Sometimes when I listen to the news, I can get very cross with some of the politicians. It bothers me, for example, that sometimes there are only a handful of Members of Parliament discussing and passing bills on really important issues. It bothers me that they are free to drink wine with the meals they consume in the Houses of Parliament. I would have been sacked if I’d come back to an afternoon in the classroom reeking of booze – and they are supposed to be doing the important task of leading our nation! It really bothers me that the world leaders spend millions of pounds catering for themselves at a conference on world poverty and hunger. I could go on…but I won’t. Suffice it to say, that it can be difficult to respect those in authority, when they don’t set a good example and earn our respect.
Joseph held Pharaoh in respect. In spite of the fact that he was sitting back enjoying the life of plenty that Joseph had secured for him, while our boy was doing all the work! When Jacob and all his other sons finally arrived in Goshen, Joseph insisted that they pay a courtesy visit to Pharaoh, and get their work visas officially stamped, so to speak (Genesis 47:1-6). While Joseph held so much power, Pharaoh still held the position, and had to be respected. Pharaoh was happy to smile beneficently on them, knowing the benefits to Egypt, and to his own royal flocks, of some good skilled shepherds. Not paying due regards to this unchallengeable dictator would most definitely have led to a far less pleasant outcome!
I sometimes think we take God for granted. He is not a Pharaoh, and treating him with less than respect may not have an immediate consequence. Indeed, we can even live in his Kingdom and ignore him altogether. He is God Almighty, omnipotent, above all powers and principalities of heaven and earth; ruler above all rulers; able to squash us like a flea if he so desired. Yet he chooses the way of love; wooing us; seeking us out; making a most costly way for us to come to him. He bids us come and love him, rejoicing over us when we return his love. He didn’t need to earn our respect, but he chose to, because he wanted something more – he wanted us to love him. Is that too hard?