Almost 30 years ago, I wrote a song based on this story. While I never spent time with other writers on this, working on editing and such, the words and ideas from the rough draft fit the theme. So, without digging out my old tablets, here are the words to the best of my memory…
As the Jewish nation stood before the Red Sea, Pharaoh came in after them, although he’d set them free. All at once the children of Israel began to cry, Moses did you just lead us out here so that we could die. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ So Moses said, “Hush all ye children and wait upon the Lord.” And then he held up his staff, and the sea rolled back at God’s word. So the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea on dry land, And Pharaoh was killed by the sea and the mighty power of God’s hand. (CHORUS) And God will part the waters… of sorrow before your eyes, And you can cross your troubles… on land that He makes dry. And when you reach the other side and climb to higher ground, You’ll find God’s washed away the things… that tried to drag you down.
There was a third verse I can’t seem to remember, but I know the last line in the verse said something about, “And at the water’s edge, everything can change.” Even without remembering the rest of the verse, that one line has come back to me to give me strength and encourage me multiple times. I know that when things look the most impossible, sometimes it’s just the darkness before the dawn, or God planning on showing off like He did in today’s reading from Exodus 14:15 through Exodus 14:25.
As we begin today’s verses, Adonai is asking Moses why he is crying to Him when all he needs to do is stretch his staff out over the sea, divide the water, and send Israel across on dry land. I love the matter-of-fact way this is worded, and I’m thinking that Moses was thinking, “Hmm, why didn’t I think of that?” I mean, unless God had already told Moses exactly what he was going to do, I’m certain Moses knew God was going to do something, but I doubt he had an idea of exactly what that was going to be or that he had the freedom to just lift his staff and make things happen.
So God tells Moses to go ahead and do this thing, and that He will win glory through it at the expense of Pharaoh and his army. He says the Egyptians will know that He is The Lord, He then sends both the pillar of fire and the pillar of cloud behind Israel’s camp to separate them from Egypt’s camp. He kept it dark for Egypt and light for Israel all night long. Then Moses lifted his staff, and God caused a strong wind from the east that made the sea go back. The waters were divided, the sea floor became dry, and the children of Israel walked on dry land between the two walls of water.
As the story for today ends, Pharaoh decides that if Israel can do it, so can he, and he leads all his horses and chariots into the now-dry sea to pursue them. Just before dawn, Scripture says God looked through the pillars of cloud and fire at the Egyptian army and through them into a panic as He removed wheels from their chariots, so they could only move slowly and with great difficulty. They figured out that God was fighting for Israel and tried to turn back, and we’ll see what became of that in tomorrow’s reading.
In the meantime, if you haven’t seen just how well Jim Carrey does at acting out how messed up men would be if we tried to harness the powers of God, or even if you have and really like this movie like I do, have a little fun with this video clip from Bruce Almighty…
So I’m one of those who gets really frustrated by tailgaters. I’ve even thought of creating a bumper sticker that says, “Consider doing a random act of kindness; get off my tail.” And I really like the matter-of-fact statement on the back-end of the truck in the picture. It’s too bad Pharaoh didn’t have this truck as a warning too. Maybe he would have realized the danger of his tailgating mistake before it was too late.
In today’s reading from Exodus 14:9 through Exodus 14:14 (yep, it’s very short today), we see all the horses and chariots of Egypt pursing the children of Israel. Pharaoh’s cavalry and army overtakes Israel as they are camped by the sea, and when the people see them, they begin to cry out against Moses. “Weren’t there enough graves in Egypt? Did you have to bring us out to the desert to die? We told you to leave us alone, so why didn’t you just let us stay slaves?”
Arghh! If I was Moses, I think I would have been so frustrated, I might have asked if they wanted a little cheese with that whine. After all, they were the ones who cried out when they were in slavery, and they were the ones who asked God to save them. God heard their cry, and the first thing He had Moses say to them was that He was sending Moses as a response to that cry. But now they’re accusing Moses as if it was all his idea and as if they had no part in the decision-making process.
But I understand, they are in great fear. Suddenly their hope at freedom has been deferred, and they have become heartsick. They think everything they’ve endured will end in death, so they’re thinking it might have been easier to keep their mouths shut and stay slaves. But God knew Pharaoh’s heart, and He knew things would have continuously gotten worse for His children, so He stepped in to save them. And Moses does not seem to be frustrated. Rather, he encourages them to stop being so fearful. He tells them to remain steady in their trust that Yahveh IS going to save them. He goes so far as to tell them that God is going to take care of things that very day, and that while they see the Egyptians now, it will be the last they see of them.
The last verse today has Moses telling the people that God will do the battle for them, so they can all calm down. Or, for other encouraging words, Moses could have used the keep calm, and carry on meme. Theirs would have been, “Keep calm, and let God carry on.”
So, if you’re one of those who stays up late, you might be wondering why you didn’t see the blog before midnight. First, I was out at a wonderful planning meeting for the next year in our Christian writer’s group, Louisville Christian Writers. Well, the meeting didn’t go that long, but it was followed by the kind of fellowship that makes you wonder why everyone doesn’t get how great it is to be a Christian. But then, it’s those times when we visit with friends who cherish the presence of God the way we do that help us get through those times that make it a bit harder to be a Christian.
Anyway, I’m going to change the time of this to show a post by 11:59pm on January 11th, just so it will archive correctly. But so it doesn’t look like a lie, here’s my confession. After getting home at 5 til midnight, I forgot for about 20 minutes. Then I was like “EEK, I forgot!” and quickly plugged in and started my laptop only to have it get part way and refuse to totally boot about three times. I finally got it going, and since then I have struggled with the picture to go with it. I wanted to use something about being battle ready, but no pics or videos really fit what today’s reading from Exodus 13:17 through Exodus 14:8 was really saying.
As our newest portion begins (Parashah 16, Hebrew B’shallach meaning After he had let go), God is leading the newly delivered Israelites away from the land of the Philistines because He thinks they may see war and turn around to go back to Egypt. Combining this with a few verses later where the Scripture says the people of Israel went up from Egypt fully armed, and then the last verse of today’s reading that says they went out boldly, I was thinking, “Boy, there are a lot of messages just in this.” But the one that really strikes me is that when God saves and delivers us, He gives us a full armor and His Spirit gives us the tools we need for boldness. Many people even start out going boldly to others to share what they have gained and from what they’ve been set free. Still, when we see things get tough, signs of war like God knew the Israelites would see in the land of the Philistines, do we consider going back into bondage just so we won’t have to fight?
As the reading progresses, we have Moses keeping his promise to carry the bones of Joseph, and we are told of the pillars of cloud and fire that follow Israel by day and by night to guide and protect them. And then God tells Israel to repent–literally. He tells them to turn around and backtrack, to go the opposite way they were traveling. But God does it for a purpose. He wants Pharaoh to think the children of Israel are lost and wandering in the desert so Pharaoh will come after them. And He plans to use that against Pharaoh and his armies to show Egypt that He, Yahveh, is truly the Lord.
