Firstly, Profundity, or the awesome Mystery of God, is the central feature of the climax of Exodus. This is expressed in the images of the cloud and the glory of God. These are images of the ineffable and incomprehensible divine nature which are beyond our human grasp. Indeed, we are shown, even Moses cannot enter such glory. Thereby we are reminded that God is no mere lawgiver or cultic deity. Exodus is not to be read as the provider of merely one set of pictures of God or one set of stories of God’s people. However great the liberation of Israel, this is not to be read as an ideology. No one set of images, no one story, no one ideology – whether of left or right – no one identity can ever speak of the God of the burning bush, the miraculous One, the cloud of the unknowing and the glory of eternity.
Secondly, Presence is at the heart of the climax as well as the earlier story of Exodus. For the Profundity of God is, sometimes paradoxically, the intimate relationship in which God’s people, and indeed all of Creation, are bound, liberated and sustained. Without such presence all is lost. In this concluding passage, we are reminded that God’s people only find their true way, literally and metaphorically, when God is present with them. Waiting on God as well as walking with God is vital.
For thirdly, and perhaps most importantly for we who easily become stuck in our ways, the conclusion of Exodus speaks of Pilgrimage as the iconic symbol of human dwelling and journeying with God. As the final verse has it, it is when the cloud and fire of God are present in their profundity that the people of God may walk on.
So may the God of liberation continue to travel with us and before us, empowering us with love, and drawing us ever closer our of our slaveries into glory. In the Name of the transfigured and transfiguring One, Amen.
by Jo Inkpin, for St Francis College eucharist, Thursday 3 August 2017