We have another reasonably well-known story today. The people of God are slaves in Egypt and have been crying to God for freedom for some time. Moses is chosen by God to be the instrument of freedom and Moses and Pharaoh come head to head.
Moses stands in front of the Pharaoh declaring God’s words – “Let my people go, so that they may celebrate a festival to me in the wilderness.” We are told that Pharaoh questions who is this God that he should pay attention to him, and no, Pharaoh will not let Israel go. What follows is a magic contest between Aaron and Moses versus Pharaoh’s sorcerers. Aaron and Moses win but Pharaoh still refuses to get the Israelites go. We are told that Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, he was not going to change his mind. And so, the plagues begin.
It can be really hard to stand up to people who have their hearts set on something other than what you want. Quite often they are people with more power than us, sometime quite a lot more power. This was the situation with Moses and the Pharaoh. Pharaoh was Pharaoh, the supreme ruler of the Egyptians, a descent of the Gods, how on earth was Moses going to win? But God has a plan. God wants the people of Israel to go free, God wants us all to be free, it’s one of the
reasons Jesus came to be with us and die for us. Freedom, justice, the ability to live into the goodness of all that God has created.
When have we come up against people or systems who are running against God’s plans for justice. What does Moses inspire in us? God is with us, just as God was with Moses. God seeks freedom from injustice for us all. This is what the Exodus story delivers, freedom from injustice. What do we need to stand up for God’s justice? Where in the world today are we called to stand? What about our community?
Anti-Creation Narrative. (Pharaoh Hardens His Heart to Moses’ Requests)
by Lauren Wright Pittman inspired by exodus 5:1-2; 7:8-23 | graphic image
As I sketched this image of Pharaoh, I realized how cartoonish and irrelevant this character had become in my mind.What would Pharaoh look like today? I sat with this question as a creeping sense of irony came over my body. I would argue, to my surprise, that a modern Pharaoh might look a bit like the reflection in my mirror, and maybe in yours.
This story of Pharaoh’s hardening heart leads to a kind of anti-creation narrative—one where the world is coming undone and actively being destroyed. Sound familiar?
As a society, we are actively undoing God’s creation through our consumption while clinging to ease, convenience, and our power over our environment. We harden our hearts to the ways our actions cause harm. We value our comfort over the health of our coastlines while the first climate refugees flee their homes due to rising tides and sinking land. As water becomes scarce, violence will increase. Many will have to fight for their basic needs. I believe Pharaoh’s hardening heart
is prophetic. This narrative reveals to us how a person’s clinging to power can literally unravel creation. We often undo the threads of creation, while God entreats us to become co-creators. We have seam rippers in our hands when God wants us to have needle and thread. There is a difficult hope in the narrative, however. Our own unraveling of God’s dream for creation is not strong enough to thwart God’s plan. Ultimately the Israelites find liberation. In this image, the
waters of the parted Red Sea frame the chaos of the plagues. We will succeed, with God’s help, in healing the earth. We just need to allow God to soften our hearts, to take initiative in changing our perspective, and to welcome the challenge of restoring creation.
— Lauren Wright Pittman