Tuesday, 28 December 2021
Lots of people spend huge amounts of time and sometimes vast amounts of money trying to find out - or prove - who they are. Of course, they know who they are - Fred Bloggs, the car mechanic; Flora Bunda, the landscape gardener - but they are looking for more. They know their own names, but they want to know what they have those names and where their family came from. Just exactly where was your "old country"? Here's a verse from this week's Torah portion:
Exodus 6:20,26 Amram took as his wife Jochebed his father's sister, and she bore him Aaron and Moses ... These are the Aaron and Moses to whom the LORD said: "Bring out the people of Israel from the land of Egypt by their hosts."
We get two important things from this verse. The first is that a Jewish man called Amram married his father's sister, his paternal aunt. Okay, so that is a co-sanguinous relationship that would later be forbidden by the Torah, but that's not the point. Moshe knew who his parents were. Think about that: not everyone does these days. If you have been adopted or brought up by a single parent then you may have no names for one or both of your parents. Even if you do have a name, you are unlikely to have a relationship with that or those parent(s). Being raised without one or both parents can be a tough rap; at times it hurts badly - some people never get over it. It makes you feel adrift becasue you have no lineage, no roots, so sense of being the latest generation in a long line of generations.
The second thing is that G-d knew exactly who Moshe and Aaron were. He had no difficulty recognising them, speaking to them and calling them to do one of the most dangerous jobs going at that time: facing down Pharaoh, delivering God's mriacles and bringing Israel out of generations of slavery in Egypt. Those two people - those ones you see in front of you; the sons of Amram and Yocheved - are the ones that God chose for the job. Not just any old Moshe or any old Aaron, but those particular ones. God had a genealogical GPS fix on them!
Now the Apostolic writings tell us two important things about our identity. Firstly, we are children of Abraham:
Galatians 3:29 If you belong to Messiah, then you are Abraham's offspring, heirs according to promise.
If we know Yeshua and are part of His family, then we are children of Abraham. Whether Jew or Gentile, the followers of Yeshua are descended from Abraham as Paul wrote: Romans 9:8 It is not the children of the flesh who are the children of God, but the children of the promise are counted as offspring. That's not to denigrate Jewish lineage or calling - as Paul also says, that is a great thing to have and being a Gentile is a great thing too, but that's another story - but it is to say that our identity in Messiah comes first.
Secondly, Yeshua Himself tells us - reported by John - that we are more than children of Abraham, great though that is:
John 1:12-13 But to all who did receive Him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
We are also children of God Himself. We are brothers and sisters of Yeshua ... Romans 8:29 being conformed to His likeness so that He might be the firstborn among many siblings. Why does there need to be a strong family resemblance? Why do we need to look like Him? Because we are related to Him, we come from the same spiritual genetic stock. When people look at us, they need to see Him:
2 Corinthians 4:6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Yeshua the Messiah.
Family research can be such fun - finding out about relatives you didn't know you had, connections you didn't know existed. Perhaps you are descended from one of the founding fathers. Perhaps your family escaped from Eastern Europe just before the war, changed their name and worked really hard to disappear. Know that whoever you are, whatever colour you are, no matter what job you or your family do (or did), whether professional or working class, white or blue collar and whether you really know or not (and some families have a great fiction about it!), you are loved, cherished and valued by God. He has a perfect genealogical GPS fix on you and you are the exact person - no-one else, no mistake - whom He has chosen to carry out your unique calling in this world. He has called you in His Son and equipped you with everything you need to fulfill your mission. He has set a special place aside for you in His heart and with Him forever. That's who you are!