designed to be God's presence on earth, with His life in us, to take care of His creation. But God knows when he talks to Noah that we could not be His image and presence without His help. We had lost that ability a long time ago when we lost the life of His spirit. So he makes a plan to teach us how to be like Him, and he starts with Abraham and his descendants. Abraham is Noah's great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great grandson. God makes Abraham a promise to bless all the earth through his descendants.

Do you think God will save His people, Abraham's descendants, who are slaves in Egypt, from the Egyptians who are killing them?

We'll find out tomorrow. Day 2 - Baby in the River

*Note for parents-We are taking a moment after everyone is ready for bed to sit together and read. We are also lighting a candle at dinner that stays lit until the reading is done. Feasts in the Bible almost always have something to do with meals, probably because we eat everyday and so children notice a change in routine. 

We used to stay at the table and read the scriptures after Shabbat meals and the children drew and colored pictures of what we were reading.  This is a good way to keep littles from disturbing everyone else and they pick up more than you know just listening while they do something fun with their hands.

Comments

  1. This was great.  My boys and I enjoyed this a lot tonight.  Thank you!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Oh excellent. I'm so glad. You're most welcome. :)

    ReplyDelete

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