Those men with the secret arts can’t match the prophecy.
Pharaoh’s self-story struggles under the weight of this engagement. But he fancies himself a warrior. He was bred to bear this – so he thinks.
This fear: if he yields he will lose power. It puts him at odds with God’s plan and on the wrong side of history.
If I yield I will lose power. This freedom: it’s still scary.
I suppose that objectifying other people is a fairly common, if not necessary, disposition for a king. The king’s job is to order society. He is allowed to be king because of his ability to successfully accomplish this – to impose order on the environment. People will give a lot of power in exchange for the certainty of order.
Pharaoh does not see Moses, Aaron or the people they represent as people. Instead the people are seen as resources to be used to better society or, in the case of Moses and Aaron, obstacles between Pharaoh and what he intends to accomplish.
We all have environments filled with shared space where other people dwell. What we owe each one is the recognition that each is a person whose life is nested in a narrative trajectory reflecting essence and purpose. We can attempt to crush that in order to force our agenda. But eventually the true power of the objectified resists even the most powerful dehumanizing effort.
The irony of attempting to bring certainty into being by crushing the most certain of all phenomena. It is a hard heart indeed.
Battling serpents in the courtyard, though an authentic harbinger, isn’t much more than a grotesque entertainment. The bloody Nile, however, has a bite.
In desperation the people dig their wells near the shores of the Nile. They are looking for water and wondering why this is happening to them.
The nervous courtiers are no doubt wondering if these two unimpressive Hebrew forecasters are doing the acts in their own power – for which they should be killed – or if Pharaoh has provoked a fight with a really powerful God.
The people’s affliction is eventually the king’s problem.
When will Pharaoh be brought to his knees? My own experience is that it’s better to do it willingly.
It’s an interesting logic Pharaoh has chosen. ‘If my magicians can replicate the miracles of the God of Moses, then I have no reason to fear Him.”
It’s a failed logic. Yet, it isn’t as though Pharaoh needs a logical deconstruction – the challenge is on the plane of power. Who will be in control?
Still it is the claim and counter-claim that feel so familiar. Twisted logic is a powerful hiding place.
We say, “I would serve You Lord if I could believe You” (we capitalize the Y’s just in case)
“No sign will be given except the sign of Jonah”
For Moses and Aaron.
Everyone should surf the ocean or jump out of an airplane at least once in life. Deep discovery comes in searching out the tension between the obviously uncontrollable and my will to act.
A mean between extremes – I will neither cower in fear nor imagine myself super-potent. Like the keel of a sailing vessel, or lemon seed between squeezing fingers, I am propelled forward.
Moses isn’t feeling this.
We, all of us, move because of value. Moving toward one thing and away from another because of the value represented in the thing.
Value is experienced viscerally. It’s in the pit of our stomachs, or in the muscles in the back of our necks. It’s in the wobbling of our knees and in the pounding of our chests. Something like this is always at the bottom of what makes us move.
Nobody is listening. So Moses feels rejection. But not just rejection, he feels the tension, his staff is heavier, his shoulders feel heaved and forward, and his head is drooped so that he can’t even look up to heaven.
It’s always a value embrace.
Sometimes the only thing worse than obedience is disobedience.
It’s hard to overstate how badly things seem to be going for Moses. It’s just a paragraph or two in an epic story. But Moses is wondering what’s going on. The hard part was supposed to be coming back and presenting God’s message. The fear that held Moses back was that no one would receive his message from God – that he would be rejected and perhaps persecuted. His fears were well founded. He is loathed by the Israelites and at enmity with Pharaoh. By ancient and even modern standards, he hasn’t handled this message very well.
And yet, this is exactly what must happen. Pharaoh and the children of Israel have mistaken the message and the messenger. It’s not unlike the word that says Jesus’ tormentors would not have killed Him if they had realized He was the Son of God.
Pharaoh is hardened because he knows well enough the hearts of men. He has mistakenly believed that all of this messaging is really a ploy by Moses. He has failed to recognize with whom he is dealing. Will I see past the personalities of this day to recognize the God who speaks everyday through the ordinary circumstances of life?
“The greatest fear is that Jesus would walk by and I would not recognize Him”.
The forces of status quo are real. Change is to be resisted.
It’s impressive. In a world of change, it takes extraordinary force to keep things from changing.
This story – it’s not about overcoming inertia. Pharaoh’s system is designed to keep things the same. Like damned water, we all attempt to carefully manage the change.
But in the longest view, every damn is condemned the day it is built. What to one is skillful management is to another, a delay of the inevitable. Water will not forever comply.
Human freedom, especially the freedom to love, will not forever be constrained.
A single brave heart. A single crack in a wall.
Would any human being oppose God if they fully realized who they were dealing with?
We live in a world of power – Especially predictive power. But how often do people make claims in the absence of power? And when this happens, how do we respond?
We all intuitively recognize the problem.
Generations before Moses, God came to another Pharaoh in a troubling dream that could only be interpreted by Joseph. But this time, God came to Pharaoh through Moses. As a result, He made Himself look weak and made Moses look like a schemer.
Under the same circumstances, I would have done the same as Pharaoh. I would have fallen into this trap. I would have resisted. Oh, but for the grace of God go I.
It is a gift to believe.
You just have to assume that Moses got something wrong if he finds God “waiting at the lodging place” to kill him. It’s curious.
We live in a universe of mistakes. It’s no small thing that we should. Of course, if I designed a universe, I wouldn’t let there be any mistakes. I’d just make everything work the way it was supposed to in the first place. I’d make a determined world. Who wouldn’t? How could we call it a design if there are mistakes?
But the possibility and process of learning is entirely dependent on misunderstanding and mistaking. Our present information is never adequate for our unfolding circumstances. Therefore I need to learn.
A step of faith is never a bed of roses. There is always uncertainty when relating to another. All the more when relating to a mysterious God.