As the choir sat down and the congregants settled in, Pastor Donald stepped to the pulpit, tapped his massive head of hair into place, and launched into the day’s message.
“Wasn’t that an amazing job by our choir, people? They are fabulous! The best choir in the entire world, I kid you not. Other churches only wish they had a choir like ours. In fact, I made a deal for a couple of sopranos that are making a huge difference in the choir—best deal anybody ever made, but you know me: Nobody makes a better deal than me.
“So today I’m going to tell you about Moses and the Exodus. Moses, now he was a nice man, but not nearly as good a leader as I would have been. If I’d been there, I’d have gone into Pharaoh—by the way, give Pharaoh credit for knowing how to decorate! Lots of gold, marble—those Egyptians had good taste.
“Anyway, so I would have gone in to Pharaoh and said, ‘Look here, my friend. You’ve got a problem, I’ve got a problem. Let’s put our heads together and make a deal,’ and it would have been a fabulous deal, let me tell you—best deal in the ancient world.
“OK, so Moses wasn’t that good a negotiator, and God had to step in and help him put some pressure on the Egyptians. You know, those plagues—frogs in the Nile and that sort of thing. I don’t know…frogs aren’t exactly a strong negotiating tactic. If I’d been there, I’d have told God to send some alligators or something—chew up some of those Egyptians and they’ll be ready to sit down and negotiate.
“Of course, I would have handled it completely differently. Why leave Egypt at all? It’s a good neighborhood, nice pyramids, plenty of water. I would have built a wall—the best wall you’ve ever seen—between us and the Egyptians. It would have been an incredible wall, and I would have made the Egyptians pay for it!
“They might have tried to get over the wall…send their murderers, their rapists. Maybe there would be some good people; but I’d have collected them all, put them on chariots and sent them back on day one! Then the good ones, we might let them come back.
“OK, so Moses wasn’t the negotiator I would have been. Still, give him credit for trying. He might have been very low energy, but he kept going back until finally Pharaoh got tired of him and told them they could go. Moses didn’t even get anything from them: no royalties, nothing. That Pharaoh turned out to be a terrible negotiator. I at least would have demanded some commission on future sales, maybe a 10 percent stake in the Temple, something like that.
“Anyway, Moses starts leading the Hebrews into the desert, and they come to the Red Sea, where God parts it so they can cross. Not a bad plan, but I would have done something much bigger—split the Mediterranean Sea and walked through that. Much bigger. Tremendous show. People still would be talking about it.
“So they get to Mount Sinai—not a bad spot but not very pretty—no grass or swimming pools. My Country Club would have been a much nicer place to stop and rest—great greens, nice coffee shop. Fabulous! Those Hebrews would have loved me, never would have wanted to go back to Egypt if I’d been leading them.
“However, Moses heads up the mountain to meet God and comes back with 10 commandments. Very nice, I guess; but I would have insisted on at least 15, and they would have been great commandments, the best commandments you’ve ever seen.
“There was one good thing that came out of that rest stop: a golden calf! Now that was a nice touch! I might have gone for a golden lion or eagle, but calves are nice, too. Hey, we might just have to buy a golden calf for the sanctuary—a huge golden calf. All the other churches will want one, too.
“Well, our time is up for today. Be sure to come back next week as we continue our story of how the Hebrews wandered in the wilderness for 40 years. Terrible planning; they had very stupid leaders. I would have got them to the Promised Land in two weeks, tops.”
Michael Duduit is executive editor of Preaching and dean of the Clamp Divinity School and College of Christian Studies at Anderson University in Anderson, South Carolina.