Pharaoh fell for the trap and began to question why they were so stupid as to let their slaves go. Actually, it says Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart. Yeah, I guess as soon as they had to make their own cup of coffee, they were reconsidering the loss of all those obedient and subservient people. So Pharaoh prepared 600 of his chariots and his people plus all the other chariots in Egypt along with their commanders. And God made Pharaoh hard-hearted so he pursued Israel.
And so we come to an end with Israel leaving Egypt boldly but God knowing their hearts might shrink if they see war, so we can’t be sure if they were ready. And then we see Pharaoh following after Israel, also boldly, but for stupid reasons. And we know Pharaoh isn’t ready for what is to come, but he doesn’t know that yet. Ready or not, God’s got a plan, and He’s got a place within it for whosoever will make themselves ready to follow Him. Will that be you?
I was just talking to my husband today about how much I used to like to work the graveyard shift. I worked in the travel store of a truck stop off Interstate 40, so it was like day in the middle of the night there. It was lit up, it was noisy with talk and diesel engines running outside, and if families were traveling late, the sleepy kid chatter was even fun to listen to. I loved the busyness that kept me going through the night, and I loved getting off work just in time to see beautiful desert sunrises. During the warmest months, I’d get my grocery shopping done and then go swimming in the pool at my mobile home park before anyone else was even awake yet. I think that’s why I’m still a bit of a night person.
Imagine my joy when I first read about Yahveh being a night watchman. In today’s reading from Exodus 12:29 through Exodus 12:51, the end of the chapter, we begin reading with the midnight strike against the first-born of Egypt. In that sense, God was also working the graveyard shift, and the cry of grief that arose from every house in the land was loud and horrendous. Every home was touched by death. Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night, and I guess he knew better than to keep his promise that the next time Moses saw his face would be his death. Instead, Pharaoh told Moses to get the people, the animals, and everything they planned to take and just get out of the land. The Egyptians pressed Pharaoh to push them out quickly for fear they would all end up dead.
I hate that the stuff in the above verse had to happen, but I also know that people had a chance to do things God’s way and chose against it. From creation forward, wayward branches of people broke off and chose to serve false gods for their own selfish desires, But God Almighty is the only one that truly reigns over the earth, and He is the only One we should serve.
As the story continues, the people took their unleavened dough and packed it up to head out of Egypt in a hurry. They traveled from Rameses to Succoth, and a mixed multitude went with them. It appears that it was there where they baked matzah for the rest of the journey. It had been 430 years to the day since Israel first moved into Egypt.
I love how verse 42 reads from The Complete Jewish Bible: This was a night when Adonai kept vigil to bring them out of the land of Egypt, and this same night continues to be a night when Adonai keeps vigil for all the people of Isra’el through all their generations. It made me cry the first time I read it, and it still stirs me to think that the God of Creation chooses to keep watch over His people on the night of the their deliverance. I believe this is why the altar experience is so moving because I believe God still keeps vigil over people when they are delivered from sin and death.
The last of the reading goes on to explain how Passover is to be kept for all the generations, including how to treat the foreigner who lives in your home. The foreigner must become circumcised to celebrate, just as we must become circumcised in heart, choosing to do things God’s way instead of our own, in order to partake of all He has for us. Oh, but it is so worth it.
So Pharaoh has told Moses that he better never see his face again, and that the next time he sees his face will be the day Moses dies. And we think that’s the end of the conversation. But not so. Moses has much more to pass on in warnings from Yahveh. I could just hear Moses saying, “Okay, I’m leaving for good, but before I do, just so you know…” And I say this because of the context of their conversation in today’s reading from Exodus 11:4 through Exodus 12:20. But before we jump into that, here’s a fun video from Everybody Loves Raymond when Ray tells Deborah that she gets her way by saying, “Just so you know.” That part is near the end of the video.
So Moses’ last words to Pharaoh were his strongest yet. He speaks as God spoke to him saying (my paraphrase), “At about midnight, I’m coming down there to exact justice. Every first-born will die, including yours, Pharaoh. Even the firstborn children of the servants and animals will die. And the cry of Egypt will be strong, but not a peep will be heard from the children of Israel, so you, Pharaoh, will realize that I distinguish between my people and Egypt.”
And then Moses went on to talk for himself. He told Pharaoh that the servants would come before him and bow themselves while telling him to please leave their land. And he said he would leave after that happened. It appears that God was speaking to him at the same time and reminding him that Pharaoh would not listen, but that it would enable God to perform even more miraculous works to show His power.
And then the reading switches gears to Yahveh talking to Moses and Aaron and giving them instructions on what was about to happen. God explained to them that the month they were in would begin their new year. He then told Moses to gather the community and teach them what to do to avoid the death angel when it came to Egypt.
Now, the timing is a little off here as I read it because it started with midnight but the instructions now include choosing a lamb on the 10th of the month and keeping it until the 14th. Of course, it did not say “midnight tonight,” so that could add confusion. Maybe God had even told Moses to tell Pharaoh that “some midnight” He would show up, and not to tell him exactly when. I guess that would make more sense because it would prevent Pharaoh from attempting to stop the Israelites from doing their part.
Anyway, if you read the Scriptures for yourself, you will find all the instructions from choosing a lamb from the sheep or goats, killing it, eating it, what to eat it with, etc. There are a lot of details in the Passover celebration that point to Christ, and if you haven’t done it, I highly recommend attending a Messianic Passover Seder for an enriching and enlightening experience.
The teaching then goes into the instructions for the feast of unleavened bread. The call to eat matzah (unleavened bread) instead of hametz (leavened bread) is so strong that God says whoever eats the hametz, even if they are foreigners or visitors, would be cut off from Israel. All leaven is to be cleaned from the homes and tables as the festival if celebrated. Of course, since leaven is compared with sin, it would make sense that God would want His people to begin a new year cleansed from all unrighteousness–even to the point of not having those engaging in it living on your property. His gift to us is that we can start over, we can start clean, and we CAN be free to go and sin no more … just so you know. 🙂
Do you remember that funny song with sort of an Italian lingo called “Shaduppa You Face“? The lyrics didn’t make a lot of sense, but I can just see Pharaoh hollering at Moses and saying, “Ah, Shaduppa you face, Moses.”
In today’s reading from Exodus 10:24 through Exodus 11:3, Pharaoh calls in Moses to tell him that he and the women and children can go ahead and leave to worship God. I guess that plague of darkness had him pretty freaked out. I’ve been on a few cave trips where they introduced what they call TCD or Total Cave Darkness, and it’s not fun to put your hand right in front of your face and see nothing. But even three days of total darkness wasn’t quite enough because, once again, Pharaoh has restrictions.
“What are you planning to take with you?” he asks. First it was the who he wasn’t satisfied with, and now it’s the what. And when Moses tells him they need to take the cattle, and that not one hoof will be left behind, Pharaoh tells him it isn’t necessary. Of course, that was now the only cattle Pharaoh had since he allowed everything else to be destroyed by plagues, so I’m guessing Pharaoh was even more defensive than before.
