Egypt

~One God Is Required~

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Everyone – pantheist, atheist, skeptic, and polytheist – has to answer these questions: ‘Where did I come from? What is life’s meaning? How do I define right from wrong and what happens to me when I die?’ Those are the fulcrum points of our existence.

Ravi Zacharias

A few months ago I was reading an article about King Tut (his full name was Tutankhamun). The ancient Egyptian pharaoh, and artifacts from his tomb, were making a tour and would be stopping in at Chicago to be displayed at one of the museums there. As I read the article I became intrigued by a couple of things.
Back in 1922, archeologist Howard Carter led a team that unearthed the tomb of King Tut. Shortly after the tomb was opened, Carter’s canary was bitten by a Cobra A year later Lord Cameron – the man who financed the expedition – died of an infection he got while shaving. Add the rumor that King Tut’s tomb held a curse for any who would open his grave… and the media had a field day.

By 1935, they claimed there were 21 victims of the Mummy’s curse.
Now, they really had to stretch to get that number (only 6 of the 22 people present when the tomb was opened actually died over the next 12 years or so… not a dramatic number), but because of the supposed Mummy’s curse and the interest it aroused in the general public, Hollywood took notice. From that day until this, there have been over 500 movies featuring dead Pharaohs, wrapped in burial cloth, wreaking their wrath on foolish mortals who dared to disturb their tombs.

APPLY: The story of the curse of King Tut is interesting to me.
And the reason its interesting is because there really was a curse associated with his family.
But the curse didn’t affect the people who opened his tomb.
And it didn’t effect King Tut.
If I’m right, it effected his father, his uncle and his grandfather.

Tut’s mother was Nefertiti (one of the famed beauties of ancient Egypt) and his father was a Pharaoh named Amenhotep IV.
Amenhotep was not quite as famous as King Tut, but he caused quite a stir in his day because he made a major change in Egypt’s worship. Amenhotep took what had been a worship many gods (called polytheism)… and forced Egypt to worship only ONE god (monotheism)

Scholars are divided as to why Tut’s father made this dramatic change but you can be assured it wasn’t real popular at the time. People didn’t like changes in their worship back then any more than they do now. In fact, Amenhotep’s decision was so unpopular that once King Tut took the throne he immediately changed Egypt back to the many gods that everybody seemed to want.

Amenhotep IV (King Tut’s father) was the heretic King of Egypt.
He wanted Egypt to worship only one god.
That alone was worth my interest.

But even more intriguing was the fact Amenhotep IV wasn’t actually supposed to be Pharaoh. That title should have gone to his older brother – Thutmose.
Thutmose was the 1st born of his family… and he died mysteriously. No one seems to know why. (Aldred, Cyril. Akhenaten: King of Egypt. New York: Thames and Hudson Inc. 1988)

Hmmm.
To my way of thinking this family sounds a lot like one that might have suffered from a curse. A curse known as the 10th plague of God upon Egypt.

God told Moses say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the LORD says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’” Exodus 4:22-23

Now, I could be wrong, but…
Since King Tut’s father (Amenhotep IV) was the 2nd born, and became Pharaoh because his elder brother, the 1st born, had died of unknown causes. And since he decided – once he became Pharaoh – to abandon the many gods of his family for ONE god…
My guess is: Amenhotep was probably the 2nd born son of the Pharaoh that defied God in Exodus.

I can visualize what transpired:
Amenhotep IV would have seen the failure of Egypt’s many gods. And he would have known 1st hand that his family’s gods couldn’t save his family. And in bitterness he would have abandoned them for a more powerful god.
If one God were good enough for Moses – then one god (albeit not the God of Scripture) would be good enough for him.

If that’s true, that would make King Tut’s grandfather – Amenhotep III – the Pharaoh of Egypt during the Exodus.

Now don’t get lost here.
Amenhotep the IV was son of Amenhotep III.
And Amenhotep III was a powerful ruler who ruled Egypt for nearly 40 years. His reign was one of the most prosperous and stable periods of Egypt’s history
But Amenhotep III suffered from the curse.
His son – his 1st born son – died mysteriously.

