Day 17--EGO--Edging God Out--""A Rebellious Will?"" (Ex 4 -7:13)
January 17, 2021, 6:18 AM

Day 17 Pharaoh’s EGO—Edging God Out--“A Rebellious Will” Exodus 4 – 7:13

In our reading after our reading today, the contemplation and questions after we have read our passages, I read the question “How do I respond to God-initiated setbacks?” and I immediately recoiled. What?!? God might initiate setbacks in my life?

My mind then went to the puzzling verses in our Exodus passages about Pharaoh’s heart. In 7:3 we read that God said “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart,” and again I wonder what that means.

The history of the story of the Exodus creates a nearly cartoon character of evil in the person of Pharaoh. The Bible Project visual video portrayed him as a kind of freakish, toothy monster. The reality about the Pharaoh is that this specific person is thought to be a compilation, or squashing together, of several Bad Pharaohs (another great band name!!). Pharaoh is the archetype, or perfect example, of perfect evil being enacted against the Hebrew people. And we will see, with the onslaught of the plagues, that Pharaoh’s heart continues to harden, or be hardened, against the Lord. We’ll read that word

And so a question—do you ever pray for what you want? I bet the prayers going up last night for the Buffalo Bills to win were a bit overwhelming for the prayer switchboard last night, however. But wait—they won!! Couldn’t God have caused that? And the answer is, of course, yes! Can God cure cancer. Yes. Can God force the world to be at peace? Yes, although that’s kind of an oxymoron.

But God doesn’t do those things directly. God allows us to partner with him along the path. The Bills’ football players and their coach won the victory. Doctors and scientists help us deal with and find cures and treatments for cancer. And I know you’ve heard this phrase—peace begins with me. In other words, we have a role in the creation of world peace, although the likelihood that we will see such a global healing in our lifetime is pretty slim.

Why do we understand that when God answers those prayers for what we think are good things, that God is not capable of doing other things that will ultimately bring about greater good? In other words, in order to get rid of the pure evil represented in Pharaoh and his mistreatment of the Hebrew people, Pharaoh’s heart must be like flint even against the terrible plagues that befell the Egyptian people. Who else but someone who was purely evil would allow his people to suffer in such ways? What else but pure pride and selfishness could cause the possibility of an entire people group experiencing the horrible outcomes of water that becomes blood, and swarms of bugs that bite your skin until it swells up—and then they bite some more? Remember the suffering of the Hebrew people too—Pharaoh’s ego was so huge that he did not care about causing suffering for the Hebrew people OR EVEN his own people. Pharaoh simply wanted to win.

Ten times we will read that Pharaoh’s heart hardened, or was hardened. Nothing seemed to have an effect on his decision making regarding the care of his people. Yet no matter the cause, Pharaoh never stopped being a free agent; he never stopped having free will. Until the plague where his own beloved first born son died—oh wait—there’s that terrible, familiar theme of a Father’s son dying again—Pharaoh was not able to acknowledge that anyone had more power than he did, and he used that power in cruel and torturous ways. His hardened heart and his consuming ego cost him everything he thought he was in control of in this world—his power, his family and his own life. But I will always believe that Pharaoh had a choice or God would not have given him ten different chances to have a change of heart.

We are in some challenging territory her, and this is only a ‘sunrise reflection’, not a research paper. While God may allow setbacks, or even orchestrate them in our lives, the purpose is only to help us see God more clearly. Remember the old phrase—there are no atheists in foxholes?  Getting our own way is not the purpose of prayer, but God will hear what we think we want, and he will remain in communion with us, allow us to change the hardness of our hearts, in order to know Him and trust him more completely.

Pharaoh had a choice. And he made the wrong one. There are consequences for that, and God does not have to orchestrate those. although we see that it led to the washing of the waters over the Egyptian Army, destroying them. Surely God's hand was in that as he moved with the Hebrew people towards safety, as he continued to bless the people who loved him, and whose hearts were soft towards him. Hatred springs out of evil. And evil will always be in opposition to God’s ways.


Be blessed and be a blessing to others,

ML

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