Friday, April 2, 2010

Let My People Go, Part 4 (RVL)

March 21, 2010 Ray Vander Laan Let My People Go, part 4
When Joseph and his extended family of 70 settled in the bountiful and isolated area of Goshen, the political conditions were in their favor. The country was ruled by the Hyksos who weren’t really Egyptian, but rather Semitic, like the Hebrews. Here is a quote from the web on this time period: (
“Around 1720 B.C., a group of foreigners referred to as Hyksos, invaded the land of the Nile and erected their capital at Avaris (Tell ed-Dab'a) Though they penetrated Egypt at a time of political disintegration that had resulted in a proliferation of local rulers throughout Lower Egypt (the western delta had already seceded to form an independent kingdom), the success of Hyksos imperialism should be attributed largely to their exploitation of a number of Asiatic technological innovations. Those may have included the horse-drawn war chariot, the battering ram, and the composite bow. Soon after 1560 B.C., however, the Hyksos were expelled from Egypt by native princes, and the so-called New Kingdom period of Egyptian history was inaugurated.”
We do not know how many years after this the Hebrews endured their new environment. We might wonder why this turn of events was necessary. It was because they were doing so well under the Hyksos that they never would have left the green pastures of Goshen for the arid regions of Palestine without a compelling reason. The carvings on the stone walls show cruel reminders of how the new Pharoahs treated their enemies. They show piles of hands that were cut off and Pharoah beating bound prisoners. 

Ray showed some pictures of an Egyptian chapel that had a hole in the outside wall where people would come and say their prayers. They would rub their hands on the wall as part of the ritual and deep grooves are still visible. They were literally talking to a wall, but the Biblical God heard the prayers of his people. There is a Hebrew word, that like hagah, has an emotional punctuating sound to it: ze’akah. This is a painful, pathetic scream and the Jews were crying it. The Egyptians wanted to kill the boy babies and the taskmasters lashed the whip. Ze’akah is still being expressed by the unborn heading for abortion, the hungry, widows, and orphans. 
Pharoah is shown in countless ways smiting something. Moses did this too, so he was banished into the wilderness where he underwent 40 years of on-the-job training to learn how to lead people by leading sheep. When his time was up, God appeared to him in the burning bush. But Moses said to God: “Who me?” God said, “You’re perfect for the job: you know the customs, the language... and I’ll be with you, every step of the way.” Eventually, he accepted the offer. God is looking for people even now who can push back evil - who can be the message, not just say the message.
The war that God is waging against the demonic strongholds which have Egypt in their grip is played out in the 10 plagues. For example, the plague of frogs is against the god Heket- Egyptian Goddess of Fertility, Water, and Renewal; the Nile turning to blood is against Hapi- Egyptian God of the Nile; the three days of complete darkness is against Ra- the sun god, etc.  In our Passover seder, we dip our finger into the second cup of wine and splash it against the plate as we recite the name of each plague. Note that in the sentences of this paragraph, the verbs are in the present tense. This confrontation with the demonic is relevant today as Ray explained. This whole series of Let My People Go is being made into a DVD and he showed us some footage that was filmed in Egypt. In the Valley of the Kings, there is a chapel without windows that dates back to this time period. Its walls are decorated with pictures of these gods and other hieroglyphics. Ray and his entourage of students had been filming throughout Egypt without much difficulty. But when they approached this building their sound equipment stopped working. They switched batteries and units but nothing worked. They finally had to use a hard-wired microphone to capture the words. The video shows Ray going into the room by the light of one lantern and addressing the gods. He said he could feel the spiritual darkness and the hair on the back of his neck stood out as he dismissed their power. When God’s kingdom advances, the power of satan has to be pushed back.
Ray had two closing thoughts:
God is looking for people who will live the kingdom life and defeat evil (and the evil one) by the power of the Holy Spirit wherever they find it.
When Jesus faced evil for the last time, he beat him. HaSatan (The Satan, as it is spelled in Hebrew) still has power, but he has been beaten.
Thank you God that you didn’t give up on our broken world. The Exodus story points to the time when the lamb of God would come to bring us the ultimate redemption, victory, and peace.

1 comment: