Today’s Journey Through Scripture Readings
Exodus 9-11, Matthew 15:21-39
9 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, This is what the Lord, the Hebrews’ God, says: Let my people go so that they can worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go and you continue to hold them back, 3 the Lord will send a very deadly disease on your livestock in the field: on horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, and flocks. 4 But the Lord will distinguish Israel’s livestock from Egypt’s livestock so that not one that belongs to the Israelites will die.” 5 The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” 6 And the next day the Lord did it. All of the Egyptian livestock died, but not one animal that belonged to the Israelites died. 7 Pharaoh asked around and found out that not one of Israel’s livestock had died. But Pharaoh was stubborn, and he wouldn’t let the people go (Exodus 9:1-7, Common English Bible).
I know. Let me say that up front. I know the most important thing for any of us is not any of our stuff, it is our relationship with God. That being said, imagine losing the most important earthly thing in your life? It happens to people on a fairly regular basis. Fires burn down homes. People are unable to pay for homes and the property faces foreclosure. Here in southeast Texas about five months ago, many people lost their homes due to Hurrican Harvey. For many of us, me included, the most valuable thing we own is our home. For some, it might be their car, but the same kinds of things can happen with them.
For the ancients of the Old Testament era the most important, the most valuable thing they owned was their livestock. And, I have to tell you, this passage bothers me. The people who are suffering the most because God hardened Pharaoh’s heart isn’t Pharaoh. Of course, the Israelites in slavery suffer most but just after them would be the average Egyptian. Average Joe on the street lost all his livestock. He lost the most valuable thing he had and the place of his birth is all he did wrong. Isn’t God punishing the wrong guy?
For Pharaoh, sure he lost his livestock too, but it wasn’t the only thing he owned. Besides, just with his attitude in general, stealing the Israelites cattle isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
Whenever we see someone who is a victim, it seems to me, our hearts should reach out to them. At least for the most part, just as the Israelites had done nothing wrong, the average Egyptian had done nothing wrong. If the story went as I would want, the Israelites would have held a huge barbecue and helped out their Egyptian neighbors. It may have happened on an individual basis. We have no way to know.
Without question, the world was different in those days. God hadn’t given any of the commandments yet. The world didn’t know, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” The important thing is, we do. When our neighbor losses the thing of greatest value, even the greatest earthly value, it is up to us to love our neighbor and we make that real by sharing what we have.
Have a blessed day in the Lord.
With Joy and Thankfulness,
Copyright 2018, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved