Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Treasure

He had everything – more than he could possibly use or desire. As a prince in Pharaoh’s palace, he was denied nothing. There were luxuries at his right hand and his left – food, wine, clothing, jewellery, slaves, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that the libraries of Egypt could provide. There were teachers he could summon for instruction on any matter that occurred to his curiosity, and companions for any exercise or sport. When he walked abroad people moved out of his way in respect, for he wore insignia that set him apart. Privileged beyond most men who walk the earth, he should have been sublimely content, for what was there left for him to desire? Yet, as his fortieth year grew close, the restlessness in his heart grew.

His whole life was a pretence of course. As a Hebrew, he was born under Pharaoh’s curse, for all baby boys of the slave race were sentenced to death because of Pharaoh’s fear, and, if not for his mother’s ingenuity and the miraculous providence of God, he would never have survived his earliest infancy. But he had been adopted by Pharaoh’s daughter and his own mother, playing the part of his nursemaid, had taught him the truth about his ancestry from the beginning. He knew that behind his back the people of the court called him “The Hebrew”, but who dared call him that to his face?

The inner discomfort drove him out of the palace more frequently, to watch, to learn. Who was he to bask in idle luxury while all around him his people toiled and died in the very loathsome slavery that supported his own wealth? And as he wandered and observed, he realised just how terrible the condition of his people was – hard labour in the broiling Egyptian sun, cruel words and crueller whips. They lived in great poverty, but their greatest poverty of all was their servitude. For most of them there was no dignity or hope, only the abject, servile fear of those whose well-being depends upon a master’s whim. It was wrong! These were the descendants of Abraham, the ones of whom the promises spoke, the chosen children of God Most High. Didn’t God care about this injustice? Did the suffering of His own mean nothing? Was He so far away that their cries could not reach Him?

And then the focus of his thinking shifted, and became a mirror reflecting back his own face. Had he himself not spent forty years living in comfort, ignoring the misery of his own brethren, preferring the treasure of Egypt to wearing the identity of God’s people? Yet which was truly the greater treasure?

He was in this frame of mind when he saw an Egyptian overseer mistreating a Hebrew slave. Seeing that no one else was around (he had never run any real risks in his life before), he let his anger and frustration boil over and killed the Egyptian. Now he felt that he had struck a blow for his people!

But his elation was short-lived. It wasn’t long before he learned that his deed was known, and he had to flee Egypt and hide out in Midian, where for another forty years he waited for God’s time of redemption. But he had few real regrets. On that day he had made an absolute choice, and, despite the chafing of the years, he knew, with absolute certainty where his true treasure lay.

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