Moses tries to explain that they need the livestock to worship Yahveh, and that they will not know which ones are chosen for sacrifice until they are out there, but Pharaoh refuses to relent. Beyond that, he gets angry and tells Moses to go away and not to ever see his face again. He warns him that the day he sees his face will also be the day he dies. And Moses basically says, “Okay, if that’s how you want it,” and leaves.
Now God tells Moses that He is going to bring one more plague on Egypt, and that it will be so bad that Pharaoh will actually throw the people of Israel out. God then tells Moses to have the people of Israel go to their Egyptian neighbors to ask for gold and silver jewelry. The people willingly give what they have because God has given Israel favor in the site of the Egyptians. Moses is even thought of as a great man by the servants of Pharaoh.
It’s too bad Pharaoh’s servants couldn’t pull enough weight to convince Pharaoh of the value of Moses, but then again, I guess that goes to show that it is truly God who gives us favor in the eyes of man, and He did not give Moses favor in Pharaoh’s eyes. I believe God chose to keep Pharaoh hard-hearted because He knew what was in the depths of Pharaoh’s heart. His word says He will have mercy on some, and He will harden some. I love the way it’s stated in Romans 9:14-18 in The Message Bible. Hover over, or click, the previous verse to link to Bible Gateway and read it yourself. And remember that even our desire to serve God is from Him, so none of us can boast in ANY part of our salvation or deliverance.
Light is such a welcoming feature that a famous U.S. motel chain created the slogan, “We’ll leave a light on for you.” Few people like to walk into a place with no light, especially if that place is unfamiliar. And in all truth, that’s why we have God’s Word. It is God’s way of bringing us from darkness into His marvelous light. For those who are living in darkness and do not understand it, God’s light can be blinding at first, so we who live and walk in His light do well to remember to bring it up gently. We can also remember that in total darkness, it takes very little light to illuminate an entire room.
In today’s reading from Exodus 10:12 through Exodus 10:23, we will see that God is the Creator of light, and He can take it away just as sure as He can send it. In the beginning of our reading, Moses is instructed to stretch out his hand. When he does, God causes a wind to blow from the east that brings in more locusts than Egypt has ever seen. When it is all said and done, not one green thing remains in all the land.
Pharaoh rushes to bring in Moses, and this time he actually confesses that he has sinned against God and against Moses. He asks for forgiveness of his sin “just this once” and begs Moses to intercede for God to remove this plague. God sends a west wind and drives the locusts into the Sea of Suf, but Pharaoh does not let the people go. As an answer, God begins plague number nine. He tells Moses to raise his hand to the sky, and it brings in a thick darkness over all the land of Egypt. It was so dark that people could not see each other or go anywhere for three days. But the people of Israel had light in their homes.
I love that last line because it can be taken in more than just a literal sense. When the people of Egypt chose to be disobedient to God, even their trusted sources of light (I’m guessing that would’ve basically been candles in those times) did not seem to work. When people now choose to live in disobedience to God, their sources of light–knowledge, power, money, things, beauty, etc.–won’t illuminate their way either.
How many stories do we read of those we would think have everything who end up descending into hopelessness and ending their lives by suicide? There’s a whole set of books by Patricia Fox-Sheinwold that covers stories of celebrities whose lives came to a tragic end instead of a natural one. Many of the stories are about suicide. This tells us that no matter what else people have or do not have, we all need God in our lives and in our homes if we want true peace and light. If we seek God with our whole hearts, we can be sure He WILL leave a light on for us, so we can find Him.
Well over twenty years ago, I read a story in Reader’s Digest from the Life In These United States section. It was a story of a mother who was talking about how much television was beginning to influence her family. She served leftovers for dinner, and one of her children complained loudly, “Aw Mom, reruns again?” For some reason, it was cute enough that it pops into my mind almost anytime I think about leftovers.
In today’s reading from Exodus 10:1 through Exodus 10:11, Pharaoh should have thought about his leftovers with gratefulness. In this new portion, Parashah 15 titled “Bo” in Hebrew and meaning Go, Yahveh is talking to Moses about going to Pharaoh with another warning. He encourages Moses by reminding him that the great works He is doing in front of Egypt will be stories Moses can pass on to his children and grandchildren, so that future generations will know that He is God.
The warning to Pharaoh is that if he does not allow God’s people to leave for worship, God will send, as plague number eight, so many locusts that they will eat up every growing thing that is left over from the hail damage. He warns it will be worse than anyone in his generation, or in previous generations, has ever seen, and that it will fill all the houses of Pharaoh and his servants. Moses gives his message, and then he turns his back and leaves.
After he’s gone, Pharaoh’s servants begin to beg him to reconsider. They basically ask Pharaoh how long Moses must be a thorn in their side, and Pharaoh relents and calls Moses back in to tell him the people can leave. But, he does add one caveat. He asks who they will take with them, and when Moses tells him it will be men, women, children, livestock, etc., Pharaoh tells him there’s no way they can all go and assumes it’s a trick. He tells them that only the men can go, or no one can go. And then Pharaoh drives the men out of his presence.
Because Pharaoh did not know God, he did not understand that it is not up to mankind to question God’s request or try to make changes to God’s will. He opened the door to allow even more loss into his life, and the hardness of his heart would cost him a greater price than he could ever have imagined. It would do us all well to take this lesson to heart and to use it to teach others that they do not have to lose everything before they turn to God. Resistance will not change God’s mind no matter how much those in sin might think it will. It’s as simple as this: God is God, and we are not.
What is it about stubbornness that makes so many people hold onto it so strongly? I mean, Pharaoh has had far more than three days of trouble. All he had to do was let the people go for three days, but because he remained stubborn and hard-hearted, he is getting ready to suffer yet another plague. And we can be pretty sure that he is blaming all of these plagues on God, on Moses and Aaron, and/or on the people of Israel. But all the blame and justification in the world will not change the fact that a simple act of obedience, and maybe a little compassion from Pharaoh toward Israel, could have stopped all of Egypt’s troubles.
In today’s reading from Exodus 9:17 through Exodus 9:35 (the end of the chapter, and the end of this week’s portion), God is having to issue yet another warning to Pharaoh. This time He tells Pharaoh that He is getting ready to send a terrible hail storm on Egypt that will be worse than anything they have ever seen. But, this time they actually have another way out. Anyone who brings their slaves and animals inside and out of the field will not lose them. But every human and animal left out in the field will die from getting pelted by the hail stones. Those among Pharaoh’s servants who believed Yahveh brought their slaves and animals inside.
When the storm begins, it comes with thunder and fire as well. From the way it’s worded about flashing up, I’m guessing the fire is lightning, but I can’t be sure. The storm destroys plants and kills animals and people, but in the land of Goshen where God’s people stayed, there is no storm at all. As I’m typing this, I’m imagining Goshen to be in the eye of the storm and thinking how this would be like saying they were being watched by God as the storm was going on around them. If we trust in God, we too can have the promise of His eye watching us and of His protection in our midst. If we keep our eye on Him, then we do not have to fear no matter how severe we see the storms raging around us.
