January 23, 2010

Exo 14-16: The Hard Hearted

Posted in Choice, Foundations, Moses tagged , , , , , , at 7:45 pm by Steve

When God intercedes in the affairs of men, He does so with a unique perspective of time and outcomes. When Exodus states that God “hardened Pharaoh’s heart” the form of verb suggests a future orientation such that God is viewing a process that is occurring not necessarily a consequence God is causing to happen by divine force. There appears to be an interesting progression in the use of the verbs from one in which Pharaoh’s heart is strengthened and therefore becomes unyielding because of growing pride, to one of burdensome and weariness that reflects the problems associated with positions of power and authority.

The struggle between God’s foreknowledge and Pharaoh’s free will is ultimately at stake in understanding these passages. According to Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, God is long-suffering toward Pharaoh until he showed himself to be intransigent. While others in Egypt responded to the plagues as signs and wonders, Pharaoh remained obstinate and became more of what he already was.

In a larger sense the relationship between God and Pharaoh is best reflected in light of Romans 1:24-25 “Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. They exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.”

The hardness of Pharaoh’s heart was the consequence of his choices and his stubborn attitude toward any authority other than his own given the life into which he was born. The problem with Pharaoh’s position of absolute power is that it doesn’t allow for a lot of wiggle room when things don’t work out the way they should. Pharaoh is boxed in and his hardness of heart becomes a burden rather than a strength. In the face of God’s authority and sovereignty, Pharaoh goes down the wrong path and each step make his life and heart harder and harder. It’s all about choices.

The verbs that are most commonly used in Exodus to describe the state and or action of Pharaoh’s inner being as growing sense of strength, pride and arrogance that builds in Pharaoh over time bringing about certain events. The debate over whether God interferes with Pharaoh’s ability to freely choose is somewhat alleviated by looking at the form of the verbs, the process of development, and the context in which they are found.

tae: the mark of the accusative, prefixed as a rule only to nouns that are definite.

ble n.m. inner man, mind, will, heart

qzx  [to strengthen, strong, to grow firm]

Exodus 4:21 – action God takes on Pharaoh’s inner being [verb piel imperfect 1st person] future oriented. It suggests what is foreshadowed based on Pharaoh’s past history.

7:13  – describing the state of Pharaoh’s heart

7:22 – remained in its current state

8:19 – Pharaoh’s hardness of heart was resolute and established

9:12 – Action God takes toward Pharaoh [piel waw consec imperfect 3rd person]

9:35 – the state of Pharaoh’s heart such that he took action and would not let the people go.

10:20 — verb piel waw consec imperfect 3rd, seems to be concerned less with the causation of the event than the final state of being

11:10 — verb piel waw consec imperfect 3rd person, “the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart” Consequential action, the logical outcome of the preceeding events

14:4 — piel waw consec perfect 1st person, Consequential, because of the nature of God and the nature of Pharaoh, hardness and stubbornness is the logical result.

14:8 — piel waw consec imperfect, consequential action, because the Israelites were out of Pharaoh’s hand, his heart became stubborn and he pursued them.

 To be hard, severe, fierce, make hard, stiff, stubborn, fig. of obstinacy.

 Exodus 7:23 – action God takes toward Pharaoh’s heart

 To refuse, refusing to obey commands;

Exodus 7:14 – describing the state of Pharaoh’s heart (perfect tense, is unyielding, or stubborn)

dbeK’ vb. be heavy, weighty, burdensome, honored,

Exodus 8:11 – Pharaoh’s heart became burdened and weighted down

8:32 – the action of Pharaoh toward his own situation

9:7 – in response to the death of the animals, pharaoh remains unyielding

9:34 – because of Pharaoh’s sin, his heart is burdened even more and therefore unyielding

10:1 — verb hiphil perfect 1st person, the subject brings about a state of being, in this case heaviness of heart brought about by God.

John Goldingay in Old Testament Theology: Israel’s Gospel provides a helpful discussion of this:

To soften or harden something impersonal such as butter or jelly, we use physical manipulation, heating or cooling it, but to soften or harden a person, we present them with facts or images or stories so that they can do their work in generating a response on the part of the person. Similarly, Yhwh’s softening or hardening need not involve some equivalent to physical manipulation, as if God reaches into the brain and directly changes the way it works. To judge from other aspects of God’s working with human beings, more likely God softens and hardens in the same personal way that human beings adopt in personal relations. God makes things happen by influencing people. To soften people, God presents them with facts or images or stories of divine love or power, or of human possibilities of action or achievement. These do not force them to a positive response, but give them, for example, extra stimulus and opportunity to trust or love or worship. To toughen people, God presents them with other facts or images or stories – for instance, perhaps, reminding the Pharaoh of the loss he will incur through letting the Israelites go. That, too, does not force or manipulate Pharaoh to decide to hold on to Israel. What happens depends on how Pharaoh responds to the facts or images or stories—on whether he himself toughens his resolve. (353).”

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January 21, 2010

Exo 4-6: What if?

Posted in Fear, Historical, Moses tagged , , , , , , , , at 10:47 pm by Steve

Moses is scared and who could blame him? Whenever God asks us to follow Him, it will always cause what Henry Blackaby calls “a crisis of belief.”  Faith in God is not worth much if we already have all the answers, all the strength, and all the confidence to complete the task on our own. Faith comes when we are stretched beyond our limits to the point where only God can accomplish what lies before us.

What crisis are you facing today? None?

How’s your faith today? Is it growing or is it stagnant? You already know the answer!

Paul says, “God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption. Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.’” 1 Corinthians 1:27-31 (NIV)

How does God help Moses grow and give him confidence? Through a simple staff, but it was a physical representation of God’s presence and Grace. Do you ever wish you had a staff to touch the Nile River and turn into blood? [Remember the Nile was Egypt’s source of power, prosperity, and confidence of divine blessing. To touch the river was to touch their source of confidence? If you could touch the oppressive forces in your life, where would you touch?]

What physical representation of God’s power and grace have we been given?

Holy Communion – the body and blood of Christ

Baptism – washed into the community of faith through water in the Spirit of Christ

The Cross – a constant reminder that “God so love the world that He gave His only Son…” [John 3:16]

Worship – the community of faith that represents the Body of Christ to the world.

>> Can you think of others?

Aaron – Moses doesn’t go alone. God partners Moses with Aaron to speak to Pharaoh. Moses is the visionary, but Aaron has credibility with the people. This is a strategic move by God based on Moses’ fear and anxiety.

Burning Bush – I have often wanted a burning bush in my life to know FOR SURE what God’s will was that I may walk in it. When things don’t work out as I thought they should, I’m big at second guessing myself. The downside of a burning bush is that it belittles the relationship. God command – we do. God grace comes in Christ that we might know His heart. Now the question is simply “What Would Jesus Do?”

New Testament Parallel

LORD had said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who wanted to kill you are dead.”  4:19

“Get up, take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel, for those who were trying to take the child’s life are dead.” Matthew 2:20

Prayer

Father I pray that as we read your word together we will grow in grace, gratitude and faith. Continue to guide us and when we feel we cannot accomplish what lies before us, remind us that You are with us always in Christ Jesus. Amen

January 19, 2010

Exo 1-3: Freedom? For what?

Posted in Fear, Revelation tagged , , , , , , , , , at 8:47 pm by Steve

The Tribes of Israel that go into Egypt

  1. Reuben
  2. Simeon
  3. Levi
  4. Judah
  5. Issachar
  6. Zebulun
  7. Benjamin
  8. Dan
  9. Naphtali

10. Gad

  1. Asher

12.  Joseph  —  Ephraim and Manasseh

“The Egyptians used them ruthlessly” [1:14]

“Pharaoh-type” individuals come in many disguises in our culture. They can appear as the boss of your company, finances that oppress and slaves to credit card debt, health concerns and pursuit of youth, and relationship that force us to act in ways that are contrary to our basic natures. There are pressures to work longer, harder and with less family time. There are more and more demands to run the kids to every event to achieve more, to be more, and have more. This life is ruthless to our wellbeing. We are slaves of our own choosing with no way out, until we cry out to God for help, guidance and deliverance.

What is the Pharaoh in your life?  There are simply some things you cannot do without God’s help!

What we remember most from Exodus narrative is the Charlton Heston version when Moses says to Pharaoh “Let my people go!” We assume that Moses comes to free the slaves, but free them to do what? It is extremely important to read the text carefully. God tells Moses that He wants to liberate the slaves to go and worship Him. The focus of the Exodus is not freedom, if we define freedom as the ability to do whatever you want, but freedom to serve God. Exodus is not about freedom to do anything, but freedom to worship and serve God alone and not Pharaoh. That’s why God tell Moses to go to Pharaoh and say ‘The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, has met with us. Let us take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the LORD our God.’” [3:18] God wants the freedom to worship God alone.

I will let other tackle God’s self-revelation of Himself “I AM THAT I AM”

Let me know your thoughts.