Bloodbath

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God is our source of life.

Exodus(24) (Part of the Rescued(23) series)
by Stuart Johns(229) on December 3, 2023 ()

Confession(14), Salvation(78), Worship(23)

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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