O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush, who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.
Theophany is a theological term that describes a special manifestation of God – the sort of first-person kind of encounter that Moses experienced. Today’s O Antiphon harkens back to that mysterious event.
God reveals himself to us gradually over time. Just as we considered the life-breath of God, ruah, yesterday – the originating breath that began all life – today’s antiphon reveals the first theophany. It also recalls the Law Giver to whom He revealed himself, and differentiates this God from all the other gods of the near middle-east.
Our God is a jealous God, our God is a singular God, our God chooses a disheveled, wandering lot as His own people. He is not like any of the gods of Egypt, or Sumer, or Assyria, or Mesopotamia or Persia or Greece. This God is so very different.
How different? We will come to see the differences over the next days as the antiphons continue.
Let our prayer this evening be one that Moses prayed himself – and let us pray it in the language he used:
Sh’ma Yisrael Adonai Elohaynu Adonai Echad
(Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is One)
Barukh Shem k’vod malkhuto l’olam va-ed
(Blessed is the Name of His glorious kingdom now and forever)