Reading through the Bible every year like this is kind of like going on a long road trip. We have driven to Los Angeles from Colorado so many times that we know the places to stay, great places to eat, the long stretches of highway, and even where to change drivers. Yet even in the redundancy of the drive, the same ol’ same ol’ scenery, we would see something new, find a new restaurant, or see Father’s hand in the adventure.
Reading through the Bible this time is once again, just like that. We are reading very familiar stories. Even stories we have heard all our lives and probably did a flannel-graph of them. We can retell them with vivid detail.
Yet, each and every time I read, there is something new. For example, here is a short phrase I had not seen before today. It is only four words. Yet in its brevity, a powerful truth is reflected.
Egypt and Pharaoh are just getting pounded by the Lord. Pharaoh is just so stubborn and wants to hang onto his workforce, he will endure just about anything for a short period of time. The river clears up, the frogs died and quite stinking, the hail melted, the darkness gave way to light, and new calves will be born. He is not going to let the Hebrews go. His heart has to be hardened in order to let them go. Finally, when the calamity just doesn’t go away or change, he relents. When the firstborn son, regardless of age, dies, there is very little recovery. The effects of that loss will carry well into the future.
In the middle of the horrendous night the death angel flies over Egypt, Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron. He has had it, he is sick and tired of being sick and tired. Pharaoh relents. He releases the Hebrews. Albeit out of anger, yet it is done. ”Go, worship the Lord. Take it all, go, get out of here. Not just the men, but all your people. And take your animals with you.”
At the end of his short release statement, he says, “And also bless me (Gen 12:32). WHAT!?!?! He knows something. The Lord is not a stranger to him. After all, in the verse before he says “the Lord.” In the end, Pharaoh knows what is right and what is truth.
So much so that he wants a blessing. He wants Moses to bless him. For what? For enslaving people, for making the workplace a sweatshop, for making the lives of a group of human beings so difficult they lose hope entirely.
We don’t see the result of Pharaoh’s request. About all we can exegete from his request is that something about the true and living God was stirring in his heart. Maybe he wasn’t quite the bad guy some have made him out to be.
As we cruise the same road we have traveled for so many times, keep an eye out for a new sight and a new insight. Grace and peace.