Tag Archives: Pharaoh

A Tale Of Two Men

Two days ago, Jason Giambi reached an agreement with the Colorado Rockies Major League Baseball team to play back-up first baseman.

Did you miss that news story? Surprisingly not.

Not long before, Mark McGwire reached an agreement with the St. Louis Cardinals to become their hitting coach.

The chances are much more likely that you heard about McGwire’s story than Giambi’s. Why? Because four weeks ago McGwire—the former single season home run record holder—admitted that he injected himself with steroids earlier in his career. Baseball fans were incensed.

But Giambi used steroids too. A former teammate of McGwire’s and a baseball star in his own right, Giambi is a 5-time All-Star  and the American League’s Most Valuable Player in 2000.

So what’s the difference?

After the San Francisco Chronicle reported in 2004 that a number of professional baseball players had taken steroids—including Giambi—Giambi admitted his guilt and apologized to the fans. His prompt confession caused a moderate stir which quickly died down.

McGwire was exposed as well in a 2005 book written by former baseball star Jose Canseco. As a result, McGwire was subpoenaed to testify at a congressional hearing on steroids later that year. But when asked if he had taken steroids, McGwire replied, “I’m not here to talk about the past. I’m here to be positive about this subject.” He never answered the question directly. You can watch his testimony here.

Five years later, McGwire finally came clean: “I wish I had never touched steroids. It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never played during the steroid era.”

Two men with similar offenses. One apologized quickly and moved on with his life. Another man avoided admitting his guilt, only to confess it years later…amidst a storm of controversy and protest.

A little humility goes a long ways in helping a person avoid further pain and sorrow.

Just ask one of our characters in today’s reading…

TODAY’S READING

Exodus 10:1-12:13
Matthew 20:1-28
Psalm 25:1-15
Proverbs 6:6-11

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Exodus 10:3. This verse echos yesterday’s discussion about humbling ourselves. Again, God asks Pharaoh, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” At this point, Pharaoh would lose face before all Egypt if he gave in to Moses’ request. Hardened hearts and pride go hand-in-hand.

Exodus 10:7-8. His royal officials are now trying to convince Pharaoh to let the people go.

Exodus 10:13-14. According to the Bible Background Commentary, “Locusts breed in the region of the Sudan and would have been more plentiful than usual in the wet climate that initiated the entire sequence.” The east wind, then, would have blown the locusts into Egypt. Incidentally, a locust eats the equivalent of its weight every day.

Exodus 10:21-29. The Bible Background Commentary explains, “The comment that it was darkness that could be felt (v. 21) suggests that the darkness was caused by something airborne, namely, the khamsin dust storms known in the region. There would be excessive dust from all of the red earth that had been brought down and deposited by the Nile, as well as from the barren earth left behind in the wake of the hail and locusts…The fact that the text emphasizes the darkness rather than the dust storm may indicate that the sun god, Amon-Re, the national god of Egypt, the divine father of Pharaoh, is being specifically targeted.”

Exodus 11:1-10. Once more, from the Bible Background Commentary: “In Egypt Pharaoh was also considered a deity, and this last plague is directed at him. In the ninth plague his ‘father,’ the sun god, was defeated, and now his son, presumably the heir to the throne, will be slaughtered. This is a blow to Pharaoh’s person, his kingship and his divinity.

Exodus 11:3. This verse made me laugh. Of course the people were favorably disposed toward Moses. He was making Pharaoh, their king, look like a fool. Pharaoh’s pride was destroying his country.

Exodus 12:2-3. This refers to the Hebrew month Abib, which begins with the first new moon after the spring equinox, generally between mid-March and mid-April.

Exodus 12:7. Placing the blood of the lamb at the top of the doorpost and on both sides forms a cross. This foreshadows Jesus by 1500 years.

Matthew 20:1-16. Matthew’s Gospel was written for Jewish believers. In light of this, I can imagine that as Gentiles were coming to faith, the Jewish believers were feeling a little uncomfortable. It was upsetting the balance of power—and changing their culture. I can hear them claiming, We’ve been in the faith since Jesus; we should enjoy extra privileges. But Jesus said no. In the same way, every follower of Jesus is a recipient of God’s grace. No one is better than the other.

Matthew 20:20-28. Read “The Word Made Fresh” and then take a second look at this passage. The tentacles of pride are insidious. Most telling of all is the fact that the other disciples were “indignant” with James and John—obviously because they, too, wanted to sit on either side of Jesus in the age to come.

