Week of Proper 11: Monday, Year 1   17 comments

Above:  The Sinai Peninsula (Gemini 11, 1966)

Image in the Public Domain

The Exodus, Part ISigns

JULY 24, 2023


Holy Women, Holy Men:  Celebrating the Saints (2010), of The Episcopal Church, contains an adapted two-years weekday lectionary for the Epiphany and Ordinary Time seasons from the Anglican Church of Canada.  I invite you to follow it with me.


Exodus 14:5-18 (An American Translation):

When the news was brought to the king of Egypt that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his courtiers changed their minds about the people.

Whatever have we done,

they said,

to let Israel leave our service?

So he hitched the horses to his chariot, and he took his people with him; he took six hundred chariots, picked from all the chariots of Egypt, with charioteers in charge of them all.  The LORD made Pharaoh, king of Egypt, obstinate, so that he pursued the Israelites, as they were going triumphantly out; the Egyptians pursued them, all the Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, this cavalry and infantry, and overtook them, camping by the sea, near Pihahiroth, in front of Baal-Zephon.  As Pharaoh drew near, the Israelites raised their eyes, and there were the Egyptians setting out in pursuit of them!  The Israelites were terribly afraid, and cried to the LORD.  And they said to Moses,

Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the desert?  What a way to treat us, bringing us out of Egypt! Isn’t this what we told you in Egypt would happen, when we said, “Leave us alone and let us serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert.”

But Moses said to the people,

Do not be afraid; stand by and see how the LORD is going to save you today; for although you see the Egyptians today, you shall never see them again.  The LORD will fight for you, while you have only to keep still.

Then the LORD said to Moses,

Why do you cry to me?  Tell the Israelites to set forth; and then raise your staff and stretch forth your hand over the sea, and thus divide it in two, so that the Israelites may proceed on dry land right into the sea.  Then I will make the Egyptians obstinate, so that they will go in after them, and thus I will gain honor through Pharaoh and all his infantry, chariotry, and cavalry, so that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD, when I have gained honor through Pharaoh, his chariotry, and cavalry.

Canticle 8 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

Exodus 15:1-6, 11-13, 17-18 plus the Trinitarian formula

I will sing to the LORD, for he is lofty and uplifted;

the horse and its rider has he hurled  into the sea.

The Lord is my strength and my refuge;

the Lord has become my Savior.

This is my God and I will praise him,

the God of my people and I will exalt him.

The Lord is a mighty warrior;

Yahweh is his Name.

The chariots of Pharaoh and his army has he hurled into the sea,

the finest of those who bear armor have been drowned in the Red Sea.

The fathomless deep has overwhelmed them;

they sank into the depths like a stone.

Your right hand, O Lord, is glorious in might;

your right hand, O Lord, has overthrown the enemy.

Who can be compared with you, O Lord, among the gods?

who is like you, glorious in holiness,

awesome in renown, and worker of wonders?

You stretched forth your right hand;

the earth swallowed them up.

With your constant love you led the people you redeemed;

with your might you brought them to in safety to your holy dwelling.

You will bring them in and plant them

on the mount of your possession,

The resting-place you have made for yourself, O Lord,

the sanctuary, O Lord, that your hand has established.

The Lord shall reign

for ever and ever.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit;

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever.  Amen.


Psalm 114 (1979 Book of Common Prayer):

1 Hallelujah!

When Israel came out of Egypt,

the house of Jacob from a people of strange speech,

2 Judah became God’s sanctuary

and Israel his dominion.

3 The sea beheld it and fled;

Jordan turned and went back.

4 The mountains skipped like rams,

and the little hills like young sheep.

5 What ailed you, O sea, that you fled?

O Jordan, that you turned back?

6 You mountains, that you skipped like rams?

you little hills like young sheep?

7 Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord,

at the presence of the God of Jacob,

8 Who turned the hard rock into a pool of water

and flint-stone into a flowing spring.

Matthew 12:38-42 (An American Translation):

Then some of the scribes and Pharisees addressed him [Jesus], saying,

Master, we would like to have you show us some sign.

But he answered,

Only a wicked and faithless age insists upon a sign, and no sign will be given it but the sign of the prophet Jonah.  For just as Jonah was in the stomach of the whale for three days and nights, the Son of Man will be three days and nights in the heart of the earth.  Men of Nineveh will rise with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, for when Jonah preached they repented, and there is more than Jonah here!  The queen of the south will rise with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, for she came from the very ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and there is more than Solomon here!


The Collect:

Almighty God, the fountain of all wisdom, you know our necessities before we ask and our ignorance in asking: Have compassion on our weakness, and mercifully give us those things which for our unworthiness we dare not, and for our blindness we cannot ask; through the worthiness of your Son Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.


We humans like to seek signs, which are plentiful.  But how often do we recognize them?

How about ten plagues?  Nevertheless, this day we read of Israelites, on the cusp of liberation, grumbling and speaking seriously of worst-case scenarios.  This is a foretaste of what they did in the wilderness for a generation.

Historical aside:  Egyptologist David Rohl places the Exodus at the end of the Thirteenth Dynasty, about two centuries prior to the conventional placement, the time of Ramses II.  If Rohl is correct, the events of the Exodus contributed to the collapse of the Thirteenth Dynasty.  A military loss of this magnitude would have weakened the Pharaoh’s position and made easier the rise of the Hyksos, also foreigners, to the control of Egypt.

Jesus is the ultimate sign from God.  As if great works were not enough, there was the greatest one of them all:  the resurrection.  The references to the Queen of Sheba and the people of Nineveh indicate the receptivity of foreigners–Gentiles–to the message of God.  So what is wrong with these scribes and Pharisees standing in front of Jesus and seeking signs?  For that matter, what is wrong with all those who have seen and heard Jesus, but not understood and accepted him?

Communication is a two-way process.  If I send you, O reader, a message, and you receive it then understand it the way I intend, I have communicated with you.  If anything interrupts this process, there is a failure to communicate.  God seems to have been quite clear in the message and the media, so the blame for misunderstanding does not reside there.  So what is wrong with us?

We read, for example, that we are supposed to love our neighbors as ourselves–the height of morality–and yet we hate, slaughter, victimize, and discriminate against each other.  We justify our actions in a variety of ways, including religion, Bible verses, and national security.  But what part of  “Do unto others…” is vague?  Is it ever conditional?  No!  What is wrong with with us?

We see and hear what we want to see and hear.  We justify ourselves to ourselves, at the expense of others.  God seems to agree with our self interests and socio-economic-political goals, including the exploitative ones.  We deceive ourselves because we are deluded and sinful.  The fault is ours, and we need divine mercy to save us from ourselves and each other.

God is patient, of course, but this fact does not mean that consequences fail to come to fruition.



17 responses to “Week of Proper 11: Monday, Year 1

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