Contrition OR Control?
At a prayer breakfast attended by many religious leaders, the president of the United States confessed by saying, "I have sinned." It was good to hear Clinton finally confess that he had sinned. However, many are now asking, the question, "Was he sincere? Or was he simply mouthing the words needed to win public opinion in order to stay in office?"
I am not here to question Clinton's sincerity. Only God knows the answer to that. I do find it intriguing to compare Clinton's confession to the confession of Pharaoh, king of Egypt.
You remember the story of Exodus, where God wanted Moses to lead the multitude of Israelites out of Egypt and go to the Promised Land of Canaan. When Pharaoh was first confronted by Moses' request to let the Israelites go so they could make an offering to the Lord, Pharaoh arrogantly responded by asking, "Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go?" Because of Pharaoh's refusal to let the Israelites go, God used His servant Moses to execute a series of plagues upon the Egyptians.
After the first plague, Pharaoh was so unimpressed that he "turned and went into his palace" and did not take the matter to heart (Ex. 7:23).
After the second plague, Pharaoh asked Moses to "pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people." Then Pharaoh promised to let the Israelites "go to offer sacrifices to the Lord" (Ex. 8:8).
After the third plague, Pharaoh was warned by the Egyptian magicians that the plague was the work of "the finger of God," but "Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen" (Ex. 8:19). Then came the fourth and fifth plagues. Every time Pharaoh promised to let the Israelites go, the plagues were alleviated. Once the plagues were gone, Pharaoh changed his mind and would not let the people go.
When hailstones from the sixth plague struck and caused great destruction, Pharaoh confessed, "This time I have sinned" (Ex. 9:27). He even conceded, saying, "The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong" (Exodus 9:27). Once again Pharaoh asked Moses to pray for him, promising to let the Israelites go. Needless to say, after the hailstorms were over, Pharaoh did not keep his promise.
You see, Pharaoh only gave in when he absolutely had to. When the pressure was off, he reverted back to his old self.
The eighth plague of locusts put a black carpet over every inch of Egypt. The locust finished off what the hailstones had not destroyed. The devastation was so complete that Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and confessed, "I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you" (Ex. 10:16). Notice that Pharaoh did not only say, "I have sinned," but more specifically, "I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you." This confession was more specific. Pharaoh brought in the element of his need for forgiveness when he said, "Now forgive my sin once more and pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me" (Ex. 10:17).
Was Pharaoh's confession and his plea for forgiveness sincere? Did he really mean it? One way to find out is to look at what Pharaoh did when the last locust left Egypt.
When the last locust was gone, Pharaoh changed his mind again! This proved once more that Pharaoh was willing to say what he had to say when he was forced to do so. All he really wanted to do was to get out of his predicament. Once the pressure was off, he went back to his old kingly way.
When the tenth and final plague was in full swing with the killing of the firstborn, Pharaoh saw that he was once again cornered. Alarmed, he summoned Moses and Aaron in the middle of the night and said, "Up! Leave my people, you and the Israelites! Go, worship the Lord as you have requested. Take your flocks and herds...and go. And also bless me" (Exodus 12:31). Pharaoh promised to let the Israelites go, but after the Israelites had actually left, Pharaoh changed his mind again. So he pursued them. And you know the rest of the story.
Step by step and plague by plague, Pharaoh was forced to let the Israelites go. He was brought from the height of arrogance to the pit of despair. Yet though his words changed, his heart did not. His words sounded like words of conciliation but they were meant only to bring the situation under control.
Pharaoh's words did not reflect a heart of contrition, but his need to control.
Has President Clinton really repented? Was he for real when he said, "I have sinned"? The Bible teaches us not to judge, so I won't. The Bible also teaches us to discern, so I will.
My discernment is this: Clinton's pattern of behavior looks similar to that of Pharaoh's.
Your discernment please.