. The issue of sending is rhetorically the same in the Exodus narrative, though the effect is very different. The sending of Moses is almost a humorous rhetorical act. YHWH issues a series of first-person resolves, all concerning YHWH’s intention in the face of pharaonic oppression:
Then the LORD said, “I have observed the misery of my people who are in Egypt; I have heard their cry on account of
Chilcote, P. W., & Warner, L. C. (Eds.). (2008). The study of evangelism : Exploring a missional practice of the church. Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.. Created from amridge on 2022-10-21 04:02:18.
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their taskmasters. Indeed, I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them from the Egyptians.… The cry of the Israelites has now come to me; I have also seen how the Egyptians oppress them.” (Exod. 3:7-9)
But the next verse comes as a surprise. YHWH might then have said, “I will go to Pharaoh”; but YHWH does not. Instead, Moses hears, “So come, I will send you to Pharaoh to bring my people, the Israelites, out of Egypt” (v. 10). The most difficult and most dangerous task of emancipation is not undertaken by YHWH alone, solely as divine deliverance. Rather, emancipation is a human task, to be undertaken amid the risky problematics of Pharaoh’s political reality.
The mission of Moses is nothing less than the confrontation of a form of political power that no longer has anything of a human face. More than that, Moses’ mandate is to confront exploitative economic power that is understood to be an embodiment of false theology, so that the task of liberation and transformation of the empire is deeply rooted in a theological conflict between the Lord of liberty and the gods that endorse and legitimate exploitative economics (see Exod. 12:12).
The mission is a human mission, with YHWH cast in a crucial but supporting role. God offers to transform the slave economy, but only in and through direct, risky human engagement. Moses immediately senses the problem and the risk of the call; consequently, we hear from him five points of resistance (Exod. 3:11–4:17). Moses does not want the mission, which is nothing less than transforming the social system of Egypt from working according to the vision of the pharaonic superpower, bringing that economy in line with a covenantal vision of reality. The mission concerns the way in which power is practiced in the world. YHWH’s role is to legitimate, authorize, and support the human mission by shows of presence and power that are only available in the midst of alternative human action.
3. The sending of the disciples of Jesus concerns both walk and talk. I take Matthew 10:5- 15 to be a model for Christian mission. The initial mandate to the twelve is to talk: “As you go, proclaim the good news, ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’” (v. 7). The kingdom of heaven — the rule of God — has come near. The sentence is terse and does not last long enough to say, “has come near in the life and person of Jesus.” The Synoptic tradition insists that in the actions of Jesus — acts of healing, cleansing, feeding, forgiving — a new governance is now unmistakably in effect. The kingdom comes near when the creation begins to function according to the blessed intention of the Creator. God has drawn near to usher in a new reality that is to be enacted and effected by human missioners who act boldly on the basis of the proclamation that they themselves accept as true and as the basis for an alternative life in the world.