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Posts Tagged ‘Moses’

Read Chapter 10

Chapter 10 continues the familiar story that we’ve come to expect on this journey. Pharaoh’s heart was hardened after the plague of hail ceased in chapter 9; Moses and Aaron return to Pharaoh with another warning; he fails to capitulate; the plague comes (first the locusts and then a darkness so dark you could feel it!) Pharaoh cries for relief; the plague stops and he hardens his heart again. It is a vicious cycle. And, if we’re not careful, by the time we come to plagues 8 and 9, we’re tempted to skim over the chapter and head on to the plague that really matters – the death of the firstborn sons.

But there are some things that we need to take note of – first, we find the LORD preparing Moses for the fact that Pharaoh’s heart would, yet again, be hardened – but He tells Moses the reason, and it is for posterity’s sake. In verses 1-2 we read “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants [so] that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, and [so] that you may tell in the hearing of your son, and of your grandson, how I made a mockery of the Egyptians, and how I performed My signs among them; [and so] that you may know that I am the LORD”. There is a reason that this process is so long and drawn out.

Next, in verse 3, we read a very fearsome statement. God’s word to Pharaoh, through Moses was, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?” This is reminiscent of God’s words to Paul in Acts 26:14 “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”

I think Paul was afraid to believe in Jesus, and so he doubled his efforts in persecuting His followers. I also think Pharaoh was afraid to submit to God, so he kept listing requirements for the Israelites to follow before they could go to worship the LORD. If they accepted his demands – then he would not lose credibility with his people. However, he was quickly losing that credibility anyway. In verse 7 Pharaoh’s servants say to him, “Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?” They had more sense than Pharaoh did… but then – they weren’t considered the god of Egypt…

But the most chilling words come in verses 28-29. This is after the plague of darkness, “Then Pharaoh said to Moses, ‘Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!’ And Moses said, ‘You are right; I shall never see your face again!’” The time has finally arrived. God’s ultimate plan for the redemption of the Israelites will come about through the tenth plague. The institution of the Passover is about to commence.

Hang on to your hat – this is fixing to get exciting!

 

Prayer:

Father, forgive us when we begin to skim over scripture. We think we know the story – or it is repetitive and we get bored – but there is so much we need to know. Direct us to read slowly and deliberately and listen for Your Word. In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

 

 

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Read Chapter 9

Chapter 9 of Exodus starts exactly the same way as chapter 8 – The only difference is that in chapter 9, God says, “Thus says the LORD the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let My people go…’” instead of simply “Thus says the LORD”.

And from that point (as we see Moses doing the talking now) Moses relates God’s very stern warning, “Behold, the hand of the LORD will come with a very severe pestilence on your livestock…” and once again we find God sparing the livestock of the Israelites (verses 3-4).

After that follows the plague of all the livestock of Egypt dying (verses 5-7) and THEN the plague of boils breaking out on all the men and animals of Egypt (verses 8-12). The boils were even on Pharaoh’s magicians! But again – Pharaoh’s heart was hardened and he would not let the Israelites go. After that, God related through Moses that if He had so desired, the Egyptians would have all been killed – and why did He spare them? God gave two reasons “But indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain in order to show you My power AND in order to proclaim My name through the earth” (emphasis added).

Next comes the plague of thunder and hail and fire down to the ground (likely severe lightening). And again the Israelites are spared, but something very interesting takes place during this plague – Moses gave a warning. He said, “Now therefore send, bring your livestock and whatever you have in the field to safety. Every man and beast that is found in the field and is not brought home, when the hail comes down on them, will die” (verse 19).

And guess what – some of Pharaoh’s servants listened! (see verse 20). We will see later that when the Israelites leave Egypt that many of the Egyptians go with them. Jesus would later say, “I have other sheep not of this fold” (John 10:16). God calls those who will believe Him. The Israelites were His chosen people – chosen to spread His word – but as you can see in Revelation 7 (among other places) there will be people of “every nation, and tribe and people and tongue” in heaven. And some of these Egyptians were certainly seeing God’s power – and responding!

