"make some room"
“I’ve taken a good, long look at the affliction of my people in Egypt. I’ve heard their cries for deliverance from their slave masters; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them, to pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, to get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, the land of the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite” (Exodus 3).
This is part of that story where God speaks to Moses in the wilderness of the desert, telling him to go back to Egypt and lead his fellow Israelites out of lives of slavery and oppression, and into lives of freedom. But as we hear this part of the story something should stop us dead in our tracks: the land God is promising to them is already occupied by six other peoples! Is God endorsing colonization and invasion? We would certainly be justified to ask that question.
But maybe that’s the wrong question to be asking. Maybe the question we should ask is this:
While God is saying this to Moses, what’s God been saying to the Canaanites, Hittites, Amorite, Perizzites, Hivites, and the Jebusites?
What if God is saying to them:
“I’ve heard the cries for deliverance of your neighbours; I know all about their pain. And now I have come down to help them, to pry them loose from the grip of Egypt, to get them out of that country and bring them to a good land with wide-open spaces, a land lush with milk and honey, your land. They are coming, make some room.”
We don’t have to try too hard to ask what this text then could be saying to us today. Simply replace ‘Israel’ with ‘Syria,’ or any other peoples who have been forced to leave their homes because of oppression and violence, and then take the names of those six tribes, those who live in lands full of milk and honey, and replace the with our own.
As refugees flee from their lands and look for new homes, do we hear God saying to us ‘make some room?’