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Saturday, May 31, 2014

God and Pharaoh

When Moses and Aaron went before the King of Egypt and demanded that he obey the instructions of the Lord God of Israel, Pharaoh replied: "Who is the Lord, that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I know not the Lord, neither will I let Israel go." (Exodus 5:2)

In a sense, Pharaoh is everyman in this story. He epitomizes the reaction of so many humans to the Divine. "Who is this God?" he asks. "I don't know him, and I won't obey him," he declares. Isn't that the same reaction that many folks have when they here about God today?

For our purposes, it is immaterial to the point we are making whether or not one believes that the events of this story ever happened. We are focused on this man's reaction to an introduction to God and "His" demands. In short, I believe that there are spiritual lessons to be gleaned from this story that are applicable to all of us.

In the chapters that follow this introduction to the Lord, God proceeded to answer Pharaoh's questions. God allowed the king to witness a miracle when Aaron's staff transformed into a serpent right before his eyes. (Exodus 7:10) Next, God demonstrated to the king that "He" is in charge of the forces of nature by changing the waters of the Nile River into blood and inundating the land with frogs, lice, flies and locusts. God also displayed his power over both animal and human disease for the king's benefit. Likewise, God demonstrated his control over the weather and skies with hail and darkness. Finally, in a particularly poignant way, God demonstrated "His" power over life and death through the firstborn of Egypt. Sometimes we get so caught up in the drama of the story that we forget that God was answering Pharaoh's questions through the device of these "plagues." (Exodus 7-11)

"Well, that's where the story departs from our experience," my critics will protest. "God hasn't done anything so dramatic to answer our questions about him and his authority," they will point out.

Is that true? Has the world that God has created around us never offered us any evidence of who "He" is? Could anything that happens in this day and age be considered a miracle? Does the blood that courses through our veins have anything to teach us about God? Have you ever studied the anatomy and physiology of frogs, lice, flies and locusts in a high school biology class? Have you ever examined the structures of a single cell under a microscope? Does any of that have the ability to teach us anything about the One who created them? Have you ever considered the forces that produce hail, tornadoes and hurricanes? Have you ever experienced the death of a loved one? Doesn't the evidence of our own lives offer at least some insights into who the Lord is and why we should obey him?

I think that God demonstrates "His" presence and identity in some rather dramatic ways every day, but we (like Pharaoh before us) refuse to acknowledge or see what is so obvious. Instead, we stubbornly refuse to look at the evidence and continue to insist on having our own way. Yes, I'd say that Pharaoh fits rather well in his role as everyman - What do you think?

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