Sadly, however, many others did not listen… and guess what – you’re right – Pharaoh’s heart was hardened again! On he said he was sorry (verse 27-28) but just as soon as the storms stopped – all bets were off. And chapter 9 ends the say way that chapter 8 did – with Pharaoh hardening his heart…

Over and over again we see this happening. What can we learn from this? When was the last time you said, or heard someone say, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Perhaps what we should say is, “Why do good things happen to bad people?” Why didn’t God just wipe Pharaoh off the face of the earth and release His people from slavery? As we can see throughout the Bible – God raises up leaders (Pharaoh, Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, and Xerxes among others) and nations (Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome in history) to carry forth His will and His word. Just as Esther was in the Persian capital “for such a time as this” – so was Pharaoh and Egypt allowed to be a world power also “for such a time as this” as well. God’s sovereign will – will be done – and Pharaoh’s hardened heart was part of that will…

And you? You, too, are here “for such a time as this”. Ask God how He would have you serve.

 

Prayer:

Almighty God, we are in awe of Your sovereignty and omnipotence. We fear the hand of the Lord – but we know as well – that You are our loving Heavenly Father. We don’t always understand Your will – but we must submit our will to Yours and trust that Your will is perfect, and will always be for Your glory. When we do not understand, fill us, O Lord, with the peace that passes all understanding as we bow before the throne. For it is in Jesus’ name we pray – Amen.

 

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Read Chapter 8

Although we didn’t discuss it, we saw Moses and Aaron’s first encounter with Pharaoh in chapter 7. It didn’t go well… The thing that God told Moses to tell Aaron to do (cast the staff down to become a serpent) was countered by Pharaoh’s magicians. The difference, however, was that Aaron’s staff/serpent ate the staffs/serpents of the sorcerers. But, as we saw, Pharaoh was not impressed, and his heart was hardened.

After that, the first of 10 plagues was inflicted upon the Egyptians – turning the Nile into blood, but once again, the magicians did the same. Although the plague lasted a whole week, Pharaoh, was unconcerned (7:23; 25).

Coming to chapter 8, we immediately read of the next plague – frogs! God warned that unless Pharaoh let the Israelites go, there would be frogs everywhere! They would be in the house and in the bedrooms and on the beds. They would be in the houses of the servants, and on the people. They would even be in the ovens and in the kneading bowls. And sure enough, when Aaron stretched out the staff, frogs came out of the streams, the rivers, and the pools – but (you guessed it) the magicians did the same thing! (Ha! Like they needed more frogs!) However, Pharaoh seemed to relent and told Moses and Aaron to ask God to make them go away.

Then Moses said to Pharaoh, (notice, Moses is already speaking to Pharaoh himself) “So you’ll know that God is in control, I’ll let you tell me when to make the plague stop.” Pharaoh chose the next day. (I don’t know why in the world he would want to wait one more minute – but he did.) So, the frogs died, and a great stench filled the land.

And immediately, Pharaoh reneged (verse 15). So, now comes the next plague – lice, or some translations say “gnats”. At any rate – they were pests! But, this time the magicians couldn’t replicate the plague (I’m betting the people were thinking, “Thank goodness!”)

The scenario repeats and the next plague (verse 21) ensues – flies! But this time we’re told (verse 22) that this plague will not affect the Israelites out in Goshen. Wait! What? The plagues were affecting the Israelites all along? Yes – and remember this: when you live in a land of sin – the results of sin affect you, too…

Did you ever wonder why God chose these particular plagues? There is a specific reason for each of the plagues. The Egyptians worshiped many gods. Some commentaries list up to fifteen gods – and each one of these plagues denies the power of one or more of these gods. God was saying, “I am Elohiym – the Supreme God of all Creation. No so-called ‘god’ is greater than I AM!”

Why were the Israelites affected by the plagues? Not only were they affected by the sin surrounding them – they were participating in the sins as well. Remember, they had been in Egypt for 400 years. The worship of God had become diluted with the gods of their neighbors. How do we know this? Read Joshua 24, but especially verses 14-15. “And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the LORD, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.”

Apparently, when the Israelites left Egypt, they took some of the Egyptian gods with them – so they have a dilemma… serve the gods of their fathers / serve the gods of their new neighbors / or serve God…

Which will you do – hold to the priorities of your ancestors / hold to the priorities of your peers / or cling to the priorities of God? Choose this day whom you will serve…

 

Prayer:

Merciful God, protect us from the consequences of the sin that surrounds us. We cry with Isaiah, we have unclean lips and we dwell in the midst of an unclean people. Our nation’s choices – indeed – our own choices, have not always been what they should be. Forgive us we pray and direct us to stand strong and to cling to Your priorities – even when all others around us are hardening their hearts to Your Word.

Strengthen us we pray – in Jesus’ Name – Amen.

