Gnat A Good Day

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God has all authority and power.

Exodus(24) (Part of the Rescued(23) series)
by Stuart Johns(229) on December 17, 2023 ()

Authority(3), Power(7), Trust(24), Worship(23)

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]

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