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Life in a Dictatorship

is unpredictable.

Exodus 1:1-14 (ESV)

These are the names of the sons of Israel who came to Egypt with Jacob, each with his household: Reuben, Simeon, Levi, and Judah, Issachar, Zebulun, and Benjamin, Dan and Naphtali, Gad and Asher. All the descendants of Jacob were seventy persons; Joseph was already in Egypt. Then Joseph died, and all his brothers and all that generation. But the people of Israel were fruitful and increased greatly; they multiplied and grew exceedingly strong, so that the land was filled with them.

Now there arose a new king over 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, and, if war breaks out, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens. They built for Pharaoh store cities, Pithom and Raamses. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. So they ruthlessly made the people of Israel work as slaves and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field. In all their work they ruthlessly made them work as slaves.

Notice how there doesn’t seem to be much difference between being “residents” of Egypt and being “slaves” in Egypt. The people of Israel didn’t lose a war or anything like that; they just woke up one morning to discover they were slaves.

Nice, eh? Welcome to life in a dictatorship.

This is why we put the Ten Commandments on courthouse walls in America. People object to this as some kind of violation of church and state, but they miss the point. We do this for perfectly good historical reasons.

Prior to the Ten Commandments, the law was just whatever this king says. So, when there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph, everything changed. Bang, you’re slaves.

But the Ten Commandments introduced the idea of permanent law – law above whoever’s in power right now. This is foundational to our justice system. Laws and court rulings can’t change with the whims of whoever’s in power this year or whoever’s the judge in a particular case.

Always pray for our nation and our nation’s leaders – especially those you disagree with. Open disagreement is one of our great strengths. Yes, some folks need to get a speck out of their eye – but you know the rest. God has blessed us massively. Praise Him for that.

Also, please lift up our military. While our nation is far from perfect, we often find ourselves up against forces of genuine evil. We can’t win these battles on our own.

The weekly study guides, which include discussion questions, are available for download here:

Mike Slay

As a mathematician, inventor, and ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America, Mike Slay brings an analytical, conversational, and even whimsical approach to the daily study of God's Word.

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