2. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Matthew 6:25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?

Read: Matthew 6:19-26; Luke 12:22-24

Setting: same hillside near Capernaum (Luke 7:1), near beginning of formal ministry

continuing the first formal “Bible School class” for the Disciples – Jesus the teacher (Matt. 5:2), they the students (Luk. 6:20)

class took place in hearing of “great multitude of people”

Person(s) being questioned:

the Twelve (directly)… who remained bi-vocational until at least after Ascension / Pentecost

Three of the gospels tell us that Peter, Andrew, James, and John were fisherman (Matthew 4:18-22; Mark 1:16-20; Luke 5:1-11). They were partners in a fishing business. Matthew was a tax-collector (Matthew 10:3). The vocations of the rest are unknown.

Matt. 4:20 Peter and Andrew “left their nets” to be tended by others

Matt. 4:21; Luk 5:10 James and John – partners, probably with their father Zebedee, with Peter

John 21:2-3 Peter, James and John plus two unnamed disciples went fishing

apostle Paul – Acts 18:1-3, 11; see also1 Th. 2:9; 2 Th. 3:7-8; Acts 20:31-35; 1 Cor. 4:12; 9:6

additional disciples and auditors should be taking notes

Question behind the question:

why are you acting like a hypocrite – say you believe in God yet don’t trust him to supply basics

ψυχή not βίος – life, breath, soul

second question: why do you live like there is only now, no hereafter?

really basic worldview question, seeking to shape listeners’ view of reality

summation: what is your vocation? primary calling?

Expected response:

well, yeah, of course

then, second question… don’t have enough faith; don’t have enough love for Christ; not thinking about connections between this life and next

iow, don’t have correct priorities / focus

Jesus’ point:

then why are you so consumed by these things?

more than biological machines

need to be devoting our resources to things that last, not worrying about stuff – see v.31-33

acquisition of material things is not the end/goal – proper use of them is

remember, this coming from One who lived all his days in poverty

Modern Application:

what entanglements stand in way of:

time in the Word?

investing in brothers and sisters?

evangelizing the lost?

what changes / choices need to be made to:

be more available for “ministry”?

be of greater service to God and others?

pursue what is best, not simply what is good?

 

Pulling Down Strongholds

Exodus 9:1-7

So far, God has made powerful statements by actions through the plagues – declaring by deed his superiority over forces lined up against YHWH and his people. But daily life has at worst been awkward, aggravating – greatest cost to Pharaoh and his people been that of comfort and convenience. Beginning with this plague, that changes – God’s enemies will experience economic and physical pain. Even death not out of the picture, depending on how well they heed God’s warnings and instructions.

Here we see again that our big God who does big things is also attentive to details. Just as redemption is perfectly tailored to meet needs of God’s elect, so his acts of judgment precisely fit those God singles out for special attention.

“We may observe a particular scope and meaning in this calamity, if we consider it in regard to the Egyptians, which would not have existed in respect to any other people. They held in idolatrous reverence almost every animal, but some they held in particular veneration; as the ox, cow, and ram.” TSK

On grand scale, plagues represent forces of heaven arrayed against forces of hell… God against Satan. In waging war God singles out the particular tools Satan used to enslave the Egyptian people. And YHWH demonstrates his power and superiority over them. That is vitally important for this reason – had Egyptian people, few or many, seen futility of idol worship and turned to true God for deliverance, he would have brought them out of slavery just as quickly as Hebrew children. God was particularly focused on the Hebrews but not exclusively so. His intent was that before this battle was over, Hebrew and Egyptian alike would know who true God is, know why hope should be in YHWH and not idols.

Next God shows in small way temporal cost of trusting in false gods – when what trust in to meet daily physical needs not only fails to come through, is taken away. Both Hebrews and Egyptians had precedent from their combined history – widespread famine during time of Jacob. Was YHWH who put Joseph in position, gave him understanding of Pharaoh’s dream, provided Joseph with wisdom to know what to do. Was YHWH who kept Egyptians and Jacob’s children from experiencing great hardship.

In our text – God turns up the volume; he discriminates between peoples; God alone brings this plague on the Egyptians; once again we’re left in awe of what true God accomplished.

A. God turns up the volume

prophetic preface (1b)

when instructing Moses, uses way of speaking first appeared in Ex. 4 – appears more than 400x in remainder of OT

becomes standard preface for God’s prophets – making clear to hearers / readers where following message originated

true prophet of God makes no personal claim to origin message, intends others to know he is merely messenger, repeating what God said

full identity (1b)

this time added detail to identity: “the God of the Hebrews” – not just further describing his identity, YHWH here identifies with his people; does so twice more, 9:13 and 10:3

think about what that means: God of universe declares to leader of world superpower – those are my people, I am their God

clear expectation (1c)

also makes plain to Pharaoh… and everyone else what is his first priority – God’s people free to worship true God according to his terms and expectations

will become more clear as we progress through Exodus – service to God, worship of God to be central to life for God’s people

is God who establishes conditions for what is acceptable – yes, God graciously welcomes his people… on his terms

fist, not finger (2-3)

third plague described by magicians as finger of God, probably accurate; now God declares will use his fist, his hand will come down on enemies of his people

will be dramatic action by God in direct response to Pharaoh’s rebellious refusal to obey YHWH’s command to let people go

sound harsh? think about what Pharaoh / Egyptian people were doing – openly defying direct command from Creator God… and remember what just penalty for that rebellion is

these plagues intended to teach multiple lessons / principles:

who is God of gods and Lord of lords; YHWH will have total victory over all powers of darkness

just as sacrifices picture cost of sin and its penalty, so plagues gave small temporary intro experience to judgment for sin

B. God discriminates

discriminate – not PC, first and basic meaning: to distinguish carefully between things; whenever make choice between 2 or more things, requires discrimination

between Israel and Egypt (4)

YHWH declares his intent to make a difference / distinction between children of Israel and Egyptians in how livestock treated

God does not treat all people the same – not popular idea, but true…be thankful he treats his children different from the rest

he shows far more mercy to some than to others – mercifully spared Hebrews much of hardship and suffering; at same time, mercifully spared Egyptians all they deserved

notice: children of Israel did not escape unscathed – they were still slaves dwelling in land under God’s righteous judgment

God showed them special and undeserved favor in midst of hardship, protecting from the worst their enemies desired

betewen today and tomorrow (5)

God set an appointed time for next wave of judgment on Egypt – tomorrow; could just as easily carried out immediately… why not? why make everyone wait another day?

