Bible readings Exodus 2vs23-25; 3vs7-10; 11vs1-2; Acts 7vs22. My life (put) alongside God's word, volume 1.
Right in the middle of the story describing the plagues God inflicted on the Egyptians, is a tiny phrase that I must have skipped over dozens of times in my private Bible reading. It is especially relevant to Sudanese believers today.
The circumstances were that God’s people found themselves oppressed by the rulers of the land. They were treated unfairly, sometimes harshly. They had been slaves. Those who were free were treated little better than slaves, just because they were Israelites. They didn’t have to do anything to be under suspicion. They were carefully watched simply because of their race.
God had seen their plight all along. Nothing ever escapes His view. Read Exodus 2:23-25; 3:7-10; 11:1-2. God also knew the future plans He had for them.
God had rescued Moses, when the Pharaoh tried to kill him along with all the other baby Israelite boys, at birth, read Exodus 2:1-10; Acts 7:20-22.
In Exodus 11 Moses is confronting Pharaoh and is warning of the final plague from God – the slaughter of every Egyptian firstborn, both human and animal.
Reading in Acts 7:22 we learn Moses was “educated in all the wisdom of the Egyptians” and “was powerful in speech and action”. I had remembered this bit of the story because of the excuse Moses made to God for his stubborn disobedience, Exodus 4:10.
But the small phrase I had missed for so long is this, found in Exodus 11:3, “Moses himself was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and by the people”.
Moses lifestyle up to this point in his life had earned him respect even from his Egyptian “enemies”. They had watched what Moses did. They had listened to what Moses said. To many Egyptians what they saw was all good, and what they heard made a lot of sense. The ruling Pharaoh was not convinced, but many of the common Egyptian people held Moses in great respect – they recognised him as a good, sincere, man of God.
Now in the countries of Sudan and South Sudan the whole population are living through momentous times. Things that happen every day could (they don’t have to) bring division and war. Many South Sudanese are migrating south with their families, even though there are few facilities in South Sudan – like schools, universities, roads, clinics and hospitals. As a result many northern Sudanese are losing workers, customers and businesses. Notice that even in democracy, the recent referendum proves that both groups of people cannot win!
Over the years God has seen the suffering of Sudanese people from all sides. There has been unfair treatment, harsh exploitation, murderous violence, and deliberate deception. God knows the culprits as well as He knows the victims.
I do not doubt that God has raised up some South Sudanese and Sudanese Christian leaders, men and women whom He has protected and educated (like Moses), so that they are ready and willing to exercise godly leadership when called upon – locally and perhaps nationally in the two Sudans.
However, my question, one which arises out of the little phrase of Exodus 11:3, quoted above, is this. In Sudan, have our Christian lives been lived in front of, and amongst, the Islamic majority? Have we Christians earned the respect of our Islamic brothers and sisters (that is, our fellow human beings in Sudan)? In South Sudan, have we been Christians first, before tribal, ancestral or family loyalties? Have we been good at living like this?
Verse 3 begins, “the Lord made the Egyptians favourably disposed toward the people”. God did it then and He can do it again, whenever He wills it to be so. I pray that He will in these challenging times.
I also pray that God’s dear people of Sudan, will be continually earning the respect and, even admiration, of the majority people, whether they are Islamic or Animistic or whatever else. May our light shine out in the darkness, Matthew 5:14-16, 1 John 1:5-7.
Now, all you Christian preachers and teachers, don’t get me wrong! I am not hoping that God will kill every firstborn in Sudanese Islamic families – that is taking this parallel much too far! There is terrible danger in taking the Old Testament as literal parable for today. I will rather pray that God will help all Islamic families to meet Jesus as their Saviour, before they meet Him as their Judge.
An outsider’s pathway to seeing Jesus as Saviour may well be brought into their focus by Christians such as you and me living as Jesus would live amongst them, see Acts
The first Christians also “enjoyed the favour of all the people”, Acts 2:47; and “were highly regarded by the people”, Acts 5:13. They were encouraged to “Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day He visits us”, 1 Peter 2:12.
Like Moses and the people of his day, and like Jesus and His first disciples, may we live God-honouring lives which will further God’s own purposes in today’s Sudan, and South Sudan, while also influencing tomorrow’s two countries.
1. Thinking of Exodus 11:3, what could Moses and the people do so that God could grant
them a good reputation with the Egyptians?
How would this help?
2. How can we Christians have texts like Acts 2:47 and 5:13 apply to ourselves? (See above).
3. What must we do?
4. Where must we do it?