So let’s review:
King Tut’s grandfather (Amenhotep III) would have been the Pharaoh during the Exodus. Tut’s father (Amenhotep IV) would have become the next Pharaoh sometime after Israel went on their Exodus. And King Tut himself would have restored the ancient practice of polytheism once his father died.

Got that???

Ok, but we still have one Pharaoh we haven’t identified.
Who would have been the “new king who didn’t know Joseph” in Exodus 1?
Moses returned to Egypt at the age of 80, so the Pharaoh who ruled when he was born had long since died. So, who was THIS first Pharaoh mentioned in Exodus?

If my math is right that might have been Tut’s great, great, grandfather – Thutmose III.
Thutmose III loved to build things… great monuments, temples, and cities (According to Wikipedia, he built over 50 temples, including what is now the great ruins of Karnak).

That kind of building would have required a lot of labor… slave labor… slaves like maybe Israelite slaves.

In addition – Thutmose also hated people that weren’t like his people – the Egyptians.
Years before Thutmose became king, Egypt had been taken over by foreign people called Hyksos. The Hyksos ruled for about 110 years
But the Egyptian people never warmed to these new rulers.
They didn’t fit in. They weren’t “like” the Egyptians.
They lived different, ate different, and worshipped different.
And eventually the Egyptians overthrew these foreign Kings

When Thutmose became king he decided to completely remove any remaining threat of the Hyksos and he mounted 23 campaigns to finally destroy what power they still had. He was a mighty warrior that some have called the Napoleon of Egypt.

And like I said – he hated people who weren’t like his people.
Like the Hyksos.
And (perhaps) like the Israelites – because they weren’t like the Egyptians either.
· They lived different
· Ate different
· And they worshipped different than Egyptians did.
Many conservative scholars believe Joseph came to Egypt during the reign of the Hyksos. Thus Israel would have been identified as being part of the hated rule of those foreigners and thus Thutmose III would have sought to destroy Israel because he saw them as posing the same threat the Hyksos had had over his beloved nation.

So THIS is how it would have all played out (according to my way of thinking)
Thutmosis III – was the New King who didn’t know Joseph (Exodus 1:8)
Amenhotep III – (Thutmosis’ great grandson) was the Pharaoh during the Exodus (chapters 3 – 14)
Amenhotep IV – was the 2nd born son who became Pharaoh due to his brother’s death and who forced Egypt to worship only one God.
And King Tut was the king who brought Egypt back to worshipping its many false gods

Now that’s nice but YOU MIGHT ASK “what difference does that make?”
I’m glad you asked
It makes a difference because there are many “scholars” out there who would like you to think that the Bible is unreliable.
They’d like you to think you can’t trust it
That it’s historically inaccurate
That its authors borrowed from other cultures to arrive at its theology.

For example they’d like us to think that Moses didn’t come on the scene of Egypt until nearly 200 years later… and thus learned his theology about there being only “one God” from Amenhotep IV rather than the other way around (first suggested by Sigmund Freud)

Why would these skeptics believe this?
They believe it because they don’t believe in the God of the Bible.
And since they don’t believe in Him they need to explain how the Israelites could have lived in such a polytheistic world… and still ended up worshipping only ONE God. Religion evolved (say these “scholars”) and that evolution progressed from polytheism to monotheism. Thus, to their way of thinking, since there is no REAL God – then men had to make Him up.

But there is a REAL God and His Bible makes no errors in its telling of history. Archeologists have used the Bible for more than a century as a road map to find cities and civilizations that have been long buried by the sands of time.
There is no other religious book capable of that kind of accuracy!

God didn’t give us the Bible as a history book… but it IS historically accurate.
You CAN depend on it to be correct even in the smallest details.
And I believe God didn’t do that just with the Bible.
I think He left a little “trail of crumbs” in history-crumbs of evidence pointing back to His Word… evidence like the lives of King Tut and his father Amenhotep IV

Now… I want to shift gears a little here.
The curse of the Mummy was the curse of God’s judgment upon Pharaoh’s house.
Ever since the days of Thutmose III (this new king that didn’t know Joseph) God had been at war with Egypt. The Pharaoh had arranged to kill the babies of the Israelites and so God would not only free His people from their slavery but would bring judgment upon all of Egypt…and especially on the house of Pharaoh.