“now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation” (2 Cor. 6:2) – gracious gift to Egyptians… every last one who repented of sin against God and cried out to him would be delivered

God did not take pleasure in judging Egyptians, would have taken pleasure in delivering them – bear in mind… all who persist in rebellion against just and holy God face same fate as Pharaoh

between Himself and all other gods (6)

as judgments on Egypt and their sin plays out, YHWH repeatedly shows his superiority, authority, power over all other gods

likewise shows over and over just how futile trusting in anything other than true God is – really are only two religions: worship of Bible’s God, worship of idols… wood, stone, ideas, self, even nature / created order

by time Hebrews left Egypt, no Egyptian from Pharaoh to bottom of social scale could honestly say did not know YHWH

no Egyptian had any excuse for failure to escape condemnation other than willful unbelief, same is true for all sorts today

what about those who haven’t heard Gospel? don’t know about Jesus? – are w/o excuse because have refused to worship God according to light they do have – Rom 1.18-21

we’re not off hook to tell them about Jesus – it’s a command, not suggestion, from Jesus himself who had been given all authority in heaven and earth

C. God does it

when he said (6a)

this time was God who performed his mighty act unaccompanied by any word or act from his servants

God is never early, never late, is always on time – with judgment for his enemies, with provision for his children

is why Peter could say: “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise”; “is longsuffering… not willing any should perish that all should come to repentance” (2 Pet. 3:9)

as he said (6b)

a devastating and deadly pestilence on Egyptian livestock – would have been considered total loss though some escaped

all of various kinds of livestock – donkeys, camels, oxen, sheep – were decimated, perhaps not enough breeding stock left to rebuild herds and flocks

pestilence afflicted only Egyptian livestock, all of Hebrews’ herds / flocks spared any casualties – clearly divinely caused

with the results he said (7)

evidence there in black and white for Pharaoh and all others to observe, yet insufficient to bring them to repentance

how much plainer did it need to be? how much more evidence did Egyptians need before they understood were worshiping the wrong god? — no amount would be enough

even though God has done countless acts of power and might just as he said he would, unbelievers persist in unbelief

conversion not result of sufficient evidence, irrefutable logical arguments, irresistible persuasion from truly gifted evangelist

Jonah got it right: Salvation is of the Lord. — Spurgeon’s testimony

D. what He really did

humiliated more gods

ox, cow, ram among likenesses Egyptians had ascribed to gods and goddesses, all fell under God’s fist

iow, there is no other God

none else worthy of worship; none else that can help in time of need; none else that can provide safety for eternal soul

there is none who can oppose God

many try, Devil and his agents still trying – God alone determines boundaries within which they are allowed to operate

proven decisively at Calvary

Lord Jesus crushed serpent’s head, dealing death blow by his paying penalty for sin and having victory over death

because of what Lord Jesus did in place of his people, no one including Satan can bring charge against God’s elect

God intends the world to know not only his name but who he really is – the one God who is absolutely sovereign over all of his creation, providentially governing affairs of men and nations, the only one who can give a hope and a future to lost sinners.

Remember, brothers and sisters, “For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,” 2 Cor. 10:3-5

 

Salvation Is All of God

Jonah 2:9-10

Right in middle of studying through mighty acts Lord God performed in land of Egypt to deliver his covenant people from slavery. Perhaps something unique to USA and particular history – word slavery brings to mind first black and white picture… in all various ways that statement can be understood. BW photograph, black and white with no gray areas in opinions and beliefs, black vs. white with regard to skin color and associated privileges. Modern spin on slavery terminology – used to refer to those in some form of debt bondage, despicable blight on world landscape of sex slavery or trafficking.

Bible uses language of slavery – referring to bondslaves, indentured servants, domestic servants – and makes little distinction between godly and ungodly. Is presented matter-of-factly, certain kinds of slavery exist as matter of course in fallen world. In every circumstance, whether biblical or historical, every slave without exception is powerless to free him or herself from their bondage. Many slaves in American south worked diligently to purchase freedom from master; yet even when every condition had been met, were still at mercy of master to declare them free… and not all masters would do so.

Is of great importance that we remember perspective of apostle Paul declared in Rom. 6 on topic of slavery. He even describes one governing principle of master slave relationship in v.16

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one’s slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?”

2x in following verses he goes from general to particular, from slavery in general to Roman believers in particular”

v.18 – “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.” …then v.20, speaks of them “having been set free from sin, and having become slaves of God,”

Praise God that though we “were slaves of sin”, we have “been set free from sin” and become “slaves of righteousness”. Truth is vast majority of people around us in world are slaves to sin, slavery of the worst kind. All other forms of slavery end with death of master or slave, iow, condition limited to this life and its threescore and ten. Slavery to sin is for eternity… unless God steps in to free the one enslaved.

“While we must always remember that it is our responsibility to proclaim salvation, we must never forget that it is God who saves. It is God who brings men and women under the sound of the gospel, and it is God who brings them to faith in Christ. Our evangelistic work is the instrument that He uses for this purpose, but the power that saves is not in the instrument: it is in the hand of the One who uses the instrument. We must not at any stage forget that. For if we forget that it is God’s prerogative to give results when the gospel is preached, we shall start to think that it is our responsibility to secure them”. J I Packer; Evangelism and the Sovereignty of God

This was some of what Jonah needed to grasp, begin to come to terms with – God gave him 3 days on the bench to get started. Some of Jonah’s best theology – salvation is of the Lord; acknowledging that prompted his release from timeout. Like many, Jonah understood better after God showed him truth in addition to telling him.

