Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Ironic providence

Finally Pharaoh now decides to take action more directly. The Hebrew midwives had not killed Israelite babies at birth, so Pharaoh ordered his own people to kill newborn Israelite males (1:22). (Aaron was three years older than Moses, and would not be among the children affected by the king’s decree; see 7:7.)

Ironically and unknown to Pharaoh, however, his own daughter would undermine his decree out of compassion for a Hebrew baby (2:6-10)—Israel’s future deliverer. God does not always prevent tragedy—but he does ensure his plan for the future of his people and for ultimate justice.

A good example of how divine providence is hard to interpret in the short-term. A human observer couldn't anticipate how Pharaoh's murderous decree will lead to his own daughter unwittingly torpedoing the cult of Pharaoh. A human observer couldn't anticipate how her adoption of Moses will raise up a prophet to humiliate the cult of Pharaoh. One event unexpectedly leads to another. 

It's actually a bit "fatalistic" in the classic sense that an action intended to forestall an undesirable consequence is the unintended means by which the undesirable consequence is eventually realized. We seen the same ironic quality of divine providence in the Joseph Cycle (Gen 37-50).  
  1. God moves in a mysterious way
    His wonders to perform;
    He plants His footsteps in the sea
    And rides upon the storm.
  2. Deep in unfathomable mines
    Of never failing skill
    He treasures up His bright designs
    And works His sov’reign will.
  3. Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;
    The clouds ye so much dread
    Are big with mercy and shall break
    In blessings on your head.
  4. Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
    But trust Him for His grace;
    Behind a frowning providence
    He hides a smiling face.
  5. His purposes will ripen fast,
    Unfolding every hour;
    The bud may have a bitter taste,
    But sweet will be the flow’r.
  6. Blind unbelief is sure to err
    And scan His work in vain;
    God is His own interpreter,
    And He will make it plain.

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