When the confrontation in Exodus 5 takes place Moses came into Amenhotep III’s throne room and asked permission to take Israel away. And Pharaoh declared: “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

Well… over the next weeks God showed this Pharaoh just WHO He was and why he should let Israel go. He brought 10 terrible plagues upon Egypt… and the last of those plagues was the death of the firstborn (except in the homes of those who had applied the blood of innocent lamb on their doorposts).

Now, what I found interesting in this part of the story was Pharaoh’s comment:
“Who is the LORD that I should obey Him?”

As I pondered on that phrase, it occurred to me that this was exactly the same attitude Satan had toward God.

Satan had declared in his heart – “Who is the LORD that I should obey Him.”

In Isaiah 14:13 we’re told that Satan had said in his heart
“I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of the sacred mountain.”

WHO IS this supposed God that I should bow down to Him (Satan was saying) I’ll take Him down from His throne… and then I’ll be God!

Then it occurred to me that Pharaoh was a “Type” of Satan.
Pharaoh was to Israel what Satan is to us.

Pharaoh
· held God’s people in slavery
· he was known for his cruelty
· pain, punishment and death were in his hands
· And he owned Israel (Moses had to ask his permission)

In the same way – before we became Christians – Satan
· held us in slavery
· he was known for his cruelty
· pain, punishment and death were in his hands
· And because of our sins – he OWNED us
· BUT Jesus bought us back.

Now, follow me here:
Colossians 1:18 tells us that in His death, burial and resurrection, Jesus was “… the firstborn from the dead” (repeat this for emphasis)
By His resurrection, Jesus opened the gates of hell and freed us from death’s power.

Thus… just as the death of the firstborn heralded the freedom of Israel
So also, the death of only begotten Son of God – His “firstborn” – heralded our freedom
In His death and resurrection He bought us our freedom

Every time we see someone accept Jesus by being buried in the waters of baptism and risen up to live a new life we should be reminded of this great truth. In their baptism they are re-enacting the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and declaring that it was by His action that they were freed from sin.

One last thought.
There has always been one troubling aspect of Israel’s relationship with Pharaoh that has always puzzled me. Once they crossed the Red Sea – and for the next 40 years – whenever Israel ran into difficulties and hardships… guess where they wanted to go back to?
That’s right. They’d always talk about going back to Egypt.

In Numbers 11 we’re told that Israel began to be bored with their diet. They wanted more variety, more meat. And so they said: “We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost— also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.” Numbers 11:5

they’d forgotten the bitterness of their slavery when life didn’t go their way and they were tempted to return to their old way of life.

That happens to some new Christians as well.
They become bored with Christianity.
Or they face troubles that shake their faith
And they long for how life had been before they were saved.
And some even return to Egypt.
And because they turn back… they embrace the curse.

CLOSE: Michael P Green (Illustrations For Biblical Preaching – with a few changes)
When Howard Carter and his associates found the tomb of King Tutankhamen they opened up his casket and guess what they found? They found another within it covered with gold leaf.
Then they opened this 2nd casket and guess what they found? They found a third.
Inside the third casket – guess what – there was a fourth made of pure gold.
And the pharaoh’s body was in the fourth, wrapped in gold cloth with a gold face mask.

But when the body was unwrapped, it was leathery and shriveled.

No matter how elaborate the caskets.
No matter how beautiful the wrappings
What lay within was death
And no matter how they tried to preserve their bodies the Pharaohs couldn’t escape that final curse.
The curse of death.

But through Jesus we have escaped
Hebrews 2 tells us “Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death— that is, the devil— and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15

Jesus died, was buried and rose from the dead to free us from the curse.
And that’s why we offer an invitation at the end of every service for all who would be willing to die to their sins, be buried in the waters of Christian baptism and rise up to a new life.

