5 Then you shall declare before the Lord your God: “My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.
Living inside of a bubble is not very hard thing to do. Now what exactly do I mean by that? Well, the daily routines which one goes through, the world in which one associates with on a daily basis … that is typically one’s bubble. While I was in college and even while I was in Seminary, the details of my daily life revolved around my class and work schedule as well as what happened within the confines of those two campuses. If I didn’t intentionally seek to know what was going on in the outside world, the world off campus, life off campus basically did not exist. What happened out there wouldn’t have affected me in the least.
I’m pretty confident that if asked, many of us would agree that this is pretty much how life is today. If we don’t look up from our phones and seek out information, we can easily continue to live in our own little happy bubble. If we do have to face a change, especially a large and drastic kind of change from our normal routine, there are noticeable side effects which take over. The heart begins to race a little bit faster, little beads of sweat develop on our foreheads, our hands start to get clammy, our calm temperament starts to become more rigid and aggressive. I would be the first to admit and my wife will wholeheartedly agree, big changes and I, we do not get along well at all. For most people, if things would just stay the same all the time and we would all be pretty fine. No one really likes change, even if the change would be a positive thing. There is the old joke … how many Lutherans does it take to change a light bulb? Wait, what, change???? What’s that???
Change is what is facing the Israelite people in our sermon text this morning from Deuteronomy 26:5 where Moses says, “Then you shall declare before the LORD your God: ‘My father was a wandering Aramean.’”
As we begin to dig into this text, let me set the stage for you. The reference to the wandering Aramean is a reference back to Jacob. You may remember him from Sunday School. Jacob and his twin brother Esau were the sons of Isaac & Rebekah. Jacob stole Esau’s blessing by putting on animal fur and disguising himself as Esau. When Isaac, who was blind and was nearing death touched the now hairy arms of Jacob, he believed it was Esau and mistakenly gave the blessing to Jacob. Needless to say, Esau was not very happy with his younger brother when he found out what had happened. Out of utter fear for his life, Jacob runs away. He goes and he lives with his uncle Laban in the land of Aram.
While there in the land of Aram, Jacob works for Laban so that he can marry his daughter Rachel. To make a long story shorter, Jacob ends up marrying Rachel and returns to his trickster ways. Jacob construes a plan to increase his wealth so he and his family can get off of his father-in-law’s land and survive on their own. After sneakily increasing his wealth, Laban’s other sons figure out that Jacob had lied, cheated, and stole a great number of Laban’s sheep. Again, like Esau, these boys were not happy with Jacob, so out of utter fear for his life, Jacob again runs away.
After much moving around and having a large family of his own, Jacob does eventually make peace with both Laban and Esau. Upon hearing that his father Isaac had died, Jacob picks up everything and moves back home. After some time, Jacob has to relocate again. Not because he has tricked someone, not because he has robbed someone, but he has to relocate because of a great famine. So Jacob packs up everything and moves himself and all of his family to Egypt. Jacob was a wanderer, a wandering Aramean.
Now imagine … you’ve wandered from place to place essentially your whole life and the only work you have ever done is that of being a shepherd. This is Jacob’s bubble. This is how Jacob lived his life and he was comfortable inside his bubble. Now imagine having to move to a foreign land. Imagine having to move to a place you know nothing about and you have no idea what you will be able to do there. If Jacob is anything like me, his anxiety was bound to be through the roof and it would pop his comfortable bubble. However, after he settles in … things calm down and the new bubble he is living in becomes comfortable and this new life is considered the norm.
Well, this bubble which the Israelites, which Jacob’s descendants were living in in Egypt was popped when Pharaoh told them to get out. However, because of their stubbornness in not following or listening to God, they were forced to wander around in the wilderness for 40 years. Those original people who left Egypt, all put two of them died in the wilderness. Their descendants were born in the wilderness and grew up in the wilderness. Wandering around in the wilderness was all they ever knew. The wilderness lifestyle was their life, it was their bubble.
At the time of our sermon text in Deuteronomy 26, Moses has the Israelites on the plains of Moab overlooking the Promised Land which they are to go in and possess. The wilderness bubble they have grown accustom to is about to be popped again. The question running through their mind is “what will I do?” What will I do when I get to this new Promised Land? The temptation they face is to tell Moses, no, we don’t want to go over there and reject this new land. The temptation they face is to continue to live in their comfortable wilderness bubble.
But that is not what God would have them to do. God promised them this land way back when Jacob was a wandering Aramean wandering from place to place. This is God’s land for God’s people. God’s people are to be a beacon, a light to the surrounding nations who are living in darkness. As a beacon, the people of God are to get out of their comfortable bubble and help bring others to the saving knowledge and faith of Almighty God.
This is where you and I come into the story. You and I, just like the wilderness wandering Israelites, we enjoy the wilderness wandering bubbles in which we occupy. As we wander through the wilderness of this dark and sinful world, the bubble we live in makes us feel safe. Even though there is all this stuff going on around us, even though there is all this sexual immorality, murder, greed, pride, and a whole long list of other abominable things … our bubbles … our bubbles, they are our safe havens. Our bubbles are a place of peace and comfort and tranquility where we believe nothing can hurt us. Our temptation is to put our faith, to put our trust, confidence, and security in the walls of our bubble. Satan wants us to believe that we don’t need God. He wants us to believe that nothing can harm us and that we only need to worry about ourselves. We need to stay inside of our bubble.
But the thing is … God wants the exact opposite of us. Instead of living in this tiny bubble, God wants the bubble to be popped. To see God work, we must burst free from our bubble. He wants us to break free from our bubble, break free from our false sense of security and be the beacons of light He has made us to be. God wants us to be beacons of light to the people around us who are living in the darkness of sin, false security, and despair. We have the most precious message ever! We have the rock solid message of God’s love and forgiveness to share with a dark and despairing world which is perishing right before our very eyes.
I can sympathize with the Israelites who are about to undergo a big change as they get ready to enter into the Promised Land … getting out of the comfortable confines of one’s bubble is hard. Getting out of our bubbles so that we can share this awesome message of God’s love and forgiveness found in the death and resurrection of Jesus is hard. I get that. I really do. But friends, we don’t pop the security of our disillusioned bubble and venture out into the dark and despairing wilderness alone. We venture out and reflect the light of God with the One who was tempted by Satan just like you and me. We venture out and shine the light of God with the One who can sympathize with our weakness as he was tempted in every way, just as we are – yet was without sin (Hebrews 4:15).
Friends, pop your bubbles, boldly walk along side of our Savior, especially during this repentant season of Lent. Walk alongside our Savior, reflecting His love to those around us. As the last verse of the hymn “I Am Trusting You, Lord Jesus” says, “I am trusting you, Lord Jesus; never let me fall. I am trusting you forever and for all.” Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds as you follow and trust in Christ Jesus our Lord, now and forever. Amen.