Tag: Exodus

Let There Be Darkness

Exodus 10:21-29

Worked with fellow years ago, fascinated with computer video games, 1 in particular… DOOM. First-person-shooter genre of game, is you against bad guys, all manner of weapons and tools of destruction. Initial episode titled “Knee-Deep in the Dead”, gives idea of what was like. Purpose of game to fight way through places inhabited by monsters, possessed humans, demons. If successful, the hero discovers hidden doorway back to Earth since he has “proven too tough for Hell to contain”. Long weekend, Jay make entrance into office in role from DOOM, make sure lights in his area turned way down or off. Would take at least a full day for Jay to come back to reality.

Not coincidence that after playing at combat with demons, proving too tough for Hell to contain him, Jay preferred darkness rather than light. We associate darkness with evil, with underworld, rightly so. Lord Jesus himself declared “men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil” (John 3:19) Satan disguises as “angel of light” while really being angel of darkness.

Yet another reference to darkness even more important. Three times in Matthew’s Gospel, Jesus recorded as using term “outer darkness” in his parables. “Outer darkness”, place where “there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” That kind of darkness more than even Jay would appreciate. Is darkness like none of us have experienced, pray none of us ever will. Egyptians got 3-day taste of darkness, were profoundly affected by it…. including Pharaoh. Was once total darkness, the darkness of nothing, when only God existed. Then God acted.

A. back to the beginning v.21-22

creatio ex nihilo (Gen. 1:1)

in the beginning, if there was point of singularity that gave rise to all other things, we call him God, who created all from nothing

God used nothing already in existence for building materials – when we create, start with something and reshape into something different

are told how God continued work of creation – spoke things into existence by his powerful word in space of six days

Bible doesn’t tell us how heavens and earth came to be… except that God created them – don’t know if he spoke into empty darkness or if he merely thought and universe sprang into existence

even then, still dark – “darkness was on the face of the deep” (Gen. 1:2) – Holy Spirit present, moving over waters, still dark

first recorded speech (Gen. 1:3)

God said, “let there be light” – plan of creation, sequence of events not random or unplanned… were precisely planned and orchestrated by infinitely wise Creator

God’s value judgment on light: “it was good” – once basic framework of universe brought into existence, God no longer worked in the dark… did remainder of creative work in the light

looking ahead few days, people he would place on his earth not expected to exist in the dark, not equipped to do so either

that would be why on fourth day God created two lights to serve specific purposes: to divide day from night, signify seasons, delineate one day from next and one year from next; to give light on the earth

even night not to be time of utter darkness – sun to rule day, moon to rule night, God not intending return to pre-Creation darkness… at least not for extended period of time

only recorded undoing (21)

yet in text, on localized scale, God unmakes what had made – “let there be darkness over the land of Egypt”

72 hours of unrelenting impenetrable darkness – in land of Egypt God took every single ray of light regardless of source

darkness, felt darkness, thick darkness (22)

the kind of darkness that isolates, separating people not only from one another but from surroundings as well

way more than darkness from desert sandstorm, even if compounded by desolation from previous plagues

God intended there be no misunderstanding – expected all to know, Egyptian and Hebrew alike, that He, YHWH did this

B. reading between the lines v.23

profound paralyzing darkness

this was darkness inside homes and buildings as well as outside – absolutely zero natural light and artificial light

Egyptians could not see one another, could not make out anything of surroundings, could maybe get around somewhat by feel

so unnatural and unnerving Egyptians were unable to move – basically a nationwide panic attack that paralyzed everyone

true God’s superiority over Egypt’s greatest god

like most polytheistic belief systems, was hierarchy to Egyptian gods/goddesses – one at top was Ra, the sun God who was also creator

when presence or absence of sun could not be detected, Egyptians helpless and hopeless with no where to turn