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Read Exodus 7

Coming to the close of Exodus 6 we find Moses, for the third time, clinging to the defense of his inability to speak well as an excuse for not going to Pharaoh again. But God doesn’t buy it. And chapter 7, verse 1 opens with a statement that may be hard for us to understand. God reminds Moses that He will make him “as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet”. Verse 2 explains it a little by saying, “You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.”

This only makes sense if you understand that God brings the message, and the prophet speaks for God. I once heard a teacher say that “a priest stands with his back to the people and speaks to God for them – but a prophet stands with his back to God, and speaks to the people for God”. Moses was not to worry about doing the speaking (which, by the way, we’ll see that he gets over his fear later in the book) but all Moses was to do at this point was to bring God’s message to Aaron. I imagine that helped him tremendously.

If we knew everything we were going to need to do as a servant of God, I think we’d be terrified, but God gives us what we need, when we need it, and in the way that we need it. In Deuteronomy 31, when Moses is, essentially, at death’s door, he turns the responsibility of the leadership of the Israelites over to Joshua and encourages him by saying, “It is the LORD who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” I think Moses had finally learned the lesson.

But regardless of who was to be doing the speaking, God assured Moses that He would harden Pharaoh’s heart so that “I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt” (verse 3). What? God would harden Pharaoh’s heart? Why would God harden someone’s heart? This doesn’t make sense to us – it doesn’t sound like a loving God. But as Jeremiah 17:9 reminds us, God knows the heart and “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked…”

As we will see in the coming days, at times we will read that God hardens Pharaoh’s heart, and at times we will see that Pharaoh will harden his own heart, exposing the true condition of his heart. God only allows Pharaoh to do what he would do if left to his own choices.

But – God will use that hardness to His glory and in this we will see the second reason that all these escalating plagues and hardships must take place – and that is found in verse 5, “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.”

First, the Israelites had to know that God was in control (Exodus 6:7) and the Egyptians (and by them, the rest of the known world) would know that God was in control. Even the Canaanites, more than 40 years later would have heard about the Israelites leaving Egypt (see Joshua 2:10). It MUST happen this way – and Pharaoh’s naturally hard heart would be used by God to perpetrate in the miracles.

The rest of chapter 7 brings us to the beginning of the plagues, which directly attack Egypt’s false gods, and we’ll look at them closer as we go along.

 

Prayer:

Father, I know that you know my heart. I lift to You everything I do, and every motive that propels me and every fear that hinders me. May this Exodus Journey bring me closer to You as I watch Your hand direct every single move through this book.

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

 

 

 

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Read Chapter 6

We saw yesterday that our calling from God can sometimes make life difficult on other people who may not understand our call. Moses’ and Aaron’s call made life difficult on the Israelites because Pharaoh buckled down on them and made their slavery even tougher. As a result Moses cried out again, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all” (chapter 5:22-23).

God’s reply was essentially, “Just watch what I’m going to do!” But then God returned to the subject of His Name, which has been an important point that He wants to get across. God reminded Moses that “I am the LORD” (verse 2). As we’ve seen, that is the National/Personal name of the God of the Israelites. No other people on earth can claim God with this Name of Yahweh. Then God related to Moses that when He called and revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, it was by the Name “God Almighty” – not with the Name “Yahweh”. He never used His “personal” and covenantal Name with them. Why? Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob were not nations. They were individuals.

The Hebrew name “God Almighty” is recognizable to us – it is El-Shaddai. Almighty means just what it sounds like – All – total and complete; mighty – full of might. But it also means all-sufficient. God – to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob – was everything they needed… but to the Israelites, He was not only all-mighty and all-sufficient – He was more! In verses 6-8 we find God promising seven things that He would do for the Israelites that He had done for no other, “I will bring you out”; “I will deliver you”; “I will redeem you”; “I will take you for My people”; “I will be your God”; “I will bring you into the land” and “I will give it to you for a possession.” Why? “Because I am the LORD.

Moses dutifully related all this to the Israelites (verse 9) – but guess what – they did not listen to him. “Life” was just too hard on them. It had been hard before, but never like this – and it was all Moses’ fault! But, that didn’t change anything. The LORD once again told Moses to go tell Pharaoh to let the sons of Israel go. Moses’ reply is a little comical – “What? If the Israelites – my own people – won’t listen to me, how in the world can I expect Pharaoh to listen??? I tell You – I am just not good at this speaking thing!” And what was God’s reply? “Just do it.”

