A Tef(Nut) to Crack

God desires His people to see and understand the bigger picture.

Exodus(34) (Part of the Rescued(33) series)
by Stuart Johns(233) on January 28, 2024 (Sunday Morning(342))

Salvation(84)

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.