“this plague of darkness shows the sovereignty of God over Ra, the sun god, the chief of the gods of Egypt. The Egyptians worshipped Ra in almost all of the palace ceremonies. Ra worship was pervasive in the land. They believed that the sunrise in the east symbolized Ra’s victory over the demonic powers of the netherworld, and that sunset indicated that these forces of darkness were waging war against Ra. And then when the sun rose again it showed that Ra had won. He was victorious over those that would challenge his rule. So, when God through Moses announces, not a day, not just the daylight hours, but three days of darkness, He is showing that the God of the Hebrews in sovereign over the chief deities over Egypt.” Duncan

clear dividing line

seems from v.23 that sun did not show his face anywhere in land of Egypt… including Goshen for that three-day period

different story inside homes – Egyptian homes experienced total blackout, children of Israel enjoyed their usual illumination

once again God makes clear distinction between his enemies and enemies of his people on one hand, children of Israel on the other – bringing judgment on one, showing mercy to other

those with light vs. those without

same kind of distinction in place even today – people of God are those living in the light: light of God’s truth and favor

those not reconciled to God live in darkness, walk in darkness, are blinded by the darkness and do not know where they are going (1 John 2:11)

C. final bargaining session v.24-29

Pharaoh’s last stand (24)

Pharaoh gives appearance of agreeing with YHWH’s demands – tells Moses: go, worship, families may go, only animals stay

sounds on surface like willingness to let people go worship their God, only holding onto animals so children of Israel remember to come back to Egypt

I believe Pharaoh’s motives more sinister than that… especially as he acts as agent of Satan, and seems Moses recognizes Pharaoh’s true intent

think carefully, remember what worship was like for children of Israel in Moses’ day – could make blanket statement, no animal sacrifice = no worship

Pharaoh’s point – you can go but you cannot worship YHWH, would not be allowed to give to YHWH what Pharaoh wanted for himself

Moses pulls rank (25-26)

Moses takes position of one in command, telling him what he must do – this time, more than just let children of Israel go with all their belongings

Moses recognizes Pharaoh’s refusal to submit to God’s authority and intention to prevent others from worshiping true God

so Moses tells Pharaoh he must provide his own animals for sacrifice in addition to those of Hebrews, iow telling Pharaoh to worship true God

hardened again (27-29)

God lets Pharaoh have his heart’s desire

Pharaoh wants to remain enemy of God, to act as if he is supreme leader in charge and worthy of worship himself

has by now come to place where without divine intervention Moses’ very life at risk – Pharaoh wants desperately to put Moses in his place

God permits Pharaoh to have his wish, in fact God acts to firm up Pharaoh’s resolve so he will not relent

Moses concurs

“as you wish” – would turn out that way, once Moses finally left Pharaoh’s presence – not quite done yet, though… verses 4-8 of next chapter bring Moses’ audience with Pharaoh to conclusion

Pharaoh claims prerogative of God (cf. Ex. 33:20)

declares to Moses, “next time you see my face you will die” – same God declared to Moses “no man shall see me and live”

Pharaoh maintaining own superiority over YHWH, desiring to receive worship due to YHWH, claiming right to life and death over prophet of YHWH

D. two lessons

be careful what you desire

over and over Pharaoh pushed back against God, God mercifully withheld justice – yet time came when God said “ok, have it your way”

consider carefully what you truly desire – what if God gave it to you… permanently?

remember: Jesus took the darkness for us

three hours of profound darkness, dark enough he cried “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”

Getty, Power of the Cross

Father punished the Son that those who believe in him might be spared darkness of God’s wrath

is your name written in his wounds? did he bear the awesome weight of your sin? if so, through his suffering you are free

if not, cry out to God for forgiveness, trust in Christ and his righteousness, stand forgiven at the cross

 

How Stubborn Will You Be?

Exodus 10:1-20

Plague in our text #8 in series of 10. As we approach end of God dealing with Pharaoh and Egyptian people, intensity of and devastation done by plagues ramps up quickly. Consequences of devastation have long reach, affecting not only present generation but future one also. God takes this opportunity to add to Moses’ store of understanding… and tells Moses how he is to use knowledge and understanding.

