The Idol of Power

The story of the Exodus of the people of God from Egypt is a big and beautiful story. It is a story of God’s rescue and redemption. It is a story of God’s declaration of superiority over the gods of the land of Egypt. But it is also a deeply personal story. The story involves real people like Moses and his family and Pharaoh. Although I know that there are bigger purposes for this passage, I couldn’t help but notice that in the story of the Exodus, God demolishes one man’s idol of power.

The ruler of Egypt gives us an insightful look into the heart of a man captivated by power and control. In contrast to Moses’ humble awkwardness at the divine call in the desert, Pharaoh is the self-confident guy who has manipulated circumstances in order to come out on top. And God ultimately used this man’s craving and lust for authority to bring redemption to the Israelites. Here are ways to know that you’re similarly obsessed with power just like Pharaoh:

  • You are intimidated by people who aren’t like you (1:9-10) and you compensate by mistreating (1:11-14) or sidelining (1:15-22) them.
  • You punish unwanted expression through brute force and unreasonable expectations (5:10-14)
  • You cannot allow for freedom of expression that you’re not in the middle of or creativity that you didn’t invent yourself (8:25, 28).
  • You are willing to lose everything else except power (10:7).
  • You have an inordinate desire to be the “Big Brother” (10:8).
  • You assume evil intentions on the part of those whose plans differ from yours (10:10).
  • You move to manipulate people using their families (10:11) and possessions (10:24) when they don’t fall in line.
  • You view people only as means to an end and value people only for what they can do for you (14:5).

The hope for freedom from the power-junkie mindset only comes in the Gospel. In the Gospel, Jesus gives up power and does in our place what we could never do ourselves.

  • Jesus loves and wants people who are nothing like him.
  • Jesus’ yoke is light. He enjoys rewarding people with rest.
  • Jesus gives us freedom. He didn’t come to give more Law, but to fulfill it.
  • Jesus wants to give up everything in order to come to us.
  • Jesus died to make us part of his family. He doesn’t pretend to be family just to take advantage of us.
  • Jesus knows the worst about our intentions, but he loves us anyways. He doesn’t hold our past faults in front of us when we come before him.
  • Jesus doesn’t manipulate us into doing what he wants. He patiently guides us like a shepherd.
  • Jesus saw the value of humanity as equivalent to his own life and death. The value of the human soul was worth the incarnation and death of our Savior.

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