A King Who Knew Not Joseph

“I miss my country.” That is a line I have heard time and again lately and have even said it myself. There is a certain amount of nostalgia that is sort of made up or embellished on as one reflects back on the past. Often when we talk of “the good old days” it is referencing a slower more innocent time, at least that is how it exists in our recollection. I have some of that myself. When I was a youth we still had the Blue Laws. Stores weren’t open, could buy cars because the lots were closed. Families had dinners together and that was whether the family was religious or not. Even though the nation had largely abandoned Christianity on a national level there was still a Judeo/Christian moral and worldview which guided and informed how we ought to live. Even if we didn’t live the moral code we at least knew what it was and when to feel guilty for violating it. The 1960s, 70s, 80s, 90s and continuing to today, the nation’s universities and leaders have been peeling away the Judeo/Christian worldview. They have done this without impunity in education, sometimes through legislation, sometimes through court cases often through liberal media but step by step a systematic removal of the bedrock of what has strengthened and guided this once great nation.

As I watched the events in Ferguson, MO, the beheading of reporter James Foley by ISIL (ISIS), the battle between Hamas and Israel, Russia taking over the Ukraine and our nation’s leaders wringing their hands wondering why, Oh, why some other nations won’t stand up and stop the madness. The Oval Office has pointedly said that ISIS is Junior Varsity, Hamas are making bad decisions but the TEA Party are terrorists. What???? The moral equivalency of the TEA Party using the ballot box, Hamas using missles and protecting them with innocent civilians and ISIS beheading and/or killing those who oppose them seems a bit of a stretch to credulity.

As I was thinking on this I came across Exodus 1:8-10:

Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.”

This passage has no direct bearing on us today but I think there are similarities. Due to Joseph, Egypt had averted mass starvation during a time of drought (Genesis 40-41). Joseph brought his family to Egypt and the patriarchs were directed by God to go and settle there. The people of faith prospered as did Egypt. The Egyptians were polytheists and pagans but Israel remained monotheistic and in general both groups practiced a sort of religious tolerance and freedom.

As new leadership came to power in Egypt things began changing rather quickly and radically.

  • The history of Israel’s faith, connection to God and how it had guided and preserved the nation was not known by the new leaders.
  • The new leaders recognized there were enough of them (monotheistic believers) to cause the Egyptian leadership trouble in their new rule.
  • They developed a plan to prevent Israel from fighting against them and/or escaping.

Progressively Christians are being stripped of their rights to communicate their faith in public. You know, separation of Church and State and all that. YouTube is removing entire sites which may question the claims and teachings of other groups. Religious commitment which was once valued is now being punished. A seemingly horrendous practice was nationally exposed as North Carolina restaurant offers a 15 percent discount to pray in public. Mary’s Gourmet Diner would apply a 15% discount to checks of patron’s who were observed praying before their meal. They didn’t advertise this practice, they didn’t ask who you were praying to or even if you were doing more than a short meditation but national pressure was brought on this establishment for their vile practice.

This past week a Restaurant receives complaint for church bulletin discount. Again, an atheist group, with the support of liberal media, is pushing to have this vile practice stopped. Like the Egyptian leaders, the current cultural leadership are bereft of the historical connection of the people of faith and the stability of our nation. A brief review of Christianity and the American Constitution may be beneficial to them but that might interfere with their war on the faith.

Since conservative are “too many and too mighty for us”, the way to “deal shrewdly with them” is fairly simple. Demonization of conservative Christians as terrorists is used to marginalize a rather large group of citizens. Take away any public expression or recognition of someone’s public expression as a way of separating them from the rest of culture. It limits the ability to fight at the ballot box and in the public square of ideas. Lastly, do not allow a way to escape paying for the enormous Federal bureaucracies and programs which are designed to feed and grow government whether or not they actually help citizens.

I fear for some this all sounds very bleak but it is not. It is but a part of the story. Israel was just a sojourner in Egypt. It wasn’t their home. God had a plan which would serve as a witness to and against Pharaoh and the Egyptian leadership. They could but would not repent, instead they and the nation would be punished. In Exodus 3-4 we read about the calling of Moses to lead the movement. Moses was a highly educated man (raised in Pharaoh’s court) turned shepherd where he had little opportunity to exercise his education or oratory skills and balked at his seeming inability to put a coherent sentence together. God’s response?

Who has made man’s mouth? Who makes him mute, or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? (Exodus 4:11)

It is God’s power which accomplishes that which He desires. What this means is:

  • Exercising faith toward God is to be done individually, corporately (with a body of local believers) and publically. We are indeed in the midst of a clash of worldviews.
  • Apologetics training as part of the overall teaching on the local church level is essential. It is true that God could miraculously give us the word to speak and at times does but Moses had tremendous training which was laying dormant and which God ignited and used dramatically. Being able to give sound reason and ask challenging questions is essential in challenging culture and giving the gospel.
  • Pray. This cannot be emphasized enough. It isn’t really a question of whether it changes God’s mind but that He uses it sometimes to change our mind and/or to prepare us for something we will be doing.

No, we are not in the “good ole days” and some things which were dear to us from that time we have lost. Other things though are better. Newer technology gives us the opportunity to make our case and interconnect with others of our common faith in ways we couldn’t even 10 years ago. Making public challenges with good apologetics and questions can be done on an international as easily as a local basis with the push of a computer key. I am not sure what God has in store. As Dr. Walt Kaiser often said, “I am not a prophet. I am not the son of a prophet, my father was a farmer and I work for a non-profit organization,”  but I do think if nothing else, we live in interesting times.

 


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