In brutal honesty, the past 24 hours or so has been a difficult struggle.
I think the armour came down a little, and I also think I know why.
I’m not necessarily the best in regular bible reading, but since doing this blog, I’ve been pretty committed to actually writing once a day – and therefore reading at least some of the bible, every day. Not just reading it, but really taking it in and absorbing it.
The past week or so, though, I’ve been slacking off. I’ve spent more time with people and less time with God. I’ve spent less time really focussed and getting into his word – and with that, the armour of God hasn’t been getting its regular maintenance and care, which of course, in turn, allows for attacks to get through easier.
I’m not saying that’s the whole reason behind slipping a little, but it’s certainly had a part. So I’m going to get myself back into regular writing, here. Regularly getting into the word of God, really focussing, absorbing and seeking what he wants to tell me through his word. God says to seek him first, and everything else will be added – so it’s back to the basics.
Have you ever reached that point where, even though you know you’re wrong, and/or you know that you’re in serious trouble – you just keep going? You’re in so deep that there’s no point trying to back out now, so you might as well just keep on the track that you’re on. That’s where I see Pharaoh at, through this chapter. He’s said no so many times, his heart has been so hardened that even if he had wanted to actually let the Israelites go, he couldn’t. He simply had to play his part.
It’s stubbornness that gets us to that point. Especially with God. There’s always an opportunity to back out, and it’s never too late to turn around. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done, how far down that path we’ve walked or how evil we might have been – it’s never too late to turn around and walk the other way. It’s never too late to admit that we’re wrong.
I’ve heard some amazing stories and testimonies throughout my life, of people who – sure, if the things that they did were done to me personally, I can’t imagine being able to forgive them. I’ve done some pretty horrific things in my own life, too – especially against God and some of my brothers and sisters in him. I don’t deserve forgiveness or grace – and if I had been on the other end of some of these things, then I don’t know if I could actually let them go very easily.
I’m certain that it’s difficult to let go and forgive others, because I’ve struggled with that too.
But God’s bigger than all of that, and he can and will welcome us in no matter what we’ve done.
Look at the plague of hail in this chapter. Pharaoh admits that he was wrong. He admits that he has sinned. He admits that God is right.
God said, leading up to the hail, that he had spared the Egyptians. He could have wiped them from existence completely – but he didn’t. Then, when Pharaoh asked for the hail to stop – when he said that the Israelites could go – even with everything that he’d done against God, God still gave him the opportunity to actually honour and repent from his sin.
It doesn’t matter how many chances we take. It doesn’t matter how many times we make a mistake. God will still love us, and still accept us, and still give us the opportunity to repent.
God’s awesome, that’s all I can really say.
Saturday morning, a group of friends and I got together to pray, and it was just amazing. God showed up strongly, and I’ve been buzzing ever since – I was thinking on my way to life group this evening, that maybe the best way to deal with the inevitable low that comes when coming down off a high, is just not to come down at all. I really feel that God’s shifting things spiritually, to a new level and a new dimension.
Sunday, obviously, was church, then Monday, work followed by worship and prayer at church again – and being tempted to let myself get stuck by the snowfall! Yes, snow! I love snow, just in case you were wondering.
Sorry, I’m tired, and probably not making much sense. The point is, that God is amazing, and he is really doing things. He’s not an inactive God, or a passive God, he actually cares about us and interacts with us.
Speaking of God not being inactive or passive, how’s this? After a staff turning into a snake and all the water in Egypt turning to blood, the next thing we find is that there’s a bunch of frogs covering the countryside. They’re everywhere.
With the frogs, though, the magicians of Pharaoh were still able to conjure up frogs of their own. I’d like to know how they knew the difference. Did the magicians conjure up different types of frog? Did they conjure up a different colour? Or did they maybe just claim responsibility for some frogs that were a bit slower to arrive on the scene from God’s initial calling?
It’s something we have to be aware of, though. Spirituality – that which isn’t of God – is still real. One thing that I learned in my time away from God, was that there is still a real spiritual realm, and it is still accessible to people even without God – it is not of God, but it is a part of our world. It is possible for these false miracles and false signs to occur, and we need to be on our guard and grow a strong spirit of discernment to know what is of God and what isn’t.
Pharaoh’s not keen on frogs, and sure enough he tells Moses that he’ll let the Israelites go if Moses will just take the frogs away.