Now this next part almost made me laugh. Pharaoh calls Moses and Aaron with a confession. He says, “This time I have sinned.” What? This time? So he’s not only stubborn and hard-hearted, he’s an idiot too? Maybe the plagues are finally starting to wear him down, but why would a person need to be scraped along the bottom before he decides to look up? And why, when he does finally look up, does he look through half-closed eyes instead of confessing and forsaking all his sins so he can be set free from them? It makes no sense to me, but then pride never has made sense since–from the time Lucifer used it at the throne to this moment. It always comes before destruction, but we humans continue to push the boundaries anyway.
Still, after Pharaoh pleas for deliverance, God does stop the storm. Moses even gives Pharaoh the good news that the crops which had not yet blossomed would still come up for him. And yet again, when Pharaoh is no longer uncomfortable, he hardens his heart like a big piece of hail, and he changes his mind again about letting the people go–just as God told Moses would happen. And this is the end of the week’s portion, and the news of the seventh plague. Shabbat Shalom.
Sing with me…
Oh the games Pharaoh plays now, Every night and every day now,
Never meaning what he says now, Never sayin’ what he means. La la la la la la la la…
If you don’t know the song for the tune, here’s a link to a YouTube video of it…
So, in today’s reading from Exodus 8:19(23) through Exodus 9:16, we have the continued warning from God to Pharaoh about the fourth plague, an abundance of bugs (some say flies) that would swarm Egypt yet be spared from God’s people. All this if Pharaoh did not release the people to go worship, which, of course, he didn’t. So God kept His word and sent the swarms of bugs just when He said He would. I even contemplated a title for this post of “Vex and Bugs and Stock with Boils” but since hubby didn’t figure out the connection to “sex and drugs and rock and roll,” I wrote the parody title instead.
Anyway, Pharaoh summons Moses and tells him the people can worship, but they must do it right there in the land. Moses wisely explains that the animals they would sacrifice would be an abomination to the Egyptians, so it would not be a good idea for them to stay in the land. Pharaoh concedes and says they can go out to worship, and Moses warns him to stop playing games if he doesn’t want to see more plagues. Of course, as soon as Moses prayed, and God took the plague of insects away, Pharaoh recanted and refused to let the people go.
In Chapter nine, Moses takes God’s word back to Pharaoh to warn of a plague that would hit only Egypt’s livestock. After all of them died, and none belonging to Israel died, you’d think Pharaoh would wake up, but he didn’t. That was the little-talked about plague number five.
When Pharaoh would not obey God’s commands or warnings, Moses followed God’s direction to begin plague six. He blew some kiln ashes into the air where God turned them into infected sores on all the men and animals. This time, the magicians couldn’t even stand in the presence of Moses because of the sores, let alone try to work any of their magic. Of course, Pharaoh remained hard-hearted.
As today’s reading comes to an end, Moses comes with a warning that God Himself will now send plagues that will infect Pharaoh and all his top officials. It’s hard to tell if they had been under the previous plagues. Never-the-less, God’s word to Pharaoh is that He could have sent such severe plagues that Pharaoh and all his people would’ve been wiped off the face of the earth, but He chose to let them live, so that they would see that God has no equal. He warns that He will now show them a power that will cause His name to resound throughout the whole earth. Not that He ever did, but I think we can safely say that Yahveh Almighty does not play ANY games.
I’ve always thought petrified wood was the coolest stuff. Of course, I like a lot of things in rock form. I mean, I even own my very own box of rocks, and I don’t think they’re dumb at all. 😉 Petrified wood actually looks like wood, but time and weather hardens what once was wood into a stone substance. It’s just like Pharaoh’s heart. It might look like a real heart, but it has been petrified by his fear of losing control until it has become impossible to touch and soften, even by the Hand of God.
In the last few days’ readings, we’ve seen where God was the one who hardened Pharaoh’s heart, but today we read that Pharaoh himself hardens it. I said from the beginning that I guessed God only hardened it because He knew Pharaoh’s heart to begin with. That shows quite well in today’s reading from Exodus 8:7 (11) through Exodus 8:18 (22). (Parentheses are verse numbers in versions other than The Complete Jewish Bible.)
As the reading begins, Moses is seeking God to get rid of the frogs as he told Pharaoh he would do. God answers by killing all the frogs which the people then sweep out of the houses into big heaps until the towns stink. But as soon as Pharaoh found some relief from the plague, Scripture says he hardened his own heart and refused to keep his promise to let Israel go to worship. God tells Moses to have Aaron strike the dust of the ground so it would turn to lice, and pretty soon there was lice on every living creature in every home.
As usual, Pharaoh tries to get his magicians to do the same, and this time, they are unable. I wonder if it’s because only God is able to create something from the dust of the earth–especially something living. This time, even the magicians claim that the miraculous work is the finger of God, but Pharaoh is hard-hearted again just as Yahveh said he would be.
God tells Moses to go out to Pharaoh the next morning and again request that he let the people go to worship. He says for Moses to warn Pharaoh that if he doesn’t do it this time, there will be swarms of insects in every part of the land except the land of Goshen where God’s people dwell. By that, Yahveh says, all will know that Pharaoh will then know that He is God right there in the land. And what Scripture does not say is that also by that, Pharaoh will know the he is NOT the god of that land. It’s too bad Pharaoh didn’t know that the fear of The Lord is the beginning of wisdom. Because we have the promise that with God’s touch, a heart of stone can become a heart of flesh, if Pharaoh would’ve learned to fear God instead of things of man like pride and control, even he would have had hope.
Here are a few questions to think about… 1. What is the opposite of light? 2. What is the opposite of good? 3. What is the opposite of love? More than likely, your answers are dark, evil (or bad), and hate. Now, a new question… What is the opposite of God? If your answer is satan, guess again. I’ll tell you the answer by the end of this post, but you may get it out of today’s reading from Exodus 7:8 through Exodus 8:10 (8:6 in Complete Jewish Bible since there are more verses in chapter 7).
Our reading begins with God speaking to Aaron and Moses about what miracles to perform in front of Pharaoh. They do as Yahveh commanded, but Pharaoh is unimpressed because he is able to call out magicians to perform the same “trick” with turning a stick into a serpent. Well, except for the fact that Aaron’s serpent ate up all the magicians’ serpents. Still, Pharaoh stayed hard-hearted as Yahveh told them he would be. Even in the face of the miraculous, Pharaoh could not see God as greater than him nor himself as less than God. It’s the same fatal mistake made by the angel Lucifer when he thought he was equal to God.
