Exodus 1, 8 – 12
Something to read
Now a new king arose over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. He said to his people, ‘Look, the Israelite people are more numerous and more powerful than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.’ Therefore they set taskmasters over them to oppress them with forced labour. They built supply cities, Pithom and Rameses, for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread, so that the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
The man with the coat of many colours, Joseph, had died some time ago after a long and eventful life. His story from shepherd boy to Prime Minister of the greatest empire known to humankind is described in the final part of the Book of Genesis.
He knew that he was dying and so he had made his sons promise that his embalmed remains would, one day, be returned to the land of Canaan (the Holy Land).
Things move on, leaders are forgotten, and the new Pharaoh sees the Israelites as a threat. Their numbers have grown; they are strangers, therefore a threat. What to do? Oppress them. But these people are healthy and their numbers increase, therefore the threat level grows.
Are we different from that Pharaoh? Which group of strangers do we fear? In history so many groups have been oppressed for being different: at one time Jews were banished from the UK; African slaves in the West Indies and the Americas; immigrants today trying to find a better life in Europe - do we ever learn how to accept someone who is different?
Jesus met lots of people whom good religious people shunned: the leper, the adulterous woman, and the Samaritans. Did he shun them, or did he greet them as equals?
Something to do
Have a look in at the television news or in a recent newspaper. Are there stories about people who are different? Why are they different? Is their side of the story properly explained? What would you do if they came to your church, or they stopped you in the street asking about your faith?
Something to pray
Lord, Make us more like your Son, the One who treated all as equals.
Keep our hearts and minds open so that we are never afraid of things outside our comfort zone.
Give us the courage to listen, and the ability to accept things that are different.
In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ, who welcomed all without fear or preconceived ideas.
Today’s contributors are the Rev Michael Jackson, a retired URC minister, and his son, Andy Jackson, Digital Content Manager for Christian Aid.