Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Walk Like an Egyptian, or Be Propelled into the Promised Land?

I love being a dad.

I believe of all the "hats" that I wear through every given day of my life, this is one that I cherish the most. I am not the best dad, and I realize that years from now I will be able to look back and see many things that I would have done different if I had known better, but at this stage of my life I am honestly able to say that I have not regretted any choice I have made regarding my time with my children.

This picture that I have posted on this blog tugs at my heart because I cannot even remotely imagine what must have been going through the mind of Moses's mother as she looked into the eyes of her little boy while gently surrendering him to the forces of the Nile river. The Bible tells us in Exodus 2:2-3 that she is the one who made the ark for little Moses and that she is the one that laid him into it.

Can you imagine how she must have felt walking away from the river bank that afternoon. How empty did her house feel that day?

Where was God?

The question that stands out above all others is this: Why would anyone be forced to make a decision like Moses's mother was forced to make?

The answer is found in the first chapter of Exodus.

"Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses.
But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel.
And the Egyptians made the children of Israel to serve with rigour:
And they made their lives bitter with hard bondage, in morter, and in brick, and in all manner of service in the field: all their service, wherein they made them serve, was with rigour.

And Pharaoh charged all his people, saying, Every son that is born ye shall cast into the river, and every daughter ye shall save alive." ~Exodus 1:11-14,22 

Pharaoh did not want to lead these Israelites as much as he was just out to exploit as much as he could get out of them. He really did not care about them as people as much as he cared about what they could do for him. He wanted them to build an empire for him and he wanted them to create his legacy. His empire and rule at the time seemed to appear successful and if you were to pass by in front of the palace at the time of his rule, it would appear to be successful according to the world's standards. Please be aware that even the pharaoh would be blind if he could not see that the palace he stood in was built on the torn up bodies of those he used to get to where he was.

Why was he so consumed on wasting God's people?

"And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land." ~ Exodus 1:9-10

Pharaoh was insecure and he was afraid. He could justify the trail of dead bodies that he left in the wake of his "growth" with the fear that these people may turn on him and destroy all that he had worked to build. If you rule with a whip, then that fear is a legitimate concern.

But how could he be so cruel to be willing to sacrifice children for the sake of his empire? The reputation of the pharaoh and his empire was more important that the life of a child?

When a person becomes power mad they have simply chosen to let: 1) What they do 2) What they have 3) What others think of them   determine their identity.

It is ugly to watch and it is costly for the people that are involved with them. I wonder how many of God's people must have thought to themselves while they were building the monuments to pharaoh, "There is something wrong here, but I just cannot put my finger on what it is. I just feel that there is something wrong going on here." or maybe the thought was like this, "I feel something is wrong, but I have been at this for so long that I am not really sure what is right?".

Pharaoh's are just as common now as they were in exodus. They always meet the same end. God takes them down and their empire becomes a dusty property that the decedents of that pharaoh could not sell even if they wanted to and could not afford to even keep up the repairs.
Other Pharaohs stop and look at the ruins and try to decide if they can use their slaves to rebuild them to be monuments in their likeness but more often than not, they decide that the cost would be too great and seek to build fresh monuments. Usually these dusty ruins become a sort of tourist attraction  for special events for a while, but in the end it is a just a massive tombstone to another person who thought they were a god.

I read exodus one and I see this man Pharaoh, and I see his actions of cruelty against God's people and I look even today at the way that a modern day Pharaoh abuses and misuses God's people and I have to ask, "Why is this allowed?".

The trail of bodies turn up unexpectedly in the grocery store aisles or at the restaurants. The style of brick and mortar was different but the principle behind the abuse was the same.

I was at the post office some time back when I heard a person call my name. I turned around and they ran up to where I was. "I thought you had moved away Dan, it is so great to see you again!" They gave me a hug and when I asked about how their family was doing, they began to cry. They told how some circumstances had arisen in their life and a "Pharaoh" that had done some major damage to them.

I got in my car to leave and I asked, "God, why do you allow people into positions of power that literally waste people?"

You read about Pharaoh in Exodus and the babies being thrown into the river, and you see people today that are in positions of power and have the ability to do good but instead they choose to hurt and it makes you question.

Moses was in the middle of it and finally when the day came that he could condone it no longer, Moses left. Pharaoh was relieved and I imagine as he left, Pharaoh may have even called out, "You're easily replaced!!!"