The next miraculous work performed by Aaron and Moses turns all water in Egypt to blood. The water in the river turns to blood, kills all the fish, and makes the river stink with their death. Even water in jars and buckets turns to blood. The whole land of Egypt is filled with blood, but Pharaoh is so hard-hearted that he actually has his magicians perform the same feat. Now why didn’t he have his magicians make him some pure water to drink? I guess hard-heartedness comes bundled with idiocy or something.
Never-the-less, even after seven days of drinking blood, when Moses and Aaron ask Pharaoh to let the people go to worship, he still refuses to let them, so the men warn Pharaoh of the coming plague of frogs. At God’s word, frogs come up from all over the place and swarm the land and homes of all Egypt. And, again, Pharaoh has his magicians do exactly the same thing. Political logic is just illogical. Demonstrating power just for power’s sake has no wisdom. This is why it is so important to make sure that we who believe in the miraculous do not worship the miracles themselves, nor should we worship those whom God uses to perform His great works. Worship should be saved for Yahveh Almighty and Him alone. Not the miracles, but the God OF the miracles. See the wisdom here?
Finally, Pharaoh gets it enough to realize that he needs Moses to intercede with God for the frogs to be taken out of the land. He promises that if Moses will intercede, he will allow the people to go worship. Moses tells him that he will not only intercede, but he will allow Pharaoh to choose the time. Pharaoh requests the frogs be taken from all but the river by the next day. And I love Moses’ answer to Pharaoh’s request: Moshe said, “It will be as you have said, and from this you will learn that Adonai our God has no equal.”
And just in case you haven’t quite grasped my point from the question at the top, the answer to what is the opposite of God is NOTHING. In order for satan (ha satan meaning “the adversary”) to be the opposite of God, he would need to be as purely evil as God is good; as purely hate as God is love. But God has no equal even in the opposite sense. God is greater than all, and absolutely nothing or no one is greater than–or equal–to Him. And yet, He cares enough for us to create for us, walk with us, talk with us, listen to us, lay down His own life for us, and prepare an eternity for us. Hallelu-Yah!!
We know from Scriptural promises that EVERY word of God has profit, and that no word of God that is spoken will return to Him without accomplishing what He intended. So, if you are one chosen to speak God’s words, you know that what you are required to speak is both profitable and has power to affect change. In today’s reading from Exodus 6:29 through Exodus 7:7, God again tells Moses to tell Pharaoh EVERYTHING He has commanded him to speak. And Moses once again tells God that he is a terrible speaker and doesn’t think he will speak in a way that will make Pharaoh believe him.
As I read this today, I noticed that the profit of a prophet is not whether or not the listener believes in what the prophet has to say, but instead it is in the value of the spoken words. In these verses, as in some from the past few days, God even tells Moses that Pharaoh will not listen to anything he and Aaron will speak to him. But, even though Pharaoh will be hard-hearted, God says He is sending in Moses to be like God to him and Aaron to be like a prophet for Moses. And not only in words, but God has commanded Moses to perform miraculous works and still says that Pharaoh will not heed them.
God’s words and God’s deeds are important to speak and perform regardless of what those who listen do with them. The profit is there in a true prophet of God, but fear of not being listened to has caused many to speak pretty words to see if they can get more listeners instead of speaking the words of true value even when they don’t sound pretty. The words God gave Moses and Aaron were not pretty for Pharaoh, but for those who believed in the power and deliverance of Their Creator, they were just what they needed. In today’s reading, God even calls the sons of Israel His army and says He is sending them to bring His people out of Egypt with great acts of judgment. The bullies WILL have to pay a price for their bullying.
But the best profit that will come from these words, the profit that should come from any words we claim to speak for God or in His name, can be found in verse 5… then Egypt will know that I am God! Even what some call the “Five Fold Ministry” has one major task; to equip God’s people to work and do service that will build the body of believers in Messiah. We read today that Moses and Aaron did everything exactly as Yahveh commanded them to do even at 80 and 83 years of age.
If we are part of the body of Christ, we have a task to speak God’s word and do His work to build more believers into the body. Share with me what God has put on your heart to share with others. And with that, I’ll leave you with this thought: When all else fails, read the Word of God, and if that doesn’t work, try following it. 😉
Remember the old commercials that said, “When E.F. Hutton speaks, people listen.”? I remember that even if I didn’t understand it when I heard it as a young child. I learned what it meant later, so I did understand by the time I heard a song by Carman where one lyric line said, “Because when God talks, even E.F. Hutton listens.” Well, in today’s reading from Exodus 6:2 through Exodus 6:13, we find people that are not listening so well…even to God.
We are now at the beginning of Parashah (portion) 14. The Hebrew word for it is Va’era and it means I appeared. It begins after Moses speaks to God asking why He allowed Pharaoh to treat the people so badly after the request to leave for three days to worship, and God’s answer that Moses would now see exactly what Yahveh had planned for Pharaoh. Now God goes on to say that He is the God who spoke and made covenants with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob but that He had never revealed His memorial name to anyone before Moses.
Yahveh tells Moses to tell the people that He has heard their groanings, and that He will set them free from the slavery of the Egyptians. He says they will be His people, and He will be their God. But then it says the people are too discouraged to listen. I’ve seen it in movies where a person is so distraught or worried that they are kind of “losing it” and won’t pay attention to anything that is going on around them. Usually it takes someone slapping them to snap them out of it. God doesn’t tell Moses to slap the people, but He doesn’t just accept their discouragement or refusal to listen.
Moses then argues that if the people won’t listen, surely Pharaoh will not listen either, especially to someone like him who is not a good speaker. But God commands both Moses and Aaron concerning their approach to both Pharaoh and to the house of Israel, and He tells them exactly what will happen in order to free Israel from slavery.
God always has a plan to set people free, be it us or those we love. Sometimes we are too discouraged to listen or to listen well. Sometimes those we love and care about are too discouraged to listen. But if we keep the communication with God open, we are promised that when we seek and search for Him with our whole hearts, we WILL find Him. And we know that once we find Him, there’s a much better chance that we will find the knowledge we need to follow His plan for our deliverance from whatever has us or those we love in bondage. Let us be encouraged, and let us continue to listen.
There are a lot of ways to not know God. For one example, we can imagine a husband and wife who live together more like roommates than spouses. They know each other in basic ways, but they don’t know each other’s heart. For another example, we can imagine neighbors who live on the same street, maybe even right next door to each other, but they cannot tell anyone else much of anything about their neighbors. In reference to God, there are people that don’t know anything about Him even if they have heard about Him their whole lives. Maybe they even go through the motions of serving Him, but there’s no depth, so their relationship with Him is based on their life circumstances rather than vice-versa.
In today’s reading from Exodus 5:1 through Exodus 6:1, God has sent Moses, Aaron, and the elders of Israel to speak with Pharaoh and request that the nation of Israel take three days to celebrate a festival and worship God. Since Pharaoh does not know God at all, (though remember that God knows him and predicted his reactions), he takes this request as a way for people to just get out of their work. As payback, he tells the slave masters to stop giving them straw for their bricks but to expect the same output even with them having to collect their own materials.
