Dear members and friends,
The book of Genesis ends with the story of how Jacob’s family settled in Egypt. As Joseph was the prime minister of Egypt, they settled in a place that was good for themselves and for their cattle. The book of Exodus continues with the note that “the Israelites were fruitful and prolific; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.” This is such an interesting description, “the land was filled with them,” because it indirectly suggests that the Israelites might have outnumbered Egyptians in Egypt.
The book of Exodus begins with the interesting fact that “a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph.” This new king put Israelites under heavy forced labor with very harsh conditions. Suddenly, the Israelites became labor slaves whose activities were closely watched by the king. They cried out at this sudden hardship and pain and then came the birth of Moses. Moses was raised in the palace among princes and princesses. But, when he was forty, he killed an Egyptian who was harsh against a Hebrew. Afterwards, Moses ran away to the land of Midian. At the age of eighty, Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of the tyranny of the Pharaoh. If you were to count, it took 80 years for God to finally initiate the liberation of the Israelites! One lesson that God teaches us here is that to get out of any trouble or hard condition, it takes time to make adequate preparations. After mighty acts and wonders, the Pharaoh finally let the Israelites go. But this liberation was only the very first step in Exodus, meaning a long and troublesome journey awaited the Israelites.
In a way, there is a similarity between the journey of Israelites in Exodus and our journey with Covid-19. Our lives were suddenly and unprecedentedly challenged for the past 15 months or so by this life-threatening virus, and by the confusion and chaos it caused. Now many of us are vaccinated and have resumed a somewhat normal way of living. Yet, the truth is that we might still have a long and troublesome road ahead before we are truly back to the normal life we enjoyed before the pandemic. Even then, “normal life” may need to be redefined. Also, there are many places in other parts of the world that are still struggling with the pandemic. Being freed again is such a wonderful feeling, but at the same time, in order to enjoy this newly-earned freedom, we might need to be much more mindful and conscious of what is going on around and within us.
As God led the Israelites through the desert and wilderness, which challenged them with many struggles and obstacles, I am certain that our God is leading us right now. However, unlike the Israelites who were led by pillars of fire and clouds, we must be led by our God-given conscience accompanied by rationality. The light has appeared at the end of the tunnel, let us walk toward it with confidence and mindfulness.
Blessings, Rev. Junchol Lee