That is, until the frogs go away.
It’s one thing to cry out to God when there’s problems – it’s another thing to actually stick to what was offered to him when he helps us through them.
Then come gnats – and finally… Finally the magicians realise that there must be some God action going on here, maybe it’s not just Aaron and Moses after all. Pharaoh, though? Not convinced.
So along comes the plague of flies, too. Now Pharaoh tries to compromise. He offers to allow the Israelites to worship in Egypt. Moses says no. So Pharaoh haggles – they can go, but just don’t go too far. All he wants is the flies to be gone. Then, once again, when they are – he changes his mind and says no.
God’s not one to be playing games with. Yes, he has a sense of humour, and he’s got a warm and loving heart, and I’m sure that at certain times there are ways in which we can actually ‘play’ with him.
I remember, for example, once being a kid and playing on these rocks at the water’s edge. I’d try to get to certain rocks without getting my feet splashed by the waves, and then jump back. To me, I was playing with God, he’d throw the waves against the rocks and I’d try to dodge them. I remember laughing and feeling very happy, there wasn’t a doubt in my mind.
But don’t play games like what Pharaoh did. God is honourable and just, and expects responsibility from us too. He’ll hold us accountable for the actions we take and the actions we don’t take during our lives.
I know, though, that I’ve been guilty of having a heart like Pharaoh’s in the past. If I wanted God’s help with something, I’d pray or ask him to help me out – and even though those prayers were mainly selfish in nature, there’d be times when God would still help out. Promptly, ever so promptly I’d forget everything and completely go back to just how things were before.
I do believe, completely, that we have a responsibility to honour our word – especially when it’s a word to God.
All I have to say on me tonight – is that God is amazing. Wow.
Exodus 6 was the second chapter in a row that concluded with Moses questioning God.
God takes his encouragement for Moses a step further this time.
Then the LORD said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet.” ~ Exodus 7:1
That’s a pretty big claim, to be ‘like God’, but as the messenger of the most high God, yes, Moses was like HE whom was in control of the whole situation.Pharaoh’s narrow-minded view saw only the man in front of him, and not the Almighty who was guiding Moses’ words and hands.
How true is it that without a revelation of the fullness of the Most High God, all that is seen is humans. Without that revelation of the wonder and glory of God Almighty, then to look at the church is to see a bunch of religious people with a crutch, finding some way to help them deal with life. With the realisation, though, of how amazing and great God is, that’s when our eyes are opened to the wonder and glory! That’s when we can come into a relationship with the Creator, the Almighty, the King, and our Dad.
I am… Exhausted.
It’s been a big week, and there hasn’t been a lot of sleep, so that’s probably one reason for exhaustion – plus, it’s my excuse for not having more updates over the past few days. I’m sorry, I’ll get back on track now.
It’s a great exhaustion, though, it really is. I’ve had such a good week, and such an amazing day today.
And no matter what I try to think of, I just can’t bring the words to work it out. All I can say is that God is preparing people for big things, and people are standing up, getting ready and expectant for those big things to happen.
Tonight is going to be a short one.
Tonight’s a night when I’m glad to see a list of names in the middle of the chapter. It’s also a night when I’m really glad to read it and think, “Wow, this sounds familiar.”
Moses’ first encounter with Pharaoh didn’t go so well – and he ended up with both Pharaoh and the Israelites annoyed at him, along with Pharaoh also annoyed at the Israelites, and thinking they’re lazy, and so Moses went and got annoyed with God, asking why.
God is so patient with us, though. Instead of yelling at Moses, he speaks to him calmly – God sits down and tells Moses that now Pharaoh’s had a chance to do it the easy way, it’s time to do it the hard way. He reveals himself to Moses. He says again that he will set Israel free and take them into the land that he promised Abraham. So Moses goes back and tells the Israelites again, that God’s going to set them free, but they didn’t listen to him because of their discouragement and cruel bondage.
Moses, again – twice in this chapter – tries to avoid going to speak to Pharaoh because of his faltering lips.
I actually wonder if Moses did have a genuine stutter or something like that. God can and will use us in our weakness. It’s something I’ve heard said many times – that when we are at our weakest, that is when God is most glorified. For Moses, fearful, scared, unable to speak – for this man to stand before Pharaoh demanding freedom for his people – well, even if it was just in Moses’ eyes, the point is that it was amazing, and not something that Moses could have done without a LOT of God’s help.
