Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Egypt's Unworthiness, Part I

I plan to steer clear of FV-related issues for the time being, and since I've been somewhat uninspired of late, I'll offer (in bite-sized pieces) a rough draft of something I've been working on. As always, comments, and crticism are welcome.


Anyone who has seen Fox’s hit TV show 24 understands the concept of racing against the clock. The program revolves around the central character of Jack Bauer, an edgy and daring member of CTU (Counter Terrorism Unit) who is constantly seeking to avert some new catastrophe or threat to our national security. What makes 24 unique—and gives it its title—is the fact that each full season takes place over the course of a single day in Jack’s life, with each of its 24 episodes occurring in one hour of “real time.” When a bomb is set to go off in 15 minutes, therefore, it will actually go off in 15 minutes (that is, of course, unless Agent Bauer can disarm it in time). Needless to say, each one-hour episode of 24 effectively shaves two hours off of the viewer’s life due to the stressfulness of the situations portrayed and the panic that ensues every Monday night from 9-10pm. In a word, time is a constant enemy, for there is never enough of it.

A Tale of Two Malcontents

But Jack Bauer isn’t the only one who would scoff at the title of The Rolling Stones’ song “Time Is On My Side.” In Hebrews 11 we encounter two others whose estimation of all things temporal was less than glowing. In verse 22 we read: "By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones."

This cryptic passage is referring to the account in Genesis 50:24-25 in which Joseph, the son of Jacob, said to his brothers: “I am about to die, but God will visit you and bring you up out of this land to the land that he swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.” Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely visit you, and you shall carry up my bones from here.”

At first glance it does not seem at all strange that Joseph wanted to escape Egypt, even if that escape were postmortem. After all, wasn’t Egypt a horrible place which Scripture everywhere describes as a “land of slavery” and a “house of bondage” (Exod. 20:2)?

Not for Joseph it wasn’t. We must remember that Egypt did not become a place of hardship and oppression for Israel until after he died, when “a pharaoh arose who knew not Joseph” (Exod. 1:8). During Joseph’s own tenure there, Egypt was a place of bounty and salvation amid the famine that plagued the surrounding region, and Joseph’s status was that of being second only to Pharaoh himself in power, stature, and the respect of the masses. Whatever it was that caused Joseph to long for another land, it was certainly not Egypt’s difficulty or discomfort.

Another saint with similar misgivings about Egypt was Moses, whose experience of Egypt, like Joseph’s, was a far cry from that which characterized the Israelite slaves. He was an adopted son in the royal family of Pharaoh himself, and according to Stephen’s testimony in Acts 7:21-22, “Pharaoh’s daughter adopted [Moses] and brought him up as her own son. And [he] was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.” Yet Moses’ pedigree notwithstanding, Scripture says of him:
… when he was grown up, [he] refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God…. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt… he left Egypt, not being afraid of the anger of the king… (Heb. 11:24-27).
What was it, then, that brought both Joseph and Moses to come to despise the land that symbolized such protection, pleasure, and power?


More to come....