Footnotes:
* Ramses (or Ramesses) II is considered by many to be Pharaoh of Exodus. However, the more conservative timetable for the Exodus (around the 1400’s) predates Ramses by over a hundred years.
* An intriguing website to check out: http://www.heptune.com/akhen.html

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~Hate~

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As I reflect, I think about what a brave soul Dr. King was to transform his fight for “Negro” equality with White America and one that was based on Civil Rights, to a fight that was global in scope and based on Human Rights.

Like others have, I often ask myself what would Dr. King think about today’s America and the world as a whole?  Would he feel as though all of his efforts achieved their end goal?  Would he support the various Occupy and other social movements taking place the world over? The answers I keep coming up with are NO and YES respectively.

Given the continued disparities across every major aspect of life in America for Black Americans, I could not imagine Dr. King would be pleased with our progress.  Yes, we have a Black President and we certainly have achieved great success in many areas of the business, sports, entertainment, the arts and the social world.  However, we do not live in a “Post-racial” society.   As a collective group, the majority of Black Americans have not benefited from the accomplishments of a few.

Statistically, we are breaking records in all the wrong categories of life:

  • We are #1 in Incarceration rates proportionate to the overall American population
  • We are #1 in Healthcare disparities
  • We are #1 in Education disparities
  • We are #1 in HIV/AIDS contraction rates
  • We are #1 in Quality of living disparities
  • We are #1 in Divorce and Households lead by single mothers
  • We are #1 in Sperm donors who happen to be males not being fathers
  • We are #1 in just about any other negative thing you can think of as it relates to simply living

It is not my intention to bring anyone down or paint such a dismal picture of life for the majority of Black Americans, but this is not my subjective truth.  This is the reality of too many of our people. The bottom line, Dr. King’s goals have not been achieved.

We do not live in a “Post-Racial” America and we need to WAKE UP!!!

 

Kemet is the first civilization in the world.  Kemet is the African name of the land we now call Egypt.   This more modern term – Egypt – resulted from Greek and later conquerors of the land applying their own names in their own language.  Kemet means “black land” or “black earth.”  And, Kemet may well be the first complex civilization in the world.  It is certainly the longest civilization to still be located in the same place.  If you define a civilization by its ability to make war, Sumer in Mesopotamia may be older.  But, if you define a civilization by its peace and stability, then Kemet again is the oldest.  And, despite modern political assertions that Egypt is in the Middle East, Kemet is in Africa. 

Egypt (Kemet) bordered by deserts is absolutely the “gift of the Nile.”  But African civilization is the gift of Kemet.  Eminent African scholar Cheik Anta Diop has said that: “Egypt is to Africa as Greece is to Europe.”  In other words, Kemet should be considered the jewel at the heart of African civilization from which much culture, arts, sciences and technologies radiate.  Much the way Western Civilization traces its key origins to ancient Greece; other African civilizations owe a debt to Kemet.

In the past, there has been a spurious controversy over whether or not the ancient people of Kemet were Black people.  This is a racist argument on either side.  The people of ancient Kemet – or Egypt, if you like – were African.  Regardless of our modern preoccupations with race as evidenced by skin color, the people of Kemet were African.  And, just like today, Africans come in many shades (as, by the way, do Europeans).   Any detailed examination of artistic representations show Kemetic peoples skin tones to range from dark Black to light tan and everything in between.  The argument that they were Caucasians is based on the racist mythos that only Europeans could create advanced societies.  It was an ugly idea based on European ethnocentrism.  And it served well to perpetuate relatively modern color-based racism that has evolved since the start of European colonization.  The argument that all ancient Kemetic peoples had to be Black in the modern sense of the word simply reinforces skin color based distinctions that are contemporary and have very little utility to understanding the peoples in themselves.  It is putting our 21st century concepts of race in the way of understanding how the people of Kemet saw race.

We will leave the discourse of Egyptian “Blackness” with some tales that show both the connectedness of Kemet with the rest of ancient Africa, and that race as we know it did not apply. 

