An Unlikely Character
‘So you’re doing a sermon series on the life of Moses; you will have to get a copy of Alexander Whyte’s “Bible Characters”. So I did, or at least I am grateful to someone for giving it to me as twice now I have been given that advice.
Before you rush out and buy a copy let me warn you that it is not quite what I expected as it is not quite written in a manner that we are accustomed to reading today. I find it a bit flowery and fanciful in places. However, there are pearls of wisdom and I am grateful for my free copy which was a generous gift.
Sifting through the list of Bible Characters, which Whyte writes about, I came across a most unlikely Character, i.e. is Pharaoh. I have embarked on a study of the life of Moses. Not necessarily a chronological or historical study but I am interested in how he formed as a character. What were the trials of life and hardships which formed into someone referred to in Exodus 33:11 as a friend of God…?
The Lord would speak to Moses face to face, as a man speaks with his friend…
What an endorsement of Moses character!
Yet he did not become such a friend of God overnight. There were times when he did not want to get drawn into God’s crazy plans, when he wearied of the grumbling people, when he himself even frustrated and angered God. Yet for all that; they were friends.
And of course if it were not for Pharaoh, the one whom God used to not only build character in Moses but to build a community, characteristic of himself; a community of people with whom God can speak face to face, thanks to another one who is even more perfect in Character than Moses. That is Jesus Christ and a personal relationship with him, as God’s friend.
I am indebted to Whyte for reminding me of the importance of the part that Pharaoh played in the character formation of Moses. And in our own personal spiritual formation we need to be reminded of, and follow the way of, Jesus and what he teaches us regards our enemies. Like Pharaoh, there are enemies of God who will be so hardened that they would be best entrusted to God for his dealing with them. But we must not harden our hearts. We must love our enemies, pray for them, go the extra mile and learn the way of humility as Moses did, as Jesus taught and, as we are called to do in following him.
Let us never tire then, of praying for our enemies and loving them as Jesus did from the Cross…
You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect… (Matthew 5:43-48)
Prayer for Oppressors
Lord Jesus, in your mercy, come. Soften my heart and unclench my fist from round this stone. Judgement is yours and I surrender it to you now. I recognise that your cross is higher and wider than I could ever imagine. I accept that your grace is so radical it offends the law of justice – so much so that it welcomes me – a sinner – into your very presence.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy, come. Soften the hearts and unclench the fists of those I perceive as ‘tyrant’, ‘abuser’ and ‘oppressor’. Thank you that your mercy triumphs over your justice. I bless those that persecute. And I pray for a Damascus road conversion for them – that they might adopt your way, your truth and your life – that the oppressed may go free, and the oppressor may step into your best plan for their life.
Lord Jesus, in your mercy come. Soften my heart to love your mercy, enlarge my view to see beyond my desire to label people, and increase my faith to see your transformative love reach out to those who are broken, and those who are breaking. Let your kingdom come, and your will be done, today, and forever. Amen.