Now listen, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money.” Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, “If it is the Lord’s will, we will live and do this or that.” As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, sins.—James 4:13-17
If you are someone that scrolls the pages of Facebook over and over, you could be thinking that the world is ending. Celebrities seem to be dying at an alarming rate for many people. This week Carrie Fisher passed away, and then the next day her mother Debbie Reynolds passed away as well. It was an unexpected event and it is certainly sad to hear about someone passing away. Scripture allows for a period of morning and remembering. Death is always a sad experience, and in some cases very unexpected. We live in a fallen and sinful world where death reigns over us all.
James in this passage talks about our lives being like a mist. You see it for a little while and then it’s gone. We have a short time on this earth and James is calling out people who think they can make plans apart from what God wants for their lives. In our time here on earth, all that’s going to matter is what we have done for God and His Kingdom. Now that doesn’t mean everybody quits their jobs and works for the church. Instead, it is thinking about how God can use you where He has already placed you; at your work, family, neighborhood. What can you do in the short time on earth that will matter for all eternity?
Pharaoh said, “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
Israel at this point in their history are slaves in Egypt. God has now brought up Moses to be the leader of Israel and to bring His people out of slavery. In Exodus Moses along with his brother Aaron is going before Pharaoh to ask for Israel’s release. After Moses asks for Israel’s release, Pharaoh gives this response: “Who is the Lord, that I should obey him and let Israel go?”
God in the following chapters will show Pharaoh exactly who He is and why he should obey Him. In Exodus 7:14-12:30, God will send 10 plagues to reveal His power. One thing to notice is that before the plagues Moses will go before Pharaoh and say, “This is what the Lord says…” (7:16; 8:1,20; 9:1,13; 10:3). When you study the plagues, you realize that each plague was an attack against the “gods” of Egypt. God was showing Pharaoh that He is the only God. After the final plague, which caused the death of his son, Pharaoh let Israel go.
The question, “who is the Lord”, is still a question many ask themselves today; maybe you are still even asking yourself that question. The answer to that question makes all the difference. Is God just someone that you call on when times are tough? Is God like Santa Claus to you, in a “God give me this or give me that, and I’ll be happy” kind of way. Or is God the mighty and powerful Creator that revealed His power before Pharaoh? We can often forget about the reverence and awe that God demands. Thankfully, God doesn’t send plagues our way when we forget, although He does have ways of drawing us back to Him. Let us not forget who God is and the worship and love that we should give Him.