When the foremen of the people went to complain to Pharaoh, he told them they were just lazy, and that’s why they wanted time away to worship God. I’m guessing they knew nothing of God’s plan because when they came out from Pharaoh and saw Moses and Aaron at the side of the road, they began to accuse them of causing their troubles. So, even though they were depressed because Pharaoh kept making their lives harder, they didn’t know or trust God enough to deliver them and actually accused His messengers of making things worse. But in truth, Pharaoh was likely going to keep making things worse for them anyway since that what he had already been doing. But they had somehow allowed themselves the false mindset that if they just kept their mouths shut and did the work, all would be fine for them.
I see this happen in so many ways these days, and I have participated in it myself. I fear speaking out sometimes because I think that it will keep the peace, but that means I am making my service to God subject to my circumstances. But if I am trusting God and His word, my service to Him, and my beliefs about Him, should not change based on the opinions of others. No matter what I do or say, there are those who don’t know God that may turn my blessings into an excuse to be jealous of me like Pharaoh did just by seeing the growth of the Israelites. With them, I could say something like, “God loves you and wants you to have these blessings as well,” and they could hear it as, “You’re saying I don’t have blessings because God hates me.”
For people who don’t know God and won’t take the time to seek Him, the high cost is that they miss out on the blessings He wants them to have. And if I allow the opinions of others to change me, my high cost could be missing an opportunity to share God’s word with someone who would listen and may have already been seeking Him. Even Moses went back and accused God of making things worse and not rescuing His people, which should not be surprising since he didn’t trust God enough to help him speak. But that is so much like all of us. We might fear the kind of backlash that could come against us for speaking our hearts. We saw it in the recent attacks against Phil Robertson. But there have been some surprises in those who have stood for Phil’s right to free speech, and God can use Phil’s willingness to stand in spite of opposition to win the heart of someone who needed to see that there is stability in serving God.
Today’s reading, and this week’s portion, ends with God telling Moses, “Now you will see what I am going to do to Pharaoh.” Let us be more willing to pay the low costs of knowing God–that is a short life that could include some tough circumstances, rather than the high costs of not knowing Him at all. We can be encouraged that John 15:18-21 reminds us that if the world hates us, it is because it hated God first and that we are chosen out of it by God rather than left to be a part of it. And we can keep our hope in the promises of eternity that kept Paul the Apostle strong. As he said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 (NLT), “And if our hope in Christ is only for this life, we are more to be pitied than anyone in the world.”
“And here’s the picture of my firstborn son, Israel…,” might be a statement God would make if He was showing off His family album. But there would be some differences. The image above talks of the treasure of sweet memories, but Our Creator doesn’t only remember the sweet things. Like a bruise gives away that we’ve been injured even after the event, the bruises on the spirits of God’s people let Him know that His children need some defense against the bullies in their lives. Israel had plenty of bullies, and God saw every one of them and made plans to deal with them.
In today’s reading from Exodus 4:18 through the end of the chapter at Exodus 4:31, Moses the chosen deliverer is still being prepared. He requests to leave his father-in-law, Jethro, to go to his kinsmen in Egypt and let them know what God has shown him. God also told him that those who sought to kill him for killing the Egyptian are all dead, so he is safe to return. Jethro approves, so Moses gets his family together and heads out in obedience to God.
As God describes the future to Moses, He tells him to perform every wonder that was shown to him before Pharaoh. And then He tells Moses that Pharaoh is stubborn and will say the people can go but will change his mind. It also says that God will harden Pharaoh’s heart, but I believe it is because God already knows the stubbornness in Pharaoh and knows that any softness would be temporary at best. Still, God tells Moses to be completely honest with Pharaoh about his future, right down to telling him that because Israel is God’s firstborn and Pharaoh has been a bully, that God will kill Pharaoh’s firstborn if he does not allow Israel to go and worship God.
Now, Moses knows God’s ability and how serious He is, and yet because his wife, Zipporah, is unhappy with the idea of circumcision, Moses gives in to her. This reading talks of God seeking to kill Moses because of it. The Amplified Bible says God used a would-be-fatal illness, and it is because of seeing how sick her husband is that Zipporah finally submits and circumcises her son. But she’s pretty angry about it and throws the foreskin at Moses’ feet as she calls him “a husband of blood.” But the obedience was enough to turn Moses’ health around, and it certainly confirmed to Moses just how serious God was so he could convey that to Pharaoh.
The last paragraph talks of God sending Aaron to Moses before they go to talk to the elders of Israel. It’s hard for me to tell if that’s why Aaron was coming along the first time, or if this is another time. Either way, the elders believed what the men had to say, and when it sunk in to them that Yahveh, Their Creator, was paying attention to their struggles, they felt God’s love and they bowed down and worshiped Him.
I wish I could capture in an album or book all the times God has brought to my memory the times He has shown me how He was paying personal attention to me. There would be many; some simple and some pretty grand. My sister remembers a special sunset where she knew God brought her attention to it to remind her that He was there for her. I asked God once to remind my husband that He was listening to him in big and little ways, and the day I asked that, we went to a service at a Messianic Jewish temple. I was asked to light the candles for the service because the person who was to do it that day was unable to make it. As I was lighting them, God reminded my husband that as a young man he had prayed for a wife that would light candles in the temple. I understand why the elders bowed down and worshiped when they learned that God was still with them. Feel free to share your own experiences of meeting God personally.
How many times have we heard the question, “What am I here for?” Do you suppose Moses ever asked the same question? In today’s reading from Exodus 1:18 through Exodus 2:10, the Hebrew midwives who were told to kill the male Hebrew babies use the excuse that the Hebrew women are quick (lively in one translation) and deliver their babies before the midwives are able to arrive. Scripture tells us that God blesses them to be parents of strong children because of their integrity. But Pharaoh decides then that they should just throw the living boy babies in the river.
As our story progresses, we see Moses delivered multiple times. First, he is delivered as a newborn. Then, for three months, he is delivered from being discovered as his mother hides him to keep Pharaoh’s people from killing him. When his mother places him in a basket of reeds and hides him in the river, he is delivered from being alone as his sister, who works as a handmaid for Pharaoh’s daughter, keeps watch over the floating basket. And then he is delivered from the water when Pharaoh’s daughter finds him, and from death when she takes pity on him. He is delivered from being an orphan when his big sister offers to get a Hebrew woman to nurse the infant and goes to get Moses’ own mother for the task. Finally, he is delivered from being raised in ignorance of his true identity by having his mother and sister around to speak the truth to him about his heritage as a Hebrew.
The story has a long way to go before we will see Moses act as a deliverer for his people, but we are told in today’s reading that his lineage comes from the tribe of Levi, and we will learn later that this is the tribe of the priesthood. And what are priests called to do? They help people in becoming delivered from the bondage of sin. So deliverance was in his DNA as well as in his history.
