Rescued

Never Forget

(Exodus 12:14-20)

 

INTRODUCTION

“London witnessed a spectacular scene recently when a giant wooden replica of the city ignited and burned brilliantly to the ground. The conflagration was planned, however, in honor of the 350th anniversary of the Great Fire of London. The original fire began on September 2, 1666, in the early morning at a bakery on Pudding Lane. The surrounding structures were soon engulfed, and the fire spread to the rest of the city, lasting four entire days. The modern-day festival to remember the disaster is known as ‘London's Burning’ and contains four days of free art events, concluding this year with the grand burning of the replica of medieval London.

 

At first glance, it seems a bit odd to celebrate such a catastrophe-especially with another fire. However, as gruesome as the Great Fire may have been, it now has its place firmly etched into the city's history as a turning point: the beginning of a time of regrowth and resurgence for London.

 

Christians arguably perform the same ‘odd’ type of ritual when we take communion and decorate our homes and sacred buildings with crosses. We not only commemorate the brutal murder of Jesus, but we adorn our worship with the murder weapon: the cross, one of the most widely known torture devices of that time period. And yet it doesn't seem strange to us—because we know that what Satan intended to be the ultimate act of evil, God turned around to be the ultimate act of love.”

 

Source: "Wooden sculpture of London goes up in flames to mark Great Fire anniversary," Yahoo! News (Sept. 5, 2016).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2016/september/9091916.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Experiences I will never forget

        • Wedding day

        • Birth of our three sons

        • Weddings of our children

        • Birth of our grandchildren

        • Calling into pastoral ministry

        • Ordination with the United Brethren in Christ

 

  • WE

    • What experiences have we all had that we will never forget?

 

The Lord has just given Moses and Aaron the instructions for Passover and now He outlines a festival celebration that will be a lasting ordinance for the Israelites for the future, so they will never forget how He rescued them from Egypt. ​​ The Feast of Unleavened Bread is to be followed precisely. ​​ Anyone who was unfaithful to the instructions would be cut off from the Israelites.  ​​​​ The Israelites were to demonstrate their faith in God’s savings power by being faithful to His commands. ​​ The same is true for us. ​​ Our big idea today is . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Our faith is demonstrated by our faithfulness. ​​ [Stuart, 284]

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 12:14-20)

    • In verses 14-20 we see a couple of things

        • Verses 14-16 provide general instructions about a commemorative festival

        • Verses 17-20 provide more specifics about the festival

        • So, we are going look at various parts of the festival and review the general and specific sections together

    • What (vv. 14a, 15b, 16, 17a, 19b-c, 20a, c)

        • Festival/Feast of Unleavened Bread (vv. 14a, 17a)

          • The Lord told Moses and Aaron that the Israelites were to commemorate this day

            • The day that is being referred to is Passover, the day in which the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt

            • They were to celebrate a festival to the Lord every year so the generations to come would not forget that God is a delivering God

            • “Why did God want his people to remember the exodus so carefully? ​​ Because it was his supreme Old Covenant demonstration of deliverance, and he wanted his people to trust him as a delivering God. . . . The Old Covenant exodus was the paradigm of God’s saving acts; the New Testament crucifixion was the ultimate exodus because it delivers not merely from bondage to human despotism but from bondage to sin itself, and thus it provides for life not merely in a promised earthly land but in an eternal promised land, the home of the Father.” ​​ [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 282]

            • The Passover foreshadowed the perfect sacrifice of Jesus as the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – We can trust God to deliver us.

              • We commemorate Jesus’ perfect sacrifice when we observe Holy Communion

              • Through communion we are joining Jesus in His suffering and death – we remember His body that was broken and His blood that was poured out for us

              • Our faith in Jesus’ perfect sacrifice is demonstrated through our faithfulness in observing Holy Communion

              • Gospel

                • Romans 3:23 (all have sinned)

                • Romans 6:23 (we deserve separation from God)

                • Romans 5:8 (God loved us even as sinners)

                • Romans 10:9-10, That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. ​​ For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved.

              • Are you ready to trust God to deliver you from your sin today?

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God to deliver me from my sin.

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – “It is important that we remind ourselves, and others, of all that God has done for us.” ​​ [Merida, 66]

              • That is precisely what the Lord wanted the Israelites to do every year

              • When is the last time we have stopped to remind ourselves, and others, of all that God has done for us?

                • Some of us pause on Thanksgiving Day and share what we are thankful for

                • We don’t have to wait for a specific time each year to remind ourselves, and others

                • We can remind ourselves, and others, each morning or evening

                • Some people keep a “grateful journal” where they write down everything they are grateful for

                • Let’s take some time this morning to remind ourselves, and others, of all that God has done for us [allow people to share]

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Remind _________ (myself/others) that God has done ________ in my life.

            • While verse 14 gives us the general description of a festival, verse 17 gives us the specific name of the festival

          • Feast of Unleavened Bread

            • We learn that the name of the festival is Feast of Unleavened Bread

            • We also learn that the day that is being referred to is the day that the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt by their divisions

            • The first two principles are evident again in verse 17

              • PRINCIPLE #1 – We can trust God to deliver us.

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – “It is important that we remind ourselves, and others, of all that God has done for us.” ​​ [Merida, 66]

          • So far we have learned that the festival is the Feast of Unleavened Bread and it was designed to help the Israelites remember that God was their deliverer

          • Now we learn more details about what was required during this festival

        • No yeast (vv. 15b, 19b-c, 20a, c)

          • Decree

            • They were to remove all yeast from their homes before the festival began

              • There were a couple of ways to make bread with yeast as Stuart outlines [Stuart, 283]

                • Dip dough in wine or vinegar and then air it out in the sun, so it would pick up the airborne yeast spores, before storing it in a closed vessel until it fermented

                • Knead flour and water, add salt, boil the mix into a porridge, then leave it until it went sour

              • They probably stored whatever yeast they had in a closed container and removed it from their homes, so that the unleavened bread (matzoth) they made would not accidentally be leavened bread

              • They would be able to tell if their unleavened bread was accidentally “yeasted,” because it would not be a flat cracker sheet

            • They were to eat nothing that had yeast in it

            • They had to eat unleavened bread during the festival

            • In the New Testament we see the use of yeast as a symbol for how thoroughly evil can corrupt and influence our lives (1 Cor. 5:6-8)

            • Here the removal of yeast did not necessarily symbolize the corrupting influence of evil

            • “Rather, its nonuse for these seven days in the bread one eats simply reminds the consumer that when God says ‘Go,’ he means, ‘Go now. ​​ Drop everything you’re doing.’ ​​ When a smoke detector goes off in one’s house, through its sharp beeps it is saying, ‘Evacuate immediately.’ ​​ Before leaving, the occupant may scoop up a few family photos, but one will not vacuum the carpets first!” ​​ [Hamilton, Exodus, An Exegetical Commentary, 187]

            • When we do something consistently for a period of time, it has the tendency to fix it in our minds

            • The same would be true for the Israelites as they ate unleavened bread for seven straight days – it would help them to remember and not forget God’s deliverance from slavery in Egypt

          • Consequences

            • The Israelites knew that if they did not obey the Lord’s decree, they would be cut off from the community

              • Being cut off from the community could take various forms as Hamilton suggests [Hamilton, 188]

                • An earlier-than-expected death

                • Childlessness

                • The elimination of the sinner’s family and descendants

                • Failure to join and enjoy the hereafter with one’s family already in the land of eternal bliss

              • It could also simply mean, “by their actions, they exclude themselves from being members of the ‘holy nation’.” ​​ [Alexander, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 226]

              • The Old Testament has a wide variety of commands that had the same warning concerning being “cut off” for disobedience [Stuart, 284]

                • Failure to practice circumcision (Gen. 17:14)

                • Failure to eat unleavened bread during Passover (Exod. 12:15, 19)

                • Illegally manufacturing or using the sacred anointing oil (Exod. 30:32-33, 38)

                • Violating the Sabbath (Exod. 31:14)

                • Eating sacrificed food while ritually impure (Lev. 7:20-21)

                • Eating the fat or blood of a sacrifice (Lev. 7:25, 27)

                • Slaughter/sacrifice outside the tabernacle (Lev. 17:4, 9)

                • Forbidden sexual practices (Lev. 18:29; 20:17-18)

                • Child sacrifice (Lev. 20:2-5)

                • Necromancy (trying to divine the future by contact with the dead; Lev. 20:6)

                • Worship function by a defiled priest (Lev. 22:3)

                • Failure to observe the Day of Atonement (Lev. 23:29-30)

                • Failure to commemorate Passover (Num. 9:13)

                • Defiant, intentional sin (Num. 15:30-31)

                • Failure to purify oneself after contact with the dead (Num. 19:13, 20)

            • PRINCIPLE #3 – Our faith is demonstrated by our faithfulness. [Stuart, 284]

              • “The person who defies God’s regulations shows that he has no interest in keeping covenant with him and therefore will eventually suffer the consequences of not obeying God. . . . The proof of faith is a faithful life.” ​​ [Stuart, 284]

              • Application

                • Where are you today?

                • Are you living a faithful life or are you defying or ignoring God’s regulations?

                • There are consequences for defying or ignoring His regulations

                • Matthew 7:13-14, “Enter through the narrow gate. ​​ For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. ​​ But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Prove my faith in God by being faithful to His commands and regulations.

            • Those who ate leavened bread during the festival would be cut off from the community of Israel

          • There is one more part to the what

        • Sacred assembly (v. 16)

          • The beginning and the end of the festival were to be marked as special and sacred

            • On the first and seventh days of the festival they were to have a sacred assemble

            • The sacred assembly was a gathering of all the people in order to worship the Lord

            • It would probably include sacrifices to the Lord

          • Regulations for the first and seventh days

            • No working (regular work)

            • Only food preparation was allowed, but that was all

            • Does this remind you of anything in our modern culture?

              • How about the 4th of July celebrations

              • We remember (commemorate) our nation's independence every year

              • Most everyone is off work that day

              • Most of us have some kind of gathering with family and friends, which includes eating (food preparation)

              • The only part that differs from the sacred assembly of the Feast of Unleavened Bread are sacrifices to the Lord (animal and grain) – hopefully we pause to thank the Lord for the freedoms He has given us in the United States and for the food He has provided

            • This was another opportunity for the Israelites to demonstrate their faith by being faithful to the regulation of not working

            • Our faith is demonstrated by our faithfulness.

        • We move on from the “what” to the “how long”

    • How long (vv. 14b, 15a, 17b, 19a)

        • Lasting ordinance (vv. 14b, 17b)

          • It was to be an annual festival to the Lord for the generations to come

          • The fact that it was a lasting ordinance meant that there was no limit to the number of years it would be celebrated

          • The Lord’s Supper

            • Think about the Lord’s Supper (Holy Communion) for us as followers of Jesus Christ

            • It is a lasting ordinance, for us, until Jesus returns

            • 1 Corinthians 11:23b-26, For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” ​​ In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” ​​ For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

          • It was an annual festival for an unlimited amount of time

          • There was a limit to the length of the festival each year, though

        • Seven days (vv. 15a, 19a)

          • The festival lasted seven days

          • One week of festivities – that would be amazing!

        • We know it was a festival to the Lord that lasted seven days each year for an unlimited number of years, but when was the festival supposed to happen each year?

    • When (v. 18)

        • First month (Abib)

          • Exodus 13:4, Today, in the month of Abib, you are leaving.

          • If you remember from Exodus 12:2, the Lord instituted a new calendar for Israel [read Exodus 12:2]

          • The name of the first month was later changed to Nisan (NYE-san)

          • In our modern calendar it represents March-April

        • Days 14-21

          • The festival began with Passover at twilight on the 14th day of Abib/Nisan

          • Leviticus 23:4-8, “‘These are the Lord’s appointed feasts, the sacred assemblies you are to proclaim at their appointed times: The Lord’s Passover begins at twilight on the fourteenth day of the first month. ​​ On the fifteenth day of that month the Lord’s Feast of Unleavened Bread begins; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast. ​​ On the first day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work. ​​ For seven days present an offering made to the Lord by fire. ​​ And on the seventh day hold a sacred assembly and do no regular work.’”

        • The festival was to take place on Abib 14-21 every year, but who was supposed to participate?

    • Who (v. 19d)

        • Everyone

          • Men, women, and children were allowed to celebrate Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

          • Native-born and aliens could participate

          • There was a restriction for males, though

            • They had to be circumcised

            • This wasn’t a problem for the Israelites, because they circumcised their sons at eight days old

            • Exodus 12:48-49, “An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the Lord’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. ​​ No uncircumcised male may eat of it. ​​ The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you.”

        • Everyone was welcome to participate in the seven day festival to the Lord

    • Where (v. 20b)

        • Wherever you live

          • There was not a restriction on where you could celebrate the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread

          • If you were not in the Promised Land, you could still participate

        • What a relief for those who had been scattered many years later in Babylon and Persia and the Roman Empire

 

  • YOU

    • Are you ready to trust God to deliver you from your sin?

    • Whom do you need to remind and what do you need to remind them of that God has done in your life?

    • Do you need to prove your faith in God by being faithful to His commands and regulations?

 

  • WE

    • Whom do we need to remind and what do we need to remind them of that God has done in the life of Idaville Church?

    • Do we need to prove our faith in God by being faithful to His commands and regulations for us as a body of believers?

CONCLUSION

In a 2017 lecture, Mark Meynell addressed the connection between identity and memory:

 

BBC Radio 3, the U.K.'s primary classical music station, ran a fascinating series of articles on music and memory. Adam Zeman, a Professor of Cognitive and Behavioral Neurology, wrote about amnesia and memory loss and their relationship to epilepsy. Zeman mentioned two patients, Peter and Marcus, who described their amnesia in very similar terms. One said: ‘My memory of my past is a blank space. I feel lost and hopeless. I'm trying to explore a void.’ Both described how disconcerting it is to look at photos. Even though they recognize themselves, they have no recollection of the moment. One said that it's like ‘reading a biography of a stranger.’ He's conscious of recent memories slipping away from him, like ships sailing out to sea in the fog, never to be seen again.

 

Two things stand out in Zeman's essay. First, without memory, it's hard to cling to an identity. So one of the patients said: ‘I don't have the moorings that other people draw on to know who they are.’ Second, it's hard to have hope when we don't know our past. As Zeman explained, ‘The inability to invoke the past greatly impedes their ability to imagine a future.’”

 

Source: Mark Meynell, "The Pulpit and the Body of Christ," Covenant Seminary 2017 Preaching Lectures.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2018/march/remembrance-of-lords-supper-provides-spiritual-mooring.html]

10

 

Rescued

The Final Straw

(Exodus 11:1-10)

 

INTRODUCTION

Heather Burke-Cody blogs:

 

I was thrift shopping for dorm stuff. The cashier appeared to be one of the most unhappy, maddest people ever. I was six people deep in the line, and it seemed like she got more and more exasperated with each passing customer.

 

She was especially incensed when one of my unmarked items needed a price check …. But as she rang up my items, I felt a ... soul nudge. I tried to bargain with Jesus and told him that the extra little bit of cash in the backside of my wallet was not meant for her. It surely should go to someone sweeter and kinder, more deserving, or at least appreciative maybe. Not someone downright mean and angry. But God did not budge.

 

The human heart is our very best compass. It rarely leads us astray. So, I paid my bill and reluctantly found the backside of my wallet. I slipped her some cash as she handed me my receipt.

 

She was caught off-guard by the gesture. She gripped the folded bill with one hand and paused. Then slid her mask down with the other hand. Her loud, stern voice got quiet when she whispered a single word: ‘Why?’ To which I answered two words back: ‘Soul nudge.’

 

There was another pause. A brief reckoning of sorts. When she grabbed my hand and held on, I was the one caught off-guard. ‘Today’s my 75th birthday and ain’t nobody called me. Not my sister. Not none of my kids. None of these people here. Nobody. Nothing. I don’t think I can remember ever being so sad. Ain’t nobody even remembers it’s my birthday.’”

 

Source: Heather Burke-Cody, “Soul Nudges and Heart Tingles,” The Everyday Good (8-12-22).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2023/february/soul-nudge-for-nasty.html]

BODY

  • ME

    • Extending mercy

        • In talking with family and friends who are expressing anger or frustration with how they were treated, I often encourage them to extend grace and mercy

        • I try to remind them that the individual may be dealing with unspoken conflict, illness, financial troubles, and/or spiritual battles that are weighing them down

        • Extending grace and mercy could change their attitude

 

  • WE

    • Extending mercy

        • How many of us have run into a nasty person?

        • Have we extended mercy to them or have we treated them the same way they are treating us?

 

As we prepare for the final plague, we see the grace and mercy of God on display. ​​ Pharaoh continued to live in rebellion against God and His commands.  ​​​​ He will suffer the consequences of that behavior, and yet God will extend mercy in the midst of His judgment of Pharaoh and the Egyptians. ​​ Moses wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Even in the midst of judgment, God is gracious and merciful.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 11:1-10)

    • Review (vv. 1-3)

        • The Lord reassured Moses that there will be just one more plague on Pharaoh and Egypt

        • The Lord reviewed for Moses what He had said previously concerning the Israelites leaving Egypt

          • At the burning bush: ​​ Exodus 3:19-22, “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. ​​ So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. ​​ After that, he will let you go. ​​ And I will make the Egyptians favorably disposed toward this people, so that when you leave you will not go empty-handed. ​​ Every woman is to ask her neighbor and any woman living in her house for articles of silver and gold and for clothing, which you will put on your sons and daughters. ​​ And so you will plunder the Egyptians.”

          • In Midian: ​​ Exodus 4:22-23, “Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: ​​ Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” ​​ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

          • In Egypt: ​​ Exodus 7:3-5, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my miraculous signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. ​​ Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. ​​ And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.”

        • Moses added a parenthetical note

          • Since Moses was writing after the fact, he explains what the Lord did after the final plague

          • Moses did not create suspense, but explained the power of God

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is able to make those who persecute us look on us with favor.

            • Read Acts 5:29-42

            • When I worked in the secular business world, I experienced God’s power at work to make those who persecuted me, because of my faith, look on me with favor

            • Have you experienced that in your own life?

            • We can trust God and His power to transform the thoughts and actions of those who persecute us

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust in God’s awesome power to make __________ (person/group) look on me with favor.

          • That is what God did for the Israelites and for Moses

          • Moses was highly regarded in Egypt by Pharaoh’s officials and the people

            • While Pharaoh was struggling to see God’s hand at work through Moses, Pharaoh’s officials and the people of Egypt recognized it

              • Gnats: ​​ Exodus 8:19, The magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.”

              • Hail: ​​ Exodus 9:20, Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside.

              • Locusts: ​​ Exodus 10:7, Pharaoh’s officials said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? ​​ Let the people go, so that they may worship the Lord their God. ​​ Do you not yet realize that Egypt is ruined?”

            • As we will see in just a moment, Pharaoh’s officials would bow down to Moses

            • “Moses himself was afforded a lofty status among the Egyptians, not because of anything he had done, but because his God granted him special favor and chose to work mighty signs through him.” ​​ [Martin, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 48]

          • The parenthetical note shared the positive outcome of the final plague

        • The review is finished and it is time to return to the narrative

    • Report (vv. 4-8)

        • Most scholars agree that what we see in Exodus 11:4-8 actually happens between Exodus 10:26 and Exodus 10:27

          • “It is as if, while leaving, Moses turns to Pharaoh and says, ‘Oh yes, one more thing before I go.’” [Enns, The NIV Application Commentary, Exodus, 245]

          • It also appears that the last part of Exodus 11:8 happens right after Exodus 10:29

        • Moses gave Pharaoh the details about the last plague as the Lord had told him

          • The plague (vv. 4-5)

            • The Lord was going to go throughout Egypt about midnight

            • Every firstborn in Egypt would die, without exception

            • It would affect every family from the greatest to least

            • It would include the firstborn cattle too

          • Reaction to the plague (v. 6)

            • There would be loud wailing throughout Egypt

            • The Hebrew word for wailing is the same Hebrew word used of the Israelites in Exodus 3:7, 9

              • Exodus 3:7, The Lord said, “I have indeed seen the misery of my people in Egypt. ​​ I have heard them crying out because of their slave drivers, and I am concerned about their suffering.”

              • Exodus 3:9, And now the cry of the Israelites has reached me, and I have seen the way the Egyptians are oppressing them.

            • The wailing would be worse than they had ever experienced before or would experience in the future

          • Exception to the plague (v. 7)

            • The Israelites would be exempt from this plague

            • That is what is meant by the phrase “not a dog will bark”

            • “The actual meaning of the Hebrew is ‘but among the Israelites not a dog will stick out its tongue at any man or animal.’ . . . To say that not even a dog would stick out its tongue at an Israelite was a simple, graphically idiomatic way of saying that the Israelite humans and cattle would simply see no harm whatever from the tenth plague.” ​​ [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 267]

          • Response to the plague (v. 8)

            • Now we see that Moses is talking to Pharaoh and his officials that are standing beside him

            • Pharaoh’s officials would come down from the platform where Pharaoh’s throne was at and bow down before Moses

            • They would encourage Moses and the Israelites to leave Egypt

          • Moses left the presence of Pharaoh

        • Application

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is gracious and merciful.

