Christianity 201

February 4, 2013

Children of Two Worlds

Exodus 2 (NIV)

Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”

“Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him. 10 When the child grew older, she took him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. She named him Moses, saying, “I drew him out of the water.”

Christians Live in Two Worlds

Our online friend Clark Bunch at The Masters Table blog posted this a couple of weeks ago under the title Child of Two Worlds.

Moses was born during the time the Hebrews were enslaved to Egypt, and male children were being thrown into the Nile.  Because Pharaoh’s daughter had found Moses floating in a basket and raised him as her own, he grew up in the house of Pharaoh.  Moses became the product of two cultures; his adoptive mother immediately identified him as Hebrew and found a Hebrew women to nurse him.  (Which just happened to be, if you believe in that sort of thing, his real mother.)  But he was raised as a prince of Egypt.  He had a crisis of identity when he saw a Hebrew being beaten by an Egyptian, one of his own people (Ex 2:11) and he struck and killed the Egyptian.  The very next day he tried to resolve a conflict between two Hebrews and was asked who appointed him as judge.  ”Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”  The Hebrews rejected his leadership because they identified him as a member of Pharaoh’s house, and after learning of the Egyptian’s death at his hand Pharaoh sought to kill him.  This is when he fled Egypt for Midian, where he laid low for the next 40 years.

Moses was a child of two worlds that was rejected by both.  All of the events of Moses’ early life were of course orchestrated by God, in order to prepare him to lead the Hebrews from Egypt.  Despite Moses’ objections, God explains to him at the burning bush what he plans to do.  (Moses vs. God lists each argument and God’s response.)  Moses appeared before the Egyptian Pharaoh many times, and was eventually embraced by the Hebrews as their leader whom they both respected and feared.  After the signs and wonders started many Egyptians feared him as well.  It was Moses’ understanding of both cultures that aptly suited him for the job.

Consider the Apostle Paul.  As Saul, he was a citizen of Rome and a Pharisee; highly educated in the Hebrew faith; read and spoke at least two languages and probably more; was zealous in persecuting the Christian faith.  As Paul, his knowledge of the Hebrew scripture and training as a Pharisee made him an excellent defender of the faith.  He debated with the Greek philosophers in their temples, defended himself before Roman governors, and reasoned with Jews that Jesus was the Messiah.  As a child of two worlds chosen by God for the task, he would write half of the books we identify as the New Testament.

Perhaps the most obvious child of two worlds is the Son of God/ Son of Man Jesus Christ.  But what about… yourself?  As citizens of the United States (or Canada, Israel, Australia, etc) we identify with a particular nation.  Within that nation we may relate to one particular culture.  But Jesus told the Roman governor Pilate he only had authority because it was given to him by his Father.  God has established kings and kingdoms, and in a very real sense we all answer to a higher authority.  As a citizen, Jesus yielded to earthly authorities.  He paid his taxes; but he also said give to Caesar the things that belong to Caesar and to God the things that belong to God.  As Christians we are citizens of the Kingdom.  We are each children of two worlds, with an earthly father and a heavenly father.  Christians have been described as pilgrims and strangers in a foreign land, and also as heavenly ambassadors.  One thing to keep in mind: we will spend a very short time in this kingdom but eternity in the next.  

While Jesus came to earth with a specific mission, Moses and Paul each heard and responded to God’s call.  They were citizens of two worlds that God used to build a kingdom.  In Moses’ case it was a physical one, in Paul’s it was the Kingdom not made with hands.  We are children of two worlds, and should think about what we are building.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  (Matthew 6:19-20)

1 Comment »

  1. Imagine being prepared for ministry by being a citizen of two worlds, rejected by both and then working under his father-in -law in the desert for 40 years. A very lonely man. Put out in the pasture. Time to be alone and, perhaps, like shepherd David and captive Patrick (later St Patrick) learned something directly from God – as, BTW, did Saul. Hmmm. Interesting! Has anyone done desert time or pasture time? I can relate.

    Comment by g. Hartwell — February 4, 2013 @ 11:32 pm | Reply

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