February 3: Wisdom Can Quickly Become Folly
Exodus 7–8; John 1:35–51; Song of Solomon 1:8–14
What we need to hear and what we want to hear are rarely the same thing. Leaders who encourage honesty, allow for errors, and establish an environment of trust usually hear what they need to hear. A dictator, on the other hand, will never learn what they really need to know. People shield them or stay away from them; an environment of fear is only destructive. It’s with this point in mind that the story of Moses, Aaron, and Pharaoh becomes even more intriguing.
Pharaoh surrounded himself with people who would tell him what he wanted to hear (Exod 7:22), not what he needed to hear: “You’re oppressing the Hebrew people and they will rise up against you. And furthermore, we’re afraid of their God and we can’t really do what He can do. We’re small-time dark magic; their God is the big time.” Instead of speaking this truth, Pharaoh’s advisors went on pretending and conjuring up cheap tricks.
Plague after plague hit Egypt, but Pharaoh’s heart remained hard. And this is where we don’t really know what happened: when God hardened Pharaoh’s heart, was it already too difficult for Pharaoh to give in on his own accord? We don’t know the answer, but we do know that God ended up making an example of his foolishness.
Even when water turns to blood, frogs appear everywhere—followed shortly by gnats and flies (Exod 7:14–8:32)—Pharaoh didn’t listen. Instead of turning to Yahweh, he turned to the same sources: his gods, his belief that he is a god (common for Egyptians), and his ill-advised counselors. And that’s the lesson: if you surround yourself with “yes” people, they will say yes, and you will be ignorant. You will lose, and you will end up on the wrong side of God.
Who do you turn to for advice? Are your friends, mentors, and church leaders more apt to tell you the truth or say something that makes you happy? If it’s the latter, who can you turn to who will speak honestly to you about faith?
JOHN D. BARRY
- Then the Lord said to Moses, Behold, I have made thee Pharaoh’s God, and Aaron thy brother shall be thy Prophet. Thou shalt speak all that I commanded thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he suffer the children of Israel to go out of his land.But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my miracles, and my wonders in the land of Egypt. And Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out mine armies, even my people, the children of Israel out of the land of Egpt, by great judgments. Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch forth mine hand upon Egypt, and bring out the children of Israel from among them. So Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded them, even so did they. (Now Moses was fourscore years old, and Aaron fourscore and three, when they spake unto Pharaoh.) And the Lord had spoken unto Moses and Aaron, saying, If Pharaoh speak unto you, saying, Show a miracle for you, then thou shalt say unt oAaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall be turned into a serpent. Then went Moses and Aaron unto Pharaoh, and did even as the Lord had commanded, and Aaron cast forth his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it was turned into a serpent. Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and sorcerers: and those charmers also of Egypt did in like manner with their enchantments. For they cast down every man his rod, and they were turned into serpents: but Aaron’s rod devoured their rods. So Pharaoh’s was hardened, and he hearkened not to them, as the Lord had said. The Lord then said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is obstinante, he refuseth to let the people go. Go unto Pharaoh in the morning, (lo, he will come forth unto the water) and thou shalt stand and meet him by the river’s brink, and the rod, which was turned into a serpent, shalt thou take in thine hand. And thou shalt say unto him, The Lord God of the Hebrews hath sent me unto thee, saying, Let my people go that they may serve me in the wilderness and behold, hitherto thou wouldest not hear. Thus saith the Lord, In this thou shalt know that I am the Lord: behold, I will smite with the rod that is in mine hand upon the water that is in the river, and it shall be turned into blood .And the fish that is in the river shall die, and the river shall stink, and it shall grieve the Egyptians to drink fo the water of the river. The Lord then spake to Moses, Say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and stretch out thine hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their rivers, adn over their ponds, and over al pools of their waters, adn they shall be blood, and there shall be blood throughout the land of :Egypt, both in vesselsof wood, and of stone. So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord commanded: and he lift upthe rod, and smote the water that was in the river in the sight of Pharaoh, and in the sight of his servants: and all the water that was in the river, was turned into blood. And the fish that was in the riever died, and the river stank: so that the Egyptians could not drink of the water of the river: and there was blood throughout the land of Egypt. And the enchanters of Egypt did likewise with their sorceries: and the heart of Pharaoh wax hardened: so that he did not hearken unto them, as the Lord hath said. Then Pharaoh returned, and went again into his house, neither did this yet enter into his heart. All the Egyptians then dug round about the river for waters to drink: for they could not drink of the water of the river. And this continued fully seven days after the Lord had smitten the river. Afterward the Lord said unto Moses, Go unto Pharaoh, and tell him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. And if thou wilt not let them go, behold, I will smite all thy country with frogs: And the river shall crawl full of frogs, which whall go up and come into theine house, and into thy chamber, where thou sleepest, and upon thy bed, and into the house of thy servants,a nd upon thy people, and into thy overns, and into thy kneading troughs. Yea, the frogs shall climb up upon thee, and on thy people, and upon all thy servants. Also the Lord said to Moses, Say thou unto Aaron, Stretch out thine hand with thy rod upon the streams, upon the rivers, and upon the ponds, and cause frogs to com eupon the land of Egpt. Then Aaron stretched out his hand upon the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. And the sorcerers did likewise with their sorceries, adn brought frogs up upon the land of Egypt. Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Pray ye unto the Lord, that he may take away the frogs from me, and from my people, and I will let the people go, that they may do sacrifice unto the Lord. And Moses said unto Pharaoh, Concerning me, even command when I shall pray for thee, and for thy servants, and for thy peopole, to destroy the frogs from thee and from thine houses, that they may remain in the river only. Then he said, Tomorrow. And he answered, Be it as thou hast said, that thou mayest know, that there is none like unto the Lord our God. So the frogs shall depart from thee, and from thine houses, and from thy servants, and from thy people: only they shall remain in the river. Then Moss and Aaron went out from Pharaoh: and Moses cried unto the Lord concerning the frogs, which he had sent unto Pharaoh. And the Lord did according to the saying of Moses: So the frogs died in the houses, in the towns, and the fields. And they gathered them together by heaps, and the land stank of them. But when Pharaoh saw that he had rest given him, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had said. Again the Lord said unto Moses, Say unto Aaron, Stretch out thy rod, and smite the dust of the earth, that it may be turned to lice throughout all the land of Egypt. And they did so: for Aaron stretched out his hand with his rod, and smote the dust of the earth: and lice came upon man and upon beast: all the dust of the earth was lice throughout al lthe land of Egypt. Now the enchanters assayed likewise with their enchantments to bring forth lice, but they could not, So the lice were upon man and upon beast. then said the enchanters unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God. But Pharaoh’s heart remained obstinante, and he hearkened not unto them, as the Lord had said. Moreover the Lord said to Moses, Rise up early in the ornig, and stand before Pharaoh (lo, he will come forth unto the water) and say unto him, Thus saith the Lord, Let my people go, that they may serve me. Else, if thou wilt not let my people go, behold, I will send dwarms of flies both upon ethee, and upon thy servants, and upon thy people, and into thine houses: and the houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, adn the ground also whereon they are. But the land of Goshen, wher emy peol are, will I casuse to be wonderufl in that day, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that thou mayest know that I am the Lor in the midst of the earth. And I will make deliverance of my people from thy people: tomorrow shall this miracle be. And the Lord did so: for there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh, and into his servants’ houses, so that through all the land of Egypt, the earth was corrupt by the swarms of flies. Then Pharoah called for Moses and Aaron, and said, Go, do sacrifice unto your God in this land. And Moses answered, It is not meet to do so: for then we should offer unto the Lord our God that, which is an abomination unto the Egyptians. Lo, can we sacrifice the abomination of the Egyptians before their eyes, and they not stone us? Let us go three days’ journey in the desert, and sacrifice unto the Lord our God, as he hath commanded us. And Pharaoh said, I will let you go, that ye may sacrifice unto the Lord your God in the wilderness: but go not far away, pray for me. And Moses said Behold, I will go out from thee, and pray unto the Lord, that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from this people tomorrow: but let Pharaoh from henceforth deceive no more, in not suffering the people to sacrifice unto the Lord. So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed unto the Lord. And the Lord did according to thes aying of Moses, and the swamrs of flies departed from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, and there remained not one. Yet Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, and did not let the people go. Exodus 7–8
- The next day, John stood again, and two of his disciples. And he beheld Jesus walking by, and said, Behold that Lamb of God. And the two disciples heard him speak, and followed Jesus. Then Jesus turned about, and saw them follow, and said unto them, What seek ye? And they said unto him, Rabbi, (whic his to say by interpretation, Master) where dwellest thou? He said unto them, Come, and see. They came and saw where he dwelt, and abode with him that day: for it was about the tenth hour. Andrew, Simon Peter’ sbrother ,was one of the two which had heard it of John, and that followed him. The same found his brother Simon first, and said unto him, We have found that Messiah which is by interpretation, that Christ. And he brought him to Jesus. And Jesus beheld him, and said, Thou art Simon the son of Jonah: thou shalt be called Cephas, which is by interpretation a stone. The day folllowing, Jesus would go into Galilee, and found Philip, and said unto him, Follow me. Now Philip was of Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. Philip found Nathanael, and said unto him, We have found him of whom Moses did write in the Law, and in the Prophets, Jesus that Son of Joseph, that was of Nazareth. Then Nathanael said unto him, Can there any good thing come out of Nazareth? Philip said to him, Come, and see. Jesus saw Nathanael coming to him, and said of him, Behold indeed an Israelite, in whom is no guile. Nathanael said unto him, Whence knewest thou me? Jesus answered, and said unto him, Before that Philip called thee, when thou wast under the fig tree, I saw thee. Nathanael answerd, and said unto him, Rabbi, thou art the Son of God: thou art that King of Israel. Jesus answered, and said unto him, Because I said unto thee, I saw thee under the fig tree, believest thou? thou shalt see greater things than these. And he said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Hereafter shall ye see heaven open, and the Angels of God ascending, and descending upon that Son of man. John 1:35–51
- I have compared thee, O my love, to the troupe of horses in the chariots of Pharaoah. Thy cheeks are comely with rows of stones, and thy neck with chains. We will make thee borders of gold with floods of silver. While the King was at his repast, my spikenard gave the smell thereof. My well-beloved is as a bundle of myrrh unto me: he shall lie between my breasts. My well-beloved is as a cluster of camphire unto me inthe vines of En Gedi. My love, behold, thou art fair: behold, thou art fair: thine eyes are like the doves. My well-beloved, behold, thou art fair, and pleasant: also our bed is green. The beams of our house are cedars, our rafters are of fir. Song of Solomon 1:8–14