Two principles repeatedly described / illuminated throughout God’s word the Bible – first one is sovereignty of God. Shows up first partly because God was here first. Gen. 1:1 does not say “In the beginning God asked a question.” Rather, tells us in the beginning God acted. God did what God purposed to do without asking permission, taking poll, putting up for a vote. God acted unilaterally as He saw fit to accomplish his perfect will and design.

God’s approach still the same when made man and woman, put in the Garden, told them they were responsible for their actions. There is second principle – man’s responsibility. Both are true, both God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility co-exist side by side. Must be diligent not to sacrifice one in attempt to guard the other – man is not marionette, God not a frustrated sovereign. Charles Spurgeon once asked how he would reconcile God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility – his answer: “no need to reconcile friends”.

Same motif continues here in Exodus – God both declaring and demonstrating his sovereignty over his creation. At same time, he holds Pharaoh / Egyptian people responsible for sinful rebellion against him. Over and over God shows mercy and grace… to both Egyptian and Hebrew. Since God is immutable, does not change, he is just as sovereign today as then, mankind just as responsible to respond properly to God’s acts of mercy.

A. God’s purposes:

hardened Pharaoh’s heart on purpose (1a)

sounds harsh, unloving, maybe you can think of other words – God himself hardening Pharaoh’s heart… against God!

yet what has Pharaoh done? – repeatedly, in face of repeated reminders of what is right, hardened his own heart – Pharaoh freely chose to rebel against God, not because he didn’t know any better, because he didn’t want to do differently

Pharaoh acting naturally, just like fallen sinner he was, and God justly allowed Pharaoh to have his own way – wanted to stay enemy of God, so God said “ok”, gave what he wanted, holding Pharaoh accountable for actions

same held true for magicians and officials of Pharaoh’s government – freely chose loyalty to Pharaoh in rebellion against God, so God gave them what they wanted

God’s purpose in all this extended far beyond Pharaoh, even beyond Pharaoh’s court and Egyptian people – God had whole world in view, how Pharaoh’s circumstances and story would impact generations of people

show miraculous signs (1b)

God identified 3 expected outcomes from hardening Pharaoh’s heart – first outcome: provided the stage on which God would display power through signs… plagues and what followed

has already begun – remember this is plague #8, another instance of signs God performed before Pharaoh so he would have no excuse

God’s issue with Pharaoh: Satan and sin had deluded him into thinking he was God, could rightfully expect and accept worship due to YHWH alone

God took no pleasure in Pharaoh’s punishment and humiliation – had Pharaoh responded properly God would have ended plagues

yet plagues had purpose: to show to all the world utter futility of idol-worship, powerlessness of Satan against God, God’s power and authority over his creation to use for his own glory

you will tell your son and grandson (2a)

Father’s Day next week, this an important principle every Sunday and all days in between: dad, you are #1 person responsible for religious instruction of your family

get help, of course, your children / grandchildren / great-grandchildren ought to hear about God and his ways from you

instruction here directed to Moses… who was to be leader of God’s people, teaching by word and example how to live pleasing to God

role of husband and father hasn’t changed since Adam – are to be head of home who leads by word and example

many of you know from experience – in spite of best efforts, children don’t get everything passed on to them… is why God expects us to be involved in training up grandchildren

you may know he is the Lord (2b)

lesson in Pharaoh’s hard heart for the world, for the next generation, for Moses… and eventually us: there be no question in Moses’ mind or ours who is true God

B. how stubborn will you be

from God (3-6)

“God says how long will you refuse to humble yourself?” – from God’s perspective the first / most important issue… for all

God of course looking for permanent change of heart, not temporary giving in to demands from one who presently holds an advantage

