- Exodus 8:1 (NLT)
Most of us who are of faith in both the Christian and Jewish traditions are familiar with this passage from the Old Testament. After being given guidance by God, Moses went before the powerful Pharaoh and demanded that he be allowed to take his people out of Egypt to travel to the Promised Land. "Let my people go" was the demand as Pharaoh just toyed and played with him. But as the the promise of what Egypt would suffer if they held the Israelites in bondage took effect over and over, Pharaoh would meet with Moses after each suffering event and promise to release them, only reneging on his word each time until, in the end, the Angel of Death striking his beloved son made him relent. Yet, even then, he soon sent his legions after them and we all know that story of what happened at the Red Sea. The miracle of the parting of the waters let Moses' group pass while the charioteers and heavy-laden soldiers became mired in the wet sands and were swept under as the sea returned to its natural state.
Fast forward to the present time and look at the picture of Manhattan on lockdown during the busy time of what would normally be a working day. It is almost totally abandoned, and such scenes are just starting to be less than normal in America today as the country very slowly begins to get moving again. Yet, even in the hope of limited openings and the likelihood of more and more activity being allowed, many legitimate questions remain unanswered concerning the how and why of the decisions being made. Places like abortion clinics have been deemed essential and have remained open while most routine medical operations, including needed but not immediately required treatments pile up in backlog to free up hospitals and doctors for COVID-19 case treatment. At the same time, however, the workload is not nearly as heavy as expected, leaving medical personnel often furloughed and hospitals seriously underutilized. Schools, both at lower and higher levels, even though normally filled with the least likely to become infected among us, remain shuttered as well as churches and other houses of worship while liquor stores have remained open. Big box stores and large grocery chains have been busy while the small businesses that generate fifty-percent of America's employment remain closed in so many places and people lose hope while being out of work. Some believe that as a result, the rate of suicide before all is said and done may be worse than the virus. Unintended consequences are often missed when government makes decisions, Yet government, however, has never missed a beat and we see leaders at various levels clearly exceeding their authority while showing an almost gleeful demeanor as those they govern suffer. And, of course, the media plays its part to feed the issue, moving the bar higher and higher when we are now at the point where the supposed cure is much worse than the disease that is clearly much less severe than we were told. I don't know about you readers, but there is something very abhorrent to me about a nation which will take our hope and salvation which our faith reveals and try to shelve it at the urging of supposed medical experts who clearly show their disregard for the people they work for, even as many other medical professionals, the ones out in the field on the front lines of battle with this unseen enemy counter nearly every misguided missive thrust upon them. Yet, no one wants to hear them. It just doesn't make sense and we of faith need to open our hearts to God in order to discern what this really means and what it should be telling us. Thankfully, many have done so and are now challenging the validity of what has been thrust upon us.
Today, maybe the cry should be a modification of that one from God passed on by Moses to "let my people go." To me, I think it very well might be "Let my people work and survive." After all, God made us to work and earn our bread. God expects us to use the talents he gave us and to use our minds positively to live and survive as He would have us do. It is hard to imagine that God would tell us to sit home, be silent and allow the power elites to turn us into jello over an issue like survival. And He certainly wouldn't expect us to close His House in such a great time of need and I think that is why the President yesterday made the statement that our churches should be opened. Certainly we have to apply smart and careful application of how that is done, but that's really not very difficult and it mostly involves using common sense. And isn't it interesting how the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) came out with guidelines within mere hours after the President's comments about the churches? That's what good leaders do, they prompt action on a wise course.
Make no mistake. Donald Trump is President today for a special reason and he is the leader of this nation, like it or not, for just such a purpose. And before you say, but he had such a bad background in so many ways and is so crass, remember the background of so many in the past who have been used by God for a special purpose. There was Moses who we have just read about. Moses, a less than imposing man despite the movie depiction, a man who was not a great speaker and was basically an introvert and a fearful man, often afraid to make a decision. Yet God picked him to lead his people out of bondage and their are many, many more devotees of God in the Bible who also had dismal records along the way before they really accepted what God wanted from them. There was King David, a great warrior and gifted leader who also defied God in the most demeaning of ways when he sent his most loyal and brave warrior to sure death in battle so that he might take the man's wife into his bed and have her for himself. Then there was King Cyrus of Persia, a man who was not a believer in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but who was chosen by God to free the Jews after years in captivity in Babylon and let them return to the Promised Land and their beloved Jerusalem, the City of God. And, of course, we can't leave out Paul, a man who made his living persecuting and capturing those Jews who had accepted the new Christ and yet was chosen to take the message of Forgiveness and Redemption to the Gentiles around the world. So, Trump was elected against all the odds and those who didn't want him elected have gone on steroids in their quest to try and stop him and his mission. And they really haven't been able to get close. There is a reason for that as there is a reason for all things and for me, I think maybe because at this moment in time, when many think his days in office are over, there might be a much greater reason for that which is unfolding. It likely will surprise all of those who now think, like they thought nearly four years ago, that he is on the ropes. They couldn't destroy him then, but they think they can use a crisis that is full of questions with few answers to do the job now. A big surprise and a shock is likely awaiting them and all things that happen on this earth are never by coincidence.
Perhaps, and I personally I think it is much more than a perhaps, just like Moses took the task of fighting to let God's people go from bondage and leading them to the Promised Land, Donald Trump has the task of letting God's people get back to work to live free and productive lives, both in their need for employment to gain the things they need to sustain themselves, but also for their need to be able to carry on the work of their faith which needs the sustenance of the open church. As I've alluded to before, Donald Trump is no saint, but he is an American who understands that this nation was one founded under God and that God is the ultimate decision-maker of all things about life. And American Christianity played a central role in her creation and, as such, Christians, just like Jews and all persons of faith in a God of goodness and light, not evil, have a right to exercise their freedom of religion and no government has the right to eliminate that right. It is God-given, not a dictate of mortal man. This current situation of sealing shut the country and closing her doors to the normal way of living never happened before and it was done in order to grasp and get control of what the unknown expectation was before it grew too great. We know in our hearts, as does our President, that this has now been accomplished to the degree necessary to get moving again and it's time to open the country and that includes access to our houses of worship. Should we use care? Yes. Does that mean staying closed with decisions made upon dubious foundations? No. No misguided politician, no matter what the true motivation is, has the right to continue to infringe upon those rights and that, in a nutshell, is why the President has said and done what he has said and will continue to act on. So, get over it, for like it or not, he is still the President of the United States and was duly elected to that office legally and within the guidelines of our Constitution. And as long as he stays within the boundaries of the Divine Rights which God gives to leaders trying to do his bidding, he will prevail. God knows that sometimes He needs to use just the right combination of talent and nerve to get the job done. This is one of those times.
Lord, We thank you for living in a time where we have a real opportunity to show our commitment to you when so many stand against us. And we pray that you'll guide us in the way to your Truth and our Salvation. And be with our good leaders as they try to map out a course that is pleasing to you. Amen