Pharaoh still doesn’t see God, only Moses.
This is the problem when I refuse the transcendent will. God’s project is still about authentic community. It is about goodness and love manifest in community.
This force will not be countered. This effect cannot be prevented.
I will give my all for this purpose. Anything else that I may attempt to withhold for personal benefit will be wasted. Chaff.
I will be broken on this stone or else this stone will crush me.
Oh Pharaoh, is it too late to repent?
It’s not real. “We’ve had enough of God’s thunder and hail”, he says. But what Pharaoh really sees is Moses. His repentance isn’t genuine.
In his eyes, Moses has somehow become the greatest magician anyone has ever encountered. Therefore the challenge remains with Moses. Despite the carnage, Pharaoh suspects that it is Moses and Moses’ secret agenda that is driving the action. And it is this to which he cannot yield.
Is it too simple to say that the failure of every want-to-be believing heart is revealed in Pharaoh’s suspicion? If I saw visibly the hand of God moving through the ordinary circumstances of my life, would this remove the doubt or would I fail anyway?
“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see” Heb 11:1
I am a giant in the absence of giants. But when exposed to real power, the existential problem always seems to show up. Will I survive?
I feel this when at the zoo and a tiger stalks my smallest child through a thick plate of glass. If the glass were to break – my power is limited.
Not surprising, I prefer to be around others whose power is also limited. There is a kind of balance in this.
But who could stand in the day of the Lord? In my own strength, I would cower with craven fear. It would be too much. It would overwhelm.
Boils and all plagues. This was never a contest, it was a demonstration of power designed to reorient thinking. This morning I’m reminded that it is an extraordinary mercy that the Lord God demonstrates His power incrementally.
One day at a time Lord Jesus.
Pestilence on livestock! This isn’t like the present times. Livestock isn’t merely food or a source of recreation, both of which are critical in their way, but the very infrastructure of the nation.
Horses and donkeys and camels are about the ability to manufacture and conduct trade. With this plague, the social contract is under increased pressure.
Pharaoh is playing for high stakes.
This is an illustration of how much we all value using other people as objects – as a means for our own ends.
It runs pretty deep.
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.