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Thursday, March 22, 2018

God's Perspective on Humanity

Part 1

Have you ever noticed how much some people are treated like they are royalty and more important than others?  Sometimes they have bodyguards assigned to protect them.  Sometimes they are moved to the front of the line.  Sometimes simply the way people talk to them gives the impression that they are very important, as the speakers become obsequious and overly polite.  

Usually, in our culture, the people treated this way are receive that treatment for one (or more) of about three reasons:  either they are famous, or they are wealthy, or they are in positions of power (which are also considered the measure of whether someone is “successful”).  These people receive special treatment while the homeless man at the curb is despised and devalued.  Sadly, whether or not either of these folks are people of good character, people of integrity, trustworthy and compassionate becomes irrelevant in these situations…their entire value of their worth as human beings. 

I will always remember something I read years ago when President Reagan was shot in the assassination attempt.  About the same time, the people who collect and dispose of the trash in Philadelphia were on strike.  The article pointed out that President Reagan had been shot, was lying in a hospital recuperating, and the government continued to carry out all the daily activities that it does…life went on.  But after a short time of striking by trash collectors (sanitation engineers they were called), the city of Philadelphia was shut down, as garbage piled up in the streets.  The article pointed out how it makes you rethink a bit about who REALLY IS important.

Similarly, during my studies of Jewish writings in Cincinnati, I ran across what I believe is a very profound insight about the story of Moses’s birth.  The studies I was doing at the time related to the way the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) sometimes made little comments without saying them outright, and pointed out one such comment in that story.  The story of Moses’s birth describes the suffering of the Jewish people, and the decree by Pharaoh that newborn Hebrew male babies were to be killed at birth.  (Interestingly enough, these days it is reported that just the opposite often happens in China, where the girls are killed or given up for adoption and the boys kept.)  But there were two Jewish midwives who chose to ignore the Pharaoh’s decree:  Shiphrah and Puah.  You can read the whole story in Exodus 1. 

The observation made by the writings I was studying was that this text quietly reveals GOD’S perspective of who is important and who is not in a very subtle and interesting way.  The insight can be demonstrated by a couple of simple questions.  

What, does the Bible tell us, was Pharaoh’s name?  

What were the names of the midwives?  

Scholars have debated for years which Pharaoh it was referred to by the scriptures, because the Bible never says his name…EVEN THOUGH EVERY EGYPTIAN AT THE TIME KNEW HIS NAME AND WOULD HAVE CONSIDERED HIM THE MOST IMPORTANT PERSON IN THE LAND.  

But the names of the midwives, who would have been virtually unknown in the land of Egypt at the time, has been preserved for thousands of years, because it was they, not Pharaoh, who were doing the things God believes honorable and important!

Well, this is going to have to be part one, because it would be too long if I continue.  I started this because there is a New Testament story that brings a similar parallel, and in reading it today, I learned something new I had never really noticed before.  So I will save it for next time, and today simply point out that just because nobody knows YOUR name, and no one treats YOU like you are an important person, while people of highly questionable character are treated like gods, does not determine the REAL value of who you are and what you do.  

God’s perspective that will last into eternity, and by which all people will be judged, is not the same as that of society.  

Remember, Jesus said, “the first shall be last, and the last shall be first,” and that “the greatest among you will be the one who serves.” 

To be continued….

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