Playing by God’s Rules
by Chase Van Weerdhuizen
Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “how long shall this fellow be a snare to us? Let the people go, so that they may worship the LORD their God; do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?” Exodus 10:7
It’s hard to lose at the game.
Pharaoh was part of a tradition of winners. The kings and queens of Egypt never lost at anything. They were a global superpower at the time and had stayed that way for thousands of years by being the best at what they did. They had a highly skilled army. They were the best representational artists on the planet. And don’t get me started on how good they were at stacking rocks on top of each other! They had to be good at everything. They were surviving on a temperamental river system at the east of the Sahara. There was no room for losers.
Of course in order to be a winner, someone has to be a loser. In the case of Egypt, it was the slaves needed to maintain their infrastructure. At this point in the story, God had started letting Egypt know that he wasn’t happy about the whole slavery thing. But Pharaoh continued to hold out, causing his own team to suffer.
Pharaoh’s officials were reminding him of his duty to his entire kingdom. Why wasn’t he worried about how their livestock had keeled over? Or how the Deben was going down in value? Or that everyone was still trying to sweep frogs out of their houses? Oh let’s not forget how the sky had been streaked with fire and ice just the day before. Or that beyond their borders they had to deal with enemy states like the Mitanni and the Libyans who were ready to pounce at any moment. Because it wasn’t just God who wasn’t happy with them, it was all their neighbors too. Maybe if they’d been just a bit nicer before…
Pharaoh was willing to give up everything to win in a contest of spite against his adopted brother and his brother’s God. Often we are tempted to do the same, whether it is for our pride, hate, or even grief. God calls on us to be better sportspersons. Not only do we follow Christ’s example so that we might truly enjoy the game being played, but I’m pretty sure he’s willing to pay for an ice cream cone at the drive-in on the way home.
Dear God, help me to play by your rules when it’s so easy to follow my own. As we approach the darkest days of Lent, let Christ be our example of how to win the game against death. Amen.