Lord of the flies

Monday Musings for June 28, 2021

Good morning, Musers,

In his novel Lord of the Flies, William Golding postulated what even the most innocent among us — our children — might become as a society when left without supervision… and his point is well taken. Without the supervision of the ultimate caring parent — God — we’d all be savages. From Adam through Cain and to the flood, the trajectory of humankind was downhill morally (Genesis 6:5)… and we see this in Pharoah’s arrogance.

Pharaoh was an arrogant wannabe demigod... but he wasn’t actually a god or a demigod. He just played one on TV (... just kidding, of course). But that was his reputation. Regardless of how much his subjects thought he was a god, his problems started when he took on Moses’ God — the One True God... the “I Am”… the being who created Pharaoh and gave him his job!

One thing I like about the plague of flies is how petty it seems on the surface. If I wanted to vex someone, I’d have a fly lazing about in his or her periphery — perhaps occasionally bouncing off their forehead — but have the fly escape every effort to swat it! Well, there was no escaping the flies that day in Egypt. The ground was thick with them!

But this plague wasn’t petty. It was a miracle… and two things made it one: first, God said the plague was coming at a certain time — and it came! Second, there were no flies in Goshen. If this were a naturally occurring plague, the flies would have shown up over all the land.

Goshen was “different” — but not for geography’s sake. It was for the people’s sake. God’s people dwelt in Goshen, and God wanted it known that his people were different from other people.

Here’s the thing about miracles: they are beyond rare. So, we shouldn’t be waiting around for them like we’re waiting for a bus. When God worked a miracle, it provided relief for a moment... but it taught a lesson for eternity: this person speaks for God — and what he says is true! But despite their biblical appearances, most of us live our lives without expecting one.

This is why I do not cheapen miracles by calling things that are merely God’s provision miracles... like the sunrise and the rainfall (Matthew 5:45). Note also that, although my salvation is miraculous to me… it’s not a miracle per se. Anyone can accept God’s salvation at any time — and it is a “miracle” of love and grace! But it’s not a “sign” miracle… and that’s what’s in view.

Now, I don’t understand how deeply these pharaohs who sold themselves as gods believed their own press. Surely they got sick. Surely they wearied. Surely they made mistakes… and this means that those who were closest to them probably knew that the Pharaohs were not gods. But working in a palace would have been better than working in the Egyptian sun, so they would be foolish not to play along.

We know the rest of the story: Israel was ultimately redeemed from Egypt. But note that God did not destroy Egypt. God’s people are different — but they are not avenged. Not yet, anyway.


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