We started this year with a showdown and a shutdown, in some ways reminding us of the showdown between Moses and Pharaoh. Of course, the stakes are a little different this time, but can you imagine being an Egyptian or an Israelite during that intense battle of the wills?
We read the story knowing the ending, but they lived it out not knowing the outcome. In fact, even the Israelites couldnâ€™t hear their own plan of salvation that Moses delivered because of the harshness of slavery (Exodus 6:9).
You can imagine that during this time, while leaders were trying to decide the fate of people over something that should be as simple as letting them go worship in the wilderness for three days, things only continued to get harder for the working man.
Living through the plagues
At first, Pharaoh takes away the straw for bricks and demands that their output remain and maximum efficiency, despite the dire removal of a key ingredient. And think of today, people needing to go to work without money, without pay, and many canâ€™t even afford to get their jobs.
Now, imagine you are in Egypt and heads of states are arguing and all of a sudden, news spreads that all the water surrounding you has been turned to blood. I donâ€™t know about you, but I would be in a panic. Being thirsty is one of those things that I donâ€™t do well with. I can fast from food much easier than I can fast from water.
But this is where they are at â€” all the water turned to blood. So instead of Pharaohâ€™s magicians using their dark powers to turn the blood back to water for the good of everyone, they just try and do the same thing . . . and succeed.
First off, why didnâ€™t they even try to help the people by changing the water back from blood into water? Instead, they made it a competition. How is that helpful? I think we might find some clues as to determining who God may be behind in all of this.
The next plague: frogs. So, Israel had to go through water being turned to blood, but now, here come the frogs. So many frogs that they were in their bedrooms, on their beds, in the kitchens and all over the cooking utensils and bowls. So what do Pharaohâ€™s magicians do?
They bring more frogs! They were so interested in being in control that instead of using magic to get rid of the frogs, they rejected all common sense and even ignored logic to attempt to maintain homeostasis by dispelling the frogs that they thought the answer was to bring more frogs.
Iâ€™m sorry, but when frogs are all over my kitchen and in my bed and I canâ€™t even sleep at night or make food for however long because frogs are everywhere, by all means, I donâ€™t care about power plays at this point; just get the frogs out. Donâ€™t fight frogs with more frogs!
Now, the third plague was gnats. However, this is the one where the magicians tried to bring forth more gnats but failed.
But here is the interesting part, we get to the fourth plague; flies. This is where the God of Israel begins to separate the His people from all of Egypt. It is from this plague forward that none of the remaining plagues touched Israel. I also donâ€™t think itâ€™s by coincidence that the fourth commandment is to guard the Sabbath. Ezekiel seems to explain the importance of the Sabbath even further in chapter 20. Six times the Lord makes mention of how Israel profaned His Sabbaths, â€œwhich are a sign between them and Me to know that I am the Lord who sets them apartâ€ (Ez 20:12, 20:20).
It was a big deal. This is what sets His people apart from the world and they couldnâ€™t even get free without the Lamb of God.
Who was right?
Remember, there are hundreds of thousands of Americans without work right now, going through a very real Egypt experience. We, at this point, have no idea how this is going to pan out. Itâ€™s scary news for many and we want to take sides. Decide between who is right and who is wrong.Â Both parties have arguments on both sides of the aisle that resonate. And both leaders, Pelosi and Trump, are blaming each other for this government shutdown.
Who are we supposed to believe? How do we get to the truth of the matter?
Well, for Christians who are on the fence about who is right in all of this, the best place to go for wisdom is the Bible. And who else knew how to decide between two people blaming the other person for the exact same thing? Why King Solomon, of course.
Remember when the two mothers who were fighting over the baby in 1 Kings 3? They were both claiming that the last living baby was their baby and saying that the baby who had died was the other motherâ€™s. So, Solomon did something that we actually have a name for in Portuguese. He did what we call, â€œjogando verde.â€ This is when you ask such a leading question that the only thing that can come out of the personâ€™s mouth will reveal the lie or the truth. Even Jesus used this tactic with the Pharisees when He answered the Pharisees with a question of His own regarding John the Baptist. (Luke 20:4)
I wanted to apply the same logic here to our present-day scenario with the government shut-down. And that is how the whole scene from the ten plagues ties into this â€œjogando verdeâ€ logic and why I went through Pharaohâ€™s magicianâ€™s responses in the beginning of this article. I wanted to guide you through some logic because in order to employ this tactic, one needs to be thinking far in advance.
First off, when Solomon said to just cut the baby in half, obviously he knew that the real motherâ€™s love and care for the life of the baby would far outweigh any pride of being right or more powerful and that is exactly what we need to look for far beyond words used here between these two parties, Trump and Pelosi.
The hostages, so to speak, are the American workers out of work and soon to be food stamp recipients that will no longer receive a balance at the end of the month due to the shutdown, with only more troubles to come if this continues. Forgetting every soundbite that the media has offered and only listening to the words directly from each leaderâ€™s mouths and watching their actions, who has refused to leave the negotiating table for the sake of the people?
Truly, cut the baby in half.
I canâ€™t help but remember who was ready to leave the country for two weeks on a foreign excursion trip.
If it were my baby on the line, I would be watching every move the other person made and would proceed with the utmost care and caution.
Who cares the most about the workers, about the food stamp recipients and millions of others soon to be affected in this shut down?
Who is constantly inviting the other party back to the drawing board, the one who is not interested in making things more difficult on the people by inviting more frogs and blood, so to speak? Which leader is the one who really cares about their rightful child, or their constituents, the American people?
â€œAnd the woman whose son was living spoke to the sovereign, for she was overcome with compassion for her son. And she said, â€œO my master, give her the living child, and by no means kill him!â€ But the other said, â€œLet him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.â€Â I Kings 3:26
Perhaps, the real question is not just a question of compassion for the people, but for what people? Who are we supposed to take care of first?
Our own people or people trying to flood our border? How can a nation take care of otherâ€™s without properly taking care of their own first?
I am the child of immigrants. First-generation Portuguese. I have family living in very corrupt countries right now, enduring under violence and food shortages. But believe it or not, not everyone wants to come to America and run away from home. There are plenty of people who love Â their home country and want to fight to make it better. My mother has her documentation. She cannot travel anywhere without it to any other part of the world. So, why are Americans expecting America to be different? I couldnâ€™t leave Brazil and go into Paraguay without documentation. I couldnâ€™t leave Spain and go to Germany without proper documentation. I couldnâ€™t do it then, I canâ€™t do it now. If I want to go to Portugal, the land where I have right to live because of my motherâ€™s birth, along with 13 other European countries, I have to get documentation first.
Many would argue that I am not fleeing war and poverty. Well, look again. America is practically a war zone. If you wear a red hat, you are wearing it at your own risk. If you fly a Trump flag, you are flying it at your own risk. If I want to March for Life, I can expect the media to take part of a video and portray a half truth. And letâ€™s not let the racial divide fool us. These are things that led to the Civil War.
Taxes, territory and slavery . . . we are looking more and more antebellum by the day.
Divide the baby. Look for the one talking out of compassion. Listen closely not just to the words but watch the actions very closely because many times actions contradict peopleâ€™s words, hoping no one will notice.
Itâ€™s our job to discern, to pray for and encourage our leaders to take care of Americans, because without America, Americans have nowhere else to go.