Deliverance is also in our DNA through our salvation and new birth in Yahshua. In 1st Peter 2:9 (NKJV–italics mine) we read, “But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Just like Moses experienced an abundance of deliverance to become a deliverer, we who have been delivered (saved) from sin through the grace and mercy in the Blood of Christ were also delivered for a purpose. We may not all do the same job, but we all can do whatever we are called to do for the same reason–to help deliver others from an eternity of separation from the presence of their Loving Creator.
So, I was thinking maybe ApologetiX had a video that had something to do with the slaves in Egypt, but I haven’t found it yet. Oh, but I will have plenty to share as we move along in our studies. I just have to remember when I get to the right subject matter. One we will not get to is their parody of Pink Floyd’s Another Brick in the Wall which is done as “God Will Kick in the Wall.” I didn’t share it since it’s about Jericho, but the title seemed fitting anyway since today’s reading from Exodus 1:1 through Exodus 1:17 covers just that subject.
We are now into Parashah (Portion) 13, titled “Sh’mot” in Hebrew and meaning Names. It begins with the names of sons of Israel who came with him to Egypt. It then goes on to talk of the death of Joseph, his brothers, and all those of their generation. Their descendants were fruitful, multiplied and grew strong and filled the land. And eventually, a new pharaoh came into power that new nothing of Joseph and his family and became fearful of their power and numbers. He was certain that if they continued to enlarge, they would join with Egypt’s enemies and fight against them.
To keep them from multiplying, Pharaoh decided to keep them busy. He assigned them strong taskmasters and harder and harder jobs. When that didn’t work as he planned, he did all he could to make their job harder on them. But the more the Egyptians oppressed the people, the more they grew and expanded.
Now, I have to stop here for a moment to bring up a relevant point about current news. This whole thing of A & E suspending Duck Dynasty star Phil Robertson because he honestly answered a question in an interview is both frustrating and expected. It’s expected because in the last days, good will be called evil, and evil will be called good. It’s frustrating because it doesn’t make logical sense that someone asks a question, says he or she wants an honest answer, but then makes a mountain out of it because the answer does not agree with his or her personal views. Political Correctness should be called Political Appeasement because it cannot be correct without honesty, and it cannot promote honesty if every person doesn’t get the same right to freedom of speech and opinion. It’s not like Phil beat up and fired a camera man because he disagreed with his lifestyle choices, right? Oh, and Cracker Barrel taking away the merchandise when they had their own issues back in the early 90s of refusing to hire homosexuals (far more than just speaking an opinion here) because they didn’t represent families? Come on. Anyway, as far as relevance goes, I am hoping that this will actually do more to expand and grow the message of the Bible and of truth-believing people, and I’m praying that God will use it to bless the Robertson family and show that those with God are more than those that are against Him.
Now, back to the reading. The last paragraph says that in a last-ditch effort to stop the growth of the Hebrew people, Pharaoh begins to demand that the Hebrew midwives kill all boys born to the Hebrew women. But because the midwives were God-fearing, they obeyed God instead of Pharaoh and let the boys live also. May we also defy the law of the land when it says to disobey our Creator and Savior. And each time we endure hardship, like the Jews having a harder time building bricks, maybe we are just putting another golden brick into the walls of our mansions. (Note: I’m not sure about the interpretations of mansions in Heaven, but it is nice to think about as a comfort anyway.) May all my readers keep God first and keep their hopes and dreams alive until God makes them come true both in this life and in eternity!
Sometimes, the negative opinions of others can play in our favor. In our reading today from Genesis 46:28 through Genesis 47:10, we see the family of Jacob arriving in the land of Goshen in Egypt. Judah went ahead as a guide, and Joseph loaded up his rig and went out to meet his father, Israel. They embraced and wept together for a long time, and Jacob declared that after seeing that Joseph was alive, he was now ready to die.
Joseph met with all his brothers and explained his plan to them. He said he would bring a few of them to Pharaoh, and that when they were asked what they did for a living, they should say that they were shepherds both now and from their ancestry. He explained that Egyptians consider shepherds disgusting, and that knowing they were a shepherding family would make certain they could stay in Goshen–I’m guessing away from the main part of town. So, Egypt’s abhorrence of shepherds would play in Israel’s favor to allow them to live from the fat of that land but away from the politics and prying eyes of the kingdom.
When the brothers and their father came before Pharaoh, everything went as planned. Pharaoh even declared that since they were professionals, they should be in charge of his flocks as well. With this, Jacob blessed Pharaoh and then he left.
I don’t know if I could make myself think of this story each time I deal with criticism, but it would be a good way to try to turn a negative into a positive. I’m always looking for the good thing that God will bring out of something because that is a way I comfort myself to make it through the hard times. To bring it out enough to bless one who may look down on me would take even more effort, but I’ll be taking this lesson to heart. As it says in Romans 8:28, All things work together for the good to those that love God and are called according to His purpose.
If you haven’t heard it, look up the lyrics for the song with today’s title. It’s fun to sing. Anyway, today’s reading is from Genesis 45:8 through Genesis 45:18, and it brings us into the conversation with Joseph and his brothers. It begins with Joseph reminding his brothers that they are not responsible for his arrival in Egypt, but that it was in fact God who sent him there. He then tells them to go home to their father and tell him how much honor and favor he has been given there in Egypt. He lets them know that since there are still five years of famine left that all of them should move there to Goshen and allow Joseph to support them during the hard times. Then, after a few more episodes of he and Benjamin weeping on each other’s shoulders, he sits down with his brothers just to talk with them.
After Joseph makes the offer to bring his father, Pharaoh hears about it, and Scripture says he and his servants are pleased. Pharaoh tells Joseph to tell his brothers to load up their animals, return to Canaan, pick up their father and all their families and belongings, and then return to Egypt to live off the fat of the land.
I am amazed at how a group of people who find it offensive to eat at the same table with Hebrews would be pleased with the idea of filling their land with a whole family of them. This has to be from the obedient and honest spirit of Joseph. Because Joseph went where God sent him (even if it was initially done against his human will), and then the brothers went where Joseph sent them, the family line was provided for and continued all the way to our Messiah Yahshua.
P.S. In case you wonder why I would use a maze for the image to go with this post, I had once heard that mazes represented the journey of Israel through the wilderness. I could not find any information for that, but I did find some pretty cool info on the Wikipedia page about mazes. Enjoy.
Today I was privileged to have my husband read to me while I drove back from taking one of my great-nieces back her mother. Sometimes, it seems like I hear much more by being read to than I do by reading to myself. Today’s reading is from Genesis 41:15 through Genesis 41:38, and it continues where we left with Pharaoh bringing in Joseph as a dream consultant.
The first thing I noticed here is how Joseph immediately turned things around when Pharaoh said he was told Joseph could interpret dreams. Joseph said, “It isn’t in me. God will give Pharaoh an answer that will set his mind at peace.” I love that. Here is Joseph’s chance to show off to someone who could really take him places politically, but Joseph stays humble and gives all the credit and glory to God.
