A Change in Perspective

That's what religious conversion is.

“Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods? Who is like you, majestic in holiness, awesome in glorious deeds, doing wonders? You stretched out your right hand; the earth swallowed them.

You have led in your steadfast love the people whom you have redeemed; you have guided them by your strength to your holy abode. The peoples have heard; they tremble; pangs have seized the inhabitants of Philistia. Now are the chiefs of Edom dismayed; trembling seizes the leaders of Moab; all the inhabitants of Canaan have melted away. Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O LORD, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. You will bring them in and plant them on your own mountain, the place, O LORD, which you have made for your abode, the sanctuary, O LORD, which your hands have established. The LORD will reign forever and ever.”

Time out. “Who is like you, O LORD, among the gods?” What gods?

Moses knows that the other gods aren’t real, but this is a song and it has an audience – the people of Israel, who just crossed the Red Sea and watched the Egyptian Army drown. Their faith is still weak and primitive. They don’t laugh at the idea of other gods.

Right now, their spiritual understanding is a tossed salad. They have seen some spectacular miracles and know something’s up, but their systematic theology is a mess. They grew up under the Egyptian polytheistic belief system, which still dominates their thinking.

In this song, Moses is tearing down the Egyptian gods and building a monotheistic perspective to take its place. Unfortunately, as we will see, this is a slow and painful process. The people of Israel will revert to their previous beliefs again and again.

This slow and painful process began months ago with the plagues. Remember how they targeted the Egyptian gods? This song puts the same spin on the miracle of the Red Sea crossing.

We all interpret what we see through the lens of our worldview (a self-consistent, comprehensive conception of the world or philosophy of life). Because of its self-consistent nature, it’s resistant to change. A change in one part often leads to contradictions with other parts. Either the change must be rejected or the whole worldview rethought. That’s a daunting prospect.

That’s why religious conversion is so difficult. It’s easy to be open minded about something that isn’t integral to your view of reality. Conversely, worldviews are, by nature, closed systems. Passover and the Red Sea miracle have challenged the Israelites’ worldview. It’ll take a while to sort that out.

Think about the times that your worldview was disrupted (including your conversion). What triggered that seismic shift? What would it take to trigger such a shift in someone in your personal mission field?

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.