Exodus 5:2: “Pharaoh answered, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel Go? I do not know the Lord, and I will not let Israel go.’”
This verse is the biblical trash talking of the Middle Bronze Age. This type of verbal jabbing makes Chael Sonnen sound like a kid learning the Gettysburg address for the first time. Anyone who watches MMA knows that before any fight there is the war of words that takes place, and at times it tends to be more vicious then the fight itself. After watching a lackluster controversial card last night I started to think; “why is it that anyone would ever let it go to the judges?” These fighters train for months with a goal of finishing a fight, and never losing. I at times, before, making a plea to God attempt to strategize “how can I best get the result that I need from God” (sounds foolish doesn’t it). Better yet, for years I have trained (just as hard as an MMA fighter at high mountain elevation) myself to think, that I know myself better than anyone else, and at times that even meant GOD. When it came to my future, and my will, well God and I had diffrences, it was time to close the cage door behind us. If that is the mindset for someone who believes and loves God, how much more does that happen with non-believers and GOD. God must be putting his title up for grabs perpetually. I often think about how much today’s society responds to the mandates of God in a similar fashion as pharaoh (thus closing the cage door behind them): “who is the Lord, that I should obey him.” Society speaks of this God as if they have no clue who the Lord is, and by society I mean the culture of the United States. As a nation founded under God, this Lord ought to be familiar to society; however, he is treated as an outside, foreign God (we are talking about the undisputed champion of the universe). Consequently, in this case Pharaoh can speak of God as foreign to him, because this Lord Moses works for was foreign to Egypt. See Pharaoh is a state champ. He was given the title of Egypt, but as for the universe, man he was dealing out of his league. That’s like someone who watched the Karate Kid getting in the cage against Cain Velasquez. Pharaoh, the god-man of the Egyptian people, was well versed in his understanding of gods in Egypt, because he had many to honor and give sacrifice to, yet the Lord was not one of them. Pharaoh’s response to Moses was not an inquiry worthy of an explanation, because he had no intention of attempting to grow wise about the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Pharaoh’s response rather captures a tone of “Who is this God of the slaves? And why does he not know who I am?” (sound like fighting words don’t it)
We have to understand the backdrop of this scene in order to capture the fullness of significance of this scripture. This land had become the land of Joseph, son of Jacob: however, the decedents of Joseph and his brothers had died, leaving the Israelites in the land of Egypt. The Israelites were fruitful and multiplied, thus outnumbering the Egyptians substantially, so much so that:
“The new king, who knew nothing of Joseph, rose to power in Egypt. He said to his people, ‘See! The Israelite people have multiplied and become more numerous than we are! Come, let us deal shrewdly with them to stop their increase; otherwise, in time of war they too may join our enemies to fight against us, and so leave the land’” (Exodus 1:8-10)
Exodus 1:8-10 was propagating a cultural of fear which led to the decision to kill the first born of Israel, using the Nile as an instrument of death. However, these waters would give birth (figuratively) to one survivor: Moses. Pharaoh’s daughter found the boy in a basket in the Nile and took him in. This Levite survivor of the genocide would now become royalty, through adoption. Yet, that would not last very long in the story. Moses witnessed the treatment of the slaves and conspired and killed his “own” kinsmen and buried him in secretly in the desert. Moses out of fear fled Egypt, after being accused by a Hebrew man of his crime. From rags to riches, now from riches to rags, Moses became a simple hero in Midian by saving the seven daughters of Reuel from some Shepherd’s. From the gratitude of Reuel, Moses found himself a part of the family, married to one of the seven, Zipporah and with a son, Gershom.
Time had passed and as the King of Egypt died and new king was appointed, Moses remained in Median as a simple shepherd’s aid. On his trip to tend to Reuel’s sheep by Mt Horeb he came across “a fire flaming out of a bush.” His name was called by God, and the reason why would soon be revealed. God was tired of the way his people were being treated, so he commissioned Moses to confront Pharaoh and mediate. God would send Moses as his messenger to advocate for the liberty of the Israelites from the bondage of slavery. Moses rebutted by humbly advising God that he was not cut out for the job. God, however, assured Moses that he would not be alone. In addition to his assurance, he also revealed his name to Moses, so that he could communicate it to this people, the Israelites.
“I AM has sent me to you…God spoke further to Moses: This is what you will say to the Israelites: The Lord, the God of your Ancestors, the God of Abraham, The God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you” (Exodus 3:15)
This scripture that I chose is in part a fulfillment of the commissioning of Moses to speak on behalf of the Lord, I AM . Moses, though reluctant to follow God’s call, trusted in God’s promise and providence and carried out his commitment to God.
The plot was set for an epic encounter between the self-proclaimed god-man, Pharaoh, and the majesty of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. All Pharaoh had ever known was his divine kingship and his calling to protect his kingdom as king, priest, and general. Pharaoh, by giving proper respects to the gods, especially Rua, from whom he was believed to be a descended of, would protect his people from unnecessary death, famine, and plague. Yet, the three roles would be compromised and tested, as Pharaoh’s divine kingship would be no match for that of God.
Exodus 5:2 has relevance that spans ancient civilizations up to our present day. For hundreds of years the people of the Nile River Valley have been accustomed to the polytheistic ways of the desert. Thanks and sacrifice had been offered to the gods that pertained to whatever natural element produced life or did not produce life. The Egyptians and people of the Nile Valley were acclimated to submitting to numerous gods, and the Egyptians modeled a reverence, fear, and respect for their gods that may have paved the way for a number of polytheistic religions.
When Moses approached Pharaoh with; “Thus says the Lord, The God of Israel: Let my people go…” (Exodus 5:1), the proverbial MMA trash talk started, and Pharaoh was placed in a peculiar position: heed the words of a fallen- away Egyptian and tapout to this foreign God’s request, or stand firm in his beliefs and protect his house and close the cage door behind him. The latter was chosen and a larger-than-life confrontational story was captured; Egypt versus God.
This brings to light many correlating examples of today’s societal mind-set of one’s own relativistic “self-deitizing:” in other words, relativism has made people make themselves deities of sorts (god-men) by claiming that they know better than God’s plan. This gives people the impression that they can make God tap out, however that will never happen; God Never Taps Out. The overarching response to God, whether vocally or attitudinally, is the same response that Pharaoh gave Moses: “Who is this God and why should I listen to him” Although many people (except militant atheists) do not go as far as Pharaoh, some of us, due to our fallen nature, are tempted to think this way or actually have done so. However, we need to draw from the richness of the triumphant story of Exodus and the power of God in the midst of a nation of unbelief and come to the understanding that God is always more powerful than our stubborn ideologies. And regardless of our training, and our “knowledge of self” we will never submit God. God Never Tapsout.
Oscar "Two Ten" Rivera is all about bringing the fire. Passionate, comedic, and driven to deliver the truth, the right way.