The story of our ancestors in Egypt is the age-old confrontation of the hero and villain.
The villain is Pharaoh, the hero is God.
The two are locked in bitter conflict: Pharaoh says scornfully, "Who is the Lord?" God retorts, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?"
Now what does God have against Pharaoh? It is not only that the Israelites are slaves, but that Pharaoh claims divine honours.
He is like the tyrants who think they are more than mortal. God says, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself?", but they airily pretend God does not exist. Eventually they topple, but not until untold suffering has come upon their own and other peoples.
Yet not only to Pharaoh does God say, "How long will you refuse to humble yourself?" He has the same question, less angrily, for each one of us.
A contemporary writer has said: "The sin of which modern man is most frequently guilty is that of ‘self-sufficiency’ – the certainty that man is capable of fathoming all secrets, of controlling all events, of mastering all situations…
"To fly like a bird through the air and swim through the sea like a fish; to harness the energy of the sun and uncover the bowels of the earth; to build cities of steel and glass, erect bridges which span the waters and towers that pierce the skies; to unravel the age-old mysteries of nature – all this has led to the conviction that through his mind and insights, man alone can solve all problems…"
Twenty-first century humankind has much to celebrate. But we have also witnessed fiendish demonic persecution and destruction, frightening pollution, and pervading fear, uncertainty and anxiety. It is an age of glorious highs and shameful lows.
The Book of Proverbs reminds us: "Pride goeth before destruction".
A little humility is a wonderful thing.