It’s so hard to have faith when you’ve been discouraged, or are suffering. Instead of believing Moses, and therefore also God, the Israelites, so discouraged and opressed, couldn’t even hear the words, and just ignored Moses.
And it’s so true. It’s easy to pay attention to God when we’re on a high, when things are going well, when we’re feeling close to God and happy and wonderful. When things are difficult, though – that’s when it gets hard, and we don’t listen to the word of God. That’s when we listen to the voices that tell us things aren’t going to work out, it’s when we listen to doubt and fear and hesitancy.
It only takes one failure to open the door to a whole host of more failure. With one slip, or one doubt, the voices of those negative thoughts and attitudes get louder in our minds, un til finally it manages to take over, and no longer are we listening to God.
It’s when we’re discouraged, when we’re suffering, when we’re losing – that’s the time it’s most important to listen to God.
I am in such a fired-up state of mind right now. There’s a passion, a desire, a desparation to see something change in this world.
I’ve been getting the feeling that something big is coming for a while now; and it just keeps getting stronger. It’s time, time for a Faith generation to rise up and take a stand, to take back the world for God – for goodness, for love, for truth, for honour, for all of the fruits of the spirit.
Our generation cries out, is screaming out for something, but they don’t know what. The world has gotten really dark, and really really frightening, and it’s time to start shining the light back into the world, and bringing comfort, peace and truth to the people.
And I don’t care what people might say against it, I don’t care what people might say against me.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. ~ Galatians 5:22-23
Say what you want, bring it on, because no matter what can be brought against me, there are two things I will hold on to. First, that bringing the above list of things to other people cannot be bad, it cannot be damaging, it cannot be harmful, because they are good.
Secondly: the one who is in me is greater than the one who is in the world ~ 1 John 4:4.
Anyway, though… Wow…
Here’s Moses’ moment of, “Well, that sucked.”
He and Aaron go and face Pharaoh, telling him to let them take the people on a three day journey into the desert to spend time with God. What’s Pharaoh’s reaction? No!
Not only no, but he ups the workrate. He figures that if the Israelites have time to complain and think about worshipping their God, then they mustn’t be working hard enough! Make them do more! Take away the straw!
It’s quite funny, when, in verse 17 Pharaoh’s going, “Lazy, that’s what you are – lazy!” All I can think of is him shrieking it at them, like some kind of cartoon evil dictator ruler who’s totally and utterly insane, but because he’s king, no one can actually tell him he’s insane.
Or – Mick Malthouse!
Sorry, for those who aren’t Australian, or don’t follow AFL – just let it go.
The first thing, therefore, that I see in this chapter is the taking away of the straw. At the end of the last chapter, the Israelites were probably getting a bit excited. Moses and Aaron had come and spoken to them, told them what was going on, and the Israelites were bowing down and worshipping.
Isn’t it such a reality, that sometimes, just when we think that things might be taking a turn for the better – the world comes along and takes away our straw. One more thing goes wrong, and we’ve got to make the same amount of bricks, but now we have to find our own straw too.
Secondly, is Moses’ problem. He, too, has proceeded into this scenario in faith that God’s going to keep everything under control and let the Israelites go free. Instead, Pharaoh just shrugs him off without even a second thought – and because Pharaoh takes out his anger on the Israelites, the Israelites also turn against Moses – again!
So Moses goes right back to God, and asks him why.
Not every lesson that God has to teach us is always warm and wonderful. The biggest thing that I take from this particular chapter? Is that things can always get worse. Strangely, these days I’m encouraged by that thought. If things can always get worse, then I’m not at the bottom, and if I’m not at the bottom, then it’s not as far to get back to the top?
Having faith is rarely easy.
Sometimes, though, it’s just downright impossible – or so it seems.
A rather strange analogy came to mind this afternoon, connecting the game show Deal or No Deal with Faith. Strange, yes, I thought so to – but hear me out.
Imagine standing there, in front of all those cases, and you’re down to the last two. In one case is a prize of 50 cents, and in the other is $200,000. On the board, though, is $100,000. That’s yours, you can take the money right there and walk out with $100,000 in your pocket. Would you be willing to forego $100,000 – in faith – that you’ll actually end up with double that? Knowing that if you’re wrong, you lose all of it and go home with a 50 cent piece in your pocket.
