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Ignorance or Arrogance?

Ignorance or Arrogance

Exodus 1:8-10a

Now there arose a new king in Egypt, who did not know Joseph. And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply…”

Had I been one of those medieval monks charged with hand-copying Exodus onto as many parchments as possible, I might’ve taken the liberty of adding this parenthetical statement at the end of verse 8: “and who didn’t know God either.” Remember back in Genesis 41 when the former Pharaoh called Joseph out from the dungeon to interpret his dream and then followed up the interpretation by proclaiming that Joseph possesses the Spirit of God? I noted then how remarkable that confession seemed, especially seeing how self-deprecating it is for a king to publically admit that a slave has more divine wisdom than himself, but that humility becomes even more outstanding when we contrast it to the pride of this new Pharaoh here in Exodus 1. Unlike his God-fearing predecessor, this new king clearly isn’t concerned with history. He hasn’t stayed up for nights on end trying to get to the bottom of who these Israelite people in Goshen are, or how they got there in the first place, because if he had, he would’ve quickly learned of that seven-year famine that almost obliterated Egypt from the map, and of how God used a Hebrew slave to deliver thousands of people from starvation. So we need to recognize here that this blood-thirsty Pharaoh, a crazed man who will later demand the genocide of every newborn Jewish boy, doesn’t know Joseph because he doesn’t want to. He hasn’t looked into the matter. He hasn’t asked around. He hasn’t picked up an old newspaper or visited the palace archives or talked with stewards who’ve been around a while. He hasn’t cared two hoots, because he’s only concerned for his own glory—that’s it. And that’s precisely his attitude toward the Lord as well. He’s too busy trying to make a name for himself, too busy crushing all the people who stand in his way, to seek the Lord where he may be found.

Oh the joy in any land where a king or a president or a tribal leader bows his knee to Heaven! And oh the misery when he doesn’t.