15th March 2024

In a recent series of the Guidelines Bible study notes, C. L. Crouch wrote about the Old Testament being a story of migrants. It was not a perspective that I had considered before, but upon reading her reflections it seemed so obvious!

“Adam and Eve are evicted by their landlord (Genesis 3); Cain wanders the earth in search of asylum (Genesis 4); and Noah and his family flee climate change (Genesis 6–9).” Perhaps that last example requires a little artistic licence, but the theme leaps out at you – and that was only the first few pages of scripture. As the biblical story progresses, Abraham leaves his homeland to journey to a different country, Joseph is trafficked into slavery in Egypt, Joseph’s brothers flee famine and take refuge in Egypt. Still we are only in Genesis. The book of Exodus follows the story of the Hebrew people being driven out of Egypt and wandering through the wilderness for forty years. Even after entering Canaan (modern-day Palestine) the people struggled to live alongside the indigenous population, cultural differences being a continuous source of conflict.

What a contrast with the sedentary Western lifestyle most of us experience. We place a huge value (emotionally and financially) on having a fixed place to live, to call our own. We accumulate a never-ending list of belongings. We like to do things the same way that we have always done them.

And I wonder if we have lost something of our spiritual heritage? Are we too content with having things just right? Or are we prepared to wander into the unknown, following a glimpse of something new that God is leading us towards?

Ian Waddington