Monday, November 24, 2014

Futility of Challenging God: Pharaoh of Egypt

Somebody said, “Pride is the only disease that makes everyone sick, but the one who has it.” This can be attributed solely to the Pharaoh of Egypt when he challenged God and his messenger Moses. The book of Exodus stated this fact: “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth” (9:16). Whether we like it or not, one way or another, God has the final say to everyone that challenges His reality and power.

Let’s look closely at the characteristics of Pharaoh to understand how the scenario played out. First, he was full of contempt and even though this was initially directed toward God, it led him to act contemptuously toward all others. He was completely inflexible and refused to follow God’s directions. He understood what was being requested, but he refused and his words present a determined resolution to follow Self rather than God. Then, he was controlled by anger. Pharaoh’s rage was sinful and he viciously attacked and caused as much suffering as possible. His anger so controlled him that it was impossible for him to comprehend any danger. Finally, he was also motivated by self-interest. Pharaoh listened to Moses and Aaron, and what did he hear – a challenge to his monarchy! He did not hear a word about God and all his thoughts were consumed with self-interest!

The Scriptures confirmed Pharaoh’s attitude: “You sent signs and wonders against Pharaoh, against all his officials and all the people of his land, for you knew how arrogantly the Egyptians treated them. You made a name for yourself, which remains to this day” (Nehemiah 9:10).  Thus, Pharaoh, in his encounter with God, was made to realize that there is only one God and Lord, and after all is said and done, Pharaoh acknowledged it (Ex 9:27; 10:16). To this end the issue was clearly drawn. Pharaoh challenged the right of God to command him (Ex 5:2), and God required him, then to "stand" to the trial until the evidence could be fully present, in accordance with the fundamental principle that he who makes a charge is bound to stand to it until either he acknowledges submission or affords opportunity for full presentation of evidence. So we see God made Pharaoh to "stand or stay alive" (Ex 9:16) and to experience first-hand the reality of God through direct judgment and plagues that destroyed Egypt and his rule.

Allow me to provide some important lessons for us to learn today from the life of Pharaoh: (a) Like Pharaoh, everyone has a choice to make about submitting to God’s authority. God will honor those that honor Him, but will despise those that assert themselves over Him. James reminded us the right kind of attitude to adopt, i.e., “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you” (4:10); (b) Like Pharaoh, attitudes against God will face divine justice that will affect many lives in the process and suffer great consequences. The apostle Paul when writing to the church in Rome reminded, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them” (Romans 1:18-19); (c) Like Pharaoh, pride led to great suffering and utter humiliation for oneself and those around you. The book of Proverbs showed the pitfall of pride: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (16:18).

After all is said and done, “In the eyes of God, only fools believe there is no God” (Psalms 14:1) and to challenge God of what He can do is indeed ridiculous, for at the end, they will be humbled and judged as mere man by a Sovereign God. What Pharaoh did then was not an isolated event, but unfortunately, many people without any thought of consequences are repeating it even today. And sadly, lessons are being learned the hard way. But I believe that God will never give up on us and will always confront us with many warnings to avoid the worst result.  Remember, when we go down on our knees and recognize who God is, He will lift us up. And that’s a guarantee!

Let’s talk again!