Switching Teams: NBA 2K18, Moses, and the Cover Athlete Conundrum (Exodus 4:24-26)

You may have heard of the “Madden Curse”, which is the theory that athletes who grace the cover of the annual football gaming release tend to experience unprecedented setbacks in the form of injury or simply poor play immediately after receiving this honor.  But this year’s basketball release, NBA 2K18, continues an almost just as interesting coincidence of seeing its highly prized (and well-compensated) poster athlete in the wrong jersey on their cover.

This seems to happen frequently for this series… it started with the release of 2K14 when Lebron James suited up on the cover of the game in a Miami Heat uniform only to leave that team and play for Cleveland instead.  Kevin Durant was chosen for the 2K15 cover as a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder and promptly took his skills to Golden State to attend back to back finals for that team.  2K17 cover athlete Paul George won’t be seen in a Pacer jersey again as he is now a member of those same Thunder, and this year Kyrie Irving may be on the cover of 2K18 in a Cavalier jersey but the only time he will be seen wearing one of those is in the video game as he has joined the Celtics for this season.

But enough of the history lesson… the more interesting question is why these athletes tend to switch teams immediately after they are chosen to wear the mantle of the most recognized player in the league?  NBA2K games are a sales juggernaut each and every year and being on the cover grants the cover athlete an incredible amount of marketing and exposure.  Why does the choice oftentimes precede a departure?

For many, Moses is the first “Cover Athlete” of the Bible.  I mean, he wrote the first five books and delivered Israel from their Egyptian captivity.  He was there when the Ten Commandments were given.  He’s a legend.  But did you know that God was going to kill him before he even got started on his journey?  This particular event is not as well publicized as the burning bush or even his attempts to pass his destiny off on his brother or someone else.  In this incident, Moses tried to wear his old team jersey while playing for a new team and the Lord was having none of it with nearly fatal consequences.

In Exodus 4 Moses has accepted his destiny as the Deliverer, albeit reluctantly.  The Lord gives Moses the ability to perform specific miracles to support his message and has sent Aaron, Moses’s brother, to support the mission.  All systems appear to be go for launch… until verse 24:

 “And it came to pass on the way, at the encampment, that the Lord met him and sought to kill him.”  


Ummm… what?  God just spent all this time convincing Moses to take this role and then preparing him for success, and then out of the clear blue nowhere he is going to kill him?  That seems a little harsh… but there was a reason behind this that is critical to understand and this is revealed in the next two verses.  To stop God from taking Moses out, his wife immediately performs an emergency circumcision on their son and hurls the… ummm… let’s just say “evidence” since this is a family column, at the feet of Moses.  Stay of execution granted.

What does this all mean?  The requirement was for all Israelites to be circumcised as a sign of their unique relationship with the Lord.  Moses had chosen not to follow this, and while his life of obscurity had permitted this indiscretion to exist his new status as the leader of the people would not permit this to continue.  Now, one may wonder how was anyone going to find out?  I mean, seriously.  His son’s private parts were likely to remain private unless there is some strange clause in wilderness deliverance leadership that would reveal this secret.  But the Lord knew.  And the presence of this not only disqualified Moses from proceeding until it was dealt with, it was serious enough that God was prepared to put the kibosh on the whole plan unless it was made right.

This was not merely a case of legalism and God needing everything “just so”.  The Lord knew the path Moses was about to walk… it would be treacherous and difficult and he would be under a constant assault from enemies both without and within.  He could not succeed or even survive while carrying this one area of disobedience… he would be eaten alive by his adversaries and the entire deliverance would fail.  Too much was at stake.

We all have a mission from God to accomplish on this planet, and over the course of learning it, preparing for it, and accepting it we will be challenged by God to do things that may seem of little significance in the moment or perhaps feel unnecessary or even unfair.  But He knows your full journey, and the jersey you were wearing when He called you won’t be the same one you will be wearing when you reach your launching point.  He knows exactly what your cover will look like, and only He knows what you will need to bring as well what you will need to leave behind in order to accomplish your mission.

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