Scripture: Then he summoned Moses and Aaron by night and said, “Up, go out from among my people, both you and the people of Israel; and go, serve the LORD, as you have said. Take your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and be gone, and bless me also!” Exodus 12:31-32 ESV
Observation: Having instructed Moses and future generations how to observe the Passover and Feast of Unleavened Bread, Yahweh takes action to motivate Pharaoh to let Israel go by striking down the firstborn males of the Egyptians and their beasts. Indeed, while the Lord orchestrated the first nine plagues through supernatural acts of nature, here, he directly inflicts a devastating final blow that guts Pharaoh and changes his perspective on the value of holding on to this slave nation that has become a thorn in his side. Now the arrogant Pharaoh succumbs to his grief over the loss of his eldest son and realizes that he needs to cut his losses. So, even though he had threatened Moses never to seek his face again, Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron before the break of dawn and commands them to “go!” All of you, take your livestock, go and serve your Hebrew God, and “be gone” (above verses). And then there’s the curious addendum: “and bless me also.”
Takeaway: There are a couple of takeaways. First, as seen throughout this Exodus story, vengeance is the Lord’s (see Deuteronomy 32:5, Romans 12:19, and Hebrews 10:30). If we exercise patience under the weight of others’ oppression, he will lift us to either higher ground or his heavenly kingdom in his perfect timing. Meanwhile, his Holy Spirit grants us grace that is sufficient to empower us in our weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9). And we see this dynamic unfold for Moses in the ebb and flow of the first nine plagues.
Secondly, Pharaoh’s bizarre goodbye (bless me) demonstrates that even unbelievers can see that we are blessed. However, the unrepentant Pharaoh will soon change his mind and charge after Moses and the Israelites to his demise. But in this brief moment of sanity, he exhibits enough faith (albeit in the wrong object of faith) to ask Moses to bless him. Seem ludicrous? Yes, but Jesus taught his disciples to love their enemies and pray for those who persecute them so that they might act like sons of their heavenly Father. And he adds, “For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45).
Just as our Father lavishes his graces on us that spill over to the unjust around us, so we, his children, should follow the example and command of our Emancipator and let those blessings flow through us to our oppressors. For if we wait on the Lord to deliver us and pray and seek ways to bless our enemies, he will rescue us from them or transform them into allies in due time.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for graciously broadcasting your blessing on us, who were once your enemies, as most evident in the life, death, and resurrection of your Son. So would you please help us act accordingly as your children by blessing our enemies? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling