We are reading about Pharaoh right now. That guy is a study in many disciplines, for the keen eye.
In our portion, Israel has just left Egypt, and the people of Egypt are peeved that they don’t have a people serving them any more.
I recently went through the same thing Israel experienced in that. We left, but some of those we left behind were peeved at not having our SERVITUDE any more. They pursued. And they wanted to put us back under that same type of servitude. All the while still deigning that they wanted us free. The funny thing is, we VOLUNTEERED to serve, and did so joyfully for many years, until we realized that much of whom we served were merely pharaohs in disguise. They claimed they were our brothers. So much so, that even after we left, we still voluntarily SERVED some of them, under the pretense of them claiming to love us. The truth is, and they don’t even see it, is that they merely loved what we could DO for them.
As I read the portion, I saw that Pharaoh did not realize again that it was Yah hardening his own heart at times. Actually, He ‘strengthened’ it, so that He could affect His own will for Israel through Pharaoh. And part of Israel actually desired to be with Pharaoh still. Just like a part of me still desired the friendships, even though, in the long run, they were all fake and rooted in selfishness. Pharaoh thought simply that he had gained the gumption again to go after Yisra’el. But it was for the purpose of showing Yisra’el that GOD is SOVEREIGN, and HE will be our ‘rear guard’, and our guide, as long as we decide to SERVE HIM, FIRST. It was GOOD that Yisra’el see that Pharaoh would be lost in the Red Sea, to know that Egypt is firmly in the rear-view mirror.
Egypt was slavery, abject servitude. Yes, in our lives it represents, ultimately, our servitude to sin. But, if a person or people view us, the believers, ONLY as a servant, and NOT as friends, then it is more healthy not to have that relationship at all. It is not healthy for the person[s] holding the servant in bondage to false love that is loyal based only on the others’ service, and it is not healthy for the servant.
Years ago, I had a pastor who was forever serving his congregation. I had only recently become a part of it, because I married into a family that had helped to found it. He resigned not too entirely long after my wife and I started attending there, about a year, I think. He and I had become friends by that time, however, and I first began serving the Body of Messiah there, ‘officially’. And before he officially resigned, he and I were chatting about it. He told me, with tears in his eyes, “Daniel, I’m just tired. I’m weary, and I have no companionship.” As he spoke, I saw him in a vision in my mind [call it imagination if you like; all I can say is that what I saw in my mind was as real as what is right before my eyes right now], and he had a bucket of water in his one hand, and a ladle in his other. He was standing in front of a line of people. The sun was to their backs, beating him in the face; his face was parched and dry, burnt, but at the same time, almost pale [is that possible?]. He ladled a drink to a person, filled the ladle and gave it to the next person. I immediately ‘saw’ that he had not drunk from the water. I also immediately understood what I ‘saw’, and I told him, “Larry, you’re parched and thirsty; you need to drink.” He immediately broke down, in relief. He left when the time was right.
Having that vision in mind twenty-eight years later, however, did me no good, as the ‘brothers’ I spoke to about it, on many occasions over a three to four year period, were too stone-hearted to respond. And it ended up getting me lied about, spoken ill of, even in my own home, publicly humiliated and berated, and my family maligned and further lied about, to this day, all by people who professed to understand the dire nature of ‘lashon harah’. They still do not. And, like Pharaoh, they do not realize the condition of their own hearts. They are content simply to demand that I be the one to change states.
Fast-forward two more years. I rejoice. My wife and I again took up service to God by serving His people, not too entirely long after having been abused; not because we are gluttons for punishment, but because it is what WE were CALLED to do. Our marriage was founded on the very notion that we would live a life of service to HIM. Each of us, before we met, was praying for a spouse that would SERVE HIM with us. Little did we know what the nature of that service would be. But, we found ourselves again serving HIS people. This time, however, we finally have brethren, TRUE brethren who CARE, who actually HEAR us when we say, “I thirst.”
And they do not strike the rock.
Twice a week we ‘assemble’, once for teaching, and once for worship and deep reflection in His Word. Yesterday I had every intention to teach in the evening. I have been mildly sick, however, for about a week. My wife had already counseled me that I should cancel the evening studies, due to my struggle to speak [chest congestion had been robbing me of my voice], but I was ‘bound’ to an unspoken oath to be faithful ‘in season and out of season.’ A brother called, however. Which, by the way, had been a very RARE occurrence for me, until the last two years. Few people ever called just to chit chat with “Dan”. Or to check on me. One brother, it turns out, did so programmatically, just to be able to say he did. This brother last night, however, heard the struggle in my voice, and immediately counseled me to REST, to take the night OFF from studying. And I now have a few brothers who actually care enough just to call. And seem very genuinely happy to do so. When you fly solo for nearly thirty years, with a few buzzards to come along side, stinking up the air eventually, it is nice to have an eagle or two at your wings for a change. I imagine this is how Moshe felt when Aharon and Khur held up his arms during warfare. Which, incidentally, is also in our reading this week.
I write this NOT to vent or complain. Though I am certain if any from Egypt read it, that is all they will see. I write it for the person who might have a friend or brother who is CALLED to serve, and DOES SO with his WHOLE HEART, and he has reached out in some subtle way to ask for SUPPORT, for FRIENDSHIP, or perhaps his arms just APPEAR WEARY: For GOD’S SAKE, STEP UP and be a MAN. Most cowards will find an excuse to accuse the servant of God, instead of taking God’s compassion for him in his own heart. Or, they will eventually side with the other cowards, because they themselves do not have the mettle to do what is RIGHT. SEE the servant that is before your eyes, as a FRIEND.
Yeshua said this, and it is often misrepresented, I believe:
This is my mitzvah [command]: that you love one another just as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this, that a man lay down his life for the sake of his friends. You are my friends, if you do everything that I command you. Henceforth I will not call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master does; but I have always called you my friends, because everything that I heard from Avi I have made known to you. You did not choose me, but I chose you, and I have appointed you, that you also should go and produce fruit, and that your fruit might remain, so that whatever you ask Avi [My Father] in my Name, He will give it to you. I command these things to you so that you may love one another.”
Yeshua had been ‘serving’ them for three and a half years; and had just lowered Himself to a servant’s position, and washed their feet. And He was about to serve them ultimately, by giving up His life. And the whole point of it is that they would SERVE ONE ANOTHER, not have one person doing all the service.
I only know the wisdom in this, in Moshe’s needing Aharon and Khur, and in Yeshua beseeching His Talmidim to follow His example, because I have now been there, where I realize most people whom we have served were merely content to have us as servants. They did not, in FACT, love US, the people, as true FRIENDS; the VESSELS through whom God poured Himself onto them. They enjoyed the lavish spiritual life our service gave them, but they did NOT truly ‘see’ what God was doing. For them. Through people.
Today I pray for every brother out there who surrenders himself to the will of God to SERVE His people, that those people ALSO surrender to SERVICE in His Ru’akh, that no man be alone in the Kingdom of Messiah, nor ever is abused because of the recalcitrance of selfish congregants.