What Happens When God’s Messengers Challenge Authority?

“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt.” Exodus 1:8

The story of Moses begins where the story of Joseph ends: in Egypt. There are some interesting parallels between the two:

Both were unlikely candidates to be God’s messenger. Joseph was a slave and a condemned prisoner. Moses was banished royalty.

The Rod of Aaron Devours Other Rods

James Tissot, The Rod of Aaron Devours the Other Rods

Both messengers were heard by the Pharoah…but received in very different ways: Pharaoh believes Joseph’s message of impending disaster, knowing from his dreams that all was not well in the land of Egypt. Pharaoh rejects Moses’ warning, being confident in Egypt’s unrivaled power, wealth and divine favor.

God directly influences both Pharaohs’ receptivity to the message…in different ways. God warns Pharaoh through dreams that disaster is coming, preparing him to hear Joseph’s message. God harden’s Pharoah’s heart, so that he is unable to see the impending disaster, even when the signs are everywhere.

Both messengers eventually receive positions of power and responsibility. Joseph becomes second in command in the Egyptian empire, and is tasked with protecting an entire civilization from destruction. Moses takes on the roles of prophet, priest and king over God’s people, and is tasked with protecting them from self-destruction. 

 Both messages affect the geographical relocation of God’s people. As a result of Joseph’s message, God’s people are relocated to Goshen and offered security. As a result of Moses’ message, God’s people are liberated (or expelled) from Egypt. God leads them to the land promised to Abraham, after a generation of wandering into the wilderness.

So, what happens when God’s messengers challenge authority? It depends on the crisis, the messenger and the authority.

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About Corey Sharpe

Where do we get our beliefs? Three theological perspectives have significantly shaped my Christian identity: Evangelicalism, the early Methodist tradition and liberation theology. From my coming to faith in a Baptist church and throughout my education in a Baptist school and college, I was nurtured by convictions that emphasized a spiritual rebirth, a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and the centrality of the Bible. Even when I disagree with certain aspects of evangelicalism, it has deeply influenced my sense of what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. My seminary studies spawned my interest in early Methodism, particularly its approach to spiritual formation. Its leaders were convinced that only a foundation of doctrine and discipline would lead to a meaningful transformation of the heart and mind. In other words, having the mind of Christ enables me to be more like Christ. Life in a suburban culture obscures the increasing gap between the poor and rich, as well as the Bible’s close identification with the poor. My doctoral work in socio-cultural context exposed me to liberation theology, which helps me see redemptive history as a history of oppressed groups, written from the perspective of the powerless, about a God who is actively involved with the poor in their struggles. I am now the pastor at Huntingtown United Methodist Church in Calvert County, Maryland. Together my wife and I are raising 4 young theologians.
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One Response to What Happens When God’s Messengers Challenge Authority?

  1. Pingback: What Happens When God’s Messengers Challenge Authority? « HUNTINGTOWN UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

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