            • We see God’s grace and mercy in several aspects within this narrative

              • One is the timing of the death of the firstborn at midnight

                • “. . . ‘midnight’ in the sense of the concept in the ancient world was the deepest, darkest time of night, the point during the night when the most people were likely to be asleep (since people tended to retire to bed at dusk) and the time of greatest vulnerability and defenselessness. ​​ Thinking of the events of the plague from the point of view of the mercies of God, causing the death of so many Egyptians was indeed a severe punishment, but allowing them to die quietly in their sleep was an act of grace.” ​​ [Stuart, 265]

                • I love the idea that God graciously took all the firstborn of Egypt while they quietly slept

                • Even in the midst of judgment, God is gracious and merciful.

                • He loved the Egyptian people even though they had rebelled against Him

                • We see God’s love and justice working together perfectly through His grace and mercy

              • Another is the fact that God did not completely destroy all the Egyptians

                • He certainly had the power and the right to do that

                • Exodus 9:15, For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth.

                • Definitions

                  • Grace is getting something we don’t deserve

                  • Mercy is not getting what we do deserve

                • The Egyptians deserved to be wiped off the earth because of their rebellion against God and their oppression of His people, but God only required the lives of the firstborn children and cattle

                • Even in the midst of judgment, God is gracious and merciful.

            • God is gracious and merciful to us as well

              • We are all born into sin, meaning that we are in rebellion against God from our birth (Rom. 3:23)

              • We see God’s grace and mercy in the fact that what we earn or deserve for our sin is to be separated from God for all eternity, but He offers us the gift of eternal life through His Son, Jesus (Rom. 6:23)

              • We experience God’s love for us through the fact that He sent Jesus to die for us while we were still in rebellion against Him (Rom. 5:8)

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Experience God’s grace and mercy by accepting His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

            • Through the tenth plague we see the grace and mercy of God, but we also see His justice

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is just.

            • Many people ask if God’s punishment was just, because Pharaoh was the one whose heart was hardened and not necessarily his people

              • That belief assumes we know the heart of the Egyptians, which we don’t

              • “[We] must . . . remember that the firstborn of the womb belongs to God. ​​ It is his by right and he may do with it as he pleases. ​​ The ‘destroyer’ (i.e., the tenth plague) was not a random type of punishment; it was directed against the Egyptian firstborn. ​​ This is significant. ​​ Not only was the tenth plague a payback for Pharaoh’s decree to kill the Israelite children in chapter 1, but it was God’s exercising his divine right over the firstborn.” [Enns, 254]

              • “What the question fails to bring out is the right of God to bring judgment upon any and all who have rebelled against him. . . . He may judge sinners at any moment by any means he considers appropriate: ​​ overthrowing cities such as Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen. 18-19) or annihilating the inhabitants of Jericho by an invading army (Josh. 6).” ​​ [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 205]

              • “God does a great many things that remain beyond human understanding because human intellect is far too limited to allow for appreciation of the entire complexity of God’s overall eternal plan for his universe and each individual in it.” ​​ [Stuart, 265]

              • “Compensation is a fundamental law of life (Matt. 7:1-2), and God isn’t unjust in permitting this law to operate in the world. ​​ Pharaoh drowned the Jewish babies, so God drowned Pharaoh’s army (Ex. 14:26-31; 15:4-5). ​​ Jacob lied to his father Isaac (Gen. 17:15-17), and years later, Jacob’s sons lied to him (37:31-35). ​​ David committed adultery and had the woman’s husband murdered (2 Sam. 11), and David’s daughter was raped and two of his sons were murdered (2 Sam. 13; 18). ​​ Haman built a gallows on which to hang Mordecai, but it was Haman who was hanged there instead (Es. 7:7-10). ​​ ‘Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap’ (Gal. 6:7, NKJV). ​​ As to the justice of this tenth plague, who can pass judgment on the acts of the Lord when ‘righteousness and justice are the foundation of [His] throne’? (Ps. 89:14, NIV).” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 197]

              • Genesis 18:25b, Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?

              • It is arrogant of us as finite human beings to think that we know better than an infinite, holy God

              • We have to humble ourselves by ridding our hearts and minds of pride and submit to Him as Almighty God

            • Blaming God for not being fair or just

              • How many of us are willing to admit we have thought that we know better than God does about . . .

                • Our job, a relationship, and/or our finances

                • The physical or spiritual healing of a family member or friend

                • Children and women who are exploited and hurt

                • The political system and our government officials

                • The leadership and direction of our church

              • Maybe some of us have questioned whether God’s punishment of us has been just or fair

                • Even in the midst of judgment, God is gracious and merciful.

                • We can trust that God is fair and just even if we don’t understand, because that is His character

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Acknowledge that God is just and fair in how He deals with humanity.

            • We also see in this section of the narrative a principle that we have already talked about

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is able to make those who persecute us look on us with favor.

            • Moses told Pharaoh that his officials would come and bow down before him and plead with him to leave with all of the Israelites in tow

            • And we know from verses 2 and 3 that the Israelites would plunder the Egyptians when they left

        • The Lord’s announcement is finished and we see His final reminder in verses 9 and 10

    • Reminder (vv. 9-10)

        • Most translations simply say that the Lord “said” instead of “had said”

        • Whether the Lord told Moses presently or not, it is something the Lord had said before

          • Exodus 4:21-23, The Lord said to Moses, “When you return to Egypt, see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders I have given you the power to do. ​​ But I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go. ​​ Then say to Pharaoh, ‘This is what the Lord says: ​​ Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” ​​ But you refused to let him go; so I will kill your firstborn son.’”

          • Exodus 3:19-22, “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless a mighty hand compels him. ​​ So I will stretch out my hand and strike the Egyptians with all the wonders that I will perform among them. ​​ After that, he will let you go.

          • Read Exodus 6:1-8

          • The Lord had been said these things throughout the plague accounts and they had come true

        • Application

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God’s desire is for His people to come to Him without experiencing great calamities.

            • The Egyptians

              • The greater purpose behind every plague the Egyptians experienced was so they would recognize that the Lord is God

              • He wanted the Egyptians to believe in Him and serve Him instead of the vast number of gods and goddesses they were currently worshiping

            • Us

              • The greater purpose behind every hardship we face is so we will recognize that the Lord is God

              • He wants us to believe in Him and serve Him instead of the idols we currently worship

              • Are you continuing to rebel against the Lord?

              • How many calamities will you need to experience before you recognize that the Lord is God

                • He created you and He loves you

                • He wants you to be in a personal relationship with His Son, Jesus

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – God wants us to turn from our wicked ways and live.

            • “Judgment is not the first option in God’s dealings with mankind.” ​​ [Mackay, 208-209]

              • Ezekiel 33:11, Say to them, ‘As surely as I live, declares the Sovereign Lord, I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that they turn from their ways and live. ​​ Turn! ​​ Turn from your evil ways! ​​ Why will you die, O house of Israel?’

              • 2 Peter 3:8-9, But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. ​​ The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. ​​ He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Turn from my wicked ways and repent of my sins.

 

  • YOU

    • Trust in God’s awesome power to make those who are persecuting me, look on me with favor.

    • Experience God’s grace and mercy by accepting His gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ.

    • Acknowledge that God is just and fair in how He deals with me.

    • Turn from my wicked ways and repent of my sins.

 

  • WE

    • Trust in God’s awesome power to make those who are persecuting us, look on us with favor.

    • Acknowledge that God is just and fair in how He deals with us.

 

CONCLUSION

“The historian Paul Veyne calls himself an ‘unbeliever,’ and yet he extols the message of human dignity that we find in the sacrificial love and death of Jesus. Veyne writes:

 

[In the gospel, a person's life] suddenly acquired an eternal significance within a cosmic plan, something that no philosophy or paganism could confer ... The pagan gods lived for themselves. In contrast, Christ, the Man-God sacrificed himself for his [people] ... Christianity owed its success to a collective invention of genius ... namely, the infinite mercy of a God passionate about the fate of the human race, indeed about the fate of each and every individual soul, including mine and yours, and not just those of the kingdoms, empires and the human race in general.”

 

Source:

Paul Veyne, “When Our World Became Christian: (Polity, 2010), pp. 19-22.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2020/march/secular-historian-on-clear-benefit-from-resurrection.html]

9

 

Rescued

Locust Legions

(Exodus 10:1-20)

 

INTRODUCTION

“An ‘attitude indicator’ is an important piece of equipment on a plane. ​​ It shows the position of the plane in relationship to the horizon. ​​ As the plane climbs, there is ‘nose-high attitude,’ meaning that the nose of the plane is above the horizon. ​​ A ‘nose-down attitude’ for too long means it is going to crash. ​​ Monitoring a plane’s attitude is important, and sometimes it’s necessary to change the attitude in order to change the performance.

 

We reach the point of the story in Exodus where Pharaoh is about to crash. ​​ His ‘nose-down’ attitude has made his heart impenetrable, but God continues his assault upon the Egyptian powers and idolatry for instruction purposes as various plagues are unleashed.”

 

[Martin, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 41]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Attitude indicator

        • There have been times in my life when my “attitude indicator” has been “nose-down”

        • It normally happens because of pride in my life

        • I want something to go a certain way and when it doesn’t my attitude is nose-down

        • If I don’t change my attitude and confess my pride, I will crash and burn

 

  • WE

    • Attitude indicator

        • How many of us can relate to having a “nose-down” attitude from time-to-time?

        • What causes us to have that attitude? ​​ (pride, fear)

 

Pharaoh has been refusing to obey God’s command to let His people go. ​​ Because of pride, his attitude has been “nose-down” for seven plagues. ​​ The Egyptians have been tolerant of Pharaoh’s attitude during all of those plagues and have held their tongues, but that is about to change. ​​ They are going to begin encouraging Pharaoh to be obedient to God’s command, but his pride will prevail. ​​ Surely, his relationship with his people is beginning to erode as they recognize the pride in his heart. ​​ The author wants us to understand that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Pride ruins relationships.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 10:1-20)

    • Instruction (vv. 1-2)

        • This is the second plague in the third cycle of plagues

          • Moses is instructed to go to Pharaoh, just like plagues 2 & 5

          • Where we see a difference is in the plague of frogs and the plague on livestock, the Lord says, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him.”

          • With the eighth plague, Moses is told to go to Pharaoh, but we are not told ahead of time what he is supposed to say

          • Instead, the Lord follows up His command to go “with an explanation that was for the benefit of Moses and the Israelites in general, throughout their generations.” ​​ [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 243]

        • The Lord’s initiative

          • We see again that God had hardened Pharaoh’s heart and his officials hearts

          • This was certainly on purpose

            • The Lord wanted to perform His miraculous signs among the Egyptians

            • From the beginning, it was so Pharaoh and the Egyptians would know that God is the Lord

            • It was also that the Israelites would know that God is the Lord

            • It is all tied together

        • Sharing with the next generation

          • In the ancient Near East information was handed down through oral tradition

          • When the Israelites were finally free from Egyptian slavery, they would be able to share with future generations how God miraculously and powerfully brought plagues on the land of Egypt to encourage Pharaoh and his officials to let them go

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – Sharing about God’s miraculous power with future generations is vital!

            • Idaville UB Church

              • We have much to share with future generations

              • God provided the old school property in the 1960’s

              • He provided for the multipurpose room expansion in the 1990’s

              • He provided miraculously for the elimination of debt, multiple times (building, taxes, etc.)

              • He has provided miraculously through transformed lives (salvations, baptisms)

            • Personally

              • How has God shown His miraculous power in your life?

              • Have you shared that with family members recently?

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Share God’s miraculous power of ___________ with _________.

        • With the instruction complete, Moses and Aaron go to see Pharaoh

    • Interrogation (vv. 3-11)

        • Three Questions

          • Moses and Aaron (vv. 3-6)

            • Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and gave him the message from the Lord, the God of the Hebrews

            • Question #1 – How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?

              • Pharaoh was dealing with pride, which affected his relationship with the Lord

              • Pride ruins relationships.

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – Humility before the Lord pleases Him.

                • Biblical background

                  • Proverbs 11:2, When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.

                  • Proverbs 22:4, Humility and the fear of the Lord bring wealth and honor and life.

                  • Read Luke 14:7-11

                  • Philippians 2:3-4, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. ​​ Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

                  • James 4:6b, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

                  • Micah 6:8, He has showed you, O man, what is good. ​​ And what does the Lord require of you? ​​ To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.

                • “When individuals or groups willingly acknowledge God’s sovereignty—not in general but over them—they assume their proper position and role in the created order. ​​ When people do not acknowledge the one true God as their own Lord, however, they are in rebellion against their very nature and eventually must be forcibly taught who is boss. ​​ The Bible teaches that everyone will eventually acknowledge the lordship of the only God; the Egyptians were required to acknowledge it, however reluctantly, through the plagues, before Yahweh (“before me”).” ​​ [Stuart, 244-45]

                • Are you being humble before the Lord or are you allowing pride to ruin your relationship with Him?

                  • Pride can cause us to not obey the Lord

                  • We may not ask fellow believers for help, because we are too proud

                  • Repentance and accepting salvation from the Lord, means we have to humble ourselves, admit we are a sinner, and need a Savior

                  • When we refuse to humble ourselves, we cannot benefit from the Lord’s wisdom

                  • His desire is that we walk with Him in humility

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Confess that my pride has ruined my relationship with the Lord and seek to be humble before Him.

              • After the Lord questions Pharaoh, He gives him a command

            • Command – Let my people go, so they can worship me

            • Consequence

              • If you refuse, I will bring locust into your land tomorrow

              • They will devour everything that survived the hail

              • They will fill every Egyptian house

              • It will be unprecedented – it will impact everyone

            • Moses turned and left Pharaoh

          • Pharaoh’s officials (v. 7)

            • After Moses and Aaron left, Pharaoh’s officials confronted him

            • Question #2 – How long will this man be a snare to us?

            • Recommendation – Let the people go

              • “That Oriental courtiers spoke so bluntly to Pharaoh is a measure of the desperation that they felt.” ​​ [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 190]

              • Pharaoh’s officials understood the seriousness of the threatened plague of locusts

                • They were already reeling from the devastation caused by the hail

                • Locust were not a new problem for them, they knew how devastating this plague would be

                • “Though weighing at most two grams, a locust is able to eat its own weight of vegetation in a day. ​​ Swarms may cover many square miles and involve billions of insects. ​​ The devastating impact of locusts was feared and viewed as a sign of divine judgment.” ​​ [Mackay, 189]

                  • Read Joel 1:4-7

                  • Amos 7:1-3, This is what the Sovereign Lord showed me: He was preparing a swarm of locusts after the king’s share had been harvested and just as the second crop was coming up. ​​ When they had stripped the land clean, I cried out, “Sovereign Lord, forgive! ​​ How can Jacob survive? ​​ He is so small!” ​​ So the Lord relented. ​​ “This will not happen,” the Lord said.

              • Pharaoh’s officials already understood that Egypt was ruined from the hail

              • It seems as though Pharaoh is the last person to recognize this

              • Pride ruins relationships.

                • Pharaoh did not want to submit to the Lord, because it would strip him of power and authority

                • He was willing to allow his pride to ruin his relationship with his officials

            • The plea from Pharaoh’s officials must have had some impact, because he had Moses and Aaron brought back

          • Pharaoh (vv. 8-11)

            • It seems, at first, that the conflict between Pharaoh and the Lord has ended when he tells Moses and Aaron to go worship the Lord their God

            • Question #3 – But just who will be going?

              • Pharaoh asked the question, because he probably already knew the answer, but he wanted to be sure

              • Pharaoh was hesitant to let everyone leave, because he knew the impact it would have on Egypt

              • He was not stupid

            • Answer – everyone and everything

              • All ages

              • All sexes

              • All flocks and herds

              • The reason was because they were going to celebrate a festival to the Lord, which would involve men, women, and children

              • PRINCIPLE #3 – Worship should be a family affair.

                • When the laws for proper worship were given later on, the Israelite men were required to return to Jerusalem for three festivals each year (Passover, Feast of Weeks, and Festival of Booths)

                  • Deuteronomy 16:16-17, Three times a year all your men must appear before the Lord your God at the place he will choose: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles. ​​ No man should appear before the Lord empty-handed: ​​ Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.

                • Deuteronomy 6:6-9, These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. ​​ Impress them on your children. ​​ Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ​​ Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. ​​ Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

                • Darren Williamson shares six ways that family worship will bless your family [https://renew.org/family-worship-blessing/]

                  • Family worship will unify your family

                  • Family worship will provide space for family dialogue

                  • Family worship will become a life-giving spiritual tradition

                  • Family worship will reveal weaknesses in the family unit

                  • Family worship will invigorate Christian marriages

                  • Family worship will provide training ground for worship in the assembly of the church

                • Worship should be for more than just men – it should be encouraged and modeled by men as the spiritual leaders of the household

                • Guys we have to step up and lead our families in prayer, Bible reading, worship, church attendance, Scripture memorization, modeling the fruit of the Spirit, and much more

                • When we lead, our families will follow

                • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Lead my family in worshiping the Lord by _________.

                  • What is one thing you can begin doing to lead your family in worship?

                  • If you are part of a family unit that does not have a husband or father, then ladies I encourage you to take the lead

              • After Moses answered Pharaoh’s question, Pharaoh responded

            • Response – only the men can go to worship the Lord

              • Before Pharaoh says no, he makes a sarcastic remark

                • The way it is written in English makes it sound like Pharaoh is blessing them on their journey

                • Stuart says, “Were Pharaoh speaking modern colloquial English, he might have said something like: ‘Oh, sure, that’s fine. ​​ And it would certainly prove that Yahweh was with you if I actually allowed all our family members to go with you, but, look, it’s obvious you have evil in mind.’” ​​ [Stuart, 248]

              • He also accused Moses of planning something evil

              • Pharaoh knew if he only let the men go, they would return to be with their wives and children and any evil they were planning would be thwarted

            • Moses and Aaron were driven out of Pharaoh’s presence

              • Pharaoh was obviously angry with Moses’ answer

              • Pharaoh’s pride was ruining his relationship with Moses and Aaron

              • Pride ruins relationships.

        • The interrogation is done and it is time for the invasion

    • Invasion (vv. 12-15)

        • The Lord tells Moses to stretch our his hand over Egypt

          • This would begin the invasion

          • The locusts would consume everything growing in the fields that had been left by the hail (certain crops and fruits were unharmed by the hail)

        • Moses obeyed and God did the miraculous

          • “‘Made blow’ represents a word used for driving sheep or guiding armies. ​​ Here the Lord acts as shepherd and general to ensure that an east wind would blow in from the desert zone between the Nile and the Gulf of Suez, or even all the way from Arabia.” ​​ [Mackay, 193]

          • God was bringing this unprecedented swarm of locusts from a faraway location where they had hatched and matured

          • They were riding the Lord’s special wind all day and night in order to arrive in Egypt at just the right time and cover a specific area of land

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God’s power is unlimited and it rules over every land.

        • The locusts did their job

          • They invaded all Egypt (settled down in every area of the country)

          • The swarm of locusts was unprecedented before or after

          • There were so many of them that the ground was completely covered

          • The land was now completely desolate and bare

          • “In destroying the vegetation, God not only left the land bankrupt, but He triumphed over Osiris, the Egyptian god of fertility and crops. ​​ He also proved that He had control over the wind.” ​​ [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 195]

          • God also showed His power over other Egyptian gods [Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition, Exalting Jesus in Exodus, 62]

            • Min, the patron god of crops

            • Isis, the goddess of life (who prepared flax for clothes)

            • Nepri, the god of grain

            • Anubis, the guardian of the fields

            • Senehem, the protector against pests

        • Pharaoh realized the extent of his pride

    • Intercession (vv. 16-19)

        • Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron

          • He was perhaps in a panic at this point

          • There was no oasis along the Nile River anymore

          • It was as desolate as the desert

        • He confessed

          • The difference between Pharaoh’s confession this time and after the hailstorm was that he acknowledged who had sinned against – the Lord God and Moses and Aaron

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – God is honored when we acknowledge that we have sinned against Him.

            • “All sin, regardless of the perpetrator and the victim, is first sin against God. . . . This posture is what makes the difference between guilt for sin and sorrow for sin. ​​ Guilt says, ‘I am sorry I did it.’ ​​ Sorrow says, ‘I am sorry I did it to him.’ ​​ Guilt is feeling sorry for one’s sins because they are destroying one’s own life. ​​ Sorrow is feeling sorry for one’s sins because they grieve and break God’s heart.” ​​ [Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, 160]

            • Do you have sorrow for your sin, because it has grieved and broken God’s heart?

