Exodus 1:8-14 and Revelation 22:17
Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 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.”
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labour, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labour in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labour the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly. (Exodus 1:8-14)
The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” (Rev 22:17)
In John 4 Jesus says to a Samaritan woman getting water from a well, and who was living in a defacto relationship after five failed marriages, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”
The Costumes of the Australasians is an Australian watercolour painted in 1817 by Edward Charles Close that shows the co-existence of convicts, their military gaolers, and free settlers. Remembering our humble and diverse origins as a nation should motivate us to be merciful, welcoming and generous to the poor, the needy and the vulnerable.
The Book of Exodus begins with a similar reminder for Israel (who became a wealthy and powerful nation under King David and Solomon). Dr Bill Dumbrell says, “As Exodus begins, Israel is enslaved, helpless, and weak. She will often be reminded of this position when she in turn, by governmental neglect, becomes the oppressor of the weak and the poor in her own community.” (Faith of Israel, 28) This perspective comes to its full expression in Jesus, who said, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matthew 5:7) Our daily acts of mercy, welcome and generosity to the poor, the needy and the vulnerable are meant to be empowered by something even more dramatic than the picture of our Australian origins. Paul says in Romans 5:6, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.” This is the living water Jesus promised the woman at the well. In the eyes of God we are all poor, needy and vulnerable – thirsty – hopelessly trapped in our rebellion against God. God acted in Jesus to show us mercy and bring us home to himself. The dramatic picture of the cross of Jesus tells us of our very humble origins and how far God has brought us in Jesus (home to himself). To use Jesus’ metaphor, he satisfies our thirst. May this picture motivate you to practical actions of mercy, welcome and generosity today!
Head: Do I see that without Jesus I’d be, poor, needy and vulnerable – hopelessly trapped in my rebellion against God?
Heart: Has my heart responded to God, who acted in Jesus to show me mercy and bring me home to himself?
Hands: What practical opportunities for actions of mercy, welcome and generosity might I have today?
Prayer: I praise you Heavenly Father that when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. I thank you that you acted in Jesus at the cross to show us mercy and bring us home to you – you have satisfied our thirst. Please enable my heart to meditate on that today, and so motivate me to practical actions of mercy, welcome and generosity. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
A song to listen to: Joy!