A. Salvation is of the Lord (9c)

we think of this as theological word

basic meaning is deliverance – as in saved from harm, delivered from danger… brought through or out of what is difficult

has larger significance in many contexts – national deliverance of Israel from neighboring enemies, from slavery brought on by outsiders… Pharaoh, Philistines and the like

then is what is alluded to by Paul in Romans… delivered from paying penalty for sin, slavery to sin and Satan, darkness into light, power of darkness into kingdom of beloved son

given “evangelistic” theme of Jonah, probably means what you think

expect Jonah’s first thought… salvation/deliverance from wherever he was to place he recognized – knew was not getting out on his own, could be very long swim if he tried

is also likely Jonah had Nineveh at least somewhat in mind, given what he knew of God’s plan for them

how well developed Jonah’s soteriology was at that moment… uncertain – often/usually Holy Spirit had much more in mind than original writers of Bible

following example of NT figures and writers, will unpack 5-word statement in light of rest of God’s word the Bible

is God and God alone who saves

even first parents when tainted by only handful of sins lacked wits to figure out solution – best effort only temporary clothes

if did have ability to come up with solution, lacked power and authority to make it happen – was God, after all, who was offended, whose demands must be satisfied

according to God’s decree, only God could come up with satisfactory plan, only God could satisfy God’s demands

no human has ability to pay penalty of death and gain sufficient merit to achieve life – is only God who can do that

according to God’s plan alone

since was God who was first offended by sin, is his prerogative to establish conditions for reconciliation, what is acceptable

because it is God who must be satisfied, he is under no obligation to consider alternatives, certainly no duty to accept any other solution man might devise

especially now post-Calvary, is ludicrous to think of offering alternative – Christ has met all of God’s demands in place of sinners he came to redeem… why would rational God even think about accepting alternative

is the glory of Christianity – only religion known to man where burden is not on fallen man to somehow pull himself up to God

God has come down to man in the God-Man, done for man what he could not do for himself at cost of his own life, only requirement is for sinner to have faith in Christ

applied to people of God’s choice alone

because God is God, he gets to decide all details – who he will save, how he will save, when he will save – all for his glory

Ex. 33:19“I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.” (cf. Rom 9:15)

God under no moral obligation to save anyone, certainly not required to save all mankind – God according to reason / purpose known only to him saves who he will

when we consider what ails people around us, must think and pray and act properly – may be slaves of drugs, alcohol, position, power, possessions… always in conflict, forever enslaved in debt, pursuing next thrill or adventure

greatest need not freedom from any of that; greatest need not to straighten up and fly right; sure that would help… but greatest need is deliverance from slavery in sin… that only God can provide

means we need to pray diligently for their salvation, point them to Christ as their only help, share Gospel truth whenever possible

B. Jonah released by God (10)

God spoke

Jonah had at least given lip service to concept God well within his rights to save Ninevites if he so desired, whether or not Jonah thought was good idea

was some change of heart for Jonah, God had achieved his purpose for Jonah’s timeout, gave orders to the fish

not a moment of Jonah’s time in the fish that he was out of God’s protecting care… as much as he desired distance from God

the fish obeyed

unlike Jonah, fish obeyed on first command – did as God ordered, and here again see gracious provision for unworthy prophet

God would have been justified to let Jonah swim for it, at least for little while – instead fish brought him back to shore, dry land

Jonah delivered

most obvious, Jonah was delivered from the storm, the ocean, predators lurking in the ocean, and from the fish

was being delivered (was a process!) from bad attitude toward God and others, mostly his own sinfulness – didn’t happen immediately, God committed to Jonah for long haul

would be roller coaster kind of ride – Jonah doing as God commanded, pouting, complaining, waiting to see God work, more complaining… yet God didn’t lose patience

how many of us would have said “not worth the work, forget about it” and left Jonah along with Ninevites to own misery – not God, is committed to saving the lost and making them fit for his family

C. pictures are best

Jonah reminded – how it feels to be “lost”

all we need to know for faith and practice – what to believe, how to behave – contained in God’s word the Bible… do not need any further source of revealed truth

but…God knows his children learn in different ways – some by reading or hearing, some by seeing, many by doing / experiencing

where Jonah was – perhaps grew up in Christian home, Christian parents, church that many times a week, immersed in God-fearing and godly atmosphere

had a three-day taste of what is like to be in dark, clueless where you are and what comes next, surrounded by silence, no awareness of God’s presence… iow, to be lost

came out of fish with deeper understanding of what means to be lost, how lost people need compassion not impatience or hatred

his deliverance from the Lord, too

from sin and submersible – Jonah gained better understanding of what God had graciously delivered him from

almost as if Jonah treated his own salvation as something due him, a right – of course God would deliver him, he was Jewish

gained better perspective of how great gift his deliverance truly was, how little part he actually had in it

yes, had responsibility to respond in proper way to Heavenly Father, but was God who did the work of delivering

further equipped for task of evangelism

those best able to bring Gospel to others are ones who have best understanding of their own need, who best recognize measure of grace God has given

not necessarily the most gifted speaker, most persuasive personality, things we usually think of as gifts evangelist needs

rather is those who have love for God, grief over own sinfulness, kind of heart for the lost that our Heavenly Father has

Keep in mind what Packer said:

“… it is our responsibility to proclaim salvation, we must never forget that it is God who saves. It is God who brings men and women under the sound of the gospel, and it is God who brings them to faith in Christ. Our evangelistic work is the instrument that He uses for this purpose, but the power that saves is not in the instrument: it is in the hand of the One who uses the instrument.”

Jonah Prays

Jonah 2:1-9

Debate over historicity / plausibility of this chapter in particular. To disbelieve its authenticity is to impugn Jesus’ integrity/honesty… as well as his resurrection accounts.

Matthew 12:40“For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”

Plain sense of what Jesus said – speaker comparing Jonah’s experience in past with Jesus experience in future. Either Jonah endured and survived trip in whale of a lifeboat or Jesus is still dead. Spiritualizing text does not eliminate problem, only changes one for another. Make Jonah’s experience some kind of legend or metaphor or parable, same must be true about Jesus. Then what does that mean about Jesus death and resurrection? If Jonah not literally inside the fish, then Jesus not literally in the grave. Thus, no death, burial and resurrection… iow, no atonement / redemption.

Heb. 9:22And according to the law almost all things are purified with blood, and without shedding of blood there is no remission.

And that’s just for starters! If truthfulness of Jesus is questionable, so is accuracy of NT writers… both with regard to facts, also interpretation of those facts. They believed what is written about Jesus is accurate and true – what he said, what he did – and wrote accordingly. Further, believed what was written strongly enough to write doctrinal conclusions based on their belief. Entrusted eternal destiny to those conclusions, encouraged others to do same. Either all true, to be understood as written, or is gigantic hoax. Can easily see how strong position on nature of Scripture – inspiration, inerrancy, infallibility – essential to proper understanding / application.

