Jennifer Creagar facilitates the Prayer Ministry and coordinates the Financial Care and Assistance ministries. She is married, has three great kids and three perfect grandchildren whom she loves spending time with, and she enjoys writing and photography.
Today in the GPS reading we see Pharaoh not only acting out of a hardened heart, but doing some bargaining and justifying in the process. He’s been told plainly by Moses what God wants—the people of Israel freed from their bondage as his monument-building, long-suffering slaves. Obeying this command from God will cost him economically and personally. For someone in Pharaoh’s position, appearing weak is a dangerous thing. So he says “yes,” and immediately begins to look for reasons to say “no.” Do any of them sound familiar?
“Oh look, everything’s fine now. No need to upset the status quo.”
“But when Pharaoh saw that the rain, hail, and thunder had stopped, he sinned again. Pharaoh and his officials became stubborn. Because of his stubbornness, Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had told Moses.” Exodus 9:34-35
“That’s not EXACTLY what you said. I can’t be expected to do more than required.”
“So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, ‘Go! Worship the Lord your God! But who exactly is going with you?’ Moses said, ‘We’ll go with our young and old, with our sons and daughters, and with our flocks and herds, because we all must observe the Lord’s festival.’ Pharaoh said to them, ‘Yes, the Lord will be with you, all right, especially if I let your children go with you! Obviously, you are plotting some evil scheme. 11 No way! Only your men can go and worship the Lord, because that’s what you asked for.’” Exodus 10:8-11
“I’ll just keep a little bit back for myself, to stay in control of the situation.”
“Then Pharaoh called Moses and said, ‘Go! Worship the Lord! Only your flocks and herds need to stay behind. Even your children can go with you.’” Exodus 10:24
As Jesus’ followers, we have some pretty definite commands from God ourselves:
“But I say to you that listen, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. If anyone strikes you on the cheek, offer the other also; and from anyone who takes away your coat do not withhold even your shirt. Give to everyone who begs from you; and if anyone takes away your goods, do not ask for them again. Do to others as you would have them do to you. Luke 6:27-31
In everything do to others as you would have them do to you; for this is the law and the prophets. Matthew 7:12
Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth…but store up for yourselves treasures in heaven…For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19
Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear…indeed your Heavenly Father knows you need all these thing. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:31,33
Do we try to bargain and justify our way out of these commands? Have you ever said to yourself, “Jesus can’t have meant for me to love this person. They have been so cruel to me and others. I won’t be openly rude or cruel back. That will have to be enough. Love and forgiveness? I’ll leave that to God”? Have you ever wanted some material object, or relationship or experience so much that you obsessed about it, just knowing it must be what God really wants for you because what could be better? How much time have you spent worrying, going over and over your plans to get what you need, even if it means ignoring God’s call to do things like love your neighbor and care for others?
I have to admit, I’ve done all these things. I’ve been like Pharaoh, trying to talk and justify my way out of God’s call on my life. In the end, Pharaoh found himself in an impossible position, and that is where ignoring God’s commandments puts us—in impossible, unmanageable, and even frightening and dangerous positions.
Lord, just as Pharaoh’s heart was hardened,
mine can be hard and self-serving.
Please make my heart soft and open to your instructions.
Help me to remember your commandments and follow your plan
so that your will may be done.
Return to the GPS Guide to read today’s scripture and reflection questions.