It is not hard to imagine that the Egyptians who so mercilessly enslaved the Israelites probably justified themselves in doing so. Very often people who engage in devious wrongdoings find ways of justifying and excusing themselves, even when engaged in the most heinous of crimes and injustices against their fellow human beings.
The Pharaoh who initiated the unjust enslavement of those whom he was supposed to be caring for and protecting, falsely rationalized “. . . The Israelites have become much too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them, or they will become even more numerous and if war breaks out, will join our enemies, and fight against us and leave the country. So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor . . .” (Exodus 1:9,10). Notice how his subjugation of a whole nation was based on groundless fear, ignorance and an evil desire to dominate and humiliate “the others” whom he claimed were foreigners and aliens. He stoked the unrationalized fear of his people, inciting them to move against their own neighbors, increasingly making their lives bitter with hard bondage and executing the worst atrocities upon them (Exodus 1:14).
However, what’s most affirming, redeeming and striking about the whole passage is verse 12. It resoundingly states “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel (Exodus 1:12). It remains crystal clear to us that the Scriptures we preach strongly denounces racism, bias and bigotry in every form and shape. It decries sexism, classism, ethnocentrism and injustice of any kind, everywhere.
Today, we must be just as careful not to read Scripture from the social location of the powerful and the privileged. It will also do us good or better to read Scripture from the margins (through the eyes of the marginalized and the disenfranchised) in order to grasp the true God of Scripture who is especially revealed in the midst of struggle and oppression. In fact, this is where He is most found according to the Scriptural revelation as presented throughout the Word. We can rest assured that in the Scriptures the voice of the disenfranchised and the marginalized counts for something with God (Exodus 2: 23,24).
This is what this passage and the whole tenor of Scripture teach us. We greatly benefit from seeing Scripture through a different theological lens. If nothing else, it teaches us that this God that we preach - He sees, He hears and He knows (Exodus 3:7). It reveals that after a while He comes down with the intent purpose of delivering from every injustice and all evil oppression. He is passionately on the side of justice, for all who are burdened and oppressed in any form. He intentionally delivers and sets the captive free (Acts 10:38).
In 2021, I see chains breaking, fetters falling and the evil systems oppression and injustice repealed and banished. The God of the broken and the oppressed, revealed in the midst of struggle and oppression, has come down to rescue and graciously lead us out of every bondage. We celebrate our “Exodus” in Jesus’ name. We remain unstoppable in 2021! (Exodus 1:12).
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Bishop — Northeast Region
January 23, 2021
In collaboration with our District Overseers, the Church of God of Prophecy submits to the wisdom of continuing to ‘Shelter in Place’ for the safety and protection of the flock. This is to be observed until further notice and the present virus is better contained. Should the need arise to meet, we are advised to meet in groups of no more than 10, while we strictly observe the protocols of social distancing, wearing of masks and aggressive sanitizing of our hands and surfaces frequently touched.
Please let us patiently observe these practices to keep each other safe and alive. We are reminded that we are indeed our brother’s keeper. Stay home! Stay Healthy! Stay Hopeful! We shall soon get through this! Premature re-openings of our churches seem not to be the wisest way to go at this point. Let us continue to pray, caring for each other and staying connected.
Leroy V. Greenaway
Regional Presiding Bishop — Northeast Region