            • Pride ruins our relationship with God, because it is sin

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Honor God by acknowledging that my sin of ___________ is against Him.

          • Once we acknowledge our sin and own it before the Lord, then we can seek forgiveness

          • That is exactly what Pharaoh did

        • He sought forgiveness

          • Pharaoh sought the Lord’s forgiveness and Moses and Aaron’s forgiveness for his sin of pride

          • After seeking forgiveness he asked for relief from the plague of locusts

            • Please pray to the Lord your God to take this deadly plague away from me

            • “Pharaoh’s point was that he saw Egypt dying as a result of the combined effect of the hailstorm and the locust invasion, not merely that the plague was deadly in some sense. ​​ His words do not suggest a focus on a plague but rather on death. ​​ Pharaoh was beginning to get the point: he realized that the plagues were leading to death, not merely inconvenience or temporary hardships.” ​​ [Stuart, 253]

        • “Moses proposed but God disposed.” ​​ [Stuart, 254]

          • Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord

          • The Lord changed the wind to a very strong west wind, which caught up all the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea

          • Every last locust was removed from Egypt

        • God had to make Pharaoh resolute at this point

    • Inflexible (v. 20)

        • The Lord had to make Pharaoh’s heart resolute, so He could complete the final two plagues

        • Pharaoh would not let the Israelites go

 

  • YOU

    • With whom are you going to share an example of God’s miraculous power?

    • Do you need to confess that your pride has ruined your relationship with the Lord and seek to be humble before Him?

    • How are you going to lead your family in worshiping?

    • Will you honor God by acknowledging that your sin is against Him?

 

  • WE

    • With whom can we share an example of God’s miraculous power?

    • Has pride ruined our relationship with the Lord?

 

CONCLUSION

“According to the National Geographic website (their kids' version that is) the Pufferfish can inflate into a ball shape to evade predators. Also known as blowfish, these clumsy swimmers fill their elastic stomachs with huge amounts of water (and sometimes air) and blow themselves up to several times their normal size … But these blow-up fish aren't just cute. Most pufferfish contain a toxic substance that makes them foul tasting and potentially deadly to other fish. The toxin is deadly to humans—1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. There is enough poison in one pufferfish to kill 30 adult humans, and there is no known antidote.

Like Pufferfish, human beings can blow themselves up with pride and arrogance to make themselves look bigger than they are. And this pride can become toxic to a marriage, a church, or a friendship. No wonder the late Bible scholar John Stott once said, ‘Pride is your greatest enemy, humility is your greatest friend.’”

 

Source: "Pufferfish," National Geographic Kids.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2017/september/7090417.html]

11

 

A Tef(Nut) to Crack

On May 8, 1784, the South Carolina Gazette reported that eight people were said to have been killed by hail along the Wateree River: “On the eighth of May last, a most extraordinary shower of hail, attended with thunder and lightning, fell in this district, and along the banks of the Wateree; the hail stones or rather pieces of ice, measured about 9 inches in circumference; it killed several people, a great number of sheep, lambs, geese, and the feathered inhabitants of the woods.” While death by hail is fairly rare in the US, in other places of the world, it is responsible for a fair number of fatalities. In 1928 in Klausenburg, Romania, six children were killed in a hailstorm during a Mayday festival. On April 14th, 1986, grapefruit sized hail hit Gopalganj, Bangladesh and killed 92 people. Those massive hailstones are in the Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s heaviest at 2.2 lbs. And as recently as 2009 fourteen people were killed by hail in the Anhui province of China. ​​ 

On the website atlasobscura, Dylan Thuras, writes, In 1942, a British Forest guard in Roopkund, India made an alarming discovery. Some 16,000 feet above sea level, at the bottom of a small valley, was a frozen lake absolutely full of skeletons. That summer, ice melt revealed even more skeletal remains, floating in the water and lying haphazardly around the lake’s edges. Something horrible had happened here. A National Geographic team set out to examine the bones in 2004. Besides dating the remains to around 850 AD, the team realized that everyone at the “Skeleton Lake” had died from blows to the head and shoulders caused by “blunt, round objects about the size of cricket balls.” This eventually led the team to one conclusion: In 850 AD this group of 200 some travelers was crossing this valley when they were caught in a sudden and severe hailstorm. An ancient folk song of the area describes a goddess so enraged at outsiders who defiled her mountain sanctuary that she rained death upon them with ice stones “as hard as iron.” Hail killed every last one of them.

In our scripture this morning we are going to see that the one true God, Yahweh, will send the full force of his plagues against Pharaoh and Egypt. Pharaoh has now been warned six times to let the Israelites go so that they can worship the Lord, but he has continued to harden his heart, refusing to do so. The Lord will again show that the gods of Egypt are impotent, and he will reveal other sovereign purposes for the plagues in addition to freeing his chosen people from slavery in Egypt. We will notice that God is acting not only in judgment but in mercy and that there is a bigger picture, so to speak, at work. In our scripture this morning, found in Exodus 9:13-35, God is going to give us insight into the bigger picture of what he is doing in Egypt and ultimately the world.

We, as individuals, tend to see only part of the picture. We tend to focus on ourselves and how the good or bad things in our lives affect only us. But because God is almighty, sovereign and eternal, and knows the beginning to the end of history, there are things that we can’t fathom or comprehend about what is going on around us. That’s the bigger picture that God is working out in the world but with the help of the Holy Spirit we can begin to see the bigger picture about what God is doing in, through and around us, we can gain wisdom and insight about the why and the what God is doing, in our families, our church, our community, and our world. When we are focused only on ourselves and on worldly things like Pharaoh was, we miss the opportunities to see God’s power, to give him glory and to bring others along on the salvation and sanctification journey with us. Let us be people who want to see the bigger picture that God has for us and that brings us to our big idea that Moses wants us to understand this morning that God desires his people to see and understand the bigger picture. This is important as we study the judgment and mercy in the plagues of Exodus, and it is important as we contemplate the discipline and blessing in our lives that we receive from our heavenly father. As we dwell on and ponder that big idea, let’s open our study into God’s Word with prayer: Heavenly Father, open our eyes and our eyes to your bigger picture this morning and in the future. Help us to see the why and what you are doing around us and give you praise, honor and glory for it. Let us not be so focused on ourselves that we miss what you are doing in the world. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Our first point this morning is Purpose found in Exodus 9:13-21. Follow along as I read those verses. This is what God’s Word says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’” Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field.”

This is the longest and most detailed narrative concerning a plague so far. It signals that a new intensity and seriousness is coming with future plagues. This seventh plague is similar to the first and the fourth in a couple of ways. First, the Lord’s instructions to Moses are similar. In Exodus 7:15, the plague of blood, Moses is to go to Pharaoh in the morning as he goes to the water. In Exodus 8:20, the plague of flies, Moses is to get up early and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the water. Here the Lord tells Moses again to get up early in the morning and to confront Pharaoh. We aren’t told where Moses is to confront him, but we can guess that he is again at the water, either washing or worshiping or both. Second, Moses continues to give Pharaoh the same message from the Lord, which is to let his people, the Israelites, go so that they can worship him. ​​ 

Then the message begins to differ in several ways. First, the plagues will become more intense and the consequences more serious than before. The Lord is now going to send the “full force” of his plagues against Pharaoh, his officials and the Egyptian people. The phrase, “full force” can be translated as “all.” The word “all” or “every” or “everything” appears twelve times in describing the seventh plague. This plague will show that there is no one like the Lord in “all” the earth, it will affect “every” man and animal, and “everything” growing in the field, and “all” vegetation and “every” tree. Every conceivable aspect of the land of Egypt will be caught up in these plagues. The word “plagues” is plural making us acutely aware that the Lord is not yet done sending them against Egypt. He will send these remaining plagues “against” or “to the hearts” of Pharaoh, his officials and the Egyptian people. “To their hearts” means they are “for their careful attention.” Pharaoh is running out of time to pay attention to what the Lord is trying to tell him so he can humble himself before Almighty God and be obedient to him. Shemesh says, “The Lord will strike Pharaoh precisely in the organ that perpetuates his transgression—his heart.”

Second, the Lord is sending these remaining plagues to their hearts so they may “know” something more about him. He sent the first plague so that they would know he is the Lord. He sent the second plague so that they would know that there is no one like the Lord. He sent the fourth plague so that they would know that the Lord was in the land of Egypt. And here he is going to send the seventh plague so that they would know that there is no one like the Lord in all the earth. He has already shown that he is the Lord and is above all other gods. He has shown that he is the God of the Hebrews and he is Lord over the land of Egypt, not Pharaoh. Now he is going to show that he is the Lord over all the earth. He is incomparable and unique. He is the Lord of everyone and everywhere. This speaks to both the Lord’s character and wonder-working power that separates him from all other deities. Goldingay says, it is “not the uniqueness of a theology but the uniqueness of a reality.” Our Lord is the only true and real God in all the universe.

The overarching purpose of the plagues was so that Pharaoh, the Egyptians, the entire world and even the Israelites would “know” the Lord. God wants us to “know” him, and he’s made a way through Jesus Christ for us to do that. He wants an intimate and personal relationship with us and that happens when we are redeemed, reconciled and restored to fellowship with the Almighty, our Creator. This “knowing” happens when we admit that we are a sinner, we believe that Jesus came to earth to save us from our sins and when we confess him as Lord over our lives and over all the earth. That brings us to our first next step this morning found on the back of your communication card which may be for you: My next step is to Accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior and be redeemed, reconciled and restored to an intimate and personal relationship with him.

Third, the Lord tells Pharaoh that he is also Lord over him because he holds his very life and the lives of the Egyptians in his hands. “For by now” introduces a climactic force to what the Lord could have done. The Lord could have stretched out his hand and “struck” or “destroyed” or “erased” them off the face of the earth, but he didn’t because there was a greater purpose, a bigger picture, for the sending of the plagues. Fourth, the Lord shows that he is sovereign; that he is in control of all things and all things run and move according to his purposes. Pharaoh deserved death but the Lord “raised up” or “spared” Pharaoh for a greater purpose. Fretheim says, “The question here is not what God could have done, as if God’s power were in doubt, but what should have been done had God not had a more comprehensive purpose that (Pharaoh’s) life could serve.”

The Lord then reveals his greater purpose or bigger picture for sending the plagues. It was so they would see his power and that his name would be proclaimed in all the earth. Yes, the Lord wanted to free his people so that they could worship him. Yes, the Lord wanted Pharaoh and the Egyptians to know that he is the Lord. But the bigger picture was that his great power would be seen by the Egyptians and the Israelites alike and that his name or his fame would be proclaimed in all the earth. In Romans 9:17, Paul quotes verse 16 in discussing divine sovereignty and divine mercy, and how the Jews and the Gentiles are on the receiving end of both. In Romans 9:18 Paul goes on to say, “So then he (talking about God), has mercy on whom he desires, and he hardens whom he desires.” The point is that Pharaoh, just like us, owes every breath to a holy, just and merciful God, and in spite of Pharaoh hardening his heart against God and his people, God had a plan to use the life of Pharaoh in a way that his power would be seen, and his name would be proclaimed in all the earth. We see this reality in Joshua 9 when the Gibeonites met with Joshua, they spoke of “the fame of the LORD,” saying, “we have heard reports of him: all that he did in Egypt.” And in 1 Samuel 4, when the ark of the covenant entered their camp, the Philistines said, “We’re in trouble! Nothing like this has happened before. Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? They are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the desert.” The plagues made God famous and his name, his reputation and character, was proclaimed in all the earth.

The Lord then accuses Pharaoh of still setting himself against God’s people and refusing to let them go. “Setting himself” can also mean “treading on” or “barricading” himself against God’s people. Pharaoh was “exalting” himself in hostility over them, presuming to be their king when Yahweh was their true lord and king. The consequences of exalting himself over God’s people and refusing to let them go would be the worst hailstorm in the history of the civilization of Egypt. This describes the unprecedented severity of the plague that is coming. There had been nothing like it before and there would be nothing like it again. Mackay says, ‘Worst’ means ‘very heavy’, continuing the theme that the plagues are just retribution for Pharaoh’s hardness or heaviness of heart. Hamilton says, “A hailstorm over all Egypt would be about as common as a blizzard in San Diego from a nor’easter. It would be as unheard of as 24-7 darkness (the ninth plague) in the land of eternal sunshine. In total, it would be a storm that would demonstrate God’s power and sovereignty over all weather and nature.

We then again see a difference in the message to Pharaoh and the Egyptian people. For the first time the Lord warns the Egyptians to bring in their livestock and slaves from the field so they would be saved. God was inviting and even testing Pharaoh and the Egyptians to trust his word. It was a call to an act of faith. Pharaoh and the Egyptians had seen God’s power over and over again and was now given a chance to trust in him and believe in him as the sovereign Lord over all the earth. Again, we are confronted with the bigger picture of God’s mercy and judgment. He didn’t want to kill Pharaoh and the Egyptians. He wanted them to see his mercy toward them and fall down in worship to him as their Lord. God wanted survivors rather than victims.

Next, we see that this plague ups the ante, so to speak. The previous six plagues brought death to fish and livestock including horses, donkeys, camels, sheep and goats. And they definitely brought discomfort and uncleanliness to the Egyptian people. But with the seventh plague any of the Egyptians and their slaves who were caught outside in the hailstorm would perish. This is the first plague where people would be killed. This is also the first instance of Egyptians believing the word of the Lord. Moses records that some of Pharaoh’s officials feared the word of the Lord and took the warning seriously and brought their slaves and livestock inside. It was probably a minority, but it showed that the plagues were starting to affect the Egyptian people. They probably did not fear the Lord, himself, but at least they believed that he would do what he said he would do and had the power to do it. This would have been a belief that was short of conversion, and would not have been a saving faith in the one who revealed the coming hailstorm to them. We also see the flipside that there were others who ignored the word of the Lord. They paid no attention and they “set or hardened their hearts” just like their leader, Pharaoh, and left their livestock and slaves in the field. There is a truth here that when we, as human beings, are confronted by the word of the Lord, there are two choices we can make. We can fear the word of the Lord and obey, or we can ignore it and harden our hearts.

Now that the Lord had proclaimed his bigger purposes for the plagues which was to show his power and so that his name might be proclaimed in all the earth, we come to our second point this morning which is Plague seen in verses 22-26. This is what God’s Word says, “Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that hail will fall all over Egypt—on people and animals and on everything growing in the fields of Egypt.” When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, the Lord sent thunder and hail, and lightning flashed down to the ground. So, the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt; hail fell, and lightning flashed back and forth. It was the worst storm in all the land of Egypt since it had become a nation. Throughout Egypt hail struck everything in the fields—both people and animals; it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree. The only place it did not hail was the land of Goshen, where the Israelites were.”

The next day, Moses stretched out his hand and staff toward the sky and the Lord brought the hail over all of Egypt. It fell on the Egyptian men, their animals and on everything growing in the fields. It happened just as the Lord promised it would. Moses’ staff represented God’s divine power and presence and the sky was filled with thunder, hail and lightning. Moses stretching his staff toward the sky and the Lord bringing the storm are to be understood as almost simultaneous. Even though it was Moses who did the motions it is clear that it was the Lord who sent the plague. Literally, there was hail, and fire flaming within the hail. Motyer says, “fire kindled and rekindled itself without need of fuel to feed on and spreading in all directions.” The fire was self-perpetuating, and fire and water were able to coincide together. The coincidence of two such mutually exclusive elements as hail and fire must have been extraordinarily frightening and destructive.” ​​ 

 

We can only imagine what the Egyptians would have thought about this storm. They were probably terrified and believed that the wrath of God was being poured down upon them from heaven. The mention of the storm again being the “worst” in Egypt since it had become a nation acts as a reminder that this was judgment from God being poured out on them. The word “worst” is also translated “heavy” showing that as Ryken says, “Pharoah got exactly what he deserved – a storm every bit as heavy as his heart.” We are told that the hail struck everything in the fields, men and animals and it beat down everything growing in the fields and even stripped every tree. The word “struck” is often used to mean “a deadly blow.” Men and animals were killed, everything growing in the fields was beat down and the trees would have been smashed by the sheer force of the storm. This was a killer storm in which both the hail and lightning did major damage. We are then reminded of the power and sovereignty of God in that the only place it did not hail was in the land of Goshen, where God’s chosen people the Israelites were. This was truly a supernatural event sent from God as judgment upon Pharaoh and the Egyptian people.

 

As we have seen before this plague was also an attack on the Egyptian gods. When God said that they would know that there was none like him in all the earth – the comparison was between the Lord and the gods of Egypt. Currid says, “It is critical to remember that the Egyptians believed their gods to be personified in the elements of nature. The catastrophe of the hail was therefore a mockery of the Egyptian heavenly deities, including Nut, the female representative of the sky and personification of the vault of heaven, Shu, the supporter of the heavens who holds up the sky, Seth, who manifested himself in the wind and storms, and Tefnut, the goddess of moisture.” This is where the title of today’s sermon came from. I called it a “Tef(Nut) to Crack” but in reality cracking Tefnut was an easy feat for our God, further showing that the Lord was sovereign over all persons, places and things.

 

After God brought the worst hailstorm in the history of the civilization of Egypt that killed men, animals and devastated the crops in their fields, we now come to our third point this morning called Promise found in verses 27-33. This is what God’s Word says, “Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. “This time I have sinned,” he said to them. “The Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Pray to the Lord, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don’t have to stay any longer.” Moses replied, “When I have gone out of the city, I will spread out my hands in prayer to the Lord. The thunder will stop and there will be no more hail, so you may know that the earth is the Lord’s. But I know that you and your officials still do not fear the Lord God.” (The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.) Then Moses left Pharaoh and went out of the city. He spread out his hands toward the Lord; the thunder and hail stopped, and the rain no longer poured down on the land.”

As with the other plagues, we don’t know how long the devastating hailstorm continued before Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. He summons them because he knows that they are the only ones who can stop the devastation that is taking place in Egypt. But when he did, he said something he had never said before. He seems to recognize Yahweh as God, but in the broadest sense. He confesses that he has sinned and that the Lord was right, and that he and his people were in the wrong. But as we look closer at his confession we notice a few things about it. First, he didn’t confess that he had sinned against God or even confess to God. Second, he didn’t confess all his sins he only confessed to sinning “this time” minimizing his sin. Maybe he didn’t believe that the other times he lied and hardened his heart were really sins at all. Pharaoh didn’t turn away from his sin looking for a relationship with the Lord. He was again grieved over the consequences of his sin, not grieved at his sin itself. Also, in calling the Lord “righteous” he was not talking about the Lord’s character, but his actions. Pharaoh was making as narrow a concession as he could, only admitting to doing wrong or being unfair not committing any evil. He didn’t have a fear of the Lord, so his confession didn’t show true repentance.

He then asked Moses again to pray to the Lord to stop the thunder and hail; they had had enough. In both Hebrew and Egyptian, “thunder” is used to mean “the voices of God.’ God had been speaking in judgment through this plague wanting Pharaoh to see his power and let his people go. Pharaoh just wanted the terrible storm to stop. Then we see the first of two promises made in this section. First, Pharaoh promises to let the Israelites go saying they do not have to stay in Egypt any longer. This was a reversal from the plague of flies when he would only give them permission to sacrifice in the land and then permission to leave Egypt as long as they didn’t go too far. Pharaoh was now giving permission to leave the land with no stipulations. He was willing to grant a privilege that he thought was within his power to grant. Second, Moses promises that when he has left the city he will pray to the Lord to stop the thunder and hail. The Lord is mentioned three times here meaning that it was the Lord that Moses would be praying to and it would be the Lord who stops the storm. The spreading out of Moses’ hands meant he would turn his palms upwards in supplication to the Lord. We again see the purpose that Pharaoh would “know” something about the Lord. He would know that the earth is the Lord’s and that he is in control of everything that happens on the earth, even the weather.

We also see that Moses is not naïve. He knew that Pharaoh and his officials could not be trusted to fulfill their promise because they did not have a fear of the Lord. We may wonder why Moses would seemingly give in and pray to stop the hail knowing Pharaoh’s past in reneging on his promises and hardening his heart. There are a couple of reasons. One, it would prove “that the earth belonged to the Lord” not to Pharaoh or the Egyptian gods. Two, it would also leave Pharaoh without an excuse for exalting himself above the Lord and against his people. Third, the Lord’s power would be seen not only in sending the hailstorm but in stopping it as well. Fourth, Moses believed in God’s sovereign purpose in what was happening. The use of the “Lord God” in verse 30 is the only place it is used in the Pentateuch outside of Genesis 2-3. It was probably used here to show that Pharaoh has to some degree been impressed by the power of God, but he doesn’t yet trust in or truly “know” the Lord. ​​ He has at least stopped claiming to not know him. In fact, now, he not only knows the Lord exist but admits that he was right in sending judgment on Pharaoh and Egypt.

