By Rev. Phil Woodson, Associate Pastor, First United Methodist Church, Charlottesville, VA
“Moses and Aaron performed all these wonders before Pharaoh, but the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let the Israelites go out of his country.”
Before the current crisis of a global pandemic, I used to wonder about this verse of scripture. I wondered how Pharaoh, laden with the responsibilities of leadership, and having experienced God’s power so fully, could have let his people die. He knew what was coming and he had no reason to doubt Moses or Aaron, but I guess he somehow believed that he was still going to come out on top…
Arrogance. Pride. Power. Greed.
It wasn’t until the leaders, the elite, the mighty and powerful felt the full effects of this tenth and final plague that they yielded. It wasn’t until they were injured, until they lost something, until they experienced the pain of powerlessness that they were stirred to act – and even then, Pharaoh was quick to change his mind.
Today, there are still leaders who display a gross inability to act for the common good because they are clinging to their idols of wealth, clawing for positions of power, and striving to maintain their presumed levels of safety and comfort.
But because we know God, their inaction is our opportunity. Their selfishness will only be matched and overcome by our selflessness, their greed should not hinder our generosity, and we all know that their armies and displays of power are no match for our God.
So just like the Israelites, we will prepare our communities. We will make sure that there is enough for everyone to eat, we will watch over our neighbors and maintain our homes, and we will find rest and comfort in the knowledge that God is still with us.