Field Fiasco

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Refusing to obey God's commands is costly.

Exodus(24) (Part of the Rescued(23) series)
by Stuart Johns(229) on January 14, 2024 ()

Discipline(4), Obedience(33), Prayer(19), Rejoice(4)

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?

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