Friday, October 2, 2009

10/2- Israel enslaved, Human meannness

(Hebrew brick makers picture-13th cent Egypt)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

10/2 Exodus 1:8-14
8 Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. 9 "Look," he said to his people, "the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. 10 Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country." 11 So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites 13 and worked them ruthlessly. 14 They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians used them ruthlessly.

Calvin abridged: Moses relates that the start of the troubles of God’s elect came from jealousy and from the groundless fear of the Egyptians that this strange nation may create danger for them unless the Egyptians oppressed it. 9- “He said to his people” This was a public consultation before an assembly. In many secular counsels what is right is professed over what is profitable, but in the end, covetousness and greed blinds everybody so that they lose respect for what is right and rationalize their actions to their own advantage. They make out that what is advantageous to them is necessary [like “they may join our enemies”], so that they persuade themselves that what is to their own advantage is right. This happens to the point where their own security is elevated above injuring others, and those they injure are considered wicked characters. This is how wars get started. Every ruler fears their neighbors, and the fear so fills them that they do not hesitate to cover the earth with human blood. So also among private individuals do we give ourselves the license to deceive, lie, murder and rape because we think that someone may hurt us without doing such things. So too often we hurt others to preserve our own security. A solution to this is found in trusting the providence of God to soften our immoderate cares and anxieties which keep us from justice. 11- The Egyptians did not just require tribute from the Israelites, but they enslaved them out of meanness and fear. They desired to inflict these wretched people by increasing the heaviness of their burdens.

Thoughts: There is an unusual story that came out today about a couple that were “living together” (without marriage) in California. When they broke up- she wanted her jewelry back- and he refused to give it. She told him he’d regret it and took his seven goldfish. When the police asked her to give them back she replied that she couldn’t because she fried them and ate them! Ah yes, how we like to go to the extreme in torturing others. So the Egyptians enslaved, and tortured the Israelites by making their labor as hard as they could.
Prayer: Help us, O Lord, to accept the problems of life form your providential hand. Help us to face our crosses and our need for self-denial. Help us to be kinder to those with whom we differ.

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