Pharaoh, like everyone, made in image of true God, had knowledge of true God that he either distorted or suppressed

at this point in time, had seen and experienced enough to have no good reason to doubt existence of true God

obviously rhetorical question from God, he knew exactly how long Pharaoh would remain stubborn, question intended to make Pharaoh and others think

from Pharaoh’s servants (7)

had pretty good understanding of just how much trouble they were in already – economy in trouble, people anxious and complaining, God was threatening to destroy rest of food

servants could see at least in part how disastrous locust plague would be to entire nation, putting survival in serious jeopardy

servants probably believed had little to lose, challenging Pharaoh this way – no food, might all die anyway

from Pharaoh (8-11)

as if “how stubborn will I be? let me show you…” – even from real position of weakness, tries negotiating as if still in charge

“ok, you can go… who’s going?” – Moses’ response, according to YHWH’s instructions, all of us with our animals

responds with open threat – ” if that ever happens, God better be with you, and even that may not be enough!”

little did Pharaoh know… is precisely how it would turn out – God would be with Hebrew children, destroy Pharaoh’s army

for Pharaoh, had become personal contest between him and God, winner take all, one he intended to win regardless of cost to his people

God’s response (12-15)

yet again God demonstrates his authority over creation – wind, blowing now from east, later from west, now bringing locusts in unprecedented numbers… and they were hungry, maybe even hangry

every last shred of green consumed by locusts – flax and barley destroyed by hail, now wheat and grain eaten

not only were they facing severe grain shortage for both man and beast, would have no seed for planting next crop

this a multi-year disaster, would exact huge toll in lives and fortunes, showing no favoritism toward any

C. deceit in face of mercy

if only God will… (16-17)

clear from outcome that Pharaoh’s apparent repentance completely insincere – really had no intention of keeping promise

notice Pharaoh’s mindset about sin: states he has sinned, probably something said with his fingers crossed so wouldn’t count

asks for forgiveness for this one sin – only one worth bringing up, believes will not sin again, maybe doesn’t think this one is that bad… most likely only wants relief from consequences

doesn’t state it but seems to imply – if God honors request for forgiveness and relief, he will honor God’s request to let people go to worship him

God does (18-19)

even though Pharaoh probably had no intention to let Hebrew children leave the country, God yet again shows mercy

was entirely of God’s mercy that Egypt still existed – had God brought down perfect justice on them, would have been thoroughly and completely destroyed

God, knowing Pharaoh’s heart, responded to Moses’ plea for an end to locusts – caused locusts to go for swim in Red Sea

was this foreshadowing what lay ahead for Pharaoh and his army – as locusts met their end in Red Sea at God’s command, so army would be drowned in Sea at God’s command

but Pharaoh doesn’t (20)

in spite of spoken repentance and God’s faithfulness, Pharaoh once again fails to follow through, refusing instead to let Hebrew children go as God had commanded

fallen human nature such that repeated rebellion makes future sin even more likely, makes habit / pattern more difficult to break

see that in living color on regular basis – career criminals, repeat offenders, recidivism rate typically above 80 percent

So what do we see here of man’s character, man’s need? Natural man like Pharaoh hopelessly lost, deceived about true nature of sin, blinded and enslaved to Satan and sin and selfish desires. Not that the lost are dumb, they are deceived and further deceive themselves. Truly do not recognize sinfulness of sin. Anytime get close to thinking of something as sin redefine it as disability, disorder, addiction. Somehow perpetrator of sin becomes the victim. Last person they want or think they need is God, believe they can succeed well enough on their own.

You say, I’m not like that… now; used to be maybe but not any longer. May not be enslaved to sin, may not be enemy of God way Pharaoh was. But… every Christian in this life still subject to sin, temptation, even deception at times. Set ourselves up for failure when we try to handle problems on our own. Got something you think probably should change? Just won’t go away? Can’t seem to overcome it? Have you given it to God, depending on his strength and help?

Something in your life pretty sure God doesn’t approve of? You redefine it to make it less of problem? Make excuses for it – just the way I am, that person’s a good Christian and they do it too, no one’s perfect you know. Stop it. Call it what God calls it, seek forgiveness, be reconciled to God and depend on him to help you please him.