We then get this curious aside. We are told that the flax and the barley were destroyed since they were almost full grown and ready for harvest. We are also told that the wheat and spelt were not destroyed because they were not yet ready for harvest. There are probably a couple of reasons why Moses gives us this information. First, it is a timestamp as to when this plague happened. Because the barley was nearly ripe, and the flax was blossoming points to January as to when the hailstorm hit Egypt. This level of exactness shows that this was a real and specific event in history. Second, it points to the devastating effects of the hail on Egypt’s economy. The flax and the barley would not have recovered, and those crops would have been lost. And the fact that the wheat and the spelt were spared showed the mercy of God in the midst of his judgment. Proving again that God had a bigger picture in mind. Moses and the Lord now keep their promises. Moses leaves Pharaoh, going out of the city, and spreads his hands in prayer toward the Lord and when he does the Lord stopped the thunder, hail and rain. The Hebrew suggest that Moses’ prayer brought immediate relief. Moses mentions twice that he would pray after leaving the city. This showed his complete trust in the Lord to protect his people from these plagues and there would be no question about whether the storm was stopped on its own or not.

After Moses and the Lord made good on their promise we come to our fourth point this morning which is Prevaricate found in verses 34-35. This is what God’s Word says, “When Pharaoh saw that the rain and hail and thunder had stopped, he sinned again: He and his officials hardened their hearts. So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.”

Moses kept his promise to pray to the Lord and God kept his promise to bring the devastating hailstorm to an end. But true to form, Pharaoh does not keep his promise. Now that the threat of the plague was over, he prevaricates, or lies and would not let the Israelites go. His admission of sin didn’t change his behavior and Moses records that Pharaoh sinned again. This is the first time that Pharaoh’s hardening of his heart has been called sin. Greenberg says, “He acknowledged guilt but went right on being guilty.” DeNeff says, “Any repentance that does not lessen our impulse to commit the same sin again is not genuine repentance.” There is a difference between remorse and repentance. The best way to tell true repentance is to see what happens after confession of sin. Ryken says, “True repentance is a complete change of heart that produces a total change of life.” We see this in scripture with King Saul and King David. In 1 Samuel 15:24-25 Saul says, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” In Psalm 51:4b, David says, “Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight.” And in verse 10, he says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Did you hear the difference? Saul, like Pharaoh, admitted he sinned but didn’t admit that he had sinned against God himself. He was motivated by a desire to escape punishment. David, on the other hand, admitted his sin against God and was motivated by a passionate desire for reconciliation and restoration.  ​​​​ 

We also notice that Pharaoh’s officials hardened their hearts as well. This probably included the earlier officials who had feared the word of the Lord and heeded the warning to bring their animals and slaves inside before the storm started. Pharaoh’s hardening had a negative effect on those around him. We are not surprised that Pharaoh has hardened his heart again and wouldn’t let the Israelites go. The Lord had already told Moses it would happen. After the plague of boils, we are told that the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart. It may have been that Pharaoh had been close to giving in to the Lord and letting the Israelites go but God’s plan had not been completed so he hardened Pharaoh’s heart. We now notice that Pharaoh is hardening his own heart again. Pharaoh was sure that he was the ultimate authority over his people and his land. It never occurred to him that there was an even more supreme being above himself. Even after being confronted by God, Pharaoh shut him out of his world and lived like he was in control of his destiny and the destiny of God’s people as well.

We, as human beings, tend to make everything about us. The Israelites fell prey to this as well. They were thinking that the Lord was sending these plagues so that they could be free. Of course, that was true, but God had a bigger picture in mind for them. As we continue to study the history of the Israelite people in the wilderness and in the Promised Land, we will see that it was a picture that they never really saw or understood for very long. God wanted them to worship and obey him as their Lord and be the conduit through which the world would be saved. They were going to see God’s power manifested in incredible ways over and over again but what did they do? They complained and accused Moses and God of bringing them in the wilderness to die. They refused to take the Promised Land the first time because the people were bigger than they were, and they didn’t think God could give them the victory. And they crucified Jesus, the Messiah, God’s Son, the one that they were waiting for. They completely missed the big picture of the purpose that God had created them for.

We see this missing of the big picture in an interview with the co-pilot of US Air flight 1549, which crash-landed in the Hudson River in New York City, a landing which everyone survived. In response to the question, “Was it a miracle?” co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles stated with absurd arrogance, “I wouldn’t say that. I would simply say that it’s just that everybody did our jobs and we had good fortune, as well.” We live in a world that is much like ancient Egypt. We have so deified everything and everyone that we actually think that we are in control.

I am also reminded of times of struggle and hurt in my own life. I can cry out “why is this happening to me, God” and never realize that he might be wanting me to see and confess my sin or see that the struggle I am going through is not for me but so that I can help someone down the road who is going through the same struggle. When we stop focusing on ourselves and with the help of the Holy Spirit we can start to see and understand God’s bigger picture in our lives. We can start to see the power of Almighty God which should cause us to proclaim his name in all the earth. The Lord is determined that the earth will know that He is Yahweh. This brings us to second and last next step this morning which is to Stop focusing on myself and strive to see and understand the bigger picture that God has for my life and the world around me.

This week a friend of mine prayed a benediction in a Bible study that I take part in on Tuesday nights and I think it’s appropriate to what we have talked about today so I would like to pray it over us now: “You go nowhere by accident. Wherever you go God is guiding you and wherever you are God has put you there. Amen.” Let us be people who want to see the bigger picture that God has for our lives.

As the praise team comes forward to lead us in our final song and the ushers prepare to collect the tithes and offering, let’s pray: Heavenly Father, thank you for your powerful Word and for your powerful name. Help us to “know” you as Lord and Savior and to be connected to you in an intimate and personal relationship. Help us to stop focusing on ourselves and strive to see and understand the bigger picture that you have for us and the world. We ask for the help of the Holy Spirit this morning as we strive for this understanding. In Jesus name, Amen.

 

Rescued

“Boiled” Over

(Exodus 9:8-12)

 

INTRODUCTION

Most of us are familiar with the story of Joni Eareckson Tada. ​​ She had just finished high school and was looking forward to college, when she and her sister went to the Chesapeake Bay for a swim. ​​ When Joni dove into the water she hit her head on the sandy bottom, snapping her head back and crunching her fourth and fifth cervical vertebrae.

 

On November 12, 2023 Alisa Childers had Joni on her podcast to discuss the nearest of Christ in 50 years of suffering.

 

In answering one of Alisa’s questions, Joni made this statement, “God permits what He hates. ​​ He’s not excited about suffering. ​​ He hates evil, obviously, but He permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves.” ​​ She then used the example of Christ’s suffering to illustrate that God permits what He hates to accomplish what He loves. ​​ She continued her answer by saying, “my friend said, Joni, it’s very much like you, um, God permitted what He hated, your spinal cord injury, just like He permitted those awful events leading up to the cross of Christ, but He permitted it in order to accomplish something good. ​​ He’s turning you from a headstrong, stubborn, rebellious teenager into a young woman who’s going to understand something of perseverance, something of endurance, who is going to allow her character to be refined, who is going to gain a deeper love for prayer and His Word, who is going to set her heart and hopes on Heaven. ​​ I mean He went on and on just envisioning for me things that at that point I could not envision for myself, but at least those ten words had hooked me, ‘God permits what He hates to accomplish that which He loves.’ ​​ And now I understand what it is that He loves in my life, Christ in me the hope of glory and my suffering.”

 

Alisa asked another question about the chronic pain that Joni experiences all the time. ​​ In response she said, “I realized that God shares His joy on His own terms and those terms call to us, for in some measure, to suffer as His own son suffered and, in a strange way I welcome the dark difficult guest of pain in my life. ​​ I welcome it because I know it is the gash through which more grace will pour into my life and I have counted that grace and that nearness and sweetness to Jesus Christ as worth the pain and that’s hard to say when I feel like screaming. ​​ But I believe it to this day and sometimes I lay on bed at night and I am so happy in Christ despite the pain that I am crying, but I’m so happy because He’s really worth it and I don’t know that I can convince people of it except that they just have to take me as saying the truth. ​​ That it’s a matter of faith. ​​ It’s a matter of stepping out.”

 

[https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnpG3ZG8sI8]

 

Can we even imagine having that kind of hope and joy after being knocked down? ​​ Joni, through the help of family and friends, was able to eventually look up to Jesus. ​​ It took time. ​​ She continues to look up to Jesus after 56 years of being a quadriplegic. ​​ She uses Scripture, prayer, and music to sustain her.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Our family has experienced times when we have been knocked down and had to look up to the Lord for help (health, jobs, relationships, etc.)

  • WE

    • How many of us have spent some time flat on our backs because of some illness, surgery, or injury to our bodies?

 

The Egyptians were going to find themselves in a world of hurt with this sixth plague. ​​ They were going to suffer from painful boils all over their bodies that kept them from being able to stand in Moses’ presence. ​​ All of the plagues the Lord brought upon the Egyptians was so they would know that He is God. ​​ This plague was not an exception. ​​ When they were knocked down, would they look up to the Lord? ​​ We will see. ​​ The same is true for us – when we are knocked down, will we look up to the Lord? ​​ Our big idea reflects that thought today. ​​ It is . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God may knock us down, so we will look up.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 9:8-12)

    • Instruction (vv. 8-9)

        • Moses and Aaron were just given the instructions without having to meet Pharaoh at a certain time or place (just like the third plague of gnats)

          • This is the third plague in the second cycle of plagues

          • Next week we will begin the third cycle of three plagues, before the final plague

        • Instruction

          • The Lord spoke to both Moses and Aaron

          • They were to take handfuls of soot from a furnace

            • It is likely that the furnace where they got the soot, was one that was used by the Israelites for making bricks

            • Perhaps the Lord was using what was afflicting the Israelites to afflict the Egyptians

          • Moses was instructed to toss the soot up into the air in the presence of Pharaoh

          • God would miraculously transform it into fine dust that would cover the whole land of Egypt

            • “As the God of the Hebrews was Lord over the water, air, earth, and life itself, so he was Lord over all elements, including fire.” ​​ [Martin, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 44]

            • “What started as a small amount of soot was changed and vastly multiplied by divine fiat into a huge amount of fine dust, covering Egypt and causing festering boils on both humans and animals.” ​​ [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 228]

            • Attributes of God

              • God is sovereign, which means He is Lord over everything (all elements, animals, and humans)

              • God is omnipotent (all-powerful)

              • God is Creator, so He is able to transform His creation according to His plan and purpose

            • The transformed soot would cover humans and animals throughout Egypt

          • Festering boils would break out on humans and animals

            • While it is not explicitly stated, most scholars agree that the Israelites and their animals were exempt from this plague – they did not break out with festering boils

            • This was the first plague that actually attacked the bodies of the Egyptians

            • The boils would have been visible and very uncomfortable [Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, 145]

            • If you remember, the Egyptians were obsessed with cleanliness, especially concerning their bodies, so this would have prevented them from bathing as often as they would have liked and it definitely affected the cleanliness of their bodies

            • They would have been dealing with oozing sores all over their bodies

        • Attacking the gods of Egypt

          • The Egyptians looked to their gods for healing (Amon Re, Thoth, Imhotep, and Sekhmet) [Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus In Exodus, 60]

          • “Perhaps this plague is connected with Sekhmet, the lion-headed goddess of plagues, who was viewed as responsible for epidemics, and also capable of healing those who were afflicted by them.” ​​ [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 173]

          • They were going to find out that Sekhmet was powerless and impotent

          • Comedian, Christian McCartney, was on Huckabee the other night and he closed his set by saying, “Laughter is great medicine, but Jesus Christ is the only healer.”

          • The Lord was trying to get the Egyptians attention, so they would know that He is God

        • The instructions have been given, now it is time for action

    • Infection (vv. 10-11)

        • Moses and Aaron did exactly what the Lord had instructed them to do

          • They got handfuls of soot from a furnace

          • They stood before Pharaoh

          • Moses tossed the soot into the air

        • God kept His promise

          • The author does not state here that the soot turned into fine dust and covered the land of Egypt, but we know it happened because festering boils broke out on humans and animals

          • This was part of the Lord’s instructions to Moses and Aaron

            • The soot would turn into fine dust and settle on humans and animals

            • The fine dust would cause festering boils to break out on humans and animals

        • Magicians condition

          • Role of the magicians

            • Stuart outlines two reasons why the magicians were mentioned during the sixth plague when they haven’t been mentioned since the third plague [Stuart, 229]

              • It would help the reader understand that Pharaoh used the magicians as advisors during these plagues

              • If the physicians (magicians) could not heal themselves, it proved once again that God was more powerful than the gods or magicians of Egypt

            • “In ancient Egypt healing was frequently linked to magical rituals undertaken by priests in temples. ​​ The very priests to whom the Egyptians might have looked for help are themselves afflicted and their powerlessness to ward off this bodily ailment underlines yet again the superior strength of YHWH.” ​​ [Alexander, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 187]

          • The plague of boils was so bad that the magicians could not stand before Moses

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God may use physical ailments to get our attention.

              • Notice that I use the word “may” in describing this principle

              • Not all physical ailments are a result of God trying to get our attention

                • Some of our ailments are simply the result of repetitive stress over time (knee cartilage gone; carpal tunnel in our wrists; bulging disks in our back; rotator cuff injuries; etc.)

                • Those physical ailments may afford us down time that we would not otherwise have or take

              • God may knock us down, so we will look up.

              • It is valuable to do some self-evaluation when we have time on our hands

                • Whether we are recovering from surgery due to repetitive stress on a part of our body

                • Or if we are sick from some virus that requires us to be quarantined

                • Perhaps we have time because we have lost our job

                • Whatever the case may be, it is important to spend time with the Lord

                • He may have been trying to get our attention for some time

                • Will we look up or will we continue to harden our hearts to His voice, to His prompting?

                • What are some ways that we can look up to the Lord when we are knocked down, when we cannot stand?

                  • Pray and ask the Lord to speak to you through His Word

                  • Pray and ask the Lord to speak to you through His Holy Spirit

                  • Pray and ask the Lord to speak to you through fellow believers

                  • Pray and ask the Lord to speak to you through worship

                • The Lord’s desire is for us to recognize that He is God (sovereign, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, healer, Creator, and so much more)

                • He wants us to look up to Him in repentance and dependence

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Look up to the Lord in __________ (repentance/dependence) since I am currently knocked down by ________.

            • The magicians were knocked down by the plague of boils

            • Their gods were useless, because they were false gods

            • The Lord was showing them that He is the only true God – He only could heal them and restore them

        • Perhaps this plague started to get Pharaoh’s attention

    • Indifference (v. 12)

        • “While it had been predicted in 4:21 that the Lord would harden Pharaoh’s heart, this is the first time that it is recorded as happening.” ​​ [Mackay, 175]

          • Maybe having boils all over his body, caused Pharaoh to start contemplating letting the Israelites go

          • God needed Pharaoh to stay the course of His redemptive plan

          • He needed Pharaoh to be willing to let the Israelites go without any strings attached or compromises

        • The plagues were not exclusively for Pharaoh and the Egyptians

          • They were also for Moses and the Israelites

          • God wanted the Israelites to recognize that He is in complete control [Enns, The NIV Application Commentary, Exodus, 219]

          • This is a great reminder for us also – God is in complete control of every aspect of our lives

 

  • YOU

    • Do you need to look up to the Lord in repentance or dependence as you struggle with being knocked down right now?

 

  • WE

    • We need to look up to the Lord in dependence as we struggle with being knocked down.

 

CONCLUSION

“Author and pastor Jim Van Yperen tells this story:

 

Margaret attended a church I served many years ago. Confined to a wheelchair for most of her adult life, Margaret lived with a body both contorted and misshapen, ravaged by multiple sclerosis. She spoke softly, often slurring her words in barely audible grunts. She drooled constantly and was in pain nearly all her waking hours. Margaret had grounds for complaint; but she did not complain. She loved Jesus, and she never missed church. Sunday morning and evening, midweek prayer meeting, and special gatherings, Margaret was always there, always in a neatly pressed dress.

 

One night, after I first arrived at the church, I was conducting a forum asking questions and facilitating dialogue with a group of about 20 people. I asked people to tell me their favorite Bible verse or a passage from Scripture that was personally meaningful. Several people offered verses that I noted on a flip chart up front. After many people spoke, Margaret let me know she wanted to say something. Most of the people had recited their verses from memory or read them aloud from Scripture. Since Margaret could not speak, I looked up the verse for the group and read it for her: ‘It was good for me that I was afflicted, that I may learn Thy statutes’ (Psalm 119:71 NASB).

 

Margaret smiled broadly and nodded her head. Her wheelchair was a testimony to grace.”

 

Source: Jim Van Yperen, "Making Peace: A Guide to Overcoming Church Conflict" (Jim Van Yperen, 2002), pp. 106-107.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2005/january/15732.html]

7

 

Rescued

Field Fiasco

(Exodus 9:1-7)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Their tongues were cut off, but there was no spilled blood. No signs of struggle. No footprints or tire tracks were found. Investigators were stumped: who is going on a murderous rampage of cows in Texas, and how are there no clues surrounding their deaths?

 

It seemed a scene straight out of The Secrets of Skinwalker Ranch, the reality TV show on the History Channel about the Utah ranch that is supposedly the site of unexplained supernatural phenomena.

 

Across three Texas counties within the span of a few weeks, seven cattle were found dead under the same suspicious circumstances: lying on one side with the mutilated part of their face exposed, minus a tongue.

 

The cow-killing spree happened in Madison, Brazos and Robertson counties – all located in east-central Texas. Each cow was from a different pasture and herd.

 

‘A straight, clean cut, with apparent precision, had been made to remove the hide around the cow’s mouth on one side, leaving the meat under the removed hide untouched,’ the Madison county sheriff’s office said.

 

‘On two of the five cows, a circular cut was made removing the anus and the external genitalia. This circular cut was made with the same precision as the cuts noted around the jaw lines of each cow.’

 

Ranchers reported no predators or birds had scavenged the remains, a common theme in similar killings.

 

The official cause of most of the cows’ deaths is still unknown, but the freakish events have sparked memories of a long-held conspiracy theory about the mysterious deaths of livestock animals dating back to at least the 1970s in the US that lays the blame at the feet – or tentacles – of aliens in UFOs.

Back then, scores of animal mutilations across at least seven US states triggered a bout of speculation that outer space visitors were attacking – and sampling – earthly animals. Others thought it was all a part of a ritualistic killing.

 

In 1979, the FBI launched a formal investigation into similar killings sweeping New Mexico. But the appropriately named Operation Animal Mutilation concluded that the mysterious deaths of livestock animals killed in similar fashion to those seen recently in Texas were a result of natural predation.

 

The Robertson county sheriff’s office said a postmortem exam returned on Monday showed that the cause of death for one cow was pneumonia, but like the FBI’s investigation, the report did not explain the reasons for the animal’s injuries.

 

The Madison county sheriff’s office said: ‘Multiple similar incidents have been reported across the United States and we are actively coordinating with other agencies to find answers.’

 

Other ranchers in the area are fearful their bovines could be butchered next.

 

Mark Enloe of Enloe Ranch lives in Madison County, along the same stretch of highway where the cows in his town were attacked. He called the recent string of cow murders ‘concerning’.

 

‘I have cattle right in the same vicinity of where these [killings] have taken place, within a couple of miles. I’m sure trying to keep an eye out, watching and making trips up and down the road several times during the day and night to just check and see if anything strange is going on.’

 

Enloe said his neighbor was taking more precautions by putting up cameras around his cows in case he’s targeted next.

 

And Enloe’s friend Steve Cole, who just happens to be Madison County’s justice of the peace, has even more reason to worry. One of his cows was found dead of unnatural causes mere days ago. Although his cow was not mutilated, he’s not confident these incidents aren’t related.

 

Roughly 15 minutes down the road is the B&B Cattle Company. On a phone call with its owner, Brad Barrett, a loud ‘moo’ can be heard in the background.

 

‘We always take precautions to make sure the [cattle] stay safe, but not anything more than normal … We have plenty of dogs. If something’s awry, oh, I’ll definitely know if I’ve got my dogs,’ he said.

 

The sheriff’s offices in all three counties did not respond to a Guardian request for comment.

 

$5,000 reward is being offered by the Animal Legal Defense Fund for any information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person or people who may be responsible for the deaths of these cows.”

 

[https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2023/may/08/cow-deaths-murders-texas]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Free chicken meal

        • Quite a few years ago our neighbor man called us to let us know that one of our chickens was lying dead in his yard

        • Before we were able to get outside and retrieve the dead chicken, the perpetrator returned and ate the chicken

        • It was another neighbor’s dog that had gotten lose

        • When we finally got outside, we could tell that the dog had been running circles around the chicken pen

        • The dog eventually made a hole in the chicken wire and caught one of our chickens, killed it, and it deposited it in the neighbor’s yards

        • We have had other chickens die of natural causes

    • Red beet raid

        • For all of the years we have had a garden, we have never had any issues with wildlife raiding it and eating up the plants

        • That all changed this past growing season

        • The year before we had a bumper crop of red beets and we were looking forward to another prosperous year

        • Unfortunately, some deer decided to venture into our garden for the first time and they ate all of the baby red beet plants

        • We could see their hoof prints in the soft soil

 

  • WE

    • How many of us have experienced some kind of damage to our pets, farm animals, or plants?

    • It is frustrating and concerning when it happens

 

While ranchers in Texas have not figured out the cause of death and the mutilation of their cows, Pharaoh and the Egyptians were warned a day ahead of the coming destruction of the livestock in their fields. ​​ The Lord was warning them of the consequences of refusing to obey His command to let His people go. ​​ It would be costly for them. ​​ The same is true for us. ​​ What the author wants us to understand today is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – Refusing to obey God’s commands is costly.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 9:1-7)

    • Command (vv. 1-4)

        • This is the fifth time the Lord instructed Moses to go to Pharaoh with His message

          • How was Moses’ feeling at this point?

          • We are not told how he is feeling about doing the same thing over and over again with the same negative results

          • What we do know is that Moses obeyed and continued to obey another five times

          • Application

            • How many of us have stopped after being rejected just one time?

            • Is there a difficult conflict that God is asking you to face repeatedly? ​​ [NIV Life Application Bible, footnote for Exodus 9:1]

            • Are you ready to throw in the towel?

            • I want to encourage you to not give up, especially when you know what God is calling you to do is the right thing

            • Moses realized that persistence is rewarded

            • That is not always easy to see when you are in the middle of the conflict or difficulty

            • Resolve today to keep being obedient no matter how long it takes

            • God is faithful!

            • Paul reminded Timothy of this truth when he was encouraged him to remain faithful

            • 2 Timothy 2:11-13, Here is a trustworthy saying: ​​ If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. ​​ If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Keep being obedient to what God is asking me to do no matter how long it takes.

          • Moses faithfully shared the Lord’s message with Pharaoh

        • Message

          • The Lord, the God of the Hebrews

            • The phrase, “the God of the Hebrews,” has not been used since Moses’ first encounter with Pharaoh

            • During the plague of flies, the Lord made a distinction between His people and Pharaoh’s people

            • The Lord is now expressing that there are two groups in Egypt and He is identifying with the Hebrews [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 169]

            • They are His people

          • Let my people go

            • This has been the recurring command from the Lord

            • The reason the Lord is command their release is so they can worship Him

          • If you refuse

            • The Lord used this same phrase during the second plague of frogs and a similar phrase with the plague of flies

            • We will see this phrase again with the plague of locusts

            • The Lord adds a phrase in this message that is not found in any of the other confrontations, continue to hold them back

              • This phrase indicates that Pharaoh is restraining the Israelites from being where God wants them to be [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 221]

              • God is ready for the Israelites to return to the Promised Land, but Pharaoh is holding them back from accomplishing this

              • God will not allow anyone or anything to get in the way of His plan or purpose

              • In God’s sovereignty, He has five more plagues for Pharaoh and his people to experience before he will release the Israelites

            • The hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague

              • The magicians recognized the plague of gnats as the finger of God

              • But, with the fifth plague they would experience God’s whole hand

              • The fifth plague affected the Egyptians livestock out in the field

                • Any horses, donkeys, camels, cattle, sheep, and goats that were in the field would die from the plague

                  • “Domesticated animals were treasured as enormously valuable assets in Bible times.” ​​ [Stuart, 222]

                  • Bulls, cows, and rams were also part of ​​ Egyptian cult worship

                  • The Lord was once again targeting the Egyptian gods

                  • Some animals were considered sacred

                  • Apis, the bull-god of Memphis

                  • The ram of Amun

                  • “. . . Hathor, the mother and sky goddess was depicted as a cow.” [Enns, The NIV Application Commentary, Exodus, 216]

                  • Mnevis, sacred bull worshiped at Heliopolis

                • “All of God’s creation, human and nonhuman, are liable to be caught up in the disastrous consequences of one malevolent human being. ​​ The ripple effect of one’s stubbornness and stupidity can be massive.” ​​ [Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, 143]

                • PRINCIPLE #1 – Refusing to obey God’s commands is costly.

                  • Have you experienced that in your own life?

                  • Has your stubbornness and stupidity caused disastrous consequences for you and your family, friends, and coworkers?

                  • Have you been on the receiving end of a family member, friend, or coworker who has been stubborn and stupid?

                  • Your stubbornness and stupidity may not have cost others their livestock, but it may have cost them their health as they have worried about you, their savings as they have tried to help you, their sleep as they have stayed awake praying for you, maybe even their own job or other relationships

                  • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my stubbornness and stupidity and seek forgiveness from those I have hurt.

                • In the field

                  • This seems to be significant that it would only be the livestock in the field

                  • We will see animals being affected by the boils (6th plague), livestock being killed with hail (7th plague), and the death of the firstborn livestock (10th plague)

                  • “The information that it is only the livestock that is out in the open that is going to be affected afforded those Egyptians who took the warning seriously the opportunity to bring even more animals under cover than would ordinarily be kept there (see 9:19). ​​ This may go some way towards explaining the presence of animals affected by subsequent plagues (9:9, 19; 11:5; 12:29) [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 170]

            • The plague would affect the Egyptian livestock in the field, but would not affect the Israelites livestock at all

          • Distinction foretold

            • Just as the Lord had done with the flies, he made a distinction between His people and Pharaoh’s people

            • This distinction did two things:

              • It exposed the impotence (powerlessness) of the Egyptian deities that were represented by these animals [Mackay, 171]

              • It was a nationwide humiliation of the Egyptian people [Stuart, 222]

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is able to be precise in His punishment.

              • He is able to protect certain people and things while allowing devastation and destruction to destroy others

                • We see God’s omnipotence and sovereignty through this

                • Hawaii

                  • In August of 2023 there were a series of wildfires that swept across the island of Maui in Hawaii

                  • They were devastating and destructive

                  • In the midst of that destruction there was an historic church that was untouched

                  • The Maria Lanakila Catholic church was spared

                • West Virginia

                  • On March 5, 2019 it was reported that at fire broke out at the Freedom Ministries Church in Daniels, WV

                  • There was extensive damage to the building, but the fire department wrote, “Not a single Bible was burned and not a single cross was harmed!”

                • We may not always understand why these kinds of things happen, but we can trust in the power and sovereignty of God

                  • “It’s hard enough to go through difficulty, but doubly hard when it seems like others aren’t.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: Genesis—Job, 258]

                  • How many of us can relate to that statement

                  • Maybe you are going through a difficult situation right now and you are frustrated because family, friends, neighbors, and coworkers seem to be doing just fine

                  • They appear to be thriving and flourishing while you are floundering

                  • God is sovereign and in control of your situation

                  • Perhaps there is something specific He is trying to teach you that He is not trying to teach your family, friends, neighbors, or coworkers

                  • He is allowing you to experience difficulty, so that you will recognize that He is the Lord

                  • He is able to be precise in His discipline, so we will pay attention to what He is trying to accomplish in our lives

                  • He wants us to be transformed into the likeness of His Son, Jesus

                • God loves us and wants what is best for us and sometimes that requires us to experience precise punishment

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Embrace God’s precise discipline, so He can accomplish His plan in my life.

              • Perhaps you are not experiencing the Lord’s precise discipline in your life right now – Praise the Lord!

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Pray for ______ (name) as they are experiencing _______.

            • Refusing to obey God’s commands is costly.

          • God’s message to Pharaoh was clear – He wanted His people released and if Pharaoh refused the Egyptians livestock in the fields would die, but the Israelites livestock would be spared

        • After sharing the Lord’s message with Pharaoh, Moses then shared the Lord’s timing

    • Consummation (vv. 5-7)

        • Timeframe

          • The Lord gave the Egyptians a day to prepare

          • If they were smart, they would remove their livestock from the fields

          • “A definite time was also fixed for the coming of the plague, as in the case of the previous one (8:23), in order that, whereas murrains [an infectious disease affecting cattle or other animals] occasionally occur in Egypt, Pharaoh might discern in this one the judgment of Jehovah.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 316]

          • It would not be a natural occurrence that would affect all livestock – Egyptian and Israelite alike

          • This would be a supernatural disease on the Egyptian livestock that would not cross over to the Israelite livestock

        • God was on time

          • God kept His promise to bring the plague the next day

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God keeps His promises.

            • God did not make an idle promise and He was not bluffing

            • He kept His promise to the Israelites on multiple occasions

              • He rescued them from slavery

              • He brought them into the Promised Land

              • He sent them into captivity when they disobeyed His commandments, decrees, and statutes

              • He restored them from captivity when they returned to Him

              • He always had a king from the line of David on the throne – including Jesus

              • He sent Jesus to take our punishment for sin

              • The list could go on and on

            • We can trust Him to keep His promises even today

              • When we follow His commandments, decrees, and statues, He will provide for and bless us

              • When we choose to rebel against Him, He will discipline us

              • When we confess our sins, He will forgive us and cleanse us because He is faithful and just (1 John 1:9)

              • He will save us, provide eternal/everlasting life, and allow us to become His children when we repent of our sins (Rom. 10:9, 10; John 3:16; John 1:12)

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Rejoice in the fact that God always keeps His promises.

          • Distinction delivered

            • All of the Egyptian livestock died, but not one Israelite animal died

              • Most scholars agree that the word “all” here is hyperbole for “most” of the livestock

              • This would make sense when we look at verse 3 and realize that only the livestock in the fields died

              • It was a significant number of livestock that the livestock that remained was insignificant

              • Stuart considers another secondary meaning of the Hebrew word for all, “It is due simply to the fact that the Hebrew word kol, usually means ‘all,’ can mean ‘all sorts of’ or ‘from all over’ or ‘all over the place.’ ​​ In this verse the better translation of the full expression would be ‘all sorts of Egyptian livestock died’ or Egyptian livestock died all over the place.’” [Stuart, 223-24]

            • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is able to be precise in His punishment.

          • I am sure the Egyptian people realized that refusing to obey God’s commands was costly

            • They lost a valuable asset that helped with cultivating the land, so plants could grow

            • They also lost a valuable resource that provided meat and milk

        • Checking up on God

          • Pharaoh had not forgotten God’s words about making a distinction between His people and Pharaoh’s people

          • He sent some men to investigate the livestock of the Israelites

          • “If a similar situation was found in Goshen, the Israelite enclave, it would prove that the plague had been natural . . .” [Stuart, 224]

          • Pharaoh did not want it to be true, but it was – not one of the Israelite animals had died

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God keeps His promises.

        • Even though Pharaoh verified that God had kept His promise to protect the Israelite livestock, his heart did not change

    • Coldhearted

        • Pharaoh’s heart was unyielding

        • He still refused to let the Israelites go

        • Proverbs 28:14, Blessed is the man who always fears the Lord, but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble.

        • Ephesians 4:18, They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them die to the hardening of their hearts.

 

  • YOU

    • Keep being obedient to what God is asking you to do no matter how long it takes.

    • Embrace God’s precise discipline, so He can accomplish His plan in your life.

    • Whom do you need to pray for that is experiencing God’s precise discipline?

    • Rejoice in the fact that God always keeps His promises.

 

  • WE

    • We need be continue to be obedient to what God has asked us to do no matter how long it takes.

    • We need to embrace God’s precise discipline of us, so He can accomplish His plan in our church.

    • We need to pray for those who are experiencing God’s precise discipline.

    • We need to rejoice in the fact that God always keeps His promises.

 

CONCLUSION

“Out of parental concern and a desire to teach our young son responsibility, we require him to phone home when he arrives at his friend's house a few blocks away. He began to forget, however as he grew more confident in his ability to get there without disaster befalling him. The first time he forgot, I called to be sure he had arrived. We told him the next time it happened, he would have to come home.

 

A few days later, however, the telephone again lay silent, and I knew if he was going to learn he would have to be punished. But I did not want to punish him! I went to the telephone, regretting that his great time would have to be spoiled by his lack of contact with his father. As I dialed, I prayed for wisdom. ‘Treat him like I treat you,’ the Lord seemed to say. With that, as the telephone rang one time, I hung up. A few seconds later the phone rang, and it was my son.

 

‘I'm here, Dad!’

 

‘What took you so long to call?’ I asked.

 

‘We started playing and I forgot. But Dad, I heard the phone ring once and I remembered.’

 

‘I'm glad you remembered,’ I said. ‘Have fun.’

 

How often do we think of God as One who waits to punish us when we step out of line? I wonder how often he rings just once, hoping we will phone home.”

 

Source: Dennis Miller, Antioch, Illinois. Leadership, Vol. 6, no. 2.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/june/715.html]

 

God has been letting the phone ring once with Pharaoh and hanging up. ​​ He wants Pharaoh to know that He is the Lord. ​​ He is being gracious, merciful, and patient with Pharaoh. ​​ He wants Pharaoh to call Him back.

 

Has God let the phone ring once with you and hung up? ​​ Do you need to call Him, so you will not have to experience the costly consequences of refusing to obey Him?

12

 

4th Sunday of Advent

Prince of Peace

(Mark 4:35-41; Isaiah 9:6; John 14:27)

 

INTRODUCTION

“In the autumn of 1873, Horatio Spafford, a wealthy Chicago businessman, placed his wife, Anna, and their four children on the Ville du Havre sailing from New York to France. He was forced to stay in the United States for several more weeks to settle some business matters before he could journey to join the family in Europe.

 

The evening of November 21 found the Ville du Havre prow-east toward France on a calm Atlantic. The journey was progressing beautifully. A few hours later, about two o'clock in the morning on November 22, the Ville du Havre was carrying its sleeping passengers over a quiet sea when two terrific claps like thunder were followed by frightening screams. The engine stopped, the ship stood still. Passageways were filled with terrified, half-dressed people shouting questions that no one could answer. The Ville du Havre had been rammed by the English vessel, the Lochearn.

 

Mrs. Spafford saw three of her children swept away by the sea while she stood clutching the youngest child. Suddenly, she felt her baby torn violently from her arms. She reached out through the water and caught little Tanetta's gown. For a minute she held her again. Then the cloth wrenched from her hand. She reached out again and touched a man's leg in corduroy trousers. She became unconscious. She awoke later, finding that she had been rescued by sailors from the Lochearn. But her four children were gone.

 

In the meantime, Horatio Spafford was back in the United States, desperate to receive news of his family. Finally, the blow fell. A cable arrived from Wales stating that the four daughters were lost at sea, but his wife was still alive. He was crushed with what had happened. All night he walked the floor in anguish. Toward the morning he turned to his friend, Major Whittle, and said, ‘I am glad to trust the Lord when it will cost me something.’

 

On the way across the Atlantic to join his wife, the captain announced that they were now passing the place where the Ville du Havre was wrecked. For Horatio Spafford, this was passing through the valley of the shadow of death. He sat down in his cabin on the high seas, near the place where his children perished, and wrote the hymn that would give comfort to so many, titled "It Is Well with My Soul."

 

Source: John Huffman, "The Fruit of the Spirit Is Peace," PreachingToday.com

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2005/october/16165.html]

 

Verse 1

When peace, like a river, attendeth my way. ​​ When sorrows like sea billows roll. ​​ Whatever my lot, Thou has taught me to say. ​​ It is well, it is well with my soul.

Verse 2

Though Satan should buffet, tho’ trials should come. ​​ Let this blest assurance control. ​​ That Christ has regarded my helpless estate, and hath shed His own blood for my soul.

 

Peace is a lot like joy, it can be experienced even when there is turmoil and chaos, hardship, trouble, violence, and fear. ​​ As the hymn so beautifully captures, this journey of peace is not immune from those things. ​​ In fact, they are central to the story. ​​ We learn that peace is not the absence of trouble but rather the presence of God.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Minimally high blood sugar and blood pressure

        • It wasn’t long after moving from Ohio to Missouri that I went to the doctor for a regular physical

        • The bloodwork caused the doctor to order a glucose tolerance test

        • Those are always fun, aren’t they, especially for someone who hates needles

        • The test revealed that I had minimally high blood sugar

        • I was also struggling with minimally high blood pressure numbers

        • The doctor asked me all the questions they normally ask to determine if there was anything I should stop doing

          • Do you smoke? ​​ (No)

          • Do you drink alcohol? (No)

          • Do you take drugs? (No)

        • The doctor then asked me a couple of other questions

          • Do you exercise regularly? (No)

          • Are you under any stress? (YES!)

            • We had just moved to Missouri not long before the appointment

            • We had bought our first home

            • I started a new job at the Headquarters of Child Evangelism Fellowship

            • Judy had had a miscarriage before we moved to Missouri and now she was expecting Levi

        • The doctor’s response was, “Well, there’s nothing I can tell you to stop doing, but I would encourage you to start exercising every day.”

    • Daily exercise

        • I started riding a stationary bike in our basement

        • I started out slow and eventually was riding between 20-30 minutes a day

        • I lost a little bit of weight, I didn’t need to lose much back then

        • The cardio-vascular workout was good for my heart

        • We started eating a low sugar diet also

    • Peace in the middle of trouble

        • Exercise was a part of what I started doing, but I also started praying specifically about my blood sugar and blood pressure

        • Prayer is what motivated me to continue to exercise and it helped to bring me peace

        • I knew that everything was going to be alright, because God was with me

 

  • WE

    • What pain are you facing this season?

    • What struggles are weighing you down?

    • What anxiety and stress are stirring up chaos in your spirit?

    • Those pressures and problems can be both external and internal

        • We often take the external pressures and problems and internalize them

          • When we internalize those pressures and problems we begin to experience health problems

          • It’s our body’s way of telling us that something isn’t right

          • Stomach ulcers are a sign that our body is producing too much acid

          • High blood pressure can be an indication that stress is present

          • Headaches and muscle aches can be an indicator that our bodies are tense

          • Insomnia can be a result of our brains trying to process the problems and pressures we are experiencing

    • Are you willing to open your heart to God’s peace even in the midst of your struggles?

 

Through this journey of peace, today, we can be assured that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God’s presence provides peace.

 

Let’s pray

 

This journey of peace is certainly an appropriate journey for our world today. ​​ Just as the ancient Roman world must have felt during that first Christmas, our world seems full of violence, warfare, and uncertainty. ​​ In addition, the pressures of our daily lives barrage us at an unparalleled pace. ​​ Ours is a world in desperate need of peace! ​​ However, it is a world where the Prince of Peace has walked and He understands. ​​ He has come, and He is present. ​​ His peace is available to us today.

 

  • GOD

    • Peace in the Midst (Mark 4:35-41)

        • The first Christmas

          • We sing about that first Christmas night being a silent night where everything was calm and bright

          • I’m not sure that’s exactly what the characters in the Christmas story were experiencing

            • The city of Bethlehem was hustling and bustling with an influx of those who were from the line of David

            • The city was filled to beyond capacity with people from all over the region

            • These travelers were tired, dirty, and probably testy

            • Everyone was trying to find a place to stay and perhaps food to eat

            • Mary and Joseph were perhaps anxious, nervous, and stressed as Mary went through her first delivery

            • It was shortly after giving birth that the shepherds began to arrive

          • King Herod

            • Sometime during Jesus’ first two years of life, the Magi arrived in Jerusalem

            • They questioned King Herod about the whereabouts of the baby who had been born king of the Jews

            • Matthew tells us that King Herod was disturbed and all Jerusalem with him (Matthew 2:3)

            • The news of Jesus’ birth did not bring peace to King Herod and since the King was disturbed, so were his subjects

            • King Herod ordered that all the boys, two years of age and younger, living in Bethlehem and the surrounding vicinity, were to be killed (Matthew 2:16)

            • Imagine the chaos King Herod’s order created in Bethlehem and the surrounding villages

            • The parents of two year old boys and younger were not experiencing peace

          • Application

            • Can you relate to the chaos that those who were part of the first Christmas were experiencing?