Jonah’s prayer a good one – doesn’t quote Scripture directly but prays in Bible language, expresses concepts and principles in way consistent with what rest of Bible teaches. Prayer says right things about God, keeping him in rightful place, many of themes touched on here and in Psalms. Are 7 penitential Psalms (Psalms of confession) – 6, 32, 38, 51, 102, 130, and 143. This prayer not one of them – Jonah acknowledges God’s hand in his circumstances but not his own. Jonah shows degree of repentance by some of his actions, appears to still carry chip on shoulder to very end of book. Yet God never abandons him, continues to teach / direct / use somewhat reluctant servant.

A. Jonah acknowledged God (1-3)

prayed to God (1)

have to go to v.10 to find indication of timing – appears that when finished prayer, God spoke to fish and Jonah discharged

would appear Jonah spent time cooling his heels before getting on his knees – takes a while sometimes to overcome stubborn heart, even in follower of God

likely from ch. 1 Jonah had gotten out of habit of praying – wanted to escape from God’s presence, means no interest in communication… unless God had new instructions

required significant attitude adjustment before could pray to God and expect some kind of positive response

cried out to God (2a)

during time on boat, was captain and crew crying out to their gods for deliverance, Jonah noticeable because of his absence

even after captain challenged him to pray for his God to help, no evidence he did so… didn’t want help for himself, didn’t care about others and their fate

Jonah smart enough to know – if prayed with that attitude, at best God would ignore him, at worst make things way more difficult/painful to teach what Jonah didn’t want to learn

did come to point where figured was better to humble at least a little, call for help rather than die stubborn… esp. since didn’t have clue where he was, how long he would be there

unlike Pharaoh, Jonah’s pain and suffering drove him to God for relief and ultimately deliverance – Pharaoh only wanted deliverance

key point: Jonah cried to the Lord “because of …affliction” – not yet praying for mercy, forgiveness, no mention of sinfulness

don’t overlook – Jonah’s plea for deliverance accompanied by commitment to keep his commitment, obey God albeit not with a smile and happy heart

answered by God (2b)

Jonah because of circumstances none the wiser if God had acted w/o speaking – fish swimming in circles, e.g., then heads for land at God’s command

Jonah’s vision / comprehension of what took place leading up to and during confinement clarified by hindsight – could recognize God’s fingerprints, God’s voice

could understand after the fact just how merciful God was to him when he in no way deserved it – was still in rebellion even though compliant

little boy, sit in time-out: may be sitting on the outside but standing up on the inside – Jonah going through motions of what God commanded but heart wasn’t in it

important note: God doesn’t wait til his children come all the way back from disobedience before answering their prayer

disciplined by God (3)

gave God credit for not only masterminding his experience but actually actively carrying it out – “You threw me overboard”; “your billows” “your waves” nearly drowned me

discipline effective in part because Jonah feared God, as in afraid of God esp. when he is angry – not ready to play tough guy given what God had done already

no secret to Jonah what God’s purpose was – had announced his defiance to ship’s crew, could easily connect dots from there

notice, too, God not like earthly fathers – His discipline is always precisely right thing at right time and for right duration

God knows his own strength, never uses more than is necessary to achieve his purpose w/o destroying his child

B. Jonah missed God (4-6)

God gave Jonah what he wanted (4a)

on occasion God gives child what he/she thinks he/she wants, particularly when child is not listening to reason, is determined to rebel

Jonah didn’t want to hear “Go to Nineveh”… his solution – put up wall (if possible) between God and him even if best he could do was lots of distance

acting like little child, hide and seek – hand in front of own eyes, you can’t see me… because I can’t see you; made even more concrete by darkness inside fish

God gave “silent treatment”, waiting for Jonah to make first move – added profoundly to Jonah’s sense of isolation

Jonah had real sense of abandonment, did truly feel that had escaped from God’s presence and watchful eye – his perception was real… but wrong

God not being deceptive, was veiling himself from Jonah’s senses in order to teach powerful lesson – what life for prophet/child of God would be like without any way to see/hear/feel God

Jonah “thought” he died (5-6a)

describes his experience from physical perspective: reciting themes from Psalms, using poetic language to refer to experience that felt like it must be he was going to die

entirely possible God let Jonah flounder a while until fish swallowed him; could also be description of near death experience inside fish… feeling like was falling, total darkness, silent except for fish noise

Jonah’s experience was real, what he described as being like dying wasn’t made up – he simply had no familiar frame of reference while was happening

at time of praying, could look back on previous hours and realize was still alive – obviously God must have some purpose in keeping him alive

Jonah discovered the truth (4b)

God had given Jonah what he was seeking – no sense of God’s presence, watchfulness – reached conclusion quite quickly wasn’t what he expected

even though not inclined to comply joyfully with God’s plan, did know he wanted God in his life – desire for God’s presence far outweighed prospect of final abandonment by God

when God wasn’t available to Jonah’s perception, Jonah missed him, wanted him back… even on terms Jonah didn’t want

God delivered Jonah (6b)

Jonah recognized his life had been in God’s secure hands all along – just as much when Jonah couldn’t “see” him as other times

knew, given what he had been through, only true God could have delivered him – notice, too, Jonah calls him “my God”… are at least on speaking terms again

C. Jonah remembered God (7-9b)

lost nearly all hope (7a)

describes his experience now from spiritual perspective: felt like very near point of death – “when my life was fainting / ebbing away” – basically running out of time to do something

not so much an “if you’re out there, if anyone out there, please help” kind of prayer, rather a “since you have answered my need before, I’m back needing again”

has pretty clear grasp of God’s faithfulness, could have benefited from recognizing his own lack of it and dire need for it

cried for mercy (7b)

“remembered the Lord” – not just bare remembrance of person, calling to mind character and situations and experience, iow to remember favorably and with intention to do something

in this case, since was God who threw him overboard, greatest need is for God to show mercy and preserve his life

Jonah could pray with some confidence because God had heard and answered prayer before… in some pretty dire circumstances

declared futility of idols (8)

from his vantage point, to pray and worship like sailors a futile exercise since gods of wood and stone can’t do anything

of greater significance, Jonah does give lip service to idea that idol-worshipers actively forfeit the hope that could be theirs

he does begin to recognize Nineveh’s problem and solution to it… he just doesn’t want to be part of the solution, thinks they don’t deserve that kind of mercy

committed to obedience (9ab)

true, for Jonah to keep his word God had to deliver him from captivity in the fish… but Jonah did not articulate that – not making deal with God, simply stating his honest intent

truly is what God expects from all his people – single-hearted purpose to do what God commands in total dependence on him

As disobedient as Jonah was, as far from God as thought he was – here’s the beauty of how God treats his children – moment Jonah turned from disobedience and rebellion by turning to God, God was right there! God never leads his people into temptation, may lead them into discipline and correction. God never abandons his children, may withdraw sense of his presence from them. He may veil himself so he cannot be easily detected… to help individual better grasp preciousness of knowing he is here, the importance of staying closely connected with Heavenly Father.

