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Posts Tagged ‘Exodus 8-11’


Ezra 7 & 8The Hand of the Lord

Michelangelo: The Creation of Adam

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Because the hand of the Lord, his God, was upon him, the king granted him all that he requested.

A Favorite from May 2, 2011.

This is something for us to consider – particularly on a day when we come to grips with the death of Osama Bin Laden.   It is one of the most difficult lessons that scripture poses and I often return to certain lines from Exodus because they remind us that the process we initiate in our lives is likely the process with which we will finish.

In Exodus 8:15 and 8:32 we read that Pharaoh hardens his heart which seems to set the pattern for his life.  Later, in Exodus 9:12, 10:20, 10:27, 11:10, and 14:8  we read that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heartfollowing this pattern the man had set in motion.  In 9:14 read that Pharaoh’s leaders have also hardened their hearts.  Finally, in 10:1 the Lord warns Moses that he has hardened Pharaoh’s heart.

All of this reminds us of Newton’s First Law: Every object in a state of uniform motion tends to remain in that state of motion unless an external force is applied to it. Or as we read in the story of Job, what we plow and sow we also reap (Job 4:6).  St. Paul reinforces this idea with the Corinthians (2 Corinthians 9:6) and Galatians (Galatians 6:8-9).

Fortunately for nature there is Newton’s third law: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.  This is not so much the power of good against evil but rather, the power of God to convert evil into good.  Fortunately for us God loves us enough to pull goodness out of evil.

As we read Ezra’s story to see how he and Nehemiah nurture the return of the Jewish people, it becomes clear that he indeed has the hand of God upon him for together with his friend he brings order out of chaos.   There does not seem to be any other explanation of how these two men achieve so much against such heavy odds.

Psalm 95 encourages us to harden not our heartsIt is true that when we turn away from the Lord our world and our lives become colder each day while conversely when we turn to the Lord with our problems we increase in goodness and abundance.  This is what Christ tells us in the Gospel stories – Matthew 25:29, Mark 4:25, and Luke 19:26.  This is what Christ tells us today.  If we wish to have God’s hand upon us, we must act as though we believe it is so.

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