Summary: A general sermon - not too deep on the relationship of rule breakers and our Biblical heroes and Jesus Christ.
And so from last week, the essence of the message that I delivered is quite simple, there are times you can be between the rock and the hard place, not through your choice, not through your own actions but you’re there because of a course of actions that others have taken. Our lives are intersected quite often by the actions of others but we make the most out of the situation and get on with it. Just as Joseph did when he was thrown into prison, he was wrongfully accused of a ‘crime’ and Mr Potiphar knew it but he was coerced by his wife into action. Joseph turns a disadvantage into an advantage and does God’s bidding even whilst in prison!
I wonder how many of us would have adopted the same outlook that Joseph took. I wonder if we would have managed to put our bitterness and resentment aside or would we have embraced our imprisonment as a chance to do something for God, to do something good and worthwhile. I guess most of us know the answer to that one!
This week we rejoin the story at a later part Joseph is now dead, his brothers are gone too and there has been a whole generation or so that have followed, but most of them have forgotten or do not know of Joseph or his achievements. They forgot about the special relationship that Joseph had with Pharaoh but more importantly the new Pharaoh, the new King forgot about the relationship with his people!
What’s the worst workplace situation you’ve ever had to deal with? Dismissing a member of staff? Redundancy? Or could it be amongst the most worrying situations for most within the workplace is when a new manager is brought in from outside...the unknown entity! You either get people who are skilled and talented and the worst thing they do is manipulate people in a positive way to travel on a journey with them or you get a dunderhead, who doesn’t know the job, has no people skills and decides to reign by instilling fear into the workplace. That’s what the next part of this story continued from last week takes us to.
In our story there is one theme that is prominent amongst all others, it concerns one of the most prominent characters within the Bible, Moses.
The theme is rule breaking, of rising up against tyranny and those who would abuse the power that some Lord over us. And yet, this rule breaking is not from someone outside, it is within.
As the new and tyrannical Pharaoh decides to rule by fear, he orders "Every boy that is born to the Hebrews you shall throw into the Nile, but you shall let every girl live." This isn’t just a rule, it is a form of genocide or ethnic cleansing, as Pharaoh is terrified of the vast growing numbers of Israelites and wants to stop them breeding.
We’ve seen that many times in history, we seen it in this century, in countries with tyrannical regimes, Serbia, Bosnia and others. We’ve even had our own cleansing here with the Highland Clearances...but that was for economic reasons. Pharaoh’s reasons were purely based on an irrational fear and on jealousy, because they were popular. Strange isn’t it that popular people or successful people can even today, fall prey to the criticism of some for merely being popular or successful.
But let’s return to the essence of today’s message, the rule breaking as it was one within the Royal household who saved the baby from the water, pulling him out of the reeds and naming him Moses because she ‘drew him from the water.’
Moses was eventually raised as her son – the Hebrew child who Pharaoh had tried to kill, was effectively his grandson...
Pharaoh’s daughter broke the rules, she knew what her father had ordered the killing of all male Hebrew children but she saved one and he rose to prominence in due course.
It never ceases to amaze me that there are times when it is just practical or indeed necessary to break rules. Wife giving birth in the back of the car, you don’t wait at traffic lights – you see if it’s safe and you put the foot down. Sometimes rules are meant to be broken!
How many of you have broken rules? Ever speed on the motorway? Ever rebelled against a tyrannical boss? Some rules required the law to be broken to make people understand how archaic and inane they really were. Think of Rosa Parks who refused to give up her seat to a white man on a bus and Martin Luther who refused to be silenced because he was black. Most, if not all of us would agree that these two figures were not criminals they were activists – fighting a system that discriminated against the colour of one’s skin! No one listened to them so they had to break the law; they had to take a stance