I want to tell you a story about a racist, nationalist leader who ruined his country. He was part of a privileged elite who believed they had divine anointing But this elite was terrified of losing political power. See, there were other ethnic populations in their country
that were growing faster than their own. So they came up with policies to reduce the power of the oppressed group. They made them work longer hours for less pay. They tore families apart. All the while the racist leader and his enablers
were ignoring the warning signs around them. They ignored environmental disaster. They ignored economic collapse. You know who this racist leader was? Pharaoh. King of Egypt. Hi, my name is Dave Barnhart, and I’m one of those preachers
your preacher probably warned you about. This story from 3500 years ago tells us about human nature, and it tells us why some of the richest and most powerful people in the world are also some of the most petty, insecure, and immature. It also tells us about the faithful resistance, and that God is on the side of the resistance. One of the things this story tells us is that leaders
who do not know history are dangerous. The text says, “a new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph.” See, this leader had forgotten that
the reason his country was great was because of the labor of other people and the contributions of other ethnic groups. Today, when you hear white folks say, “Why do we need to keep talking about slavery about the middle passage, about civil rights, and redlining, and mass incarceration? Why do we need to talk about Native Americans and the Mexican American War? So what if our ancestors enslaved people and took land that wasn’t theirs? All of that stuff is ancient history. We need to look to the future.” To the author of Exodus, forgetting history is a kind of sin. In Catholic moral teaching, there’s a difference between
invincible ignorance, and vincible ignorance. Invincible ignorance is the kind you can’t do anything about. There is no way you could have known better, and so you’re not held responsible for what you didn’t know. But vincible ignorance you are held responsible for. God holds you accountable for vincible ignorance because all it takes is a little bit of curiosity. If you’d just learned a little bit of history or listened carefully to someone’s story If you’d just admitted you didn’t know and humbly sought out someone who knows more than you, you could have done better. Pharaoh is guilty of vincible ignorance. He could have done better if he’d taken the time to learn a little bit of history. Because he didn’t bother to learn history he is profoundly ignorant about his current context. The second thing this story tells us in the very first chapter is that oppression arises out of fear. The ruling class knows that it is shrinking, while the people they consider immigrants are growing. This is exactly what we see happening today. White Evangelical Christians, who claim to follow Jesus are the most likely to vote for authoritarian and racist candidates. They are the most likely to approve of things like torture. And they are primarily motivated by fear of losing their privilege. In poll after poll, people with the most power say
they feel like they are the most persecuted You can’t argue with such people and convince them that it isn’t actually true. The people used to being a majority are so terrified of being a minority that it colors everything they see. What I find amazing about this 3500 year old story is that it paints a pretty accurate picture of where we are today. See, human sin isn’t just something personal inside you. Human sin is social. It gets expressed in things like policy and injustice. If we don’t have love in our lives, what takes over is fear and fear drives our policy making, and it creates oppression. Now, Pharaoh is going to use two main policies to attack the power of the people he’s afraid of. The first is to make them work so hard that they don’t have time to organize, and the second is to attack their families. I’m going to talk about these two things in the next video. But there are several forces working against Pharaoh. First is the power of women. Second is the power of truth-telling. And finally, the power of God is working against Pharaoh. In the upcoming videos, I’m going to share more about this story because I hope that you can draw strength from it. I hope that as people of faith who believe that God is just as concerned for this world as the next world who believe that God is just as concerned for people’s bodies as their souls that this story will give you some clues about what God is up to in this moment right now.