Egypt was glad when they departed, for dread of them had fallen upon it. -- Psalms 105:38
Friday, June 5, 2015
Down and Out in Egypt
I admit that I am a rather perverse Christian. I always smile when I read this verse. It has often been the case in my life that people have been glad to be rid of me, probably not so much for dread as for annoyance. The basis of the psalmist’s chant is Exodus 12:33, The Egyptians were urgent with the people to send them out of the land in haste. For they said, We shall all be dead. Plague after plague and destruction wrought by God had left the Egyptians fatigued, terrorized, beaten and baffled.
The world has been, here in the West, remarkably tolerant of the Church in some of its manifestations. There is, these days, though, a rising and more blatant animosity being expressed, not only by the militant atheists but society in general. I am not worried by this.
As individual believers, the times of stress and turmoil that we face can be the times when we experience the most rapid and genuine growth and fruitfulness. So, it can be, too, with the Church as a whole. Persecution brings purification, and, sometimes the Body of Christ is in need of that, though we certainly don’t enjoy or welcome it.
There isn’t much that I would call “official” persecution going on here in the United States apart from the incursions of the fabulous gay –marriage gestapo against bakers and photographers. The growing cultural opposition and antagonism to any public expressions of Christian faith, values, and piety, however, indicate that a watershed may be approaching. More and more people find the idea of free speech on the part of anyone outside the Borg offensive. Not content with ignoring and deriding us, they might prefer to have us silenced.
I am old enough to have attended school when the teacher led us in prayer, when Bibles were commonly found and even read from in the classroom, and we stood together to say the Pledge of Allegiance. I doubt that any of those things were harmful to any child. Being a child, when these activities ceased, I did not give much thought to it. I am such an opponent of public schools and the dastardly teachers’ unions that I would oppose sending children to those indoctrination centers even if they allowed prayers. In fact, it may not be too long before they do sanction prayer – five times a day, facing Mecca.
When the Israelites left Egypt, the biblical account states that they spoiled the Egyptians, taking much in the way of jewelry, gold and silver from their former masters. The Lord was able to move the hearts of the Egyptians and make those arrangements because it all belongs to Him. I believe that He will, amid the coming turbulence, give gifts to the Church, perhaps material riches, but certainly wisdom, insight, understanding, skills and talents that are necessary for the furtherance of the kingdom. This will be the case all around the world, even in the heart of Muslim nations and oppressive socialist regimes.
The pendulum swings; the wheel turns. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.