Monday, April 21, 2008

Two Pharaohs

God made Abraham a promise that we find recorded in Gen. 12:3,
“And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”

This promise was not just to Abraham but to all His children. Note the inclusive words "all families of the earth".
I used to sing a song with my Primary SS kids that included the words,
“Father Abraham had many sons..
many sons had Father Abraham..
You are one of them and so am I..
So lets just praise the Lord.”

Gal. 3:7 proves that you and I, as believers, are Abraham’s children and so this promise of blessing and cursing is also God’s promise to us.
“Know ye therefore that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham.”
All people who live by faith in God, from all nations (the families of the earth) are included here.

Did you ever stop to consider that as you interact with the people around you .. God is watching and will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you ?
Stop and think … do you as a parent not feel warm toward the people who go out of their way to bless your children ? and does something within you not rise up against those who mistreat your children? If you are so quick to defend your children is it so surprising that God would feel the same toward His?

Was this in Jesus’ mind when from the cross He cried out to His Father.. “Forgive them for they know not what they do”? Did He ask His Father to pull back from cursing those who hated His Son?
It is never God’s pleasure to curse anyone. God is always looking for opportunity to show His character of love, kindness, compassion, patience and mercy.

I love the fact that God always gives us examples to show how His principles work out practically. He never leaves anything hanging as a theory.

One of the first examples we have in scripture of God acting out this promise of blessing and cursing is found in the story of the two Pharaohs.

Two Pharaohs – one who knew Joseph (Abraham’s great grandson) and one who did not, yet both are identified by their relationship to Joseph. (“Now there arose a new king over Egypt who did not know Joseph” Ex.1:8)
Both were judged according to how they treated Joseph or Joseph’s family – one Pharaoh was blessed by God and the other one cursed.

It is interesting that to both men God made Himself known so that the blessing or the curse would be recognized as coming from Him – that both would be the consequence of the Pharaoh’s reaction of choice.

To both God revealed Himself in supernatural ways.
To the first Pharaoh, He gave two prophetic dreams.
For second Pharaoh, dreams would never have been enough, so God gave him ten miraculous signs, miracles in his face.

To both God sent a representative of His people.
To the first - Joseph, to the second Moses.
In both cases God had prepared the way to ensure their credibility. Joseph’s ability as a dream interpreter was proclaimed by the testimony of Pharaoh’s butler. Moses had been raised in Pharaoh’s own house!

So both Pharaohs were aware that they were dealing with God’s people and that God Himself was watching to see what they would do.

The Pharaoh who knew Joseph had a humble heart that reacted quickly and positively to God’s voice in his life. He made Joseph ruler over all his kingdom with full authority in all things, answering to no man other than Pharaoh himself. Always he acted in kindness to Joseph… he gave him his own daughter in marriage. He was eager in his encouragement for Joseph’s family to join him in Egypt and was generous in his gift of land for them to settle on.

As a result of this Pharaoh opening his heart to bless Joseph, he himself was also blessed. He was spared the horror of starvation that would have faced him and his people. Instead, he was blessed with fullness of bread and the opportunity to sell grain to the nations around him.

The other Pharaoh, the one who did not know Joseph, had a very contrary heart to his predecessor. This Pharaoh from the beginning hardened his heart. He refused to listen to Moses and rebelled against the God that sent him. The very first words we have recorded out of Pharaoh’s mouth were “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice ?” (Ex.5:2)
Again and again he refused to bend before God. “And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go. “ (Ex. 8:32)

We see God’s patience. Instead of cursing him immediately, God gave him ten chances to change his mind. Ten times he showed Pharaoh His supernatural power through the plagues. Only when there was no hope left, did God curse him - drowning him in the middle of the Red Sea. Only a man blinded by his foolish, prideful heart would race his chariot onto a miraculous path that was obviously provided by the hand of a powerful God intent on saving His people.

Two Pharaohs… two reactions… two consequences – one blessed, one cursed.

What can we learn from this scriptural account? Is it simply a story in the history of Israel or is there a lesson for us, even though thousands of years have passed ?

This is what it teaches me.
As a 'child of Abraham' I feel so protected under the watchful eye of my Father God that I need never fear what man may do to me.

But it also teaches me I have a responsibility. As I go about in the world I am God's representative. Do I present a true picture of who God is to those I meet who do not know Him?
Do the words out of my mouth and my actions and reactions reflect the character of God? Do I move people to desire the blessing of God, or do I move them to harden their hearts?

When I see people who are ungodly or wicked do I wish them the 'curses' of God? Or do I have the heart of Jesus and ask that God give them one more chance to choose Him.

Things to think about, are they not?


Lavinia said...

Julie, what an interesting post today. You know, many people believe that the parting of the Red Sea never *actually* happened. They think its a metaphor, or allegorical story, or myth, or legend.

I'm glad to find someone else who *does* believe that the Red Sea parted. After all, God made the seas, so it is well within His power to part them, dry them up, toss them over a mountain or anything else He chooses to do.

Thanks again for the "judge not" theme of this post, and the wonderful examples of God's mercy and patience.

Demara said...

I am aware that God is my ever watchful Father who has an Eagle's eye for prey and that I am not to judge my neighbor but instead pray for them, whether or nIot they know Jesus and choose to follow Him.The part I struggle with is, going with the flow. Seeing someone sin, not saying anything,but instead befriending them and feeling uncomfortable doing so. That's why I try to ignore those situations, when I meet someone who let's their sin show on the outside. We are all sinners, but some choose to show it externally and others internally. This is what I need to remember. It's so easy to think "oh that person's a really good person, but that just means their sin is introverted, right?"

Lovella ♥ said...

Julie I felt very touched by this post. . I so want to do and say the things that draw others to Him.

By the way .. there is someone who looks just like you on my blog today .. .sweet cousin.

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

God said he would bless those who bless Israel...I think of the sheep of Israel this Passover season and pray that they will know the Passover Lamb and find the true meaning of Passover.

Sara at Come Away With Me said...

Interestingly, I've also been thinking about this very topic recently, and another friend also mentioned it....thank you for your thoughtful post, timely as always!