"All the officials of Egypt will run to me and fall to the ground before me. ‘Please leave!’ they will beg. ‘Hurry! And take all your followers with you.’ Only then will I go!” Then, burning with anger, Moses left Pharaoh.
In yesterday’s reflection we saw how Pharaoh’s anger was part of the hardening of his heart that kept him from doing what was right as a leader. His sinful anger was filled with arrogant pride and selfishness.
Today we see anger of a different sort. After Moses delivers to Pharaoh the stunningly terrible news that the firstborn Egyptian sons are about to die, he leaves Pharaoh “burning with anger” (v. 8). What a fascinating and telling emotional response! If Moses had been caught up in an ego battle with Pharaoh, he might have felt smug in his vindication. If he had been consumed by hatred for Pharaoh, he might have felt pleased that his enemy was finally going to get his due.
But, instead, Moses felt angry. He was angry with Pharaoh because Moses saw how Pharaoh’s hardheartedness was leading to a painful tragedy. It was as if Moses was thinking: “What a waste! If only Pharaoh had been different!” Notice that Moses was not motivated by anger to smite the Egyptians. If anything, his anger grew out of his compassion for them.
I’m reminded of a story in the Gospel of Mark, where Jesus encountered a man with a withered hand in a synagogue (Mark 3:1-6). Because it was the Sabbath, the Pharisees were waiting to see if Jesus would heal this man so that they might accuse him. When Jesus sensed their hard hearts, he looked upon them with anger, and then healed the man’s hand.
I pray that God will not be angry with me for my hard heart. In the words of Bob Pierce, the founder of World Vision, “May my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.”
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: Have you ever felt angry over causes of suffering and injustice? Do you think God might ever be angry with you because your heart is hard?
PRAYER: Dear Heavenly Father, as I read this story from Exodus, and as I remember a similar story about Jesus, I find myself hoping that you are not angry with me because of my hard heart. I expect there are times, Lord, when I fail to be compassionate for those in pain. Forgive me for my self-centeredness. Give me a tender heart so that I might be a channel of your mercy in people’s lives. Amen.