              • Perhaps you’re going to be traveling or have already traveled to be here this morning and you understand the exhaustion, frustration, and testiness that the travelers in the 1st Century felt

              • Maybe you’re experiencing the interruptions of a quiet family time together as others come to see you

              • Some of you may be experiencing the birth of a child or the loss of a loved one during this Christmas season, so you understand the exhaustion and emotions involved in both of those scenarios

            • Our journey of peace is not one separated from the realities of life but a journey of peace in the midst of life with all its noise and chaos

            • SONG LYRICS – “The Rain Keeps Falling” by Andrew Peterson

              • I tried to be brave but I hid in the dark
                I sat in that cave and I prayed for a spark
                To light up all the pain that remained in my heart
                And the rain kept falling

                Down on the roof of the church where I cried
                I could hear all the laughter and love and I tried
                To get up and get out but a part of me died
                And the rain kept falling down

                Well I'm scared if I open myself to be known
                I'll be seen and despised and be left all alone
                So I'm stuck in this tomb and you won't move the stone
                And the rain keeps falling

                Somewhere the sun is a light in the sky
                But I'm dying in North Carolina and I
                Can't believe there's an end to this season of night
                And the rain keeps falling down
                Falling down
                Falling down

                There's a woman at home and she's praying for a light
                My children are there and they love me in spite
                Of the shadow I know that they see in my eyes
                And the rain keeps falling

                I'm so tired of this game, of these songs, of the road
                I'm already ashamed of the line I just wrote
                But it's true and it feels like I can't sing a note
                And the rain keeps falling down
                Falling down
                Falling down

                Peace, be still
                Peace, be still

                My daughter and I put the seeds in the dirt
                And every day now we've been watching the earth
                For a sign that this death will give way to a birth
                And the rain keeps falling

                Down on the soil where the sorrow is laid
                And the secret of life is igniting the grave
                And I'm dying to live but I'm learning to wait
                And the rain is falling

                Peace, be still
                Peace, be still

                I just want to be new again
                (Peace, be still)
                I just want to be closer to You again
                (Peace, be still)
                Lord, I can't find the song
                I'm so tired and I'm always so wrong

                Help me be brave tonight
                Jesus, please help me out of this cave tonight
                (Peace, be still)
                I've been calling and calling
                This rain just keeps falling
                (Peace, be still)
                I've been calling and calling
                But this rain just keeps falling and falling

                Is it You
                Is it You
                (Peace, be still)
                Is it true
                Is it You
                (Peace, peace)

              • The lyrics contain a long and honest confession of so many struggles

              • Notice that interjected into the lyrics are the words of Jesus, “Peace. ​​ Be still.”

              • We can have peace in the midst of life in a fallen world with God’s presence in our lives

              • The words that Jesus spoke are found in Mark 4:35-41

        • Jesus calming the storm

          • Read Mark 4:35-41

          • The disciples were in a situation where they felt helpless

          • They were afraid!

          • Jesus was sleeping peacefully in the stern of the boat – the storm did not bother Him

          • After the disciples woke Him up, He immediately rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet, Be still!” (most translations have “Peace, Be still!”

          • Jesus asked His disciples why they were so afraid

            • His second question concerned their faith in Him

            • The disciples should have known by this point that Jesus was all-powerful

            • His power, from God, extended to all of creation

            • God’s presence was with Jesus, so Jesus’ presence provides peace

          • Application

            • Jesus’ presence in our lives provides peace also

            • We don’t have to be fear when pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress stir up chaos in our spirit

            • We can have faith in Jesus who is all-powerful, all-knowing, and sovereign

            • Perhaps you need to express that faith today

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust by faith in the peace that Jesus’ presence can bring during the pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress of ________________.

              • I’ve found that Jesus’ peace can be found in reading God’s Word the Bible

              • It can also be found in praying – that’s us talking to God

              • God talking to us requires us to sit quietly and patiently before Him – we can experience peace in those moments as well

              • Some people have a specific place where they go to find peace from the chaos of their lives

        • Jesus brings peace right into the center of our hurt and frantic striving

        • He brings power to cease the noise, calm the storm, and overwhelm our hearts with His restorative sense of perfect peace

        • He is indeed the Prince of Peace

    • Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6)

        • Isaiah 9:6, For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. ​​ And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.

          • Peace is not just a feeling or a state of being

          • Peace is a person

          • Jesus is the Prince of Peace

          • By sending His Son, God sent peace into the world

            • Paul tells the Ephesian Gentiles that before they came to faith in Christ, they were separate from Christ

              • Ephesians 2:12, remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world.

              • That is the condition of every person who is born – we are separated from God and Christ and we have no hope

              • Sin is what separates us from God and Christ

              • Sin is the rejection of God and His authority in our lives

              • We become our own boss/authority

              • God’s Word tells us that when we reject Him and become our own boss, that there is a consequence for that – for the wages of sin is death (Rom. 6:23)

            • When we reject God and His plans and way we are really at war with Him

              • Perhaps you’ve experienced that in the past or are experiencing that right now

              • You know that God is pursuing you, because He puts people in your life who talk to you about Him

              • Your reaction towards them is harsh and unkind, not because you don’t like them but because you’re at war with God – you’re not at peace with God

              • Phil Robertson of Duck Dynasty talks about his life in his book Happy, Happy, Happy

                • He thought he was happy, but he was busy “romping, stomping, and ripping with [his] drinking buddies”

                • He owned a honky-tonk bar at this point in his life

                • His sister decided that Phil needed to hear about Jesus, so she brought her pastor, Bill Smith, with her to the bar

                • This was Phil’s reaction, “‘You some kind of preacher?’ ​​ I immediately asked him. ​​ When Smith told me he was, I added, ‘You ever been drunk?’ ​​ ‘Yes, I used to drink a few beers,’ he told me. ​​ ‘Well, what’s the difference between you and me?’ ​​ I asked him. ​​ ‘You’ been drunk, and I’m getting drunk right now. ​​ There ain’t a dime’s worth of difference between you and me, Jack. ​​ You ain’t putting any Bible on me. ​​ That’s the way I was born.’” [Robertson, Happy, Happy, Happy, 79]

            • God made a way for us to be reconciled to Him – to have peace with Him

              • It is through the Prince of Peace – Jesus!

              • Ephesians 2:14-18, For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. ​​ His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, and in this one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. ​​ He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. ​​ For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

                • In this passage, Paul is talking to both Jews and Gentiles

                • He was explaining that through Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection, all people could now be reconciled to God – it wasn’t just for the Jews anymore

                • Jesus’ sacrifice brought peace between the Jews and the Gentiles

                • It also brought peace between God and humanity

                • Romans 5:1, Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

                  • There is nothing we can do on our own to deal with our sin problem

                  • There is nothing we can do on our own to deal with our rejection of God

                  • God in His infinite wisdom, justice, and love provided a way for us to be reconciled to Him – to have peace with Him

                  • It is through faith in what Jesus Christ did for us on the cross

                  • Justified can be defined as “just as if I have never sinned”

                  • That is how God sees us when we admit we are sinners, repent of our sins, and trust in Jesus by faith

              • Perhaps you’re ready to be reconciled to God today – to be at peace with God

                • You’re ready to end the war with God

                • You’re ready to accept God’s authority in your life instead of rejecting it

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize Jesus as the Prince of Peace, admit I am a sinner, repent of my sins, and have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ.

        • Peace with God does not guarantee freedom from pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress

          • We are human and still fallible

          • We still make mistakes and fail to trust God in every area of our lives

          • Mary’s example

            • In the midst of all that was happening that first Christmas, we are told that Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart (Luke 2:19)

            • On the surface, Mary’s life did not become more peaceful

            • If anything, things got crazier with the announcement of her miraculous pregnancy and the birth of a new baby

            • But Mary was learning to trust the One who was in control

          • When we can surrender control – stop worrying, stop planning, stop striving – to the Prince of Peace, we can find rest in Him

            • The inner and outer chaos, anxiety, noise, and busyness of life may not change, but we can experience peace because we trust the One in control

            • Where do you need to surrender and enter the journey of peace this season?

            • I want to encourage you to pause and embrace the words of the Psalmist, Be still, and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)

            • The same things I mentioned earlier about how to find Jesus’ peace also apply to being still, and knowing that God is God (reading God’s Word, spending time in prayer, and repeating Scripture)

            • This can happen in the morning before your day begins, throughout your day as needed, and before going to bed

        • While we can experience peace through Jesus Christ, we also realize that the world around us may still be experiencing pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress

    • Peace for the World (John 14:27)

        • All we have to do is look at the news coverage to realize that our world is not at peace

          • Countries are at war

            • Ukraine and Russia

            • Israel and Palestine

          • Hostages are being mistreated

          • Refugees are far from home

          • Our neighbors are hurting

          • There is violence in our schools and in our streets

          • Church leadership teams are discussing strategies to provide a safe and secure environment for their parishioners to worship in

          • There is anger in our families

        • While Jesus brought peace to the earth when He came the first time, it is not a perfect or complete peace

          • We live in the tension between the already and not yet

          • We know that Jesus has won the battle over sin and death, but the manifestation of that victory is still to be revealed when Jesus comes again

          • In the interim, we are encouraged to draw close to God and to rely on Him for His peace

          • God’s presence provides peace

          • Philippians 4:6-7, Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. ​​ And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

            • God’s peace doesn’t make sense to us as humans

            • It’s beyond our understanding sometimes

            • Have you or someone you have known experienced that kind of peace?

              • Perhaps they’ve gotten news about their health that is concerning, but instead of worrying about it they immediately began to pray and while they should be stressed, they’re at peace

              • When someone losses their job or is just struggling financially, yet they’re not anxious about the situation, but are trusting God, it doesn’t make sense – that’s the peace of God that transcends our understanding

            • Our natural inclination is to worry, fret, and complain instead of turning to God in prayer, waiting on Him, and experiencing His peace

              • So often we come to God asking Him to change our circumstances or those around us

              • Sometimes God answers our prayer by changing our circumstances or those around us

              • More often, He uses the difficult circumstances to change us – He wants us to be transformed and to grow in our faith

              • He is all-powerful, all-knowing, and sovereign

              • He knows what’s best for us

              • He will not give us more than we are able to bear, without providing a way of escape

              • Perhaps you’re feeling anxious, right now, about a particular circumstance in your life

              • Now is the time to turn to God in prayer and present your petitions to Him with thanksgiving

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Turn to God in prayer with thanksgiving, because I am feeling anxious about ________________.

          • Jesus gave His disciples a promise that is still relevant for us today

            • He promised them the gift of peace

            • John 14:27, Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. ​​ I do not give to you as the world gives. ​​ Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

            • We can claim that promise for ourselves

            • We don’t have to be afraid, because we serve a God who is in control of everything

            • Whatever is causing you pain, struggle, anxiety, and stress now, in the end, Jesus’ peace will overcome it

            • His peace will sustain us through our difficulties, which may be great but are also momentary (2 Cor. 4:17)

 

  • YOU

    • You can trust by faith in the peace that Jesus’ presence can bring during the pain, struggles, anxiety, and stress that you’re currently experiencing

    • You can recognize that Jesus is the Prince of Peace, admit you are a sinner, repent of your sins, and have peace with God through faith in Jesus Christ

    • You can turn to God in prayer with thanksgiving about the circumstances you’re feeling anxious about

 

God’s presence provides peace.

 ​​ ​​​​ 

CONCLUSION

“[John Stott says], Let me quote from the end of Kenneth Latourette's seven-volume history of the expansion of Christianity. Referring to Jesus he says, ‘No life ever lived on this planet has been so influential in the affairs of men as that of Christ. From that brief life and its apparent frustration has flowed a more powerful force for the triumphal waging of man's long battle than any other ever known by the human race.’

 

‘Through it, millions of people have had their inner conflicts resolved. Through it, hundreds of millions have been lifted from illiteracy and ignorance and have been placed upon the road of growing intellectual freedom and control over the physical environment. It has done more to allay the physical ills of disease and famine than any other impulse, and it has emancipated millions from chattel slavery and millions of others from thralldom to vice. It has protected tens of millions from exploitation by their fellows, and it has been the most fruitful source of movements to lessen the horrors of war and to put the relations of men and nations on the basis of justice and peace.’

 

This is the influence of Jesus through his followers in society. Don't underestimate the power and the influence that even a small minority can exert in the community.”

 

Source: John Stott, “Christians: Salt and Light,” Preaching Today, Tape No. 109.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1996/september/1941.html]

12

 

Rescued

Gnat A Good Day

(Exodus 8:16-19)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Pests—bugs and rodents—even the thought of them makes our skin crawl. But pests find their way into everyone's home at one time or another. The question is, do we hate these pests enough to do what it takes to get rid of them? One survey says that depends on what sort of pest is in the house. Researchers found that people will dish out their hard earned money for an exterminator—meaning they are really serious about getting results—when the following pests are in their home:

 

Twenty-four percent of adults—that's one in four—will pay an exterminator to kill spiders.

 

Roughly the same number, 27 percent of adults, will pay to annihilate ants.

 

With the next pest the percentage jumps to just over half, as 56 percent will pay to banish bedbugs.

 

The same percentage, 56 percent, will pay to get rid of rodents. (That's mice and rats. This is getting creepier and creepier!).

 

Fifty-eight percent will pay to kill cockroaches. (Maximum creepy!)

 

And then the number jumps again when we talk about the bug that can bring the house down: termites. Eighty-seven percent of adults—that's 9 out of 10—will pay to terminate termites.

 

Notice that except for termites, almost half of adults will live with some very unpleasant creatures rather than pay a professional to ensure the pests are eradicated. This survey also showed that many people are willing to endure a certain kind of pest, but not others.

Take that concept to a spiritual dimension and the same thing holds true. Many people are willing to live—or feel they have to live—with spiritual ants, spiritual spiders, spiritual bedbugs, spiritual cockroaches, spiritual mice, spiritual rats, or spiritual termites. Some sins we tolerate in ourselves; others we won't.

 

Source: Anne R. Carey and Keith Simmons, "Calling the Exterminators: Critters that bug us most," USA Today Snapshots (May 22-25), 1A; based on survey of 1,253 adults by Global Strategy Group for Orkin.

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/july/3072009.html]

 

We are going to talk about pests and the power of God today, so I want to share two personal stories, one about pests and the other about the power of God.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Baseball

        • When I first started playing baseball, they put me in the outfield

        • Playing baseball in the summer meant dealing with pesky gnats

        • They would swarm around my head and get in my eyes, ears, nose, and mouth

        • I would take my hat off and try to swat them

        • I would try to smash them between my hand and baseball glove

        • I don’t remember who gave me this incredible advice, but they told me to put my hand over my head, because the gnats would swarm to the highest part of my body – It worked!

        • I would stand in the outfield with my hand raised, so the gnats wouldn’t swarm around my head

    • Earthquakes

        • Our family experienced the power of God through earthquakes in Southern California

        • The first one we experienced was during a worship service on a Sunday morning

        • The worship leader was transitioning between songs and he said, “Our God is an awesome God.”

        • At that exact moment our chairs started shaking and the projection screen hanging up front started swaying

        • Once everything settled back down, the worship leader said, “I guess God agrees,” and he continued with the next worship song

 

  • WE

    • Perhaps all of us have had to deal with pests in our houses or swarming around our heads

    • Hopefully we have all experienced the power of God in miraculous ways and not just through natural occurrences

 

“There are two sins of man that are bred in the bone, and that continually come out in the flesh. One is self-dependence and the other is self-exaltation. It is very hard, even for the best of men, to keep themselves from the first error. The holiest of Christians, and those who understand best the gospel of Christ, find in themselves a constant inclination to look to the power of the creature, instead of looking to the power of God and the power of God alone.”

 

Source: C.H. Spurgeon in Sermons on Sovereignty. Christianity Today, Vol. 35, no. 2.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1996/april/1398.html]

 

As we will see with the third plague, the magicians were not able to imitate or duplicate it. ​​ They acknowledged before Pharaoh that something divine and not human or natural had taken place. ​​ God continued to make Himself known to Pharaoh and the Egyptians. ​​ We will learn today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God has all authority and power.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 8:16-19)

    • No caution (vv. 16-17)

        • With the third plague there are none of the following items that were found in the first two plagues

          • No forewarning (Pharaoh was warned about the coming of the first two plagues)

          • No time of warning (i.e. “in the morning”)

          • No instruction formula (i.e. “station yourself;” “go to Pharaoh”)

        • Instructions for Moses

          • Once again Moses hears from the Lord and tells Aaron what to do

          • Aaron was to stretch out his staff and strike the dust of the ground

            • There are a couple of potential gods that this plague was targeting

              • It could be Seth (Set), the Egyptian god of the desert [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 190]

              • It could have also been Geb, the Egyptian deity of the earth. ​​ “God was challenging their trust in the soil and the god of the ground.” ​​ [Merida, Christ-Centered Exposition: Exalting Jesus in Exodus, 58]

            • When Aaron struck the ground, God’s power would be released

          • The result of Aaron’s obedience was that the dust throughout Egypt would become gnats

            • The exact identity of this pesky bug is not certain

            • Some suggest that it could be a gnat, lice, or mosquitoes

            • Keil & Delitzsch believe they were not lice, but rather “a species of gnats, so small as to be hardly visible to the eye, but with a sting which, according to Philo and Origen, causes a most painful irritation of the skin. ​​ They even creep into the eyes and nose, and after the harvest they rise in giant swarms from the inundated rice-fields.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 313]

          • With the instructions complete we see Moses’ and Aaron’s obedience

        • Obedience

          • They did this

            • Moses obediently shared the message from the Lord with Aaron

            • Aaron obediently stretched out his hand with the staff in it and struck the dust of the ground

          • Gnats were on humans and animals

            • This would have been particularly annoying to the Egyptians and especially the priests, because they were known for being hyper hygienic

            • “The Egyptians in general, and the priests in particular, were fanatical about cleanliness; and the priests frequently washed and shaved their bodies in order to be acceptable to their gods.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 190]

            • “So terrible a curse did the Egyptian nobles consider lice that they shaved their bodies every other day.” ​​ [Courson, Jon Courson’s Application Commentary, Old Testament, Volume 1: ​​ Genesis—Job, 254]

            • Imagine how the priests and nobles felt when all of a sudden there were gnats/lice crawling all over them – their worst nightmare had come true – they were unclean, contaminated, and humiliated

          • All the dust in the land of Egypt became gnats

            • When Aaron struck the dust of the ground, it was just “the dry loose particles on the top of the soil” and not all of the ground [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 162]

            • The use of the phrase “all the dust” is a figure of speech helping the reader to understand that this plague was vast, far-reaching, complete and total [Mackay, 162]

            • “Just as the fertilizing water of Egypt had twice become a plague, so through the power of Jehovah the soil so richly blessed became a plague to the king and his people.” ​​ [Keil & Delitzsch, 313]

            • God was attacking everything the Egyptians relied on and worshiped, so they would know who He was

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is the God of all nature.

            • God has all authority and power.

            • He was able to make dust of the land and transform it into gnats

            • There were certainly gnats already present in Egypt at this point, but God’s plague of gnats allowed for the supernatural multiplication of gnats, so that they were crawling on every human and animal found in Egypt

            • God is still the God of all nature

              • That is true because God is unchanging (immutable)

              • God created the seasons

              • God is the One who allows plants and animals to rest during the winter months

              • God is the One who brings new life each spring

              • God is the One who provides a harvest during summer and fall

              • God is the One who controls how many acorns are produced each year (He provided an abundance this year)

              • God is the One who controls how many flies and mosquitoes we have in the summer

              • God provides incredible sunrises and sunsets

              • God directs the migration of birds

              • God creates new life through children being conceived and born

              • God knows the number of our days

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship God for being the God of _______________.

          • God’s power allowed for the supernatural multiplication of gnats when Aaron obediently struck the dust with his staff

        • When the magicians attempted to duplicate or imitate this plague, they were unsuccessful

    • No copy (vv. 18-19a)

        • The magicians attempted to duplicate the miraculous sign, but they failed

          • Whatever trickery they had used with turning water to blood and having frogs come up from the Nile, was not working with turning dust into gnats

            • “The first two plagues concern the water, which is the life and power of Egypt, politically, economically, and religiously. ​​ The gnats however, come from the dust of the earth, which is not the Egyptians ‘power source.’ ​​ Their magic and secret arts are empowered by the Nile, but with the third plague, the magicians are out of their element.” ​​ [Enns, The NIV Application Commentary, Exodus, 210]

            • God proved to the magicians that He was not only God of the water, but also God of the land

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – God has the power to limit the deceptive skills of imposters.

            • God could have limited the magicians skills to duplicate the first two plagues, but He chose not to

              • With the third plague, He not only proved His power and authority over the land, but also over the deceptive skills of the magicians

              • This is the last time the magicians are mentioned in the plague series

              • Their deceptions have been exposed, so their “skills” are no longer needed

            • Modern imposters

              • Because God has all authority and power, He is able to do the same thing today

              • He has the power to limit Satan’s deceptive skills in our culture (politics, economy, education, religion)

                • God is ultimately in control of who serves as our President, Senators, Representatives, Supreme Court Justices, Judges, etc.

                  • He is able to bring to light any deception that is being propagated through those individuals

                  • He can and will allow the truth to be uncovered

                • God is aware of every conflict that is happening in our world right now

                  • He knows what is true and what is false

                  • He knows when politicians and news anchors are making false claims about what is happening and who is to blame

                • God is still a part of our educational system whether or not administrators or teachers acknowledge Him

                  • He is able to speak truth through science, because He is the One who created it

                  • He is able to limit the false narratives that certain individuals and groups are using to deceive our children into believing a lie

                • God is also able to speak truth through His Word when others misuse or misinterpret it

                  • His Word will not return to Him empty, but will accomplish what He desired and achieve the purpose for which He sent it (Isaiah 55:11)

                  • Those who are speaking falsely about His Word will be revealed and dealt with

                  • Read Matthew 13:24-30

                • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Trust God to limit the deceptive skills of ___________, so that truth prevails.