It’s a great reward, but it’s a great risk. In the game show, it’s a gamble, you’re taking chances.
And sometimes, having faith feels like it’s a gamble in real life, too. Sometimes you have to let go of what you know is secure, in order to open yourself up to something greater, better and even more wonderful. In that decision, though, comes the doubt – “What if I don’t end up with anything?”
I used to rock climb – and would love to again some day. One thing that you realise very quickly when rockclimbing, though, is that you’re not going to get very far up the cliff face if you aren’t willing to let go. You have to let go of what you’re holding on to, in order to reach up and take hold of the next grip, to go higher. Faith, though, is the rope that keeps us from falling, and therefore gives us the confidence to keep going up higher.
Moses is still going!
Last night he came up with all these comments, a whole heap of questions as to why God would want him to go back to Egypt, face Pharaoh – face the Israelites for that matter, too. After all, even his own people hadn’t been too favourable or trusting of him before he left.
Now Moses continues to ask questions. He asks what to do if they don’t believe him or listen to him, so God tells him to throw his staff on the ground. Moses does, and it turns into a snake – and Moses runs from it. Then God tells him to pick it back up, and Moses does.
- First point (I’m going sermon style tonight): It’s not always a bad thing to be afraid, as long as you have enough trust in God to still follow his instructions. As much as we’d like to try and not feel it, fear is a natural emotion, and it’s one that’s sometimes actually worth listening to. Moses’ instinct, of course, was to jump away from the snake, but when God told him to go and pick it up, he let God’s authority rule over his fear, and followed the instructions.
Then God tells Moses to put his hand in his cloak, and when it comes out it’s leprous – ie. Has some kind of skin condition. He puts his hand back into his cloak, and it’s all better again though. I’m pretty sure Moses could market his cloak as a better product than Proactiv.
So now he has two miraculous signs to show the people, he’s been given a step-by-step run through of what’s going to happen and how to go about all of this. He should be fine, right?
Moses says that he isn’t eloquent, that he’s not gifted with speaking. So God says, “So? I’m the one who made the mouth. I’m the one who creates you able to speak, or not, able to see or not. Don’t you think I’ll help you?”
- There’s point two. We don’t need to be capable of doing something, for God to be able to do it through us. Moses had no confidence to speak out loud, to be a representative for God and for the Israelites in front of the man who was arguably the most powerful man in the world at the time. That doesn’t matter to God, though. He made the mouth.
A couple of months ago, before I actually gave my life back over to God, I was in that stage of leaning, rocking back and forth if you will. I was hearing God, and realising that he was, indeed, still the God I’d learned about and known growing up, but I wasn’t ready to let go of all the doubts and all the knowledge I’d gained in my own strength. So I ended up at the front of the church for prayer, and someone prayed for me – and it was like every word that came out of their mouth was just exactly what I needed. It was like I’d already spilled out the entire journey of my life, but I hadn’t said a single word, I hadn’t even spoken to this person in quite some time.
It doesn’t matter if you know what to say or not, when God’s with you, you’ll have the words to say.
But Moses still argues. He’s out of reasons now, though, and just asks God straight out to send someone else, and this time he makes God mad. God’s anger burns against him.
But look at the reaction. God doesn’t just strike Moses down and send someone else, nor does he give him a clip around the ears and tell him to quit arguing and just do it.
I can just envision him shaking his head, glaring in anger and disappointment, and then saying, “Fine, your brother Aaron’s on his way.”
God does work with us. He’s not like some harsh master telling us what we must do, and we have no choice in the matter. Moses was so insecure and afraid about this task ahead of him, that God kept giving him more and more support, until he was finally willing to go with it.
It’s pieces of the bible like this that show God as a relational God. Relationships are two-way, and God negotiates, he works with Moses – he doesn’t let Moses off the hook, not at all, but he does give him more and more support until finally Moses is ready and willing to go. Although, part of me wonders if he went because he was now confident, or if he went because he knew he wasn’t getting off the hook, and he’d run out of arguments.
Sometimes we need to get to that point, though, don’t we? Get to the point where we realise we have to actually go do something – there’s no choice, and we’ve got no more excuses left.