Also good to note: God would not be swayed from his redemptive purpose toward people of Nineveh. At same time, would not change his purpose regarding Jonah. Intended Jonah to be useful servant, also intended countless people of Nineveh delivered from destruction. God not like us, wanting personal space. God wants his personal space overflowing with children, his children as close to him as possible.

 

Gnats and Flies

Exodus 8:16-32

We can easily get sidetracked, think big deal in this part of Exodus is that Pharaoh is bad guy and Hebrew children the victims. Then do victory dance when Pharaoh and henchmen get comeuppance. There, that’ll show them, go God!! But that wasn’t God’s way of thinking at all… purpose not to show up Pharaoh, humiliate in front of watching world. Same holds for other confrontations between sinful people and God. God had much bigger things in mind – remember, He knows the end from the beginning:

Isa. 46:10 “Declaring the end from the beginning, And from ancient times things that are not yet done, Saying, ‘My counsel shall stand, And I will do all My pleasure,”

Is God’s pleasure to be glorified in the redemption of his people, judgment of his enemies. In process of redeeming people from slavery, Pharaoh and magicians and people would all pay heavy price for unbelief and opposition ot God’s pleasure. Yet at same time, God demonstrated unbelievable mercy and grace… even to his enemies. Each plague an opportunity for Hebrew and Egyptian alike to acknowledge superiority of YHWH over all others, renounce worship of false gods and worship YHWH alone. Especially true since seems each plague ended before next began – imagine if not like that! plague upon plague until Egyptians were completely destroyed!

Instead, God used “the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty.” (1 Cor. 1:27) All the while, God unswervingly pursued his plan of redemption with cross of Christ in view. Proved with each plague that only in YHWH and his son Jesus Christ is there any hope for fallen sinners.

a. Introduction

no warning before plague of lice (16)

last plague of each triplet just came as God instructed Moses and Aaron, no warning or explanation to Pharaoh first

not certain what exactly they were – noseeums, midgies, lice, gnats, ticks, flies, fleas, or mosquitoes – small pests, probably biting, itching, annoying

brought about by God through Aaron’s rod (17)

like first two plagues, God used visible instrumental means to bring on the plague – pleased God to work that way

another warning before flies (20-21)

again, Pharaoh and Egyptians reminded of what YHWH expected – Pharaoh should have no question about why things were happening

brought about directly (24)

based on plain reading of text, no intermediate means identified, simply told “the LORD did so” – just as at creation, God issued command and creatures obeyed

God isn’t done yet but some things pretty clear already: God has shown he does as he pleases… with what he chooses… on his timetable – iow, God is sovereign over all his creation

A. God’s finger (16-19)

finger of God made a man out of dust (Gen. 2:7)

right from beginning, Creator God demonstrated his personal freedom – not the kind of Being locked into one way of doing things

to bring things into existence, God spoke word of command and they appeared out of nothing – “Let there be.. and there was”

then came to mankind, man and woman – distinct from all other creative acts, God started with raw material rather than creating from nothing

further distinction in how God made woman – rib from man built up into a woman vs. dust from the ground formed into man

God, as he pleases, chooses what if any materials to use in creative process, designs outcome according to his divine plan

same finger can make lice from dust (16-17)

no problem at all, with or without Aaron’s rod, for God to make annoying little insects from dust, send them to harass people and animals

is important for us to note: only man of all God’s creation fails to obey his commands; everything else from smallest particle to largest structure in all the universe does as God commands without question or resistance

impotent magicians, made so by same finger of God (18-19a)

lice were troublesome to all Egyptians, esp. magicians/priests – matter of ritual cleanliness; some went to extreme lengths to stay rid of “walking dandruff” or equiv.

this is final showdown for magicians – by God’s design, same finger that made them in first place put end to ability to copy

was God of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob who put limits on what Satan and agents could achieve – same God doing same today

may seem like God has given Satan too much rope – can take this to the bank: God never drops the rope

no matter how much gov’t tries to replace God, are fixed limits God puts in place – true for both “good” ones, evil ones

good ones sincerely believe they can help, encourage trust in system/services provided, can easily divert what belongs to God

evil ones believe they are good as God, maybe better, if he even exists, try their best to take God’s in lives of citizens

in both cases God often overrules intentions/plans that would cause great harm, frustrating evildoers and using their actions for good of his people

same is true for scientists who try to explain away need for God

are limitations on what God reveals – hasn’t given away all his secrets, don’t believe he ever will so can’t explain everything

God also places limits on what science can achieve through experimentation – in process keeps them and us safe from harm

Pharaoh resists the truth (19b)

whether magicians were making connection between plague of lice and God of the Bible is unknown; at least understood Moses and Aaron’s god more powerful than anything at their disposal

for magicians to say this, putting lives in danger – an insult to Pharaoh, representative of gods on earth, and gods they worshiped

rather than cause Pharaoh to question what he believed, instead became more adamant he was right… no longer listening to advisors, becoming more unreasonable

B. God’s distinguishing grace (20-24)

lice are aggravating, flies are dangerous (20-21)

carry more than 100 pathogens – even today, more temperate places, flies often source of sickness and disease esp. the poor

flies don’t wash mouth after eating, don’t wash feet after stepping in something, just carry it along from one victim to next

now add to that – are absolutely everywhere, swarms in houses, underfoot, both on and around – be careful how you breathe!

and incessant buzzing… incredible annoyance of lice – no escape day or night from “thick swarms” of flies that ruined the land

believed by some that many people died from effect of flies – from their bites/stings or diseases they carried

Goshen set apart (22)

beginning now to see how God deals with his people particularly – showing the Hebrew children mercy, Egyptians not so much

God promised beforehand the primary area in which they lived, Goshen, what we think of as Nile Delta, would be free of flies

no natural explanation for such to happen, strong evidence of God’s power and sovereignty – this far and no more

difference between people (23-24)

God deals with people in community, also as individuals – Christ died for his church, the community of saints, he redeems individuals one by one

similar discriminating treatment from the fourth plague onward thru ninth – God brought judgment on his enemies, showed favor to his particular people

had Egyptians, even including Pharaoh, turned from sinful ways and sought after true God, and done what he commanded, YHWH would have relented

Psalm 103:8 The LORD is merciful and gracious, Slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.