And remember this: God was faithful to his promises when Pharaoh wasn’t. When Moses wasn’t. When Aaron wasn’t. God still faithful, will receive all who come to him by faith, will forgive his children when they confess their sin to him. What will help us please God more by sinning less? Seeking our satisfaction in Christ – he prayed for our satisfaction… that his joy would be fulfilled, made complete in us. Closer we are and stay to Jesus, more satisfying he will be to us.

Mercy in the Midst of Judgment

Exodus 9:8-35

People are funny… and inconsistent. They want justice for others, mercy for themselves. Black and white for others, gray for themselves. Simple yes or no relationships in complex world. Categories to put others into while declaring “don’t fence me in”. In situations like what we find in Exodus, want to make it contest between good guys / bad guys – Pharaoh / magicians / Egyptians all bad guys, Moses / Aaron / Hebrews good guys. Like nothing better than turn Pharaoh’s palace into smoking cellar hole, drive Egyptians off cliff into Mediterranean, give spoils to children of Israel and move on.

Huge problem with that – not how God viewed the situation, so… not how we should either. Same applies to other similar situations – time after time God patiently endured rebellion, rejection, shameful sinful treatment. Time after time God provided tailor-made opportunities for repentance and reconciliation between rebellious wicked sinners and himself. Result – at various points along way, while God brings waves of just punishment on his enemies, shows mercy to them and some respond. See that take place in present text – plague of boils followed by lesson break, God displays both mercy and judgment, and Pharaoh’s heart gets harder.

A. boils v.8-11

unannounced… yet public (8)

Moses and Aaron given instructions – no warning for Pharaoh/Egyptians before this plague, just told what to do and how

includes “in the sight of Pharaoh” – unlike opponents (Satan and agents) no skulking around in dark, secret incantations, simple act done in broad daylight according to God’s instructions

God intends Pharaoh have no illusions – regardless of outcome… Pharaoh’s response, would know for certain who made wonders occur, who would make them come to end

increased intensity and danger

boils on both man and beast (9-10)

don’t know exactly what specific affliction was – do know was potentially more dangerous than previous plagues

risk of infection or worse – hindrance to productivity for both man and animal, probably no known treatment or cure

hope for best, use whatever remedies they thought best, try to tough it out even though crippling or even deadly

same word used for Job’s affliction, also Hezekiah when was sick unto death – Job wished could die, God told Hezekiah he would die, then relented and healed him

a big deal given Deut. 28:27 “The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, with tumors, with the scab, and with the itch, from which you cannot be healed.”

that Egyptians and animals survived demonstrates God used restraint, kept plague from being as bad as might have been

humiliates magicians along with everyone else (11)

previously magicians failed to duplicate God’s wonders, now they are personally afflicted, unable to stand in public

God’s hand of judgment even closer to Pharaoh… and Satan – among Satan’s most powerful henchmen sidelined

B. lesson break v.13-19

command (13)

get up early – slothfulness not to be found among God’s servants; are to put forth effort working out our salvation, make every moment count for something useful to God

stand – don’t always get to serve God from sidelines: this a time when God speaking thru Moses confronts enemy directly

say – Moses/Aaron simply mouthpiece, not making news, simply reporting as God instructed “thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews”

no ambiguity there, no question who originated message; also no question about God’s redemptive purpose

was going to deliver his people so they could serve / worship him – strongly implied that Pharaoh and his people should worship true God, not idols

God’s mercy on display – young sibling watch older receive consequences, modify own behavior – God giving Pharaoh another opportunity to repent, avoid further judgment

consequences (14-15)

plagues will get personal – no escape for Pharaoh from this point on: privilege that came with position and power no longer helpful to avoid full weight of God’s anger

same purpose – God had redemptive plan for Hebrew children in view, at same time God had all aspects of our redemption in mind… along with millions of others

God intended story of deliverance of Hebrews to be vehicle that carries Gospel far beyond borders of Egypt or Palestine

