Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The Question God Asked Pharaoh

We all remember God's command to the Egyptian King Pharaoh through Moses: "Let my people go!" We also remember that Pharaoh would not - until God broke him with powerful plagues. But in the midst of the plagues, God asked Pharaoh a question.
"So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, 'Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, 'How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?" Exodus 10:3a, ESV
What a question from God! "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?" This cuts to the heart of our dealings with God. Refusing to humble ourselves before God (i.e. Pride) could lie at the root of all sin. Or, to put it differently, all of our failures to obey God's laws is because we refuse to humble ourselves before him. A refusal to humble ourselves before God equates to shaking our fist in his face and trying to dethrone him...so that we can sit on the throne!

Doesn't this help us to begin to understand why sin is so..., well..., sinful? Everything in creation - light, oceans, animals, mountains - obeys God. Everything except for us. We refuse to bow the knee. We dig in and stand up tall and proud, and challenge God to a duel for the glory. Who do we think we are? Well, we think we are gods. That was the whispered lie from the serpent in the garden ("you will be like God..." Genesis 3:5), and it's at the bottom of all sin. How long will we refuse to humble ourselves?

After all God has done for us! Without him we would have NOTHING. We would not be. We draw from him our every breath. We cannot make our own hearts beat; we cannot maintain our own sanity by an act of our will; we don't know how many days are left in our determined life on this earth; we cannot create something from nothing; we cannot even improve our sinful condition. After thousands of years, with all our learning and all our technology and all our trying, here we are. Still sinful. Still needy of God's grace, and his life, and his sun to warm us and the rain he sends to water our crops...
And yet we still refuse to humble ourselves.

Why is it so hard to admit our failure? Why is it so hard to bow the knee? That's where ultimate satisfaction lies - this was our purpose, to know God and glorify him; to be dependent on him for all things and show off his excellencies to the universe. When we bow, we find his healing hands and his warm embrace. When we fall down before him we find our purpose. When we come to him through his Son we know grace. We are rescued. We are loved. We belong. We delight in God!

What about you? How long will you refuse to humble yourself before God? Is their something he is commanding you to do, leading you to do?
"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.' Submit yourselves therefore to God. ...Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you." James 4:6-10, ESV
That's what God says. Admit our refusal to bow. Admit our treachery and our rebellion and our proud heart that continues to raise up before God. That's what it means to turn our laughter into mourning - to come to that difficult and uncomfortable place of repentance. To humble ourselves before God. What will it take to make us humble ourselves before God? Must God break us like he broke Pharaoh?

Because of Christ and his death and resurrection, there is joy on the other side of repentance!
There is peace in the place of humility.
Wherever you are, whatever you are doing right now, bow the knee.

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