When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials were changed towards the people, and they said, ‘What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?’ So he had his chariot made ready, and took his army with him; he took six hundred picked chariots and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt and he pursued the Israelites, who were going out boldly. The Egyptians pursued them, all Pharaoh’s horses and chariots, his chariot drivers and his army; they overtook them camped by the sea, by Pi-hahiroth, in front of
- Exodus 14:5-9
It sometimes seems that the only time people really want to share something with us is when it’s something intolerable.
Everything is fine for the Israelites, so long as they remain bound to Pharaoh’s service. As soon as they flee into the desert, the minds of Pharaoh and his officials are “changed towards the people.” Never mind that he had told Moses and Aaron, “Rise up, go away from my people, both you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord, as you said” (Exodus 12:31). The Israelites are following the Lord. They are doing something different. They are getting above their station. And Pharaoh is determined that they will not go.
If this story seems a long way away from our own time and experience, it
shouldn’t. Each of us lives in some way bound to a status quo. Don’t ask too many questions. Don’t make a fuss. Keep things from getting awkward. The pressures that keep us apart from the Lord are every bit as powerful as Pharaoh. They are usually harder to identify, but our overlords are determined that we too will remain in line, will drop any “unacceptable” behavior.
When we make a move to follow the Lord, whether it be an act of charity, defense of the little guy, or vocal opposition to unethical practices, we should be prepared for Pharaoh to say, “What have we done, letting Israel leave our service?”
- Andrew Kryzak, Seminarian