Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, “Behold, the people of the sons of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal wisely with them, or else they will multiply and in the event of war, they will also join themselves to those who hate us, and fight against us and depart from the land.”
The book of Exodus chronicles Israel’s departure from Egypt, hence the name of the book. So it is interesting to me that the book begins with Pharaoh thinking about circumstances in which Israel would depart from the land and how to prevent that from happening.
I also note that this Pharaoh did not know Joseph. Joseph had done so much good for the kingdom; had been such a boon as to be remembered for some time after his death. After a fashion, the name; the reputation of Joseph was a covering for the children of Israel. When that name was forgotten, the protection was removed.
Machiavelli would not be born for quite some time, so Pharaoh can be forgiven for not reading The Prince, but the trouble with Pharaoh’s plan for dealing with the children of Israel is that he leapfrogs being feared and loved or even simply being feared and lands squarely in the realm of being feared and hated. According to Machiavelli — and a fair bit of history — this is a sure way to find yourself in precisely the kind of predicament Pharaoh is trying to avoid — the predicament wherein your subjects join themselves to those who hate [you], and fight against [you]. If your subjects already hate you, then they are just looking for someone else who hates you to come along and offer them the chance to be rid of you.
To be able to apply this, it bears consideration that Egypt is often seen as an analog of The World — in the sense of the worldly system of thinking and so forth, as opposed to the Godly — and Israel as an analog of believers. Israel lives in Egypt, but is not accepted by them or well treated by them. Likewise, the believer lives in but is not always accepted by or well treated by The World. Egypt’s ruler looks for ways to keep Israel from leaving and the ruler of The World — i.e. Satan — does the same, trying to keep believers from living in all the blessing that God has for us and also trying to prevent new believers.
The takeaway is that I am either going to be a part of Egypt or a part of Israel, not literally, but metaphorically. I will either be a believer or not. Believers will have trouble with The World. No two ways about it. And it will not always be because the believer did anything wrong. In fact, it is often because The World thinks that believers think the same way The World does.
Moreover, there is the very real fear that the believer is mightier than The World. And the fear is real because greater is He Who is in me than he who is in The World. It is not paranoia, it is fact. Christ is stronger than Satan.
Father, thank You for the reminder that difficult times coming my way are not always because I have done anything wrong. Thank You for the reminder that there are times when The World just gets paranoid about what believers are going to do. Thank You for the reminder that the One Who lives in me — You — is greater than the one who is in The World.