While God was introducing Moses to freedom and to a clear instruction of his purpose, the people's abuse just got thicker. Some recognized it I am sure, and others just thought that this must just be the way life was supposed to be, at least they had leeks and garlics right?

So why was this allowed by God again?


He answered the question long before we were around to silently think or even loudly wonder it.

And the LORD said unto Moses, Rise up early in the morning, and stand before Pharaoh, and say unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of the Hebrews, Let my people go, that they may serve me.
For I will at this time send all my plagues upon thine heart, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people; that thou mayest know that there is none like me in all the earth. For now I will stretch out my hand, that I may smite thee and thy people with pestilence; and thou shalt be cut off from the earth. And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth." ~Exodus 9:13-16

God had a promised land of freedom waiting for His people. He was the one who would rule and not a Pharaoh. The problem was that God's people were so conditioned to being ruled by Pharaohs that they did not know how to leave. The situation was abusive and they were being used and beaten, but they just sort of seemed to accept it.

God intended for His people to be free. He intended them to worship Him freely and to be able to move when He said move and go where He said go. He wanted the best for them.

Freedom was something they could not recognize without being made so uncomfortable that they had to cry out for it. They had to thirst for it and hunger for it. You won't truly seek anything with all your heart unless you truly want it with all your heart.

God's plan all along was mentioned over and over again every time that Moses stood before Pharaoh and said, "Let my people go, that they may serve me."

God made His people then just as He makes them today, to be in His presence!

So why does God allow people to work their way into bondage that costs them everything? Why does He permit Pharaohs into the lives of His kids? Doesn't He know that these Pharaohs hurt and destroy His people?

Paul throws out Romans  nine for us to be reminded.
"For the scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth." ~Romans 9:17-18 

Pharaohs do what they were put in place to do. They push a Moses into freedom. That is the function that they serve. A pharaoh is allowed into a person's life to propel that person into a promised land!

Has God allowed a Pharaoh into your life?

Has God allowed a Pharaoh into the life of a loved one of yours?

If it was not for the Pharaoh then Moses would be another stick man on the wall of another tomb in hieroglyphics.

Don't be too angry at the Pharaohs. They don't last and the purpose for which they were allowed rule is going to be fulfilled. They will drive people to the promised land of freedom In Christ. Will people wither away and die in the process? Yes, and the Pharaohs will answer for it. God is the judge, not you and not me.

We tend to want to trash people in leadership who hurt the people that they lead but Paul goes on to say in Romans thirteen:

"Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.
Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same:  For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil." Romans 13:1-4

Paul was writing the Roman church where persecution was the new normal.  He was reminding them that God allows who He will into offices of authority and they are serving His purpose whether they know it or not. Paul refers to them as ministers OF God and not always ministers FOR God.

God allows those people their position to point His people back to Him. Facebook is full of the latest atrocities of our national leaders and it is infuriating at times to see how quickly our country is falling apart, but can I just remind you that God allowed our leaders to be where they are? We don't have to approve of the stuff we see, but if you truly are praying for God sent revival is it really that hard to recognize God's answer to that prayer? He allows Pharaohs for the purpose of propelling His people to a promised land. It just may be that the time spent berating a leader could be spent thanking God for giving us the tools we need to help us desire a promised land.
We get so focused on the allowed wrong doing of a Pharaoh and completely miss the fact that God is going to be true to His word in Romans 8:28 and He will use that circumstance for our good. Pharaohs go back to the dust only after they have filled God's purpose.

Moses knew Pharaoh's purpose on the day that he confronted the pharaoh for the last time face to face.

"And in very deed for this cause have I raised thee up, for to shew in thee my power; and that my name may be declared throughout all the earth." ~Exodus 9:16

I imagine as he left that Pharaoh's office for the last time he thanked God for placing the only man in the world that could have opened his eyes to see God so well in that office.
 How long had Moses been in the palace and been content to watch an empire be built before he could watch no longer with a good conscience. He knew something was wrong but it was not until he turned aside to see the burning bush out in the wilderness that he met the great I AM and knew that the thing that he needed to see most was God. He was no longer in Egypt not because God hated him, but because God wanted to introduce Himself to him.

I received a phone call today from a friend who reminded me of this truth when I needed reminded of it the most. "God is in control and if you have found freedom then remember that God gave you the freedom for the purpose of enjoying your relationship with Him."

Who needs leeks and garlics of Egypt  when you can have milk and honey of freedom in Christ? Once you see God, you will never want to see another pyramid again not even for the tourist real estate tour!

Climbing with you,