God graciously continuously provides ways and means for lost people to see the unseen – to come to knowledge of God through biblical record… including this book

God holding back – not boasting, stating simple truth: had he brought full weight of righteous judgment against sin of Egyptians, they would have perished

doesn’t mean they escaped, does mean God mercifully gave reprieve… breathing room for repentance and obedience

cause (16-17)

show My power – twelve specific occasions throughout first 14 chapters of Exodus when God demonstrated his power

initial encounter with Pharaoh (rod to serpent), subsequent 10 plagues, overthrow of Egyptian army in Red Sea

declare My name – taking away excuses for unbelief, giving opportunities / incentives for repentance, warning to people of all kinds from around the world

submit to My authority – really the bottom line for everyone: when confronted with truth of who God is, what God has done, how do you respond?

Pharaoh continued to rebel, daily growing more stubborn in opposition – knew truth but refused to bow the knee to YHWH

caution (18-19)

tomorrow – another merciful delay coupled with instructive warning: what will happen, how to escape, window of opportunity

hail like never before – will be supernatural natural occurrence: rain and hail and lightning not unknown, but… no precedent for this kind of event; clearly hand of God

take shelter or die – gracious and clear communication from true God, unlike false gods who never speak; another witness to fact God’s purpose not to destroy but to deliver

C. mercy and judgment v.19-26, 31-32

responses (20-21)

those who feared the word of the Lord – not all among Egyptians determined to rebel against true God like Pharaoh

were at least to point of taking YHWH and his word seriously – were they converts? don’t know, but did heed and obey God to some extent

God didn’t write them off, neither should we – should not treat people according to particular label: homosexual, adulteress, alcoholic, Muslim, Mexican

need to see as God does – lost sinners headed for eternity without Christ who need to hear Gospel, see it lived out

those who despised the word of the Lord – treated warning as of no consequence, not worth listening to, sort of like how listened to own gods… who never spoke

devastation (22-25, 31-32)

supernatural weather event – this one a true “act of God” no insurance could cover… just as God had warned

destructive of man, beast, plant

kind of storm that destroys everything – took life of man and animal, destroyed trees and plants, consequences far beyond current growing season

food for man and beast, clothing, commerce – flax for making clothing, barley for feed, contributing to national economy

mercy shown – not all the food, not those who heeded God

kinds of wheat crops not damaged by hail – plague could have been severe enough to prevent wheat crop from maturing

not told specifically yet we know God keeps his word – those who feared God and his word spared effects of hail and fire

another way God showed he was indeed holding back, was being merciful at same time as bringing down judgment

providence (26)

God caring for his own – as before, land of Goshen, children of Israel spared effects of the plague, further evidence of God’s power and sovereignty

not because they earned it – make no mistake, were spared because God committed to caring for them in spite of sinfulness

D. heart of stone gets harder v.12, 27-35

false repentance (27-28)

said the right things – “I have sinned, YHWH is righteous, we are wicked” – all true, yet not spoken sincerely, instead saying what he thought God wanted to hear

betrayed by actions – promised to do right thing if hail stopped, then when it did Pharaoh refused to follow through

merciful honesty (29-30, 33)

end to devastation… to demonstrate God’s supremacy and authority – shown just as much in making it stop as in starting it, confining it to all but Goshen

as God said earlier, could have struck them so they died, chose to show mercy instead… setting model for us

you are not sincere – confident Pharaoh did not intend to keep his word, was not ready to submit to God’s authority

reminder – God doesn’t play games, wants sincere heart: obedience better than disobedience, joyful obedience better still

more sin (34-35)

pressure relief leads to more sin – as soon as hail stopped, went right back to former behavior: wanted relief from affliction, not relationship with YHWH

behavior modification only temporary – works as long as incentive is enough to govern behavior; as soon as constraints removed or self-discipline weakens, old behavior returns

Pharaoh/servants heard same message as other Egyptians, experienced same hardship – different response due solely to work of God in hearts

not because some smarter, more easily persuaded or intimidated – was work of Spirit of God that enabled some to respond to truth

Same is true for all present here – those who have responded to Gospel call were graciously enabled to do so by power of God. Same commands of God hardened Pharaoh and softened some of countrymen. Same Gospel hardens some, drives them further into Satan’s camp, draws others into saving faith in Jesus. How have you responded?

