Sunday, October 30, 2011

Now starring in the role of Pharaoh is...

One of my biggest fears is that I would ever become unteachable.

I ask my Bible study class all of the time to resist the temptation with me.  Let's resist the urge, I tell them, to read all scripture with holy victim status. You know what I mean, where you cast yourself in every story as Faithful Follower in need of comfort and strength.

Always the good guy.

Never is it any more tempting than in our current study. We're studying the Exodus, you see, and for the past several weeks, we've been camped out on those ten wonders of Egypt that we call The Plagues.  

Oh, how we want to be Moses, faithful servant of the LORD! Oh, how we want to picture ourselves leaning all of our weight on the Staff of God. What if instead, we were willing to try out for the role of Pharaoh?

You know the story...

The first plague turned the waters of the Nile into a bloody mess.  There was blood  in the river and the streams and the canals and reservoirs. The fish went belly up.  It stinketh out there.

 As bad as it was, though, the Word tells us that there was still some clean water to be had. The people just had to dig for it, and dig for it they did, for seven full days.

Is there anyone out there who thinks that Pharaoh was doing any of that digging?

I didn't think so.

No. This first wonder, although a great burden to other folks, didn't really affect Pharaoh all that much. He just turned his back and enjoyed the comforts of the Palace.

Then God sent the frogs. 
This is what He said:

They will come up into your palace 
and your bedroom, 
and onto your bed, 
into the houses of your officials and your people, 
and into your ovens 
and your kneading troughs. 
The frogs will go up on you and your people and your officials. 

Well, gross.

By the way, every single you and your  in those verses happens to be the singular form of the word. The Hebrew makes that obvious, but it's not always so easy to tell in modern translations. We tend to  glom all of our yous into one basket. This makes it more difficult to tell if God is speaking to the general public or he's getting a just little more personal.

pssst...He's getting just a little more  personal. 

This time, Pharaoh can't ignore the frogs and head to his palace. This time, the frogs are in his palace. They're in his oven ... in his bowls... in his bedchamber... on his bed... on his head.  Yep. It's personal this time, and this time, he has a different reaction.

Can we at all relate?

So what does Pharaoh do? Why, he makes a beeline to the guys with the Heavenly Hotline, of course. He begs them... please intercede and get these hoppers off of me.

And he bargains, too.

...and I will let your people go.

Yep. I'll be a changed Pharaoh. I'll hear and obey the Word of the LORD...if you'll just get those frogs out of my bed.

Of course, we know that's not the end of the story; it's actually closer to the beginning. We know that once the stench from piles of dead amphibians fades away (I love the Hebrew here: Once he could catch his breath...) his hard heart prevails once again. We can't relate to that part either, can we?

Or maybe we can.
And maybe, that will have to be a post for another day.

Yeah, sometimes that chocolate is bitter sweet...
From Exodus 8
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