Today’s first reading continues the story of Moses’ encounter with God in the burning bush. God told Moses that he would send him to rescue the Israelites from Egypt. Moses asked whom should he tell them sent him. For us the answer might seem obvious, God, but we must remember that it was polytheistic culture, meaning they believed in many gods.
We use “God” with a capital “G” to signify the name of the “god” that we believe in. In Moses’ time many believed that there were various gods. Sometimes, the ‘god’ you prayed to might depend on your need. Do you pray to the god of the harvest or the god of the sea? People also thoughts of “gods” as being territorial, meaning the power of the god was limited to a geographic area. This would have been very important to the Israelites as Moses led them from Egypt to another land. Did the ‘god’ that was rescuing them have any power in Egypt? Or was he a god in Midian where Moses was? Was he a god of the land there were going to?
As Moses led the Israelites out from Egypt towards the promised land, they would learn what it means to be God’s people. Here I use “God” with a capital “G” again referring to our God’s name. Our belief is founded in monotheism meaning there is only one god. Even today not all cultures are monotheistic.
Our own country was founded on monotheistic, and largely Christian, principles. As the place of faith in our culture diminishes, I wonder if it is becoming “polytheistic” is a different way than what I spoke of before. Today there is not a “god of the harvest” or a “god of the sea” in our culture but people have made earthly things into gods. For instance, there is “money”, “power”, and “government.”
By “money”, I refer to people who think that all they need to be happy and safe is enough money. They make their whole life about getting more money and forget God. I refer to “power” in a similar way that some people think if they just rise to a high enough status they can fix everything themselves.
I also included “government” because some people think that all we need is more “government programs” to address everyone’s needs. I agree that government programs that help the needy are good and needed today but the government is not our “savior.” Government exists to serve the needs of its people but we need to look at the way we live our lives and change to follow God’s ways. If we believe in money, power we think we have all the answers. If we make the ‘government’ our ‘god’, we think it has all the answers. God is the one who brings “Truth.”
Who or what is your god?