Exod.34:6 “The LORD, the LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth”

no intermediate agency here – “the Lord did so” (24)

was God himself who without outside means commanded swarms of flies to invade Egypt according to limits he set

flies obeyed precisely, bringing aggravation and disease and humiliation on those who worshiped the fly god, another of the pantheon of gods Egyptians revered and feared

C. God shines more brightly (25-32)

Pharaoh’s insufficient solution (25)

getting frustrated, magicians no longer any consolation – willing to make concession or two if would bring some relief

or maybe Pharaoh’s plan really more despicable at root – appearing to concede: “go sacrifice to your God” but note key condition: “in the land”

perhaps hoping Moses would agree to terms, worship however they wanted… while staying in the land as Pharaoh’s slaves

Moses plays hardball (26-29)

if was a ruse, Moses saw through it – do you think we’re foolish? simple-minded enough to sacrifice in a way that would cause great offense to Egyptians?

sacrificing cows and bulls in Egypt no less offensive than in India, perhaps with similar consequences; sacrificing sheep in presence of Egyptians who thought they were disgusting – Hebrews taking their lives in their hands to do that

so, Moses went back to original request, this time making it a statement rather than question – “we will go and do as God commands”

so far in negotiations, Pharaoh is only party who has blinked, given at least token lip service to meeting their demands

Moses continues acting/speaking as superior to his inferior – Pharaoh requests, Moses declares, even telling him to stop acting deceitfully… further evidence of God working his plan: making Moses as God to Pharaoh (7:1)

contrast grows (30-32)

after each encounter, true God YHWH shown to be more and more different from Egyptian gods including Pharaoh

gods of Egypt further humiliated, shown in their true light… powerless to do anything by themselves apart from Satan

Pharaoh’s character as powerless as the rest, and increasingly determined to resist true God, prevail over him if possible

every time Pharaoh breaks his word, every time God does exactly as he said he would… his holiness and purity and glory more in evidence with each plague

Many people today not so unlike Egyptians – ascribe power and effectiveness to things no more useful than lice and flies. They seek cleansing from that which has no ability to purify, whether river or ritual. Saddest of all, millions staking the safety of their eternal soul on these things. Some will hear truth and respond as God enables them. The rest, like Pharaoh, will harden their hearts to truth and eventually die in their sins.

Truth is only blood of Christ has power to cleanse from sin and free from slavery to Satan. Our task – pray, meet people, tell them about Jesus. Tell them how he loves sinners, how he died to save the lost, how he will save to uttermost all who come to him by faith.

 

Pursued on the Sea

Jonah 1:4-17

Might think “why do we need to know from the OT how determined God is to save people? He sent his Son…” True, does show the depths of God’s love for his people, also love Father had for his Son. Father loved the Son so much he gave him his heart’s desire – a people who would be one with him, redeemed by him, purchased as his inheritance.

A different aspect of God’s character is shown here in Jonah. Simply sending Jesus did not accomplish everything lost people need to be saved. Remember Paul: “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” The lost, regardless of BC or AD need to hear truth, hear good news in order to come to faith. And… through Jonah God demonstrates just how much he loves the lost and how much he will do to bring them to salvation. God didn’t simply say “I made the way, it’s up to you to find it.” Jonah would have been quite content with that approach. Jonah not happy with God’s methods, God’s persistence and determination to save people Jonah thought didn’t deserve salvation. We must guard against thinking of the lost as Jonah did… regardless of reasons we might have to think that way.

Jonah was determined, if God insisted on saving some of people of Nineveh, he would have to use some other prophet. Jonah’s preference for them to stay lost, his definite intention whichever way God moved he would not be part of solution. God had other ideas, and no cranky sinner like Jonah would derail God’s redemptive plan for either Jew or Gentile, before or after hinge of history at the cross. And… God would make it absolutely plain to all concerned what he intended to do and who he expected to do it. At same time, God showed patience and gentleness beyond measure to reluctant servant who in no way deserved it.

A. God sends a wind v.4-5

an extraordinary wind

great wind, great tempest – piling on the words to communicate just how fierce storm was that God “hurled down” on the sea

ship itself “considered breaking up” – personified, in life and death struggle with the storm, moaning and groaning and about ready to give up the fight

should have served as rebuke to prophet – what we think of as “forces of nature” fully cooperated with God, he did not!

frightening prospect

journey from Joppa to Tarshish not for faint of heart – long and often dangerous, usually attempted only by experienced highly skilled sailors

those who knew worst nature normally threw at them thought they were gonna die, seriously – doing everything they knew to keep from drowning

emergency measures

appears from description was a cargo ship, not passenger vessel – carrying expensive items from middle and far East to western European port

many things at risk solely because of Jonah’s disobedience: ship itself, expensive cargo, supplies for sailors, lives of all aboard

self-willed prophet jeopardizing sailor’s profit – had to lighten ship so wouldn’t sink, needed enough ballast so didn’t capsize

sleeping prophet

ship threatening to disassemble around him, Jonah oblivious to it all, sound asleep – perhaps figuring out of sight, out of mind… God’s mind at least

important note: here a genuine servant of God, should have major guilty conscience, could turn down volume enough to sleep through his world coming apart

B. God sends a word v.6-9

awakened by the captain

captain and crew well aware this no ordinary storm, will take more than ordinary means to survive – requires divine help

some god, any god, pray for help so we don’t all die out here – least you can do, if not going to help any other way, is pray!

