“Pharaoh said, ‘Who is the Lord, that I should obey Him and let Israel go? I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.'” — Exodus 5:2 (NIV84)
In Exodus Chapter 1, we are told that a Pharaoh rose to power who did not know (remember) Joseph. He did not remember that Joseph, an Israelite, was responsible (through the grace of God) for the saving of the entire nation of Egypt. It was through Joseph that God revealed the interpretation of Pharaoh’s dream, that a severe famine was coming that would destroy the nation if they did not spend 7 years prior preparing for it. The Pharaoh of Joseph’s day, who went through the 7 years of plenty and the 7 years of famine, knew who the Lord was. He knew the God of the Israelites. He not only knew of Him, but was indebted to Him for saving and protecting his kingdom. Four hundred years later we see a Pharaoh in power who didn’t remember his history as he ought to have. He didn’t know the truth about the Israelite people and their God. He, and probably other pharaohs before him, began to exchange a true and accurate understanding of their history with a redefined truth for the present and the future. So, the Pharaoh of Moses’ day honestly stated that he didn’t know the God of the Israelites and, therefore, would not let them go. What would be the cost for him and his people for forgetting the truth about the past? They would find themselves going nose to nose with God Himself. They would experience plagues of devastation from this God they had forgotten. They would be completely destroyed for their disobedience to a God they forgot existed. You see, truth remains true, regardless of whether it is believed or lived. The consequence of forgetting the truth is what the Egyptians were about to face.
As an American, I am frightened by how quickly we have forgotten the truths of our past. We are only a little over 200 years old, and we have already begun to deny and redefine our past. Like the Pharaoh of Moses’ day, we seemed to have forgotten the God who blessed our birth and who, to this day, is the source of our prosperity. We have politicians and judges making laws and pronouncing judgments that are no longer rooted in truth. We have forgotten how we became who we are. We have lost our true identity because we have lost connection to truth. Paul said in Romans 1:25, “They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and worship and serve the creature rather than the Creator.” We must ask ourselves, as we look at the devastating moral climate of our society, if we are not beginning to pay the cost for forgetting the truth of our past. We are becoming a more segregated and violent society. We are not segregated by color and race, but by thoughts and ideas. We don’t know what we believe in anymore. We don’t know whether there is such a thing as truth anymore. We live in a society where everyone wants to define and live by their own truth. What do you get when millions of people begin to believe and live by their own truth? Chaos.
What is true for the United States is true for all humankind. It is vitally important that we know the truth about our past. The Pharaoh of Moses’ day forgot and paid the highest price. We must not forget! We must cherish and revere our past. Being firmly rooted in a clear understanding of our past will help us understand who we were, are, and ought to be. We are a sinful and broken people that God has redeemed through the death and resurrection of His own Son, Jesus. We are a people deeply loved by God, even though we so often stray so far from Him. He pursues us with the truth of His Word and desires that we be reconciled in our relationship with Him. We are called to live out our lives in gratitude to God and in loving service to other people.