Thursday, February 1, 2007

"Bless me," said Pharaoh?

The tenth plague was a disaster! Every family in Egypt was touched by the death angel. Finally, after many confrontations, Pharaoh released the children of Israel. You remember the story set in Exodus 7-12. Through the hardening of his heart to the regular meetings with Moses and Aaron, this man was learning about the true God of Israel. F i n a l l y, after all the plagues, but especially after this last, devastating blow he says, be gone [get out of here...we have had enough]. But there is an intriguing request that Pharaoh presents to Moses as a parting shot. "BLESS ME ALSO." There it is leaping out of the page of Biblical text [Exodus 13:32, ESV]. What is that all about?
Why would a pagan, unbelieving, idol worshipping political ruler ask for a blessing from the Hebrew leadership? Did he not understand what a blessing from God entailed?
I do not think Pharaoh was converted to the Hebrew God. There is no indication in the text of this. Later, in fact, he pursues the Israelites to recapture them and bring them back.
I cannot find that Moses ever gave that blessing. I believe that he could not. Pharaoh's little concession speech is a sad commentary on someone who repeatedly resists God's will. I believe in the end, when the dust settled, he found that he had to accept everything on God's terms.
Earlier Pharaoh had asked Moses to pray for him. Now he wanted a blessing. Is it possible to pass up "blessing" opportunity? The answer is yes for you cannot get God's favor without ever turning to him in faith and repentance.
Almost everyone wants God's blessing. Even people who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. I do not believe God will give his blessing to those who have not come to Christ, repenting of their sin and placing all of their trust in his finished work on the cross.
One final note: Phil Ryken wrote these tellings words in his book on Exodus: "He [Pharaoh] gave no recognition of any personal responsibility--he wanted the blessing without the liability, the shame, or the consequences." Then it seems to be a biblical fact that God will not bless a man who will not repent of his sin. Pharaoh received not a blessing from God. And neither can we unless we come to Chist for salvation.

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