was Jonah going to pray? to his God? NOT! he knew truth of their situation, knew also how God would respond if he did pray… except in sincere repentance

Jonah not even close to repentance at this point – probably at point of stubbornness where would say at least better to die than go to Nineveh, and by actions showing total unconcern for how many he took with him

rebuked by the crew

sailors figured out – by no means normal kind of storm, a fury that could only come from divine being displeased with someone

cast lots to figure out who was cause of danger – relying on divine power of some kind to oversee lot and direct its outcome

lot fell to Jonah, crew fell upon Jonah with words if not hands, demanded whole story – perhaps thought details would help them form successful strategy to stay alive

knew from the lot Jonah was guilty, were holding him accountable for his sinful action, if for no other reason than he put them at risk by foolish actions

cornered by confession

identified himself, identified his God by name and description – he worshiped YHWH, creator God as distinct from sailors’ gods

had previously told them, probably when he booked passage, he was running away from his God – likely thought he meant one of tribal territorial gods with limited range

no longer a mystery – everyone knows Jonah trying to hide from god of sea/land… iow, one who can hunt him down anywhere

sailors may have connected YHWH with legendary accounts of his mighty acts on behalf of Hebrews – think Rahab and Red Sea

C. God sends a wave v.10-15

running out of time

now they’re terrified, more certain than ever they’re gonna die – their “why” question could have number of qualifiers: why this stupid thing, why involve us, why this way of escape….

all the while fury of storm is increasing – remember source of wind, “God hurled…”, and his purpose not simply to cause fear

put burden on Jonah – it’s your fault, you got us into this, what do we do to you so we don’t all die? …giving Jonah full accountability for foolish and dangerous action

one last try

don’t like Jonah’s answer, to throw him overboard, even though made full confession, took full responsibility for predicament

God knew Jonah’s heart, didn’t want to be back on dry land – looking for “suicide by sailor” as way out of God’s appointed task

Jonah would have stayed asleep until all drowned but sailors had higher moral standard than Jonah – would continue to risk their own lives if could save his in the process

God had different plan, as we know did not involve any loss of life… only temporary loss of freedom for Jonah

“forgive the sin we are about to commit”

sailors were not absolutely convinced Jonah’s solution would work – afraid Jonah’s god might take anger out on them for how treated Jonah

at same time, were completely out of options – all would be in the water any minute, last chance to do as Jonah had told them

what they did, hoping against all odds he was right and all on board would survive, escape punishment by Jonah’s god

instant relief

deep breath, look around, check to make sure it’s real – as soon as Jonah hit the water, calm wind and sea as he said

almost more unsettling than fury of storm the instant calm that followed – without question the result of supernatural power

D. God receives worship v.16

fear increased

feared for their lives, feared power of storm, fear the God who governs it all more than all the rest, not sure what to expect

are swift enough to know this God above all others deserves worship and honor – may have added YHWH to god-shelf, but for a time was first in line before the rest

they did get some right – “You, O LORD, have done as it pleased You.” – is totally correct, Jonah will eventually learn from experience God always gets his way

thankfulness expressed

had received undeserved favor from God, they were idol-worshipers after all – correct response to express thanks to right God

probably did not offer animal sacrifice on the spot, they did take vows to do so at first opportunity – needed to find land soon and resupply, find another cargo

F. God sends a whale v.17

prepared by God

was right creature with right characteristics to serve God’s purpose – don’t know all details how God prepared fish, is enough to know that God did it

nice, heartwarming to know some scientists (or others) have found/seen sea creatures large enough to swallow man whole

don’t forget fish isn’t star of the story, neither is Jonah – central figure is God, his unquenchable love for lost people and determination to save them

positioned by God

fish precisely on target according to God’s knowledge / plan – impeccable timing / location, personal rescue vehicle for Jonah

llike the storm, was God’s intent that Jonah first, then all who hear/read the story will know none of this occurred by accident

preserved by God

fish was prepared to preserve Jonah, not digest him! is a one-on-one training / correcting / disciplining session Jonah needed to complete so he would serve God’s purpose

Jonah not easily persuaded to obey, had deeply embedded prejudices not fully overcome even by end of his story

God does only what is necessary for Jonah to be useful even though reluctant servant

Don’t be too hard on Jonah, he just put into action what many of us would given the opportunity. What is more amazing / surprising / encouraging is incredible patience and gentleness God showed toward Jonah. Didn’t give up on him, didn’t abandon / throw him away, didn’t punish him with lost opportunity. Step by step God brought Jonah to place of submission and usefulness while at same time keeping redemptive plan on track.

Key to it all is this: people need change of heart. Not just hard-hearted pagans who need God to change their heart. God’s children need heart change also. Brought to point of submissive obedience to God’s will in all things, large and small, public and private.

Frogs… and More Frogs

Exodus 8:1-15

For most if not all of its existence, Bible has given many people severe headache. Their problems show up with what they think about very first verse of first book. From there, do their best to redefine words, adjust details to come up with some kind of naturalistic explanation. In their thinking, obviously could not be miracle since those don’t happen. For folks like that, plagues are fair game for reinterpreting. For example:

“Although the death of the firstborn, the tenth of the plagues that afflicted Egypt on the eve of the Exodus, is avowedly in the realm of miracle, the preceding nine demonstrate God’s use of the created order for His own ends. A careful study by Greta Hort strongly suggests that the first nine plagues form a sequence of unusually severe natural phenomena which began with an unusually high inundation of the Nile… The result of her investigation is to show that the narrative of Exodus 7 to 10 makes excellent sense as it stands and shows evidence of first-hand observation, thus enabling us to understand the course of events with greater clarity. Thus, the excessive inundation may have brought with it flagellates which would redden the river and also cause conditions that would kill the fish. Decomposing fish floating inshore would drive the frogs ashore, having also infected them with Bacillus anthracis. The third plague would be mosquitoes, and the fourth a fly, …encouraged to breed freely in the conditions produced by a high inundation.” Kitchen, Ancient Orient

And on it goes. Truly a failure to believe Bible is word of God who said precisely what he meant and expects readers to understand it that way. “If the plain sense makes sense, seek no other sense lest you end up with nonsense.” Does that principle work with plagues of Egypt as recorded by an eyewitness? Let’s go back to first verse of Bible – “In the beginning God created the universe”. If that statement and what follows is trustworthy saying, then should be no great difficulty believing account of plagues is trustworthy.