So Pharaoh shares all the same information that we read yesterday about the two dreams with fat and skinny cows and with healthy and withered corn. After sharing it, Joseph tells Pharaoh that both dreams were the same dream but that God gave him two dreams because the thing was already settled and getting ready to happen shortly. He explained to him that the immediate future would bring seven years of great abundance followed by seven years of terrible famine that would completely devour everything brought forth during the years of abundance.
The next thing I noticed was how Joseph suggested that Pharaoh handle things. He advised that Pharaoh should take up a twenty percent tax during the years of plenty that would take care of the lack during the years of famine. That extra collection of produce would be stored up to keep people from starving and dying when the going got rough. Joseph also knew that taking in extra could lead to misuse, so he told them they needed someone both discreet and wise to take charge of the collection, storage, and distribution. Pharaoh and his advisors were impressed and said, “Can we find anyone else like him? The Spirit of God lives in him!”
How I wish we could have governments in our world that would have this kind of wisdom. A government that would even listen to dreams and visions, or one that would seek someone who obviously has the Spirit of God dwelling in him, seems impossible now. I wonder if God gave a dream to someone in charge back before the great depression of 1929. I wonder if God has tried to give advice to our leaders about the various wars with which they have aligned themselves. If we would quit listening to human wisdom–that passionate side-taking about being for war or against it, for weapons or against them, etc., and listen for the direction of The One who sees and knows the future, how much more of a future might we have, and how much better might it be? And then I have to look at myself and ask, “Have I been praying enough for the leaders of our land (and the leadership around the world) that God would send them dreams and that they would heed them?” I confess I have not prayed as I should, but I intend to change that. I hope there will be others to join me in this.
As we begin a new week, we also begin a new portion. Believe it or not, we’re already up to Parashah 10, Mikketz which means “at the end.” Being at Portion 10 also means I’ve been at this for 9 weeks now. For me, that’s a record as far as dedication to a writing task goes, so I’m happy with my efforts even though some days I felt like I wrote a bit shallow due to difficulty in either the subject matter or my available time. At the same time, this is the first time I have attempted to do NaNoWriMo and participated without winning. That makes me feel kinda down, but I am happy that given the choice between sharing fiction and sharing my heart, I stayed faithful to sharing my heart by keeping up this blog even when I couldn’t work on my novel. Thank you to those who come to visit me faithfully and who understand the struggles of writing in spite of all else that life requires.
So, that brings us to today’s part of the portion. We’re reading Genesis 41:1 through Genesis 41:14 where the dreamer this time is Pharaoh. It’s about two years after the last part of Joseph’s story where he correctly interpreted the dreams of the Pharaoh’s baker and cupbearer. Pharoah falls asleep and sees the Nile River and cows are coming up out of it. A total of seven cows come out of the river, and they are all fat and healthy. They walk out and begin to eat the grass on the shore. But then, another seven cows come up out of the river, and they are sickly and thin. They devour the seven healthy cows, and then Pharaoh wakes up. When Pharaoh falls back to sleep, he dreams again. This time, he sees seven full and ripe ears of corn grow from one stalk. After they grow, seven thin ears that look like they’ve been devastated by a storm grow from the same stalk and devour the seven good ears.
When Pharaoh wakes up fully from his sleep, his dreams have him feeling totally out of sorts. I’ve had those kinds of dreams and restless nights, and it makes you sort of feel like you go through your day with your head disconnected from your body. It’s an awful feeling for me, and I’m sure it was an awful feeling for Pharoah. Even with all that power, he couldn’t control that. What he could control was that he had dream-interpreters to consult, so he called every magician in the kingdom trying to get an understanding of his crazy dreams. But no one could help him.
Now the cupbearer realizes what he has forgotten and feels bad about it. He goes to Pharaoh and tells him about this young man in the prison who was able to correctly interpret the dreams of him and his bunk mate. Pharoah requests the man be brought to him to see if he can interpret his dreams. Scripture says that they brought Joseph quickly from the dungeon, and Joseph changes his clothes and shaved to prepare himself. This portion ends with them bringing Joseph before Pharaoh.
What amazes me in this story is God’s timing and Joseph’s faith. God knew exactly when to give the dreams to Pharaoh, and Joseph trusted this was something from God because he prepared himself to life outside the dungeon by changing into clean clothes and shaving. Joseph was still blessed in the midst of a dungeon, and he never gave up on God’s deliverance. So many of us would feel rejected and forgotten by God if we were in the same situation, and many of our Christian friends might even accuse us of sin or of lacking in faith because of what they see us going through. But all of that would be basing things on our timing and our own human understanding. But God’s thoughts and ways are above our own, and we are told that with Him, ALL things are possible. It doesn’t say that all things will LOOK possible, but that they ARE possible. That means they are possible when they look impossible. If only we could all look at the future instead of whatever dungeon life has us going through now. That should give us strength to make it through until God’s will leads us in a new direction in God’s time.
Today’s reading from Genesis 39:1 through Genesis 39:6 appears to be one of the shortest yet at only six verses. But it covers an important turn of events in the life of Joseph and in the future of the house of Israel. While Joseph’s brothers considered him long gone and forgotten, Yahveh was watching over their brother and making plans they could never have imagined might become quite important to them one day.
The Ishmaelites who had purchased Joseph from the brothers carried him to Egypt and re-sold him. The man who bought him, named Potiphar, was an officer of the Pharoah and captain of the guard. One translation says he was the chief in charge of executions. Okay, so that’s not a boss you want to make angry, right? But, of course, because of the blessings of God, Joseph not only did not make his new boss angry, he greatly impressed him. Potiphar did not take long to see that everything in his care prospered because of Joseph.
When Potiphar realized that God was with Joseph and caused all he did to be blessed, he put him in charge of all his possessions. The brother who was a nobody and sold as a slave was still a slave, but suddenly he was more than a slave. Joseph became a somebody in charge of all his master’s goods and all that was in his care. The text says that Potiphar never even had to worry about anything with Joseph in charge, so he thought nothing of any of his affairs except what he had to eat. The text ends with a simple statement about Joseph being handsome and well-built.
Now, imagine hiring an employee like a maid, secretary, cook, etc., and suddenly having your household increase and prosper. Most people put out ‘nanny-cams” to make sure those in their employ are not stealing from them or snooping in areas where they don’t belong. I don’t think there are many who find themselves becoming more prosperous for the sake of their employees, especially these days when it’s even hard to find someone who has the ethic to make an effort to work every minute for which they are paid. So, we would surely notice if everything around that new person increased abundantly.
I imagine most of us would be trying to figure what that person was doing right to bring all that good into his or her life. I also imagine that we would be following the person around and hoping that at least some of that might rub off on us. If we found that it was not luck but rather the blessings of The Creator of the Universe, I would hope we would all be seeking Him because of the example set before us. And for those of us who are the employees and servants of others, I hope we can bring visible blessings to those we serve that God would be glorified and uplifted by the blessings we share with others.
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