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

 

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.

 

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.

Worship the True Life-Giver

Exodus 7:14-25

Is often difficult to gain real accurate sense of time from details given in many Bible stories. Already seen in study of Exodus occasions where decades go by between one verse and next. Timetable for plagues pretty sketchy – was at least several weeks, perhaps months. Each plague in place long enough to become more than simple annoyance. God making point for Pharaoh and Egyptians to understand… plus Hebrew children… and world at large. Were far more than small localized disturbances of natural order – ultimately devastating to life and economy of entire nation of Egypt.

Is important to remember: far more in view here than God showing off power and imagination. Were not random occurrences with no particular point. YHWH intended for all the world to know without question who true God is. God also intended this experience to be example for our good – to see how sin and Satan enslave mankind. Shows lengths God goes to in order to deliver his people from bondage in sin.

Keep in mind: the evil, the distasteful things, the sinful things we see in Pharaoh are present to one degree or another in every human being… until God changes their heart. Pharaoh shows just how hard, rebellious human heart will get apart from grace of God. Only thing that makes us differ from others is what God in his mercy does in and for each of us. 1 Cor. 4:7 In each blow God brings down on Pharaoh and countrymen, demonstrates both judgment and mercy – judgment for unbelief and rebellion against true God, mercy by keeping effect and duration of judgment within limits.

A. overview of plagues

plagues begin and end with clear indication

who is real source of life… and has power over death – Satan’s goal: convince followers he is more worthy of worship than God

first, last, all plagues between clearly demonstrate YHWH the only one worthy of worship – all the other gods are impostors

in fact, part of what true God does is unmask Egypt’s gods, display them in light of truth – YHWH gives life, all others only death

account from 7:14 – 10:29 presented in three groups of three

first two of each group incl. warning of what YHWH intends to do, third does not – Moses, Aaron simply follow instructions as God through their instrumentality strikes Egypt again and again

each group more intense than previous, more devastating to Egyptians and their circumstances, culminating in death of firstborn

reason for God’s judgment (14)

Pharaoh’s stubborn refusal to hear and obey true God – Pharaoh the one singled out because he represented all Egypt, was primary agent of Satan

truth is vast majority of Egyptians guilty of worshiping idols, failing to honor one true God – people of all walks of life liable to judgment… for their own sin; Pharaoh for his own as well as those he “led” into sin

B. nature of first plague

instruction (15-19)

even though God has already weighed Pharaoh, found his heart heavy and hard, graciously gives Pharaoh repeated opportunities to repent, genuinely seek God’s favor

identifies Pharaoh’s sin: rebellion – refusing to hear and heed God’s command; therefore… God will make Pharaoh to know him – that he is true God – by signs he does through servants

Aaron to use rod to strike water of Nile, turning water to blood making unfit for drinking, sustaining life for both man and beast

ultimately not only Nile but every body of water: streams, rivers, ponds become polluted – would even extend to containers filled with water

obedience (20ab)

pattern already established, continues throughout plagues as stated here: God commanded, Moses / Aaron obey precisely

the words spoken to Pharaoh had to be followed by exact action – anything less would break connection between God and what was taking place

that connection vital so observers/those afflicted by judgment would know with certainty why they were happening, whose power and authority being displayed

result (20c-21)

source of food, drink, physical cleansing, means of transportation suddenly unfit for human use; no backups readily available

water unfit to drink, fish unfit to eat, unbearable stench – become something to loathe, recoil from rather than enjoy

apparently same held true for children of Israel, too, and for next two plagues – unfair? not really; they also sinned against God

notable parallel (John 2:1-11)

by hand of Aaron, God struck water of Nile producing death; God the Son, first miracle changed water to life-sustaining wine

God’s “first choice” to give life, what will sustain it – sustained rebellion leaves God no options other than painful consequences

C. purpose of plague

Pharaoh going to Nile not simply for sake of personal hygiene – was act of worship…. surprise, still happens today

On Wednesday (03/15/17), hundreds of tribal representatives wept with joy when their bid to have their kin awarded legal status as a living entity was passed into law.

