A Tale of Two Pharaohs

If you’re planting a church, you do it in interesting times.
In the words of an American prophet, “The times they are a changin’ ‘” Further he sang, “Keep your eyes wide open, the chance won’t come again.” Good advice at any time, but especially now.

Two pharaohs—one got it, the other didn’t

One man was wise enough to listen to a prisoner/prophet recently hauled from his own dungeon. His humility saved a nation. The other hardened his heart against an even greater display of God’s power and he was the one who would “sink like a stone” because the times were changing.
Slog through Facebook and note the leaders reacting against our changing times. Many with hard hearts and ears that do not hear.

Rewards for the Astute

The “new normal” is not only about how to run church after COVID-19. We’re in a social tsunami not seen since the late 1960s when Dylan wrote those fateful words. Life drastically changed in those times. On the one hand the Civil Rights Movement was good as was getting out of an eternal war in Vietnam. The Jesus Movement brought millions into faith, paving the way for today’s megachurches. But we also experienced the onset of drugs, new sexual mores, rampant divorce, abortion, lost faith in government, etc, etc, etc.
Life in a “Leave it to Beaver” pre-1960 world happened. I know because I grew up in one culture and lived as an adult in another. As the wheel turned, enormous change rewarded the humbly astute while punishing prideful keepers of status quo. So, what to do?

Discernment and Humility are Brothers

Ask God for a discerning heart and a double-dose of humility for starters.
Consider, “the sons of Issachar who had understanding of the times, to know what Israel ought to do.” That description appears in scripture as the torch slowly passed from Saul to David. They lined up with the new social order before anyone could have fully understood it.
Here’s the deal. They knew when God was moving in a different direction than he had in their recent past. They could discern which leader had God’s hand of blessing. They basically reacted with humility during two waves of radical social upheaval.
Decades earlier, the tribe of Issachar (one of just six out of 12) had the wisdom to throw in with Deborah and Barak in a revolution against an oppressive enemy nation. Deciding to follow a woman in such times was hardly a trendy thing to do.
I wonder if these guys would wear masks in public? Would they press for the right to public assembly in the face of a pandemic? Would they condemn protesters because of the criminal acts of a few? Would they try to defund police departments without a thought for the consequences? Would they bow to China because of economic convenience? Would they try to reconstruct the recent past?
Or, would they watch and pray as opportunities inevitably present themselves in times of tumult? Would they read the news with an eye for whatever God might be doing under the surface? Might what seems the steps and missteps of human leaders look like the hand of God to them?

Open, Rejoicing and Ready to Lead

Another thought brings Paul to mind when he wrote to the Philippians. Humility kept him open, and rejoicing, over whatever outcome he faced at trial. He held the heart and poise of a leader writing under great duress.
Guess it’s all in how you see it. One pharaoh was willing to listen—trade some short-term pain for later gain. The other sank like a stone. The times they truly are ‘a changin.’
So what opportunity do you see in the maelstrom of change? Do black lives matter to you? Are you a masker or a refuser? Why? Could you do church if we never got to go back in the building? I’ll read and post your comments—I promise!