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Devotion for February 08, 2008


In the first chapter of his award-winning book, The Trouble with Jesus, Joe Stowell laments the exclusion of the name of Jesus at public religious ceremonies. Speaking of a Chicago Leadership prayer breakfast, Stowell writes, “No one said He [Jesus] wasn’t welcome. But the message was clear. All our 'gods' were to be equal.”

We live in a society where everyone’s gods are supposed to be politely “tolerated.” People aren’t necessarily discouraged to worship the divine, as long as their “god” makes no demands on anyone else. It’s when Christians talk of the one true God that people get nervous. Our time resembles that of ancient Egypt.

The Egyptians worshiped many gods. Like many nations in the ancient world, they believed in regional gods. Egypt had her gods; other nations had theirs. Pharaoh, when first introduced to this Lord of whom Moses spoke, shrugged and said, “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go?” (5:2). The stage was set for a dramatic confrontation of the “gods.” Yahweh doesn’t seem to fare well after today’s reading. The Egyptian magicians replicated the miracles performed by Moses and Aaron. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. He did not believe that he owed any special allegiance to this God of whom Moses was a representative, he refused to let His people go.

But Moses did not back down in fear. Moses spoke God’s name to the Pharaoh, calling him “the Lord, the God of the Hebrews,” and giving us a framework for understanding who God really is (v. 16). Moses called Him the Lord and declared His sovereign rule of everyone and everything. He called Him the God of the Hebrews, demonstrating His intensely personal nature.

Moses could have approached Pharaoh with alternate arguments, maybe citing economic and political benefits for letting the people go. Instead, Moses unapologetically and courageously represented God, as faithful leaders must do.

Apply the Word

God had warned Moses about Pharaoh. He had gone so far as to say, “He will not listen to you” (7:4). Moses’ example teaches us to obey, whether or not we think we’ll “succeed” in whatever God has called us to do. Plenty of people in the Bible were apparent “failures,” if the number of converts was the measuring stick. We learn from Moses to be faithful in listening to God and doing as He says. The outcome counts for very little; faithfulness matters most.

BY Jennifer Michel

Jen Pollock Michel is a regular contributor to Christianity Today’s Her.meneutics blog. Her first book, Teach us to Want: Longing, Ambition and the Life of Faith, is published by InterVarsity Press. Jen earned her BA in French from Wheaton College and her MA in Literature from Northwestern University. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and five children, and serves on staff at Grace Toronto Church.

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