What a powerful night, tonight was.
It’s one thing to talk about spiritual warfare, about all of life being a battle, about how we’re soldiers of the Lord’s army, all those kinds of things; but sometimes, the reality of the situation just slaps you in the face. That’s what happened to me tonight, in a couple of different ways.
Not too long ago I got really empassioned about faith, about the fact that we can’t fail if we’re in God’s will and following him.
The world is real, and it’s really dark. It’s all well and good for us to sit in Church and pray for things to get better, but something God’s really been challenging me with lately, is the reminder that we’re his footsoldiers, we’re the ones called to battle. Not too long ago I prayed heavily and earnestly that God would train me as a knight in his army, to go in to battle, to carry things forward – and the time is coming when that’s going to be required.
Our world is crying out in pain, in loss, in hopelessness, in darkness. Who will shine the light and bring hope and healing to those people if not us? The society we live in is getting scarier every day, it seems – it’s time for action.
There’s a Casting Crowns song: What If His People Prayed which is very pertinent to what I’m saying here. Listen to the lyrics, and give thought: What if?
You know, sometimes I’ve wondered – wouldn’t it be so much easier to hear God’s word if he actually came by in a burning bush, and spoke to me audibly?
Sometimes it’s hard to work out what’s God’s voice and what’s just me, and sometimes those two voices can sound very similar. Sometimes, the voice of the flesh really does sound like it’s got the right motivation behind it, and that its suggestions seem really good – then reality strikes and, no, perhaps that wasn’t the right thing after all.
So of course, it would be easier to hear God’s voice if he spoke from a Burning bush, right?
Well, you’d think so. Moses doesn’t really seem to give that same example, though.
Moses is tending his father in law’s flocks, when he sees a bush on fire, but not consumed by the flames. So, just out of curiousity, he decides to walk over and check it out.
And it speaks to him.
Once again, the response: “Here I am.”
God tells Moses that he’s heard the cries of Israel, and that he is going to do something about it. He’s going to bring them back to the land of Canaan, and Moses is going to be the person to set them free. Moses is God’s messenger to Pharaoh.
Easy, right? Who needs faith? You’re talking to a burning bush!
Moses answers with a but. Who is he to go to Pharaoh? Who is he to lead the Israelites out of Egypt?
Has he forgotten? He’s – essentially – Pharaoh’s grandson! Pharaoh’s own daughter adopted him, and while he was nursed by his own Hebrew mother, he must have spent some time in the court of the royal family. Yes, admittedly, he killed someone – not really the best grounds to be going back again – but he’s got royal ties, if not royal blood in Egypt. I’m pretty sure with his connections, no one would try take him on without Pharaoh’s absolute say-so.
God doesn’t argue with him, though, he simply reassures him:
And God said, “I will be with you.” ~ Exodus 3:12
When we’re in God’s plan, and God’s will – he will be with us. It doesn’t matter what comes up against us, God is with us. Not only that, but look at how he talks to Moses, God takes Moses through the entire situation, one step at a time. He tells him how to deal with the Israelites, he tells him how to deal with Pharaoh, he tells him that it’s not going to be easy, that Pharaoh won’t actually just roll over and say, “Sure, go ahead.” But he also tells him that he’ll take care of that, and in the end, the Egyptians will favour the Israelites.
But he does say that they should ask for it, too. God doesn’t just say that the Egyptians will give them gold and silver just for no reason. They still have to ask for it.
When we have a destiny in our lives, God will be with us, and he will be with us every single step of the way. He will guide us through the preparation, the readiness, each step leading up to the big moments, and then he will be with us for them also.
Wow. Sorry, this is speaking to me on a really personal level, obviously.
So, learning a new language is not going to be easy. Especially one that’s so remarkably different to English.
I learned French in High School, and I still remember a few little bits and pieces. I can count, and introduce myself, all those kinds of basics, and can, sometimes, follow the conversation if I’m watching something occurring in French on TV, but for the most part, it’s pretty much gone now.
In part, it may seem a little early to start learning the Kazakh language – but let’s be realistic, it takes a long time to master even just the basics. There’s a few reasons behind this, though, other than just making sure that I have time to learn as much of the language as possible before actually going over there. The main other reason, though, is simply focus. Not only will learning the language and going through lessons on a regular basis help me to learn, but it will help me to keep my focus.
See, I’ve mentioned before about my own self-discipline, how I tend to be very good at coming up with ideas, even starting them – but it’s the finishing them that tends to be the problem. Well, the more I have to focus on, the more disciplined I think I’ll be.
It’s not the only project underway, I’ve also set myself the goal to finish at least the first two chapters of one novel I’m working on by the end of September. That’s twelve days to write – probably around 10,000 words – which is doable. It’s not even a thousand words a day. In fact, it’s pretty much one of these blog posts every day!
So I’m doubling my writing requirements. I can do that.
So this is where we find Moses being born, his mother hides him and then when she can’t hide him any more, she puts him in a basket and floats him out on the Nile river with his sister to watch over him. Serendipitously, the person who finds him just happens to be Pharaoh’s daughter, who of course is able to look after him with special privilege. There are advantages to being part of the power of the land – her dad makes the rules, so he also gets to make the exceptions!
She names him Moses – which I find interesting, since it’s a Hebrew name.
Moses, though, is raised under the guardianship of his own mother, who is then responsible to hand him over to the Pharaoh’s daughter when he gets older.
There’s something that stands out to me throughout the first half of this chapter, and that is the apparent lack of solidity amongst the Israelites.
For Moses’ mother to actually feel the safest option for her baby is to hide him in a basket in the Nile, I wonder, why couldn’t she trust her own people?
Which isn’t to be totally unexpected. If Pharaoh had made the law that all baby boys should be killed, think about what would happen. Even with the best community hiding programs, eventually one baby would be found, and taken from its mother – her sadness leads to jealousy and anger, and thus she turns on her family or friends – no one can be trusted any more.
That’s a rather extreme example, and maybe not what happened, but the point I’m coming to is that the Israelites were under very heavy oppression and pressure, and their relationships seem to be beginning to show cracks. Not just in that Moses’ mother chose to brave the Nile river rather than rely on her friends and family to help her hide her baby. It’s also shown in the next section, where Moses, as a grown man, stands up for one of his people. He kills an Egyptian for beating a Hebrew man, and then the next day when he approaches two Hebrews fighting, they don’t see that he saved one of their people yesterday, they just see that he killed someone.
When we come under pressure, it’s hard to stay solid, it’s very easy to see fractures start to appear, not just in groups, but as individuals as well.
But remember one thing:
So God looked at the Israelites and was concerned about them. ~ Exodus 2:25
God has concern, he does care, he does hear the groaning and the cries for help.
Random fact about Kazakhstan: It’s the largest landlocked country in the world.
Which, when I first heard, I thought was rather a strange claim to fame, since part of Kazakhstan actually borders on the Caspian Sea, but yes, the Caspian Sea is landlocked itself.
Kazakhstan’s sitting at the forefront of my mind again. It’s never very far from that position, don’t get me wrong, but sometimes it just settles into a position of strong prominence. The past day or two there’s been a bit of a focus in my conversations with other people on things like God’s will, calling, destiny and those types of topics, which of course has led to my inward thoughts turning to the own calling on my life at the moment.
It’s not really a surprise, to me, that Teen Challenge would end up being the organisation through which I would undertake something like this. When I was a kid, while my sisters were borrowing The Sound of Music from our church library every Sunday, I was borrowing the collection of Christian comic books they had. One of which, my favourite, was a comic book form of The Cross and the Switchblade, David Wilkerson’s story, and really how Teen Challenge came to be.
I remember one line, in particular, from that story. David Wilkerson was threatened to be cut into pieces. His response was:
“You could cut me, but every one of those pieces is going to cry out Jesus loves you.”
That’s the heart of Evangelism – it’s the heart of Christianity – Love.
Joseph, and the rest of his brothers have all died. There’s no specific reference here to just how many years or generations it has been since Joseph, but if the family have grown so much from the seventy that Jacob brought there, it must have been a while.
I’d almost be inclined to think that the new Pharaoh may even signify a new dynastic change. Throughout Egyptian history there’s a series of dynasties who ruled the land. Perhaps the family line remembered Joseph, and remembered why the Israelites were there, but with a change in the actual ruling dynasty, suddenly comes a family with no loyal connections to the Israelites – and, given the need to solidify their own power, as a new ruling line, might even take the opportunity to flex their muscle a bit.