Also, look at Jesus’ words in verse 28: “The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” What humility! The creator of the heavens and the earth, the savior of humanity, came to serve…us! What great love. And what a great model to follow.

Psalm 25:1-15. This is the prayer of a humble person. Look at verse 9: “He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way.” The key to receiving God’s direction in our lives is to humble ourselves.

Also, we read in verse 14 that the Lord confides in those who fear him. The word “confide” means “secret” or “friendship” and gives the idea of intimacy. Friends share secrets.

Proverbs 6:10-11. This passage runs through my mind at times when I try to take a nap. When it does, I can’t sleep!

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THE WORD MADE FRESH

Stages take time to be built. The more time you have, the bigger the stage.

Today’s reading about Pharaoh really spoke to my heart…

Up to this point in the book of Exodus, we read about the seven plagues God inflicted on Egypt. Then today, we read about the locusts and the darkness, bringing our total to nine.

Each plague created time for Pharaoh to humble himself or time for a bigger stage to be built on which he would be humiliated.

Finally, Moses stood before Pharaoh and promised him that if he didn’t let Israel go, all the firstborn sons in Egypt would die—from royalty to the lowly slave girl to the best cattle in the land.

If the previous nine plagues had come true, surely this one would, too. But by this last confrontation, Pharaoh was so hard-hearted that he refused to budge. Pharaoh knew all the firstborn sons and livestock in Egypt would die—but he refused to humble himself.

Pharaoh’s pride now became a liability to everyone around him. And his subjects, to whom he owed the duty of protection and provision, meant nothing to him.

Lesson Learned: We Aren’t God

The insight that the Pharaohs were considered gods (mentioned in “Insights and Explanations”) really hit home. Ultimately, the confrontation became a showdown of wills—not between Pharaoh and Moses, but between Pharaoh and God.

It seems to me that walking in humility is really the acknowledgement that we aren’t God. This is the issue God targets in all of us. We aren’t God.

Like Pharaoh, when God begins dealing with our pride, other people are affected as well. Our family and friends. Perhaps coworkers or clients. It gets messy. And the longer we wait to humble ourselves, the stage upon which we will ultimately confess becomes bigger and bigger.

Humble Or Be Humbled: My Story

Earlier in my life, God began dealing with my pride. It wasn’t the first time, and surely won’t be my last. But in the midst of it, I refused to acknowledge my shortcomings. And the longer I fought God, a stage was being built for me to be humbled. At the end of that painful season, I departed a broken man—humbled on a stage before hundreds. And unfortunately, other people were affected. Family, but also friends. Some are embittered about the mess to this day.

I wish I could go back and do things differently. But had I not encountered the pain of my humbling experience, I would have repeated my mistakes.

My heart aches because I know what’s coming to Pharaoh. I want to warn him “It’s not worth it!” But when our hearts are hardened, we only listen to people who agree with us and tell us what we want to hear.

It really boils down to a choice we all will eventually make: be humble or be humbled

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to your heart in today’s reading?
  2. Describe a time when you were forced to humble yourself on a stage. What would you do different?
  3. Why do you think humility is such a big deal to God?

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Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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Better Than Avatar At The Imax In 3D

Last Monday, the movie Avatar crossed the threshold of highest grossing film of all time. After only six weeks, the movie has rung up $1.859 billion (1,979,833,948.05 CAD; 14,135,817,410 ZAR; and 2,074,404,997.96 AUD for our foreign friends) in sales compared to now-second place “Titanic’s” $1.843 billion.

The movie’s success can be credited to a number of factors: the compelling storyline, realistic graphics, cutting edge special effects, serviceable acting, and the otherworldly mystique of Pandora.

But there was one overriding factor that made a difference to me. If I was going to see the movie, I decided I wanted the full “Avatar experience,” which meant paying a little extra to watch it at an IMAX theater in 3-D.

Although I’m not a fiction aficionado (I like facts!), the movie mesmerized me. Throughout the film, the 8 year old kid sitting next to me kept reaching out to touch the characters or the foliage. I wanted to do the same thing, but I refrained…because I’m an adult. (Actually, I did reach out for a low-lying branch one time—but don’t tell anyone!). The whole time, my friend Mike and I kept shaking our heads, looking at each other, and saying, “This is soooo cool!”