The reason we have taken this approach is because we consider the river an ancestor and always have,” said Gerrard Albert, the lead negotiator for the Whanganui iwi [tribe].

We have fought to find an approximation in law so that all others can understand that from our perspective treating the river as a living entity is the correct way to approach it, as in indivisible whole, instead of the traditional model for the last 100 years of treating it from a perspective of ownership and management.”

The new status of the river means if someone abused or harmed it the law now sees no differentiation between harming the tribe or harming the river because they are one and the same.”

Pharaoh’s intent to worship birthplace of gods, the life of Egypt, probably also to be cleansed by its special purifying powers

it really is about worship (16-17)

much of Egyptian life centered around Nile as source of life – water/nutrients for vegetation, huge quantities of fish for food, drinking water for man and animal

God’s intention… “that they may serve/worship Me” – primarily in view here his people, children of Israel; certainly would not turn away others

true at all times and all places – the Father is seeking true worshipers who will worship him in spirit and truth (John 4:23-24)

“By this you shall know that I am the LORD” – that I am the I AM

everyone knows God exists because of imago Dei – we know God because he makes the move, reveals himself to us

God expects worshipers to know him

not simply know about him – can read the facts in Bible, requires experience in relationship to really know person

also intends that lost will know him – both kinds represented in Egypt: those who knew YHWH as their deliverer, rest who knew him as their enemy

D. response to plague

magicians (22a)

can give appearance of duplicating – turn water to blood; is power that only brings destruction… remember who they serve…

1 Cor. 10:20 “…the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons.”

if magicians wanted to show abilities in good way, make water pure! – instead made problem larger, more burdensome

Pharaoh (22b-23)

immovably self-centered – is only plagues that cause personal discomfort/hardship that he seeks relief from; shows no compassion for Egyptian people, their intense suffering

rather than showing sympathy for people, Pharaoh retreated into palace, growing in anger and hatred toward true God

people (24)

digging for water since surface supplies polluted – seems underground water sources not polluted, not best water but usable

this also the source of water magicians used for their own tricks – taking useful water and making polluted… what Satan does to all he touches… pollutes it

E. appropriate outcome

did not actually occur until #10

had Pharaoh obeyed God’s command, plagues would have ended at that point… just as God relented toward people of Nineveh

then was grudging all the way – cost of continued rebellion higher than Pharaoh wanted to pay… for a time

Rom 1:20-25 – Pharaoh and Egyptians typical, not exceptions to general principle – fallen sinners when left to make any choice they desire worship and serve created things even though leads to death

worship of false god of Nile brings only death

worship of true God brings life – told plainly that natural man is dead in trespasses and sins, unable to give himself life

Egyptians could continue worshiping Nile – no more able to give them true life than idol made of wood or stone

YHWH’s intention here that all who experienced his first blow of judgment would know him as real source of life

true God the only one who can supply complete cleansing – priests including Pharaoh required to wash 4x daily in Nile water

true God “killed” god of Nile, prevented Egyptians from continuing false worship temporarily, plus challenges of daily life

showed to them if they wanted true cleansing, needed to go to God over all who alone has power to purify more than outside of person

if God sole giver of life, all owe life to God and his service

God made all things, gave life to all living things – worship given to creation rightly belongs to Creator, whether saved or lost

even more important for one given eternal life

John 10:10 “The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”

Have been given gift of physical life and gracious gift of eternal life. Is only proper to put our lives, in every aspect, at disposal of one who has delivered us from bondage to sin and Satan.