 

This poisonous master-class mentality did not die with the abolition of slavery—it continued, in new forms. In particular, each wave of immigrants that came over from Europe had to “fit itself into” the dominant relations of American society—they had to find an “economic niche” (usually toward the bottom rungs of the working class, at least at first) and they had to work out a relation to the dominant political and cultural superstructure of society. In doing so, these white immigrants often tried to distinguish themselves from Black people—and this often exploded into the open antagonism of white mobs rampaging against Black people and even lynching them—yes, in the northern cities as well as the South, as these immigrant communities defined themselves as “full-blooded” white Americans in violent opposition to Black people. This system reinforced the master-class mentality among northern whites with petty, but not insignificant, privileges in jobs and housing. And this became a major double-barreled shotgun for the capitalist ruling class: it blinded these white people and immigrants to their most fundamental interests as members of the proletariat, turning their anger away from the system that actually exploited and oppressed them, and turning it against the most oppressed and exploited people in society. And it gave them an “identity” as white Americans, with a set of expectations and entitlements to go with it—and to defend. A minority of whites opposed this madness, and took up revolutionary or radical or even just decently humane positions; but while very important—and we’ll return to its significance later—this sort of stand was far too uncommon. (A secondary, but important, effect of this master-class mentality among whites of all classes was to partly obscure the class character of the oppression of the masses of Black people—their position and role as viciously exploited proletarians, within the overall working class of the U.S.—and the many and close links between this class exploitation of large numbers of Black people, as part of the proletariat, and thenational oppression of Black people as a people.)

To return again to the period of slavery, it is important to be clear on an essential truth: the slaves fiercely resisted this. In the U.S. alone there were over 200 slave revolts, and the slaves of Haiti stunned the world when they successfully waged a 15-year revolution against first their colonial masters, then the British, and finally Napoleon’s armies. Even with these heroic revolts, it was only with the Civil War that the resistance finally bore fruit in the U.S., and the emancipation of Black people from outright slavery was achieved. Here too the masses of Black people—both runaway slaves and “freedmen”—played a crucial role. When finally allowed to join the Union Army, they died at twice the rate of white soldiers (while being paid lower wages for most of the Civil War)!

The Game of Life

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Romans 12:2
The Message (MSG)
Place Your Life Before God

12 1-2 So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

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Life is a game just like all of the other games. The only difference is that life is the only game that we don’t realize is a game. Each of us has made up, largely unconsciously, a set of rules (our values)–based on our worldview and our beliefs–and we think our rules are right and inherently true. And everyone else’s is wrong. Well, sorry to break the bad news to you but, our rules aren’t right and theirs aren’t wrong.

I’m not suggesting that we do anything different than what we are already doing, all I’m suggesting is that we acknowledge that what we think is real, is actually a game. We made up the rules and now we can play the “game of life” full out; we can be happy when we “win” and dissatisfied when we “lose.” But realize it is only because we said so> And here’s the bottom line; It is always possible to remember that we made up the rules, even if they were made up unconsciously and adopted largely by osmosis form our culture and our parents. And when we do that, we can also remember that events have no inherent meaning, at which point the pain and suffering result from”losing at the game of life” can be dissolved on the spot.

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All of us have a story. Many of the chapters have already been written by choices that we have made, situations that we have encountered and by people that we have met. Our story is filled with challenges that attempt to stretch us to our limit; pressures that pull the energy right out of our soul. We grope around looking for direction and at times the only voice we hear is the negative voice calling us back into our painful past.

So we have to make a decision. Do we risk going into a future filled with more uncertainty or do we retreat into the painful past just because it’s familiar?

The Old Testament contains a story of a group of people who were oppressed, mistreated, and demoralized. At one point in their lives they were enjoying peace and success, but circumstances changes and they found themselves enslaved to a foreign government. Their days were filled with hard labor and unrealistic expectations. In their despair, they cried out to God for help.

God heard their cry and sent a deliverer. His name was Moses. Through a series of miraculous events, Moses led this group of slaves out of Egypt. They were headed to a new land filled with new opportunity, but something happened in the process. Their road to success took an unexpected turn.