After seeing the movie in 3-D, I can’t imagine seeing it a second time on a regular screen in 2-D. Really, 2-D isn’t two dimensions, it’s just one dimension, with the flat characters and flat backgrounds appearing on a flat screen. 3-D makes all the difference because it gives us a fuller perspective of the movie.

You know, we can perceive God in 2-D or 3-D. We can see him from one perspective or from a fuller perspective, which makes him all the more real.

In today’s reading, we’re going to take a closer look at our three dimensional God.

TODAY’S READING

Exodus 5:22-7:25
Matthew 18:21-19:12
Psalm 23:1-6
Proverbs 5:22-23

INSIGHTS AND EXPLANATIONS

Exodus 6:6-8. Notice how many times God says, “I am the Lord” or “I will be your God.”

Exodus 6:12. In spite of God speaking to him, Moses remains unconvinced that God’s promise will come true.

Exodus 7:1. I love this verse! God was basically telling Moses, “You’re Pharaoh’s daddy!

Exodus 7:8-13. The serpent symbolized the power and authority. When Aaron’s serpent swallowed Pharaoh’s serpent, it communicated to Pharaoh that the God of the Hebrews was more powerful than him or his gods.

Exodus 7:14-24. God began by striking the lifeblood of Egypt—the Nile River. It gave the Egyptians access to water for drinking and water for their fields, not to mention the fish they could eat for food.

Matthew 18:22-35. The basic premise of this parable is, if we want God to forgive us (and we really need forgiveness), then we must be willing to forgive others. Through the years, I’ve seen numerous people try to neutralize this parable to justify their unforgiveness. But the question remains: How can I ask God to forgive me if I refuse to forgive others?

Matthew 18:35. When someone has offended us, he doesn’t want us to act nice while we’re simmering inside. He wants us to forgive from our heart. No one knows the true state of our heart except us…and God.

Psalm 23. The Bible Background Commentary sheds some light on the role of the shepherd and the sheep: “In contrast to goats, who are quite independent, sheep depend on the shepherd to find pasture and water for them. Shepherds also provide shelter, medication and aid in birthing.”

Psalm 23:4. The rod was more like a billy club that was worn around the belt.

Proverbs 5:23. The word for discipline means literally, “bond” or “band,” giving the idea of restraint. Although we may not like restraints, they’re good for us and prevent us from destroying our lives, and the lives of others.

If you’ve found A Daily Bible Conversation helpful, share it with your friends! Forward your daily email or send them a link to the website: http://www.bibleconversation.com.

THE WORD MADE FRESH

Exodus 6:3 is an astounding verse. God told Moses that he appeared to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob as “God Almighty.” But beginning with Moses, he began revealing himself as the Lord. The Hebrew language renders God Almighty as El Shaddai, whereas Lord is rendered as Yahweh. As we briefly studied in a recent post, Yahweh means “I am.”

So what’s the difference between the two? God is both sovereign and personal. Powerful and tender. Holy and love.

All too often, I view God through one lens. He’s either God Almighty, who punishes my enemy but also hates my sin. Or I view him as Yahweh, who fills my every need and meets me in the tender places (like we read in Psalm 23).

But he’s both. A holy God and a God of love. A God who hates my sin and forgives my sin (which we read in Matthew 18:22-35).

To live as if God were only one of these two attributes is like watching Avatar in 2-D. He’s still God, but we lack the perspective that makes him who he really is.

So let’s give him what is due. He’s God in 3-D.

CONVERSATION STARTERS

  1. What spoke to you in today’s reading?
  2. Why do you think God kept saying to Moses, “I am the Lord” or “I am your God”? In what areas of your life do you need him to repeat this to you? What prevents you from hearing it? (see Exodus 6:9).
  3. What’s the difference in the way that we respond to God if we only see him as El Shaddai or Yahweh? What’s your tendency?
  4. Do you find it difficult to forgive? How does Jesus’ parable about forgiveness help you move forward? Do you also find it hard to accept God’s forgiveness? If so, why?
  5. In your relationship with God, do you act more like a sheep or a goat (see “Insights and Explanations” on Psalm 23)?

If you’re reading this blog on FaceBook and you’d like to join the conversation, click here.

www.bibleconversation.com

Michael co-pastors The Neighborhood Church in Littleton, Colorado.

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