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Making Them Pay

Exodus 14:27-28
Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and at daybreak the sea went back to its place. The Egyptians were fleeing toward it, and the LORD swept them into the sea. The water flowed back and covered the chariots and horsemen—the entire army of Pharaoh that had followed the Israelites into the sea. Not one of them survived.

Pharaoh took six hundred of his best chariots as well as other chariots, horsemen, and troops, and he caught up with the Israelites as they camped by the Red Sea. The people looked to Moses for answers when they noticed the armies of Egypt coming at them. Moses told them to trust God and walk across the sea to the other side. Then God dried a path for them at the bottom of the Red Sea, and millions of people and livestock made it all the way across before Pharaoh and his men caught up. The Israelites had no trouble with their animals and wagons, but the Egyptians were thrown into confusion. The chariot wheels jammed and slowed the Egyptians' movement across the sea. When the Israelites were safe, God released the water back into its place so that Pharaoh’s army was drowned.

I can imagine that more than one of the Israelites thought the Egyptians had gotten what they deserved. They were paying for their crimes against the innocent. The Israelites probably remembered the harsh treatment they had endured as slaves as they listened to the water rushing back into place.

When we are wronged we sometimes want to see our enemies pay for what they did to us. Some of us remember part of the verse in Romans 12, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” We might remember those words and pray for God to make an example of them like he did with the Egyptians who rode into the Red Sea after Moses.

But there is another story that we should also remember. In the book of Luke, there was a man who took his beatings and didn’t pray for God to make his enemies pay. He endured the pain and humiliation, knowing he hadn’t done anything to deserve it, but didn’t hate those who hated him. This innocent victim wasn’t really a victim, but a savior, Jesus. He prayed, “Father, forgive them.”

Sometimes trouble comes on the troublemakers because of their own foolishness, carelessness, and stupidity. We don’t have to make people pay for what they do to us. Many criminals wake up and realize they’re living in a hell they created for themselves.

When I look at God, I see someone who wants to show mercy. He is just, but he also loves the people he created. Every one of us makes mistakes, but God still holds out his hand to us. How can we elbow our way past God so we can make our enemies pay, but expect God to see us as innocent?

The Israelites didn’t take out their own revenge. They saw God’s vengeance. We also can follow God and watch him deal with our enemies for us. But it might not look like a drowning in the Red Sea. When God confronts criminals, he can change enemies into brothers.

God Bless the Old Folks

2 Kings 2: 23
From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!”
Many families teach their children to respect their elders. However, too many kids fall through the cracks and miss that teaching. I’ve seen rude children in public places where the parent in charge doesn’t have control over the children.

Respect should be taught in homes, churches, and schools. It isn’t about religion or culture. It’s about one human showing regard for another.

But again, there are those who missed that teaching.

In the story of Elisha the prophet, a mob of boys came from town and met him along the road. Common sense would suggest they’d either greet him or say nothing and be about their business. I don’t know what those boys were doing or where they were going, but about forty-two of those boys wished they’d practiced using their manners that day. The boys showed their disrespect and bad judgment when they called out to Elisha, saying “Baldy!”

When two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them, I don’t think those boys ever considered what they did to be a crime worth that kind of punishment. Did the others learn their lesson? Oh, I hope so.

If we practice respect and obedience, we’ll get better at it. God can help us learn without getting mauled by bears. But we have to listen to Him. We have to seek Him.

Accusing the Innocent

Genesis 44:8
We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house?

Joseph and his brothers were at odds with each other when Joseph was young. When he was an adult, Joseph had an opportunity to bring his family together and spare their lives in a time of famine. But he gathered his family in an unusual way.

The brothers, though innocent, were accused of stealing from Pharaoh.

Why would Joseph accuse his brothers of a crime they didn’t commit? Didn’t he already know what it felt like to be taken advantage of? Didn’t he know two wrongs don’t make a right? Why would a God-fearing man use his power and authority to put an innocent man in jail?

Joseph worked out a complex scheme to make them bring their youngest brother and their father to him, knowing they’d forgive him once they heard all the facts. Because he knew his brothers and his father, he knew he couldn’t just say hello and ask them to relocate to be near him. Their history together had made it plain that in order to fix their relationships, some complicated maneuvering had to be done. Nothing had been simple in that family.

Joseph had to gain their respect, prove his authority, and show his love. Funny how God works to show us that we are forgiven – even through unusual circumstances.

Read more about this in the book of Genesis as you seek God with me.

Stopping the Villain

Esther 2:22
But Mordecai found out about the plot and told Queen Esther, who in turn reported it to the king, giving credit to Mordecai.

Mordecai was a hero. He not only stopped a plot to assassinate the king, but also helped save an entire race of people. According to Esther 10:3, Mordecai, who was a Jew and not of the same nationality as the king, became second in rank to the king because he spoke up for the good of others.

He sounds similar to Joseph who also was promoted to second highest rank in the nation he served. Mordecai and Joseph, though they were both of a different nationality than their bosses, saved their families from certain death. Joseph’s family would’ve starved, but Mordecai’s would’ve died by the hand of their enemies because of the evil Haman who had tricked the king into approving the destruction of the Jews.

Mordecai’s wisdom guided Queen Esther’s steps as both of them played their part in the successful campaign against Haman.

Queen Esther’s story is much more than a Cinderella story because of Mordecai’s influence in her life. Her life before she became queen prepared her for the role she would play in saving her people. She made sure Mordecai was given credit for his righteous acts. When the king was reminded of Mordecai’s heroism, it wasn’t long before the villain was defeated.

Mordecai was a hero, not because of his glimmering smile and well-muscled body, but because of his integrity, intelligence, wisdom, and reverence for the king. I don’t know what Mordecai looked like, but I do know what he acted like. Mordecai was a man of honor.

You can read this riveting story in the book of Esther as you seek God with me.