Thursday, March 16, 2017

Did We Elect A Moses or A Pharaoh?

Is President Trump ordained by God? Among his supporters are a number of Christians who believe, or at least claim to believe, that Trump is the man God wanted behind the Oval Office desk. And while we may debate the theological significance, the simple fact is Donald J. Trump did win the election. Personally I think the question of who God wants in office is not nearly as important as the question of, “Why?” Why is Trump sitting in the Oval Office?

I ask this thinking of two very different leaders introduced near the beginning of the Book of Exodus. First we have Moses. From his birth to his adoption by Pharaoh's daughter to his burning bush experience, we are left with no doubts as to the fact that Moses was destined to be a hero. Exodus tells us how he answered God’s call and lead the nation of Israel out of slavery in Egypt. Moses stood as a chosen leader, and intercessor between God and the people. No one doubts Moses’ role in Exodus but did Pharaoh serve an equal role in revealing God’s glory?

In his role as leader of Egypt Pharaoh was seen as being closer to the gods than any other man. He believed himself in a position where he did not have to listen to anyone (man or god). He refused Moses’ requests, questioning the authority of Moses’ God (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh is the bad guy in Exodus, seemingly standing in the way of the will of God. And yet the Bible tells us that Pharaoh’s role was part of a bigger plan, appointed by God to serve a purpose as we learn in the ninth chapter.

In Exodus 9 God sends Moses to confront Pharaoh before the seventh plague. God declares that He raised up Pharaoh, putting him in a position of authority that he might serve to help demonstrate God’s power (Exodus 9:16). Each plague represented God’s power over areas thought to be under the control of one of Pharaoh’s idols. With each defeat God’s power was revealed. As a result the confrontation between Pharaoh and God resulted in the Lord’s name being declared in all the earth. This was the will of God and Pharaoh successfully in played his role as evidenced when Israel reaches the wall of Jericho (Joshua 2:10).

Based on Romans 13:1 every world leader and every U.S. President was granted authority based on the will of God. This applies to President Trump as it did to President Obama before him. It was true of George W. Bush, William Blythe Clinton, and every president back to George Washington. All served God's purpose but not all were his children. The question in each case is, “What does God want to achieve?” Why is Donald Trump the current President of the United States? Is our current president serving a purpose similar to that of Moses or have we elected into office someone who will serve God in a similar fashion as did Pharaoh? Only time will tell. Either way the next four (or eight) years should be interesting.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

The Obama Presidency: Only Now Can I Enjoy History

Picture By Pete Souza, The Obama-Biden Transition Project [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons

I just couldn’t do it. In 2008, faced with the opportunity to join in making history, I could not bring myself to
vote on the basis of race. Instead I did what I would in any other presidential election. I took the time to read and study, voting for the candidate I thought would do the best job. Not that I was oblivious to the opportunity to change the face of the nation but I saw a lot more than history at stake. And so I could not vote based on the candidate’s race nor could I enjoy eight years of history while the White House was occupied by its first black first family.

Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see a minority in the White House. At the same time I feared what might happen if the first black was the wrong black. The president lives under a very intense microscope with his every move examined and documented. I figured a black president would find the optics focused to a much higher intensity, facing scrutiny like none other before. A misstep here or an embarrassing gesture there and the entire race would have been labeled by those who believe  minorities lack what is needed to run the free world. And so in 2008 I looked for the right person for the job knowing that the first black, if he were not fit, would close the door on the possibility of another holding the office in the future.

With his two terms in office now behind us I can say that President Obama and his family exhibited a very high regard for the office, conducting themselves in a manner that serves as an example to anyone of any race. Did I agree with all of his actions? No, but I have yet to agree 100% with anyone. Even while disagreeing with the president I was able to respect the man. So now, in 2017, I can finally enjoy the historical aspects of having had our first black president. Only now can I celebrate knowing the Obamas have left us with a historical record for which the entire race...the entire country...can be proud.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Should Moses’ Experience at the Burning Bush be Called Prayer? Part III

Prayer changes lives. And yet by definition, perhaps even by practice, prayer is reduced to us simply asking God for things. Moses experienced so much more than a question and answer session when he turned to investigate the burning bush. His prayer session became an opportunity to be changed by God. As he was changed Moses would have the opportunity to get to know the God of his childhood. Should this be an expectation when we pray today?



Handshake picture By Rufino (hermandad - friendship) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Part III: God Introduces Himself
Exodus 3:6

Though adopted by an Egyptian, Moses was raised by his Hebrew mom (Exodus 2:1-10). While serving as his nurse, Moses' mother most likely taught him about God. We are not told what Moses believed before the burning bush but clearly he shows reverence as God introduces Himself.

This introduction was an important start to Moses' lifelong conversation. It was an opportunity for Moses to get to know the God of his childhood, an opportunity that continued as he learned of God's desire to end the suffering of the people of Israel. As He did with Moses, God uses prayer to introduce Himself to us today. We need only to show the same reverence and desire to listen as shown by Moses as he hid his face.

"And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." John 14:13

According to Jesus prayer is an opportunity to see God glorified in our lives. I believe His intent was to encourage a conversation where we desire more than just receiving answers to our requests. In fact the context of chapter 14 is how we can see the Father today and can go to a place prepared for us in the kingdom where we will be with Him forever. In answering Phillips' question about revealing the Father, Jesus talks about answering prayer. In this context prayer is about God revealing (being glorified) to us.

The Bible encourages to make our requests known to God. But if all you expect is to receive things or to have your own way, you are missing out. Prayer is about seeing the glory of the Father.You should come into prayer with the expectation that, "The God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob," will reveal Himself to you.