After Genesis I decided to just move straight into Exodus as it picks up with the end of Joseph’s story and the explanation of how the Isrealites moved from being powerful in Egypt to slaves in Egypt. And Moses makes his arrival in his tarred basket of reeds along the Nile. I’m somewhat familiar with Moses’s story as it was another one I heard often in my childhood. But tonight, as I read about the plagues of Egypt, which occurred as a result of Pharaoh continuing to enslave the Israelite people, something new struck me.
Whenever I’ve heard this story, whether it be in the pulpit of a church or reading it on my own, I’ve always immediately identified with Moses. He’s the Christian hero coming in to rescue and deliver God’s people. He has been especially chosen by God to stand up to the big, bad, Pagan ruler. I like thinking that I am always the hero…..God’s special messenger….standing up against the forces of evil to sweep in and rescue. I think most Christians like to think this way. It sure is comforting to the ego. However, the more I think about it, the more I’m afraid I’m more of a modern day Pharaoh.
In Exodus 1:10 it says: So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.'” When you really begin examining Pharaoh in these passages, it’s not as if he is Satan trapped in a man’s body. This isn’t the very face of evil…..the lord of darkness….. ruling Egypt. It’s a man. Just like any other man. Why does he refuse to release the Israelites? It’s because of pride, ego, a lack of humility.
I realize Moses (with Aaron’s help) told Pharaoh every time that God had sent him, but we get messages from God all the time if we just listen. He sits opportunities before us. And sometimes…..I know this may shock some…..He actually uses those who do not identify themselves as Christians to present these opportunities or share these messages. God is powerful enough to use anyone or anything even if they are not Christian. But so many times we think we have a monopoly on God and His will. Or we are not looking for God’s opportunities and messages and miss them when they are right in front of us. And then, like Pharaoh, we refuse to listen. We think, nope, I’ve got this. We think, you can’t possibly know more than I do. We think all kinds of things believing we know it all and have the answers just because we call ourselves Christians or just because we’ve tried this or that before or for a million other reasons. How many times have I, like Pharaoh, had to learn something the hard way because the message wasn’t sent to me in a package I expected or desired. How many times have I had to learn something the hard way because I thought I knew best?
May we learn from Pharaoh’s mistakes and be open to the opportunities the God lays before us regardless of the messenger before our own personalized version of plagues are unleashed.