Friday, October 2, 2009

Fear the Lord

I just got back from the Austin Christian Executives (ACE) Bible study.  It was my first visit.  If you're in the area, it's worth a visit.  Don't read too much into the word Executive.  Jeans and a polo are fine.

David Smith lead the study.  We looked at Exodus 1:15-22.   Pharoah commands the midwives to kill Hebrew boys as they are born.  The midwives "fear God more than they fear Pharoah", and decide to not commit the murders.  Pharoah calls them back in asks them why they didn't do it.  They lie to Pharoah and say that the Hebrew women are giving birth before they get there.

David brought a few very interesting points.  Pharoah had provided midwives for the Hebrew slaves.  These ladies came in to Pharoah's court and spoke directly to him.  That means that they are probably Egyptian women, not Hebrews themselves.

So these Egyptian women spent enough time among the Hebrew slaves that they picked up on the Hebrew God.  They recognized Pharoah's power--they had enough sense to lie to him instead of telling him that they chose to disobey his orders.  But they reckoned that the Hebrew God, whom they had only heard about from these slaves and had never seen, was more powerful than Pharoah.  It's no wonder that God honored them.

We had a good discussion of what it means to 'fear the Lord'.  I think about it this way.  Faith is an intellectual assessment of the evidence of history and a decision to trust in the goodness of God.  Fear is an emotional reaction that comes out of a person's soul/spirit that acknowledges God's power.  You cannot fear God if you are not convinced deep within your spirit that He is, and that He punishes and rewards.  In this way, fear of God is an involuntary proof of deep conviction.

Pharoah has put himself in a bad situation.  He is pretending to be god.  It's unclear whether or not he believes his is god.  I tend to think he realizes he is not, otherwise he would have just used his god powers to kill the Hebrew babies instead of impotently depending upon the midwives.  Then when the midwives fail to do what he wishes, he just shrugs.  The midwives were right about him.

Then Pharoah makes a terrible mistake.  He openly orders all of the male Hebrew children to be killed.  There is no rationale for this that makes sense.  He doesn't put anyone in particular in charge of the edict, so he has no one to punish when it fails.  He gives a command he can't possibly enforce, and thus demonstrates his impotence to the entire country.  And he throws down the gauntlet in front of the Hebrew God.

Do you think that he remembered this edict when Moses announced the 10th plague?  Do you think that God would have resorted to killing the Egyptian boys if Pharoah had not attempted to kill the Hebrew boys?  He named the means of his own destruction, allowing his pride to run off his mouth.

Pharoah was foisted on his own petard.  How often have I made this same mistake?  How often have I trusted in my own abilities instead of trusting in God?  How often have I claimed that "I can handle this", only to have my own pride thrown back in my face?

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