Mubarak, Abimelek and…me?

With all the extra time at home due to the unprecedented blizzard, I’ve actually had time to watch the news during the past few weeks. The headlines permeating every news channel, website and magazine seem to be uniformly related to the recent uprising of the Egyptian people to dictatorial rule. I couldn’t help but think of the uncanny similarities between the plight of two bull-headed Egyptian leaders in Mubarak and that of none other than Pharaoh himself. Apparently I wasn’t the only one to appreciate the parallel as indicated by the title of this editorial in the New York Times.

There are so many different ways to filter the current events through a biblical worldview. Some feel the uprising has roots in radical islam and will eventually only strengthen the growing tide of anti-American rhetoric and hate. Others feel this is the best opportunity for the expansion of democracy in the turbulent middle east and eventual peace through Egyptian support of Israel.

Unfortunately I’ve never been very good at postulates or prophecy, so these speculations do little to persuade my interest. What typically intrigues me is not the unfolding of future events, but the tendency of history to repeat itself. In modern day Egypt, on the very soil that swallowed the sweat of the enslaved Israelites, we have a repressed people demanding freedom from a hard hearted dictator. Sound familiar?

Sure there are differences in the events. First of all, the Israelites were captured slaves, not nationalists. We are certainly given insight into how God’s sovereign will was orchestrated through the appeals of Moses as well as Pharaoh’s hardened heart. We are granted no such insight into current events. However, I can’t help but think about how much we can learn from the behavior of these two dictators.

Ever since I read Tim Keller’s “The Prodigal God” I have been challenged to rethink my conventional response to biblical stories and what exactly God is wanting me to learn through them. I have had the wonderful opportunity to grow up in church. I have heard each and every one of the bible’s greatest hits over and over throughout my life. But not until I considered the similarities of the current events to the pleas of Moses to “let my people go”, did I consider the plausibility of my commonalties with an Egyptian dictator and a pharaoh!

Doesn’t it seem obvious that absolute rule always ends in an almost bizarre empathy. The inability of a dictator to recognize the obvious and the inevitable would be almost humorous if it wasn’t almost always so tragic. So it begs the question, is the desire to rule over our own lives any less tragic? Do we not become just as blind to our own destruction when we seek to control our own destiny? It’s like a train wreck everyone else sees coming except for the engineer.

There is a relatively unknown story in the old testament book of Judges which shows the absurdity and ultimate end of human pride. Abimelek declares himself as the ultimate authority over his people and then systematically makes one bad choice after another, his pride eventually leading to his humiliating death. As he storms a tower in angry vengeance, a woman drops a rock on his head and cracks his skull. Does he seek out medical attention? No, he turns to his attendant and pleads for him to “Draw your sword and kill me, so that they can’t say, ‘A woman killed him.’”…brilliant. Humorous if it wasn’t so tragic.

In Moses we see a clear picture of a humble servant, as God calls him to lead his people out of Egypt. “Who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and bring the Israelites out of Egypt”, he says in Exodus 3:11. In Exodus 4:10 his pleads with the Lord; “I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.

One of the consistent themes of the bible revolves around God’s sovereign use of both the humble and the proud. It seems He consistently elevates the former at the expense of the latter. It is humbling in itself to remember He is just as sovereignly consistent in our own lives.

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