All speculation, of course, but just some of the thoughts that I have on this era in time.
Throughout all this time, though, God’s continuing to keep his eye on the family. They get stronger, more numerous, more powerful, richer.
And there’s another reason for the ruler of the nation to maybe push down on them a little. If the Israelites were getting richer and more powerful, then the Egyptians themselves, generations on, could be having some jealousy issues. So here, Pharaoh gets to flex his power a little and ensure that everyone knows he’s in charge, and he also, potentially has the opportunity to win a bit of favour from his people by pushing down on the ones they’re not keen on.
So he tries to kill off all the baby boys, but the midwives fear God, and they don’t do it, and make excuses for the Hebrew women – they’re vigorous, apparently, unlike the Egyptian women. They’ve got the baby out and hidden away somewhere before the midwife even arrives. So Pharaoh takes it even furthere – every baby boy is to be thrown into the Nile.
I like this little detail in the second last verse of the chapter; God was kind to the midwives, and gave them families of their own because they feared him.
God may have had his chosen people in the old testament, but we get little passages like this – the midwives feared God, they helped the Israelites, and therefore were blessed also. God might have chosen Abraham, and might have blessed Israel specifically, but that didn’t mean his blessing was not available to others.
Here we are. It’s the end of Book 1, Genesis.
What a journey it’s been in my life over the past eight weeks or so that I’ve been doing this. I’m not sure whether it feels like it’s gone fast or slowly. It seems to have gone by very quickly, but so much has happened in that time that at the same time, I feel it must have been longer than that.
I was writing an email last night to a friend who’s been right there throughout the past couple of months, and someone for whom I’m massively grateful. Through some of the conversations that have been going back and forth in those emails, there was one comment in particular, saying I don’t do things by halves, do I?
No, I guess I don’t. It brought me back to that little voice that’s been in my head once or twice over the past couple of months about whether I’m leaping into things too fast, and perhaps I should just settle down, be a little bit more rational and reasonable.
But the fact is, that everything I’ve been learning and hearing and reading recently has been telling me the opposite. I don’t have any doubts in where I’m going or what I’m doing; I do have traces of nervousness in there, but that’s not exactly unexpected. Faith is something that grows. I’m excited by what the past two months have been, and I’m even more excited as to what the next two months have got in store. At which point I’ll be somewhere in Numbers, getting stuck for things to write about!
Joseph was probably pretty young when he got taken from his family, and he was much older when they finally were all reunited. He missed out on a lot of time with his father, but as is the natural course of things, Jacob eventually died, and Joseph wept pretty heavily.
Here’s just another small sign as to the influence of Joseph’s position in Egypt, the Egyptians mourned for seventy days for Jacob. The entire nation actually showed their respect for Joseph’s father.
I don’t completely know where I stand on all of this any more. The lines between archaeology and biblical history are in different places for me these days, for obvious reasons. God’s got me focussing on other things at the moment. One thing, though, that I’ve been trying to ensure throughout this study so far, is to focus on what the essence is of each chapter, what’s the message and what’s at the heart of it.
The part of this chapter I want to really look at, though, is the next section, verses 15 to 21.
Now Jacob’s dead, Joseph’s brothers are suddenly afraid that he’s going to come after them.
Isn’t it amazing how the negatives manage to hang around in our thoughts for so long? I know that I’ve been guilty of doing this, worrying that something I did in the past is going to come back and haunt me, going to come and get back at me. Perhaps it does – in the form of that never-ending self-condemnation that is attached to it.
Guilt doesn’t go away very easily, though, does it? It’s one thing to be told that you’re forgiven, it’s another thing completely different to actually accept that forgiveness.
Joseph said and showed for years, potentially, that things were okay between he and his brothers. He said right back when he first revealed himself to them that they intended to harm him, but God used it for good. He says it again here in this passage.
It’s perhaps something that is really worth learning. Being told that you’re forgiven, that it’s all okay, that you don’t have to feel guilty any more is one thing. Actually accepting that forgiveness and releasing the self-condemnation that we hold over ourselves, that’s a lot harder, and that’s the part that really lingers. We don’t have to feel guilty, though. God has forgiven us, he’s released us of the condemnation – but we need to release ourselves of it as well.