End-of-the-world fans love to cite chapter and verse from the text commonly known as Revelation. (The title is singular because tradition views all 22 chapters of Revelation as one vision). There is another book of the Bible filled with signs and wonders, however, that you may not have even considered.

Exodus opens with the birth of Moses, along with other portents, followed by an encounter between an exiled murderer (Moses had killed an Egyptian), a bush on fire in perpetuity and the Great Spirit. Called to free enslaved Israelites, Moses winds up coming into direct conflict with the pharaoh, who seemingly would rather die than lose his power.

Ten destructive signs from heaven plague Egypt because of pharaoh’s ever-growing stubbornness, according to Exodus, and scholars have gone to the trouble of identifying each plague with a god worshipped in Egypt. Swarms of flies. Swarms of locusts. Water turned to blood. A death angel. Plenty of signs and wonders to go around in the distant past, see?

In the end, the Jews escape and begin again. Their oppressors drown in the sea. At least, that’s the way the Bible tells it. Solid historical evidence exists that the American slaves, among others, found scads of encouragement from Exodus. It doesn’t take a mossy imagination to figure out why.

For those overwhelmed with the signs and wonders of our own times, it should be a little refreshing to know we do not stand alone as bizarre events unfold. (For more context, the black plague wiped out about half of Europe in the 14th century, and Christendom went berserk in the year 666.) It also may cheer you to consider that God pulls for underdogs. “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the ash heap” (1 Samuel 2:8).

For those at war with providence over money or power or just because of plain old bull-headedness, the old story should probably be a cause for some concern.

The Rev. Eugene Stockstill is pastor of Ebenezer United Methodist Church and Myrtle United Methodist Church in Union County.


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