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Exodus 14:8-16
The Message (MSG)
8-9 God made Pharaoh king of Egypt stubborn, determined to chase the Israelites as they walked out on him without even looking back. The Egyptians gave chase and caught up with them where they had made camp by the sea—all Pharaoh’s horse-drawn chariots and their riders, all his foot soldiers there at Pi Hahiroth opposite Baal Zephon.

10-12 As Pharaoh approached, the Israelites looked up and saw them—Egyptians! Coming at them!

They were totally afraid. They cried out in terror to God. They told Moses, “Weren’t the cemeteries large enough in Egypt so that you had to take us out here in the wilderness to die? What have you done to us, taking us out of Egypt? Back in Egypt didn’t we tell you this would happen? Didn’t we tell you, ‘Leave us alone here in Egypt—we’re better off as slaves in Egypt than as corpses in the wilderness.’”

13 Moses spoke to the people: “Don’t be afraid. Stand firm and watch God do his work of salvation for you today. Take a good look at the Egyptians today for you’re never going to see them again.

14 God will fight the battle for you.
And you? You keep your mouths shut!”
15-16 God said to Moses: “Why cry out to me? Speak to the Israelites. Order them to get moving. Hold your staff high and stretch your hand out over the sea: Split the sea! The Israelites will walk through the sea on dry ground.

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Thank You For My Suffering, Why? Because I am being perfected In Them

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Thou Hast enlarged me when I was in distress.( Psalms 4:1 KJV)

This verse is one of the greatest testimonies ever written regarding the effectiveness of God’s work on our behalf during times of crisis. It is a statement of thanksgiving for having been set free not from suffering but rather through suffering. I am writing about this tonight because my wife and I are coming into Jubilee in the morning, we are completing one year of captivity. In stating, “Thou hast enlarged me when I was in distress,” the psalmist is declaring that the sorrows of life have themselves been the source of life’s enlargement.

haven’t each of us experienced this a thousand times and found it to be true? Someone once said of Joseph that when he was in the dungeon, “iron entered his soul.” And the strength of iron is exactly what he needed, for earlier he had only experienced the glitter of gold. He had been rejoicing in youthful dreams, and dreaming actually hardens the heart. Someone who sheds great tears over a simple romance will not be of much help in a real crisis, for true sorrow will be too deep for Him. We all need the iron in life to enlarge our character.

 

The gold is simply a passing vision, whereas the iron is the true experience of life. The chain that is the common bond uniting us to others must be one of iron. The common touch of humanity that gives the world true kinship is not joy but sorrow–gold is partial to only a few, but iron is universal.

Dear soul, if you want your sympathy for others to be enlarged, you must be willing to have your life narrowed to certain degrees of suffering. Joseph’s dungeon was the very road to his throne, and he would have been unable to lift the iron load of his brothers had he not experienced the iron in his own life. Your life will be enlarged in proportion to the amount of iron you have endured, for it is in the shadows of your life that you find the actual fulfillment of your dreams of glory. So do not complain about the shadows of darkness–in reality, they are better than your dreams could ever be.

I never imagined having a relationship with my creator as I now have and not to forget with my wife and my community. God used this house arrest to achieve many good things that are evident in my marriage to Him, my wife and the spirit. Never say that the darkness of prison has shackled you, for your shackles are wings–wings of flight into the heart and soul of humanity. And the gate of your prison is the gate into the heart of the universe. God has enlarged you through the suffering of sorrow’s chain.

He unleashed nails, whips, beatings, lies, harassment, scandal and every form of bitterness and betrayal upon our King of Kings, but look where He is seated. If Joseph had never been Egypt’s prisoner, he would have never been Egypt’s governor. The iron chain that bound his feet brought about the golden chain around his neck. Be encouraged in this life no matter what the circumstances are, because that is your opportunity to build relationship with God, man, family, hostile workers and difficult people. The church is even going to have iron in it for you to be used to exude maturity in Christ, be of good cheer and keep marching.