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MOSES & RELIGION

Magic and superstition pervaded every aspect of daily life in ancient Egypt. The Egyptian magicians Moses referred to in the Exodus story were actually priests of the Egyptian religion, Heka, which was based on the myths and gods of Egypt. Many gods were portrayed in statuary as animals or a combination of animals. For example, the god Horus was portrayed as a falcon. The Pharaoh was believed to be the manifestation of the god Horus in life and pharaohs were often depicted in tomb drawings with the head of a falcon. The Egyptian goddess, Wadjet, was often depicted as a cobra. Originally, this goddess was considered to be the protector of Lower Egypt. Another goddess, Nekhbet, was considered to be the protector of Upper Egypt. When Egypt was united, these two goddesses were joined and referred to as the Two Ladies. This term was often used as a euphemism that referred to Pharaoh. This is similar to when The White House is used as a euphemism for the President. Nevertheless, the cobra, snake and asp all became symbols for Pharaoh. The sarcophagi of Egyptian pharaohs were often ornamented with snakes. When Aarons staff became a serpent, Pharaohs magicians staffs did likewise. But when Aarons serpent swallowed the serpents of Pharaohs magicians, this was a sign that the protectors of Egypt were not nearly as powerful as the protector of Moses and Aaron. Heka magic was used primarily for protection and healing. Many practices of the Heka religion are maintained even to this day in various forms in Voodoo, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Egyptians believed that their protection and healing came from various spells and runes such as the ankh or stones shaped like scarab beetles. Many Egyptian women wore necklaces with an amulet called the Knot of Isis, which was believed to increase fertility and decrease menstrual cramps. However, the basis for the Egyptian religion, or any other non-Christian religion for that matter, is manipulation. Pharaohs often used their magicians to maintain power. By having a monopoly on all the magicians in the kingdom, the Pharaohs held a monopoly on protection and healing. They were also able to create fear by threatening the people with magical curses. Even though the Israelites greatly outnumbered the Egyptians, they continued in slavery due to their belief that protection and healing only came through the magicians controlled by Pharaoh and due to their fear of the curses Pharaoh may order his magicians to place on him. God sent Moses and Aaron to reveal to the Israelites that protection and healing came from him not from Pharaoh or the gods of Egypt. One example is the plague of boils. The magicians could not even heal their own boils. Once the Israelites realized that neither the magicians nor the gods of Egypt could protect Egypt from the plagues, they were no longer under the compulsion of Pharaoh. And in the desert, when Moses tells them the story of their fathers, they reenter the covenant relationship that they had long forgotten in the chains of Egypt. The religion of Egypt not only manipulated the people of Israel; it was also an attempt to manipulate God, or what they thought to be God. All non-Christian religions are an attempt to manipulate God, or what someone thinks to be God. The essential premise of religion is that by following a specific set of rules a person can manipulate God into giving him whatever he wants. Following the tenets of a particular religion is Mans attempt to manipulate God into blessing him, giving him life, power, riches, or simply manipulating God into not destroying him. Even many people have this view of the Christian religion. Mormons, Catholics, and even many Protestant denominations hold the view that by following a set of rules (having a Mormon wedding, not drinking or smoking, doing the sacraments, praying the rosary, or following the Ten Commandments) God can be manipulated into giving Man what he wants.

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DEEPER STUDY EIGHT

QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION


What are some things that you do in your own life that are really an attempt to manipulate God into him giving you what your want? What do you think the difference is between doing something to manipulate God and doing something to glorify God? How can you begin to change your heart away from doing things in an attempt to manipulate God into an attempt to glorify God? What do you think the difference is between relationship and religion? How is responsibility defined when it is shaped by religion? How is responsibility different when it is shaped by covenant? Spend some time in prayer asking God to reveal to you the things in your life that are manipulation and asking him to help you turn them into things that you do for his glorification.

WEEKLY READING GUIDE


Day Day Day Day Day 1 Ex 8 9 2 Ex 10 3 Ex 11 12 4 Ex 13 5 Ex 14

NOTES

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DEEPER STUDY EIGHT