If God really said in so many words: “I am going to do this so you will know I am God”, should expect God did as he said. And in such a way that it has no naturalistic explanation. If it can be explained away as some sort of super-duper natural phenomenon, then no reason for Pharaoh or anyone else to change their mind about Yahweh. Means Nile and other bodies of water just few days before this were indeed blood, killing all fish. Seems God had returned things to original state, seven days later water now water again and able to sustain life.

Some dramatic changes in environment and circumstances for Egyptians, yet no positive change in Pharaoh’s heart. Still hard toward God and growing harder. God again uses Moses and Aaron as instruments showing YHWH’s superiority and authority over all things. Prefaces it with reminder to Pharaoh why these things happening, what God’s big purpose is – that he, true God, will be worshiped.

A. nature of second plague

all territory will be overrun with frogs

not cute little quiet amphibians that try to escape from people – large, loud, underfoot, far from typical habitat in huge numbers

same qualifying description of frogs as given to Hebrew children in Ex. 1:7 – “But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty; and the land was filled with them.”

no place exempt from frogs

frogs will leave river, another indication of God’s hand at work – creatures behaving in uncharacteristic ways, contrary to expectations based on experience

throughout Pharaoh’s living space – house, bedroom, on the bed, in the kitchen, into everything… appliances, cooking utensils, everywhere

how they behaved everywhere – private homes, sacred spaces, wide open fields, no escaping their presence and croaking

no level of society will be exempt from this plague

afflicted everyone – Pharaoh, his people, his servants – a universal plague that included Hebrew children and their homes

God shows he can use unexpected things to bring about his purpose

“for want of a nail…” reminds that things that seem insignificant can have profound ripple effect – who would think to use frogs to humiliate world leader like Pharaoh?

frogs probably did little actual harm, but boy, were they aggravating! – caused huge disruption to typical daily life in whole nation… because were agents of God, serving his purpose

B. purpose of plague

demonstrate YHWH as not only source of life but giver of life through offspring

why frogs? viewed by Egyptians as representing goddess of fertility, the one who helped Egyptian women when in childbirth

saw in first plague that YHWH source of life – is also one who gave life to all creatures when created them by powerful word

and… continues to sustain life through process of reproduction – Hebrews didn’t swarm in the land because frog god made them super fertile

was true God who gave them large families who all lived to grow up and have large families… by God’s design

Pharaoh and Egyptians tried to mess with Hebrews’ fertility, God highly displeased

same river Egyptians used to try and circumvent God’s plan now being turned against them – Pharaoh in hatred toward Hebrews was really attacking God, now feeling consequences of God’s righteous justice

also lesson: higher life forms do not come from lower

YHWH made plain to all observers that frogs have nothing to do with supplying children to human mothers – is all God’s business

people the world over should keep this in mind, that children are a gift from God, should be treated the way God intends

C. response to plague

once again, magicians make problem worse rather than better

were they real frogs? or evil spirits like frogs John saw coming out of mouth of dragon, beast, false prophet? – text doesn’t make clear… source of magicians power from epitome of evil, Satan

acting according to character – Satan the destroyer vs God the creator – as Satan exercises power through agents, makes problem greater; his turn coming, God will demonstrate Satan has limits

frogs… and more frogs… when what people needed were fewer frogs… except Satan could not demonstrate mercy and compassion – not his nature to do so

this time Pharaoh’s response different

Pharaoh not exempt from pestilential problem – could require servants to get him clean water, couldn’t do anything about frogs

his/their religion prevented positive action – frogs were protected species, representatives of goddess Hekhet, not to be harmed in any way

had to ask “more powerful” God to bring relief

Pharaoh blinked – asked Moses and Aaron to intercede, promised to grant their request if his was met; sincere? hard to tell

YHWH did bring relief… in his own way, not by making frogs go away but by killing them – two things to note: no harm came to YHWH for his action, Egyptians didn’t stop having children

Moses, perhaps sarcastically, told Pharaoh he could pick the time – God answered specific prayer according to schedule

D. expected outcome

recognize that all other gods unlike YHWH, true God

was why Moses interceded for Pharaoh, why God did his mighty acts – so Pharaoh/people would not only know YHWH exists, would also know from experience he was unlike any of their gods

understand frog god not source of fertility but YHWH

why did they think the Hebrew children were so numerous? perhaps because the frog goddess liked the Hebrews better?

was clearly demonstrated YHWH, not frogs was one who preserved and multiplied his people… who would someday be family to their Redeemer… both Jew and Gentile

also “expected” Pharaoh would keep his word

YHWH kept his word, so should Pharaoh and let people go – instead of keeping word and obeying God, became more stubborn

as soon as pressure was off, went back to old way of thinking, even more determined to win battle with God; final plague, as devastating as it was, had only temporary effect on Pharaoh

note: increasing hardship often makes unbeliever bitter, resentful, more determined than ever to resist God… has opposite effect on child of God

sometimes God is pleased to use adversity to help unbeliever understand depth of his/her need for a deliverer

could be seen as veiled warning

YHWH sovereign in control of offspring including gift of children… can also take them away – since Pharaoh did not relent, would come to that in last plague

If v.15 translated literally, would read “Pharaoh made his heart heavy”. Egypt’s tradition regarding afterlife –

“The Egyptians believed that when someone died, the person went to judgment in the underworld. The individual’s heart, which was thought to be the very essence of the person, was weighed on the scales of truth. On the one hand, sat the feather of truth and righteousness. On the other side of the scale, lay the heart of the deceased. If the heart was heavy or weighty with misdeeds, the person was considered unjust and was condemned.” Duncan

According to God’s word, Pharaoh by his purposeful actions was condemning himself – supposed god of Egypt brought his own doom on himself according to own traditions. Because of his persistent rebellion, God concurred. Don’t be hard on Pharaoh. Only difference between him and any other lost soul is matter of degree. Is God’s mercy and grace given to us “while we were still sinners” that makes us different. God was merciful to both Hebrew and Egyptian, holding back judgment that was rightly deserved. God continues to be merciful, rescuing lost sinners from their helpless condition, adopting into his family, granting gift of eternal life.