          • The magicians were proven to be powerless, while God was proven to have all authority and power over the land too

          • The magicians simply acknowledge that Moses and Aaron were not the ones who originated this plague

        • Finger of God (finger of a god)

          • The magicians wanted to save face before Pharaoh, so they told him that this was the finger of God

            • It did not necessarily mean that the magicians were accepting the God of the Israelites as the originator of the plague

            • They did not want Pharaoh to think that Moses and Aaron were superior to them in any way (virtue or knowledge) [Keil & Delitzsch, 314]

            • “The expression ‘this is the finger of God,’ in light of its usage in Exod 31:18 and Deut 9:10, would seem to mean something like ‘a supernatural act of God’ rather than literally referring to God’s hand or figuratively conveying a sense such as ‘something easy enough for him to do with just a finger.’ ​​ The magicians were not confessing to their own conversion to true faith; they were simply saying that the plague was divine in origin, not human.” ​​ [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 212]

            • A power greater than Moses and Aaron and the magicians was at play

            • A god greater than the gods of Egypt had orchestrated this miraculous sign

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God has all authority and power.

            • That is also our big idea today

            • This principle is evident through the other references to the phrase “finger of God” in the Bible

              • Giving of the law

                • Exodus 31:18, When the Lord finished speaking to Moses on Mount Sinai, he gave him the two tablets of the Testimony, the tablets of stone inscribed by the finger of God.

                • Deuteronomy 9:10, The Lord gave me two stone tablets inscribed by the finger of God. ​​ On them were all the commandments the Lord proclaimed to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the day of the assembly.

                • God’s authority and power to determine right from wrong is evident through the giving of the Ten Commandments, that show us our need of a Savior

              • Creation of the heavens

                • Psalm 8:3-5, When I consider the heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.

                • God’s authority and power over creation is evident through His ability to create the heavens, including the placing of the moon and stars

              • Casting out of demons

                • Luke 11:20, But if I drive out demons by the finger of God, then the kingdom of God has come to you.

                • God’s authority and power over Satan’s minions is evident through Jesus’ ability to drive out demons

            • All three of these, and many others, prove God’s “creative omnipotence” [Keil & Delitzsch, 314]

            • God has all authority and power

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Acknowledge God’s authority and power over __________________.

        • The magicians were not able to copy, duplicate, or imitate the plague of gnats, but that did not change Pharaoh’s attitude or heart

    • No change (v. 19b)

        • Pharaoh’s heart remained hard even though his magicians admitted that this sign was divine and not human

        • “The evidence presented to him was not going to overturn his inner desire to maintain his independence from the Lord and his opposition to him. ​​ It was not a lack of information that was the problem. ​​ Pharaoh was displaying the inner heart rebellion against God that is typical of fallen mankind.” ​​ [Mackay, 163]

        • Read Hebrews 10:26-31

 

  • YOU

    • What do you want to worship God for being the God of?

    • Whose deceptive skills do you need to trust God to limit, so that truth prevails?

    • What do you need to acknowledge that God has authority and power over?

 

  • WE

    • What do we want to worship God for being the God of?

    • Whose deceptive skills do we need to trust God to limit, so His truth prevails?

    • What do we need to acknowledge that God has authority and power over?

 

CONCLUSION

“In an article for Leadershipjournal.net, pastor Clark Cothern shares how a power outage at his church revealed the power of God:

 

Our church meets in a rented gym. We're looking for property and are eager to settle into a more permanent structure. Someday. For now we are navigating the path of being somewhat nomadic.

 

One Sunday in June, we experienced a few spotty rain showers. No high winds. No lightning. A very normal Sunday in the Midwest. We were two weeks away from a forced, six-week relocation, due to our facility's parking lot being repaved.

 

We planned to become much more ‘unplugged’ as we used the smaller meeting space in a graciously cooperative nearby church. We were prepping our congregation and praying earnestly that the changes would turn into an opportunity for us to get to know God better. We knew we would be in for some unexpected teachable moments.

After the announcements, including the explanation of our upcoming change of location, and after some high-energy, electrically charged musical worship, we began our time of Communion.

 

As people formed two lines, making their way up the center aisle, Steve, our worship leader, played an appropriately worshipful song on the electric piano. Halfway through the song, and with half the congregation yet to reach the Communion elements, the lights went out. Instant silence. Well, almost. All you could hear were the piano keys thumping in rhythm to the song Steve had been playing. Steve grinned and stopped thumping.

 

Someone had to say something, so I said, ‘Isn't it good to know that God's power will be displayed whether or not we have electricity?’ People chuckled and, realizing we could all still see well enough to continue, they continued coming forward to the table.

 

I began singing a praise song everyone knew. Within two measures everyone had joined in, voices only. Harmonies floated in the room from places where we normally didn't hear them. A sense of community enveloped the room. It was a holy moment.

 

What began as a fairly typical time of Communion in familiar surroundings was transformed into a unique time of worship and a supercharged awareness of God's presence.

 

When everyone had obtained their bread and juice and returned to their seats, I prayed, ‘Lord, thank you that your power is on display, especially when our power is gone. Continue to pour out your power as we look into your Word. Amen.’

 

At that very instant—a nanosecond after ‘Amen’—the electricity came on again. Air conditioner compressors roared. Pop machine motors whirred. Sound system amplifiers hummed. And all the lights came on.

 

For a brief moment, everyone gasped. Then the entire congregation burst into laughter. I said, ‘Oh, now He's just showing off!’ More laughter. Holy laughter. The kind of laughter when you know you've just seen God's power displayed along with his humor.

 

Looking back, I think God was showing us that our upcoming changes would be just fine. He was showing us that worship isn't about our preferences. We knew that no matter what the changes in our worship space, he would be there to meet us.”

 

From our sister publication Leadership Journal, © 2009 Christianity Today International. For more articles like this, visit Leadershipjournal.net.

 

Source: Clark Cothern, “Power outage or Power display?” 

Leadershipjournal.net (10-3-09).

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2009/november/3112309.html]

11

 

Rescued

Not Hoppy

(Exodus 8:1-15)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Realize that you can't keep your promises. That may seem like a strange first step toward the goal of keeping promises, but it's true.

 

Consider this question: If we could keep our promises, wouldn't we have done it by now? How many times have we made the same promises? Let's face it, rededication to keep promises won't work. If it did, we wouldn't find it necessary to keep rededicating ourselves. Many of us have struggled with promise-keeping for one reason: We have focused on our performance more than on Jesus Christ. We have tried to keep our promises, but the Bible teaches that effective Christian living doesn't come by trying. It comes by trusting Christ to express his life through us. He is the only One who can successfully keep promises.

 

Before we can be effective promise keepers, we must become promise receivers. The Bible is clear about God's promise: the One who has given us his life will be the One who lives it for us. Only Jesus Christ can effectively live the perfect life. He lives inside believers today and wants to reveal His perfect life through us.

 

Source: Steve McVey, president of Grace Walk Ministries. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 2.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1997/may/3158.html]

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Sin

        • As a teenager and young adult, I remember promising the Lord that I would never do certain things again

        • I would have limited success with not giving in to temptation, but it seems like after a couple of months I would give in to the temptation again

        • Once again I would make a promise to the Lord, because the Holy Spirit would convict me of my sin

        • Accountability was the key to finally getting a handle on the temptations that so easily entangled me

        • I am not fully sanctified yet, so that means I still struggle with temptation from time-to-time and I still give in to temptation also (accountability has lessened the times I have given in to temptation)

        • Hebrews 12:1-2, Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. ​​ Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

 

  • WE

    • Have you ever broken a promise to someone else?

    • Have you ever broken a promise to God?

    • Perhaps we all need to throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles and fix our eyes on Jesus

 

Moses and Aaron were instructed to return to Pharaoh and give him another message from the Lord. ​​ When he refused to obey the message, another plague came on the Egyptians. ​​ This time Pharaoh recognized that the Lord was the One who had orchestrated the plague, so he asked Moses and Aaron to pray to the Lord to remove the plague. ​​ He promised that if the Lord would remove the plague, he would let the Israelites offer sacrifices to the Lord. ​​ Pharaoh did not keep his promise once the Lord removed the plague. ​​ What we can learn from this narrative today is that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – We need to keep our promises to God.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 8:1-15)

    • Proclaim (vv. 1-5)

        • To Moses

          • Go to Pharaoh

            • Hamilton suggests that Moses and Aaron are supposed to go to Pharaoh’s home or palace when they are instructed to “God to Pharaoh.” [Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, 129]

            • There is a pattern in how Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh in the three groups of three plagues

              • Early in the morning (1 – blood; 4 – flies; 7 – hail)

              • Go to Pharaoh (2 – frogs; 5 – livestock; 8 – locusts)

              • God’s command (3 – gnats; 6 – boils; 9 – darkness)

            • He went to Pharaoh and gave him this message from the Lord

          • The Lord not only gave Moses instructions, He also gave instructions to Pharaoh

        • To Pharaoh

          • Let my people go

            • The Lord once again commands Pharaoh to let the Israelites go so they can worship Him

            • This is and will be a repeated command from the Lord to Pharaoh as the plagues progress

            • “Michelle attempts to teach her children the ‘please and thank you’ of polite society. She also helps them memorize Scripture. One day, her 4-year-old son, John, was tussling and wrestling with his mom in a good-natured contest. Losing the battle, he wanted to be released. ‘What's the magic word?’ encouraged Michelle, ready to comply with his wish.

              ‘Let my people go ... (Exodus 8:1)’ came the reply.”

              Source: Thelma Baddorf, Dillsburg, Penn. "Lite Fare," Christian Reader.

              [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/1996/july/215.html].

          • Consequence of refusing

            • Nile will teem with frogs

              • God was once again proving that He was in control of and had power over the Egyptian deities

                • The goddess Heqet (hay-ket) was portrayed as a woman with a frog’s head and was associated with fertility, childbirth, and new life and growth

                • The Egyptians viewed frogs as sacred, so they would ​​ never think of killing them

              • The Hebrew word for “teem” can also be translated “swarm”

              • It is the same Hebrew used for the Israelites in Exodus 1:7, but the Israelites were fruitful and multiplied greatly [swarmed] and became exceedingly numerous, so that the land was filled with them

            • No place will be exempt

              • Palace, bedroom, bed, houses, people, ovens, kneading troughs

                • The dwelling places of Pharaoh and his officials would have had multiple floors/levels with the bedrooms on the upper floors

                • The servants and other common folk would only have one story dwellings or basic shacks

                • Beds would have been on the floor and not elevated like our modern beds

                • Kneading troughs were probably on the floor, since many Egyptians used their feet to knead the dough

              • “The frogs would go everywhere—without virtually any limitation—including the interior of the palace (mentioned first to be sure Pharaoh knew he would not be immune), bedrooms, beds, and cooking utensils (mentioned as well to complete the picture of a gross manifestation of all places where humans lived).” ​​ [Stuart, The New American Commentary, Volumes 2, Exodus, 204]

            • PRINCIPLE #1 – God’s wrath is complete and total.

              • I mentioned this principle last week, but it applies here too

              • There would not be a person or place that would not be affected by the plague of frogs

          • The Lord also had some instructions for Aaron

        • To Aaron

          • Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds

          • Make frogs come up on the land of Egypt

          • It seems clear that the water of the Nile had been cleared out from the plague of blood, since the frogs were coming up from the streams, canals, and ponds

        • Aaron was obedient to the Lord’s command

    • Plague (vv. 6-7)

        • God’s power caused the frogs to swarm and cover the land

          • It is not stated again by the author, but we know that the frogs went into Pharaoh’s palace and made it all the way to his bedroom and bed

          • They went into the houses of Pharaoh’s officials and the people of Egypt

          • They also were found in their ovens and kneading troughs

          • In fact, they were hopping up on everyone (Pharaoh, officials, and people)

          • While the Egyptians considered frogs sacred, I’m sure they preferred to view them from a distance and not have them hopping on them all the time

        • The magicians were able to imitate the plague of frogs

          • As I mentioned last week with the Nile turning to blood, Pharaoh probably was not looking for more of the same plague, but rather to have the plague reversed

          • The magicians were simply adding to the hardship and making it worse instead of better

          • PRINCIPLE #2 – “God’s work can be imitated but never equaled.” ​​ [Hamilton, 131]

            • Have you found that to be true in your life?

              • We can certainly imitate God’s love, but we cannot equal His love because He loves us perfectly

              • We can imitate God’s grace, but we cannot equal His grace because His grace has given us salvation which we do not deserve

              • We can imitate God’s generosity, but we cannot equal His sacrificial giving of Jesus for our sins

              • We can imitate all of God’s attributes, but we cannot equal the impact or scope of His attributes (wisdom, goodness, faithfulness, mercy, truth, justice, etc.)

            • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship the Lord because His _______ (attribute of God) is unequaled.

          • The magicians were able to imitate the plague of frogs, but they were not able to equal the scope and impact of God’s plague of frogs – they were everywhere!

        • We are not told how long the plague of frogs had been going on when Pharaoh finally said, “enough is enough, get Moses and Aaron and bring them here”

    • Plead (v. 8a)

        • Pharaoh asked Moses and Aaron to pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from him and his people

          • What an incredible change in Pharaoh to actually acknowledge the author of the plague – the Lord!

          • If you remember when Moses and Aaron first approached Pharaoh they told him, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel says . . .” (Ex. 5:1)

          • Pharaoh’s response was, “Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go? ​​ I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go.” (Ex. 5:2)

          • The Lord’s purpose in bringing the plagues on Pharaoh and the Egyptians was so they would know Him (Ex. 7:17)

          • “This is a significant climb-down for the man who previously had said, ‘I do not know the Lord and I will not let Israel go’ (5:2). ​​ He is now tacitly acknowledging the existence of the Lord, that it was the Lord who had caused the plague of frogs, that he was able to remove the frogs when Egyptian resources could not, and that it was appropriate for Israel to sacrifice to him.” ​​ [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 158-59]

          • There is hope for Pharaoh, but he has a long way to go yet

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is pleased when we recognize that He is in control.

          • Where are you today?

            • What slimy situation keeps hopping up on you and getting into every area of your life?

              • Is it an addiction?

              • Does it have to do with finances?

              • Is it oppression from Satan – some spiritual battle?

              • Is it related to your job?

              • Is a relationship causing issues?

              • Are you struggling emotionally? ​​ (anxiety/depression/loneliness/sadness)

              • Are you wondering what God is doing in a certain situation, but it seems like He is not answering or speaking?

            • Have you recognized that God is in control of that situation?

            • Have you placed that burden at the foot of the cross, seeking Jesus’ help?

          • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Recognize that God is in control of __________ and cry out to Him for help.

        • Pharaoh sought the Lord’s help with the slimy frogs that were everywhere and he promised to do something in return

    • Promise (v. 8b)

        • He promised the Lord that if He would remove the frogs, he would let the Israelites go to offer sacrifices to the Lord

        • As we will see in verse 15, it seems like Pharaoh made this promise lightly

        • We have to be careful not to make promises to the Lord, we do not intend to keep

          • Ecclesiastes 5:4-5, When you make a vow to God, do not delay in fulfilling it. ​​ He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. ​​ It is better not to vow than to make a vow and not fulfill it.

          • Matthew 5:33-37, “Again, you have heard that it was said long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ ​​ But I tell you, Do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. ​​ And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. ​​ Simply let your ‘Yes’ be “Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.

          • James 5:12, Above all, my brothers, do not swear—not by heaven or by earth or by anything else. ​​ Let your “Yes” be yes, and your “No,” no, or you will be condemned.

          • Is there a promise you have made to the Lord that you need to fulfill?

          • We need to keep our promises to God.

        • Pharaoh promised to let the Israelites go so they could worship the Lord, if the Lord would remove the plague of frogs

    • Propose (vv. 9-11)

        • Moses’ allowed Pharaoh to choose the time for him to pray and ask the Lord to remove the plague of frogs from Pharaoh, his officials, people, and their houses

          • “Giving the Egyptian king this power of timing is from a human point of view apologetically brilliant on God’s part: if the king could say when the frogs would go away, he would personally know that the timing was not due to the simple consequences of natural processes or a fiat of the gods of the Egyptians but the sovereignty of the God of Israel.” ​​ [Stuart, 208]

          • The prayer to remove the frogs would not include those still living in the Nile – it would not be a prayer to remove all frogs from Egypt (imagine the bug problem they would have without any frogs)

        • Pharaoh’s choice

          • Immediately, right? ​​ Nope, tomorrow

          • Why didn’t Pharaoh ask for immediate relief?

            • Keep in mind, we are not told when Moses and Aaron were summoned to Pharaoh’s court – it could have been in the evening

            • Maybe Pharaoh was hoping that the frogs would leave of their own accord and he would not have to keep his promise to let the Israelites go [Wiersbe, The Bible Exposition Commentary, Pentateuch, 190]

            • He could have also been building anticipation by letting the word spread that the frogs were going to be leaving the next day and if they didn’t, Jehovah and His servants would be discredited [Wiersbe, 190]

            • We are left to speculate, because it is not stated why Pharaoh chose a time, other than immediately

          • Moses’ replied to Pharaoh’s choice

        • Moses’ told him that it would happen just as Pharaoh said, so he would know there was no one like the Lord, God

          • The frogs would leave the houses of Pharaoh, his officials, and his people

          • They would no longer being hopping up on Pharaoh, his officials, or his people

          • The only frogs left would be those living in the Nile that had not invaded the rest of the land

        • Moses did what he promised to do – he kept his promise to Pharaoh

        • We need to keep our promises to God.

    • Pray (vv. 12-14)

        • Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs

          • Moses and now Pharaoh knew who to petition about their problem

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – “God uses the prayers of His faithful servants.” ​​ [Martin, 49]

            • We see the power of prayer when the Lord’s servant prays according to His will [Stuart, 210]

              • Psalm 4:1, Answer me when I call to you, O my righteous God. ​​ Give me relief from my distress; be merciful to me and hear my prayer.

              • James 5:13-16, Is any one of you in trouble? ​​ He should pray. ​​ Is anyone happy? ​​ Let him sing songs of praise. ​​ Is any one of you sick? ​​ He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. ​​ And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. ​​ If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. ​​ Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. ​​ The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

            • Have you experienced this in your own life?

              • Who has prayed for you?

              • What did you experience? ​​ (relief from distress or trouble, healing, and/or forgiveness of sins through the power of prayer)

              • Is there something you need prayer for today?

              • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask for prayer for _______________.

              • If you wrote something down that you would like prayer for, I want to encourage you to take the bold next step of coming forward this morning, so we can pray for you

                • We’ll return to the message in just a moment

                • I want to ask our board members, lay ministers, and their spouses to join me at the front of the sanctuary to help in praying for those who come

                • Our leadership is here to pray a prayer of faith over you for relief from distress or any trouble you are facing, for healing, and for forgiveness of sin

                • We have anointing oil available for those who are seeking healing from sickness

                • (Logan would you come and play quietly)

                • I invite you to come for prayer now

          • Moses knew he could cry out to the Lord for help, so that’s exactly what he did

        • The Lord responded

          • The Lord did what Moses asked

          • The frogs died in the houses, courtyards, and fields

            • This is probably not how Pharaoh and the Egyptians thought the Lord would get rid of the frogs

            • They were probably hoping the frogs would hop on back to the Nile

            • I have found that specific prayers are better than general prayers

              • I used to pray, asking God to let me see deer – He did, but they were never close enough in bow season or the right gender in rifle season

              • Now I pray specifically, asking God to let me get a deer – the past couple of years His answer has been “No”

            • Instead the Egyptians had to collect all of these dead frogs and pile them up into heaps

              • Sin is messy and requires clean up

              • Sin also reeks – it stinks

          • The Lord kept His promise to Moses and Pharaoh and ended the plague of frogs

        • When Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he pulled out of his promise to the Lord and the Israelites

    • Pull out (v. 15)

        • Pharaoh did exactly what the Lord said he would do

          • He hardened his heart and would not follow through with his promise

          • “Sadhu Sundar Singh, writes in Wisdom of the Sadhu:

            Once when I was in the Himalayas, I was sitting upon the bank of a river. I drew out of the water a beautiful, round stone and smashed it. The inside was dry. The stone had been lying a long time in the water, but the water had not penetrated the stone.

            It is just like that with the ‘Christian’ people of the West. They have for centuries been surrounded by Christianity, entirely steeped in its blessings, but the Master's truth has not penetrated them. Christianity is not at fault; the reason lies rather in the hardness of their hearts. Materialism and intellectualism have made their hearts hard. So I am not surprised that many people in the West do not understand what Christianity really is.”

            Source: Sadhu Sundar Singh, excerpted from Wisdom of the Sadhu, the Bruderhof Communities website.

            [https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2003/september/14601.html]

        • PRINCIPLE #5 – God’s desire is that we repent and not just seek His deliverance.

