Pharaoh's Dream vs. God's Dream
I speaking with us last evening, Dr. Brueggemann lamented that as we encounter scripture in short passages each week, we miss over arching themes. The theme he pulled out for us was the repeating pattern of the move from slavery to freedom, which is also the move from scarcity to abundance. He showed this pattern with Moses in Exodus, with Elisha in 2 Kings and with Jesus in the Gospels.
In explicating the theme, Dr. Brueggemann noted that the move from the anxiety of scarcity to the freedom of abundance takes an unexpected act of generosity. In the Exodus story we find this pattern in Pharaoh who is the richest man in the world yet dreams of lean years and pushes everyone to work harder.
Once the Hebrews are out from under his yoke, the miracle of God providing bread in the wilderness (called Manna, which literally means "what is it?") is just such an act of unexpected generosity which proves that creation is ongoing and the creator can make fruitfulness where we can not generate that fruitfulness ourselves.
Then we find in the Sinai encounter that the Hebrews are given dreams of freedom and abundance through the Law of Moses which shows how to care for your neighbor so that all have enough.
Dr. Brueggemmann showed how this pattern and theme repeat in scripture with a some other examples. He noted that so many people whom we pastor (he too is an ordained minister) are anxious and driven to do more, more, more by fears of scarcity. He said in this, Pharaoh's command is "make more bricks," while God's comman is "love the Lord your God..."
I'll close with a quote from the Sermon on the Mount where Jesus lays out this promise of abundance over and against the world's anxiety of scarcity,
"So I tell you, don't worry about everyday life – whether you have enough food, drink, and clothes. Doesn't life consist of more than food and clothing? Look at the birds. They don't need to plant or harvest or put food in barns because your heavenly Father feeds them. And you are far more valuable to him than they are. Can all your worries add a single moment to your life? Of course not. "And why worry about your clothes? Look at the lilies and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won't he more surely care for you? You have so little faith! "So don't worry about having enough food or drink or clothing. Why be like the pagans who are so deeply concerned about these things? Your heavenly Father already knows all your needs, and he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for him and make the Kingdom of God your primary concern. "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today.—Matthew 6:25-34The whole of scripture calls us again and again to come out of Egypt with its anxiety and dreams of scarcity to enter in to the Promised Land which is a land flowing with milk and honey.
The Rev. Frank Logue, Pastor + King of Peace Episcopal Church