          • Pharaoh

            • Pharaoh’s promise was not genuine, because he just wanted the frogs gone – his pleading was pointless

            • When the frogs were gone, Pharaoh’s true intentions were revealed

          • Us

            • The same can be said of us

            • “Many sinners aren’t interested in repenting and receiving God’s grace; they want only to be delivered from God’s judgment.” ​​ [Wiersbe, 190]

            • How many times have we pleaded with God to deliver us from distress, trouble, sickness, or sin when we are facing the consequences of our own actions?

            • We make promises that we have no intention of keeping once relief comes

              • I’ll go to church every week

              • I’ll read the Bible every day

              • I’ll pray before every meal

              • I’ll help a family member, friend, or neighbor whenever they ask

              • I’ll stop going to the nightclub

              • I won’t hang out with those people anymore

              • I won’t drink alcohol ever again

              • I won’t smoke marijuana again

              • I won’t pop those pills any more

              • I won’t look at pornography

              • I won’t get angry while driving or speed again

              • The list of promises we make is endless

            • True repentance is a 180 degree turn from the wrong we are doing to the right we should be doing

              • It is easier said than done, though

              • Read Romans 7:15-25

              • Read Romans 6:1-14

            • If you have been seeking deliverance and not repentance, it’s time to accept the crucifixion of your old self through the blood of Jesus

              • Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. ​​ The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

              • Jesus loves you so much that He gave His life as a ransom for you on the cross – He died in your place, taking your punishment for sin

              • 2 Corinthians 5:15, And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

              • Ephesians 2:8-9, For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.

            • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Repent of my sins and allow Christ to live in me.

 

  • YOU

    • Worship the Lord because His attributes are unequaled.

    • Recognize that God is in control of your situation and cry out to Him for help.

    • Ask for prayer from the leadership or a friend.

    • Repent of your sins and allow Christ to live in you.

 

  • WE

    • Worship the Lord because His attributes are unequaled.

    • Recognize that God is in control of our situation and cry out to Him for help.

    • Ask for prayer for the situations we are facing.

 

CONCLUSION

“How many a hardened rebel on shipboard, when the timbers are strained and creaking, when the mast is broken, and the ship is drifting before the gale, when the hungry waves are opening their mouths to swallow the ship up alive and quick as those that go into the pit—how many a hardened sailor has then bowed his knee, with tears in his eyes, and cried, ‘I have sinned!’ ​​ But of what avail and of what value was his confession? ​​ The repentance of his that was begotten amidst the thunder and the lightning, ceased so soon as all was hushed in quiet, and the man who was a pious mariner when on board ship, became the most wicked and abominable of sailors when he placed his foot on terra firma.”

 

[Spurgeon cited by Martin, Holman Old Testament Commentary, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, 40]

11

 

Rescued

Bloodbath

(Exodus 7:14-25)

 

INTRODUCTION

“Miroslav Volf, a Christian theologian from Croatia, used to reject the concept of God’s wrath. He thought that the idea of an angry God was barbaric, completely unworthy of a God of love. But then his country experienced a brutal war. People committed terrible atrocities against their neighbors and countrymen. The following reflections, from Volf’s book Free of Charge, reveal his new understanding of the necessity of God’s wrath:

 

My last resistance to the idea of God’s wrath was a casualty of the war in the former Yugoslavia, the region from which I come. According to some estimates, 200,000 people were killed and over 3,000,000 were displaced. My villages and cities were destroyed, my people shelled day in and day out, some of them brutalized beyond imagination, and I could not imagine God not being angry.

 

Or think of Rwanda in the last decade of the past century, where 800,000 people were hacked to death in one hundred days! How did God react to the carnage? By doting on the perpetrators in a grandfatherly fashion? By refusing to condemn the bloodbath but instead affirming the perpetrators’ basic goodness? Wasn't God fiercely angry with them?

 

Though I used to complain about the indecency of the idea of God’s wrath, I came to think that I would have to rebel against a God who wasn’t wrathful at the sight of the world’s evil. God isn’t wrathful in spite of being love. God is wrathful because God is love.”

 

Source: Miroslav Volf, Free of Charge (Zondervan, 2006), pp. 138-139.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2011/march/5032811.html].

 

Hamas’ attack on October 7, 2023 was one of the bloodiest in Israel’s history with approximately 1,200 people killed in one day. ​​ Because God is loving and just, He will hold those individuals responsible for their actions. ​​ His wrath will be righteous and just.

 

BODY

  • ME

    • Love and wrath

        • I wish I could perfectly balance love and wrath

        • I tend to love well those who love me

        • My wrath is not always just or righteous – it is not motivated by love for sure

 

  • WE

    • Love and wrath

        • How about us?

        • Is our love and wrath balanced?

 

As we talked about two weeks ago, God was going to lay His hands on the Egyptians and with mighty acts of judgment; He was going to bring the Israelites out of Egypt. ​​ God was doing this so that Pharaoh and the Egyptians would know Him. ​​ The Egyptians were relying on their gods as their source of life, but the Lord was about to prove that their gods were nothing. ​​ The conflict that we are going to learn about today was between the God of the Israelites and the gods of Egypt. ​​ The Egyptians worshiped the god and goddess of the Nile as their source of life, but they were going to learn that God is the source of life. ​​ The same is true for us. ​​ There is only one source of life. ​​ We are going to learn today that . . .

 

BIG IDEA – God is our source of life.

 

Let’s pray

 

  • GOD (Exodus 7:14-25)

    • God’s Instruction (vv. 14-15)

        • God knows each person’s heart

          • The Lord let Moses know that Pharaoh’s heart was unyielding

            • Pharaoh refused to let the Israelites go

            • “In the power struggle between the Lord and Pharaoh, Pharaoh is intransigent [unwilling to change his view]. ​​ He has made up his mind not to yield in any way.” ​​ [Mackay, Exodus: A Mentor Commentary, 149]

          • PRINCIPLE #1 – God is omniscient (all knowing).

            • God knew Pharaoh’s heart was unyielding

            • He knows what is in our hearts also

              • He knows if our heart is tempted by lust, greed, hatred, and anger

              • He knows if our heart is bitter and hard

              • He knows if our heart finds joy in gossip

              • He knows if our heart is crushed and hurting

              • He knows if our heart is genuinely seeking Him or something other than Him

              • He knows every thought and intention of our heart

              • Hebrews 4:12-13, For the word of God is living and active. ​​ Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. ​​ Nothing in all of creation is hidden from God’s sight. ​​ Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.

                • How many times when we are having our quiet time with the Lord, that His Word arrests us in our spirit

                • The verses that we read for our devotions convicted us of an attitude that we have been harboring in our hearts

                • In those times, it is important to cry out to the Lord like King David did

                • Psalm 139:23-24, Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. ​​ See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

              • #1 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Ask the Lord to search my heart and test my thoughts, so I can confess any offensive way found there.

            • God knows our hearts

          • God also knew Pharaoh’s heart, so He instructed Moses to meet him by the Nile River

        • Meet Pharaoh by the Nile River

          • This was probably something that Pharaoh did every morning

            • In Exodus 8:20 we see that Moses went to Pharaoh in the morning as he went to the water

            • Pharaoh wasn’t taking a leisurely walk along the banks of the Nile, or taking his daily bath in the Nile, or checking on the Nile’s water level, rather he was going there to worship the gods of the Nile [Keil & Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, Volume 1, The Pentateuch, 310]

              • The god of the Nile was Hapi (associated with fertility)

              • The goddess of the Nile was Isis (life and magic)

          • “The attack on the Nile is in effect an attack on Egypt’s gods . . . [by] the true God on false ones.” ​​ [Enns, The NIV Application Commentary, Exodus, 200]

          • It was also an attack against Pharaoh and the Egyptian people, because the Nile was the source of life for them

            • It represented their deity

            • It provided water to drink for humans and animals

            • It provided water to irrigate their crops (remember they were living in a desert climate)

            • It provided transportation for them

            • The Nile would flood every year and provide the water that was needed for the region (this helped them to set their calendar too)

            • The Nile was their source of life

            • God is our source of life.

              • PRINCIPLE #2 – God is pleased when we turn to Him as our source of life.

                • The reality is that we do not always turn to the Lord as our source of life

                • We may turn to the stock market, economic growth, a new president, senators, representatives, or governor for our hope

                • We may turn to medical professionals, medicine, and holistic approaches to deal with our health issues (God can certainly use those things to help us)

                • We may turn to family members, estates, friends, the church, government programs, illegal activities, etc. to provide for us (God can certainly use the church, family members, friends, and government programs to provide for our needs temporarily)

                • For the long term, we need to rely on God as our source of life

              • #2 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Rely on God as my source of life instead of _______________.

            • Pharaoh and the Egyptians were relying on the Nile and the deities associated with them for their source of life

          • Moses waited on the bank of the Nile for Pharaoh with his staff in his hand

        • Take your staff with you

          • Remember that Moses staff was also referred to as the staff of God

          • It represented the power of God and it pointed to heaven and the Lord who was the One, ultimately, responsible for the mighty acts that took place in Egypt

        • The Lord had a message for Pharaoh that He would communicate through Moses

    • Object of God’s Wrath (vv. 16-18)

        • When Pharaoh arrived at the Nile, Moses gave him a message from the Lord

          • Let my people go, so they can worship me in the desert

          • Pharaoh, you haven’t listened to me yet, so here is what I’m going to do:

            • With the staff of God I am going to strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed to blood

            • Because of this transformation, the fish are going to die causing the river to stink

            • The Egyptians will not be able to drink the water, because it is blood and has decaying fish in it

          • The Lord was going to change the water of the Nile to blood, so that Pharaoh would know that He is the Lord

            • The conflict between the One true God and the gods of the Nile would literally be a bloodbath

            • God Almighty would humiliate the gods of the Nile by transforming the lifeblood of Egypt into death instead

            • God wanted Pharaoh to know that Hapi and Isis were nothing, void of any power to give or sustain life

            • He wanted Pharaoh and the Egyptians to know that He is the only source of life

            • God is our source of life.

          • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is more powerful than any other god.

            • King Belshazzar of Babylon

              • In Daniel 5 we read about King Belshazzar having a great banquet for a thousand of his nobles

              • He had the gold and silver goblets brought that had been taken from the temple in Jerusalem

              • Everyone drank from the goblets and praise the gods of gold and silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone

              • Suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the wall

              • When no one else was able to tell the king what the writing meant, Daniel was summoned and he explained everything to the king

              • Daniel 5:22-23, “But you his son, O Belshazzar, have not humbled yourself,, though you knew all this. ​​ Instead, you have set yourself up against the Lord of heaven. ​​ You had the goblets from his temple brought to you, and you and your nobles, your wives and your concubines drank wine from them. ​​ You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. ​​ But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways.”

            • All other gods are impotent – they have no power or abilities at all, because they are made from inanimate objects

            • #3 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Worship God as the only true God, who is all-powerful!

          • God was about to show Pharaoh and the Egyptian people that their gods were powerless, weak, and impotent compared to Him

          • He would give them an opportunity to know Him through turning the waters of Egypt into blood

        • Moses shared the Lord’s message with Pharaoh before he shared the Lord’s message for Aaron

    • Mediator of God’s Wrath (v. 19)

        • Aaron would be the mediator of God’s wrath on Pharaoh and the Egyptian people

        • The message from the Lord was that Aaron needed to take his staff and stretch out his hand over the waters of Egypt

          • This plague would be comprehensive

          • It included the Nile river, all the streams that feed into it, all the man-made canals for irrigation, all natural gathering of water in ponds and all man-made gathering of water in reservoirs

          • There is a lot of discussion about what is meant by even in the wooden buckets and stone jars

            • The original Hebrew does not have the words “buckets” or “jars”

            • It would read more like, and there will be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in wood and in stone

            • I think the best explanation I read concerning the reference to wood and stone, is that it is another way of saying that all water supplies on the surface in Egypt would be turned to blood

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God’s wrath is complete and total.

            • His wrath against Pharaoh and the Egyptians would not be incomplete and partial

            • They had oppressed and mistreated the Israelites for far too long and now it was time to discipline the offenders

            • God’s punishment would be righteous and just

            • “Those who live in defiance of God should realize that he longs for them to repent. ​​ It is not in the nature of God to oppress his opponents so that they are forced to their knees in submission to his will, even if such actions may be morally justifiable. ​​ To do so, would make God like Pharaoh. ​​ Remarkable as it may seem, God is even prepared to strengthen the resolve of those who stand against him, rather than override their own free will.” ​​ [Alexander, Apollos Old Testament Commentary, Volume 2, Exodus, 201-202]

          • God’s wrath against the gods of the Nile would be complete and total

            • Did this plague affect the Israelites living in Goshen?

            • We know from Exodus 8:22 that God tells Moses that He will deal differently with the land of Goshen where His people live – no swarms of flies will affect them

            • From that point on the plagues do not affect the Israelites

            • So, when we see that God begins to deal differently with the land of Goshen with the fourth plague, we assume that the three plagues preceding that one, affected the Israelites

            • In most translations of the Bible, with the exception of the NIV, and in the Hebrew, verse 19 is translated this way, Stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their streams, over their canals, and over their ponds, and over their reservoirs

            • “The use of the third person masculine plural suffix (not reflected in the NIV) seems to specify that it is the Egyptians who will be affected by the plague.” ​​ [Enns, 202]

            • If the Israelites were affected by the plague, then they would have done what the Egyptians did in verse 24, as we will see in a moment

        • Aaron would be the mediator of God’s wrath as he lifted up his staff and stretched it out over the waters of Egypt

    • Obeying God’s Instruction (vv. 20-21)

        • Moses and Aaron once again obeyed the Lord’s command

          • This is a recurring theme throughout Exodus as we saw the last two weeks – Moses and Aaron are obedient to the Lord’s command

          • PRINCIPLE #5 – God is pleased when we are obedient to Him.

          • There is some discussion about who did what and with what

            • Did Moses lift up his staff in front of Pharaoh and his officials and strike the water of the Nile?

            • Aaron took a staff and stretched out his hand over the streams, canals, ponds, and reservoirs (was this Moses’ staff?)

            • Perhaps the best explanation comes from Mackay’s commentary when he says, “Moses in verse 20 struck the Nile itself, while Aaron in terms of the instructions of verse 19 stretched the staff out over the other sources of water in the land.” ​​ [Mackay, 153]

            • It would seem as though Aaron used Moses’ staff (the staff of God) and then gave it back to Moses, who in turn struck the Nile river

          • As soon as Moses struck the Nile, God’s power was released and all the water sources were turned to blood

          • PRINCIPLE #4 – God’s wrath is complete and total.

        • PRINCIPLE #3 – God is more powerful than any other god.

          • He showed His sovereign power over the gods of Egypt

          • The source of life for Egypt was now a source of death

          • The fish in the Nile river died and their rotting flesh smell so bad that the Egyptians could not drink the water

            • As a child, we would go to my Grandparents farm in Orrstown on many occasions

              • I was always hopeful they would have something else to drink in their refrigerator, because the well water smells like rotten eggs (sulfur)

              • Many times I had to drink stinky water

              • I found that if the water was refrigerated, it didn’t smell as bad and I could choke it down

            • My Grandparent’s well water was not harmful to me, it just didn’t smell good

          • That was probably not the case with the Nile river – it probably would have made the Egyptians sick

        • Marginalizing the supernatural

          • The supernatural is always hard to understand and believe, so we go to extreme measures to explain away the supernatural with the natural

          • This is true of this narrative in the Bible

            • Some people have a hard time believing that all of the water sources in Egypt turned into actual blood

            • So, they explain it through natural phenomenon that happened in ancient Egypt

            • “Hort (1957: 87-95) has argued that what transpired here is an unusually high and threatening rise of the Nile brought on by an excess in the flow of water from the White Nile (especially) and the Blue Nile, the confluence of which produces the Nile. ​​ The larger the flow of water, the more red earth each river sweeps along in its channel. ​​ Add to this movement of red earth the mass appearance of flagellates (microorganisms) in the water. ​​ At night they consume huge amounts of oxygen, thus producing a large fish kill.” ​​ [Hamilton, Exodus: An Exegetical Commentary, 125-26]

            • There you have it, the supernatural explained by the natural

            • I believe in an all-powerful God who is able to do anything – nothing is impossible for Him, therefore, He can turn water into blood, which would not provide the necessary oxygen for fish to survive or for humans to consume

            • Here is something else to consider before we explain away the supernatural

            • “The dramatic, even instantaneous nature of this act is striking. ​​ A naturalistic explanation does not do justice to the theological thrust of this passage. . . . Were this merely a natural phenomenon, Pharaoh could simply have countered, ‘But this happens all the time, Moses! ​​ Can’t your God do any better than this?’ ​​ But the fact that the magicians had to appeal to their ‘secret arts’ (v. 22) suggests that there was more here than red sediment pouring into the Nile. . . . the fact that this phenomenon happened at God’s command is the central concern of the biblical writer. ​​ The point is not so much what happened to the Nile, but that it happened as an explicit act of judgment by God on the Egyptians. ​​ The purpose of this plague—indeed, the entire confrontation between Moses and Pharaoh—is so that Egypt will know that ‘I am the Lord’ (v. 17; cf. 7:5).” ​​ [Enns, 201]

        • We see the marginalization of the supernatural through what the Egyptian magicians did

    • Imitation of God’s Wrath (v. 22a)

        • The magicians were once again able to imitate the supernatural like they had done with turning their staffs into snakes

        • They would also be able to produce frogs as we will see next week

        • If I were Pharaoh, I wouldn’t want my magicians to duplicate the plague, but rather to reverse the plague

          • I would want them to turn the bloody Nile and all the other water sources back into water

          • The magicians did not have any power to accomplish the supernatural

          • They were simply using some kind of trickery to make it look like they had done the same thing, it wasn’t the same thing, it was fake

          • The magicians didn’t make things better, they made them worse

        • Pharaoh’s attitude toward God did not change

    • Ignoring God’s Wrath (v. 22b-23)

        • After seeing his magicians do the same thing, Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron

        • The Lord had already prepared Moses and Aaron for this outcome

        • Pharaoh just turned around and went back inside his palace

        • He didn’t take this plague to heart

        • Pharaoh didn’t seem to be concerned that the source of life for he and his people had been removed

        • He still did not consider God to be the source of life

        • God is our source of life.

    • Result of God’s Wrath (vv. 24-25)

        • The Egyptians had to dig along the Nile to get drinking water, which tells us that the subterranean water sources were not affected, only the surface water

        • They had to do this for one week

    • Application

        • I don’t want to miss the opportunity to talk about the source of our eternal life

          • God is the source of our physical and spiritual lives

          • He created us in His image, but when sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience that sin extended to all humanity (Rom. 3:23)

            • Good person test

            • If we claim we have not sinned, we make him [God] out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives (1 John 1:10)

          • What deserve separation from God for all eternity (Rom. 6:23a)

          • God loves us (Jer. 31:3; John 3:16a; Rom. 5:8a)

          • God’s plan to redeem us

            • John 3:16-17, For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. ​​ For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

            • Romans 5:8, But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

          • Jesus satisfies everything the Egyptians were seeking in the Nile and everything we are seeking in our own lives

            • John 7:37-39, On the last and greatest day of the Feast, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to me and drink. ​​ Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him.” ​​ By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. ​​ Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.

            • John 6:35, Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. ​​ He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will be thirsty.

            • John 14:6, Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. ​​ No one comes to the Father except through me.”

          • Jesus is the source of our eternal life!

        • #4 – My Next Step Today Is To: ​​ Accept Jesus as my source of eternal life.

 

  • YOU

    • Ask the Lord to search your heart and test your thoughts, so you can confess any offensive way found there.

    • Rely on God as your source of life instead of something else.

    • Worship God as the only true God, who is all-powerful!

    • Accept Jesus as your source of eternal life.

 

  • WE

    • Ask the Lord to search our hearts and test our thoughts, so we can confess any offensive way found there.

    • Rely on God as our source of life instead of something else.

    • Worship God as the only true God, who is all-powerful!

 

CONCLUSION

“Lt. George Dixon was a genteel, well-respected man in the Confederate Army. In the early days of the war, his fiancée gave him a $20 gold piece. During the battle of Shiloh, a union minie ball struck him—actually it struck the gold coin, which saved his life. The coin, soundly dented, was to remain with him wherever he went. It became his good luck piece, and he would often be seen kneading the coin in his hand.

 

And where did Lt. Dixon take the coin? Onto the C.S.S. Hunley, the confederate submarine he staunchly believed could break the Union blockade. After sinking the U.S.S. Housatonic, the Hunley herself sank, taking Lt. Dixon and his crew to their deaths. Ultimately, his golden good luck piece could not save him. Recently the coin was found when the submarine was raised.

 

Man seeks out and trusts in many forms of security. Ultimately there is only one source of life and security: Jesus.”

 

Source: "Scientists Find Gold Coin in Confederate Sub," CNN.com; submitted by Len Sullivan, Tupelo, Mississippi.

 

[https://www.preachingtoday.com/illustrations/2001/august/13202.html]

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