Why? Clearly Moses could not speak well. Clearly, neither Pharaoh nor the Israelites were going to listen to Moses… Why did God persist? There are two answers to that question. The first one is found in verse 7, “Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; AND YOU SHALL KNOW that I am the LORD your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians” (emphasis added).

If Pharaoh had said, “Oh sure! Go ahead and go out to the desert and worship your God. And take your time – no hurry”, everyone would have said, “What a wonderful Pharaoh we serve!” Or, they may have said, “What a wonderful and persuasive man Moses is…” All the praise would have gone to “the circumstances of life” and not to God.

Sometimes our prayers are not answered immediately because if they were, we’d just chalk it up to “the normal routine of life” and not to God. Bringing the Children of Israel out of slavery was such a huge thing, with eternal implications, that it HAD to be known to this new Israelite Nation that God was in control. But, it went beyond the Israelites – and that’s the second reason that God persisted… and we’ll see that one tomorrow.

 

Prayer:

Gracious and loving God – Creator God of all the universe – our Father… we pray for Your divine patience with us when we continue to question why our prayers are not answered in our timeline. We would pray that You open our eyes to see the big picture – but that may not be Your will, either. And so we pray for a word, here and there, like You gave to Moses, to encourage us and give us peace in the midst of the struggles that persist. And we pray this in Jesus’ Name – Amen.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Read Chapter 5

In chapter 4, when Moses finally submitted to God, he met with his brother Aaron, there at the Mountain of God (Horeb), then chapter 5:1 tells us, And afterward Moses and Aaron came and said to Pharaoh, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.’”

But Pharaoh said, “Who is the LORD [who is Yahweh, the personal God of Israel] that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the LORD [I don’t know Yahweh, the personal God of Israel] and besides, I will not let Israel go” (verse 2).

Their reply was “The God [Elohiym, the Supreme God] of the Hebrews has met with us. Please, let us go a three days’ journey into the wilderness that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God [to Yahweh, our personal God, who is the Supreme God of all of creation], otherwise He will fall upon us with pestilence or with the sword” (verse 3).

But, Pharaoh was not impressed…

Did they think he would be? Well, yeah!” Wouldn’t we expect so, too? Don’t we expect all our unbelieving friends to be impressed when we tell them that God has called us to do such and such? Of course we do! Don’t we also think that because God has directed us to do something that it should be easy? Yes, we do… But, is it always easy… – uh – no… In fact, much like with the Israelites, things just get harder. (Ask me about deciding to teach the Book of Revelation! Yikes!)

From the time that I was a child, I remember hearing the story of the Israelites having to gather their own straw to make bricks, but I never thought about how it related to my life until now. But now I can see – it greatly relates!

The more convinced we are that we must follow God’s call, the harder life becomes – because we can never go back to our old ways. And, not only does it affect us – but it affects everyone around us, as well. And they may not understand…

God’s call to Moses, and subsequently, Aaron, affected their lives from that point on – forever. But not only were they affected, and their families affected, but all of Israel was affected, and the Israelites certainly did not understand.

Again, Moses cried out with another question, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? Ever since I came to Pharaoh to speak in Your name, he has done harm to this people, and You have not delivered Your people at all” (verses 22-23).

And God’s answer… well… that comes tomorrow.

 

Prayer:

Father, an old hymn says, “When I do the best I can, and my friends misunderstand, Thou who knowest all about me – stand by me…” How many times have I sung that song, even through tears? Only You know. When we are convinced, Lord, that we have heard Your call, and we know we must respond, remind us to pray for those who did not hear the call, but whose lives will be nonetheless affected by our call. And help us to be faithful.

In Jesus’ Name – Amen.

 

 

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Last night as I was praying before I went to sleep I said, “Lord! There are so many and so much to pray for – so many sick; so many hurting… how can I pray for them all? How many would You have me pray for? And I heard, “How many do you want to rejoice with?

There’s a lot to be said about prayer… do our prayers really change God’s mind? Does God keep count of how many are praying? Does He ever say, “Oh gee! If you’d only had one more person praying I would have answered…”

Yes, Moses prayed and God “relented” – but was it Moses’ prayer that did it, or did God simply allow Moses to participate in His will?

I think the major reason for prayer (and this distills a multi-week study on prayer) but the bottom line is – when we pray, we get to praise God for His mighty work. If we don’t pray – we don’t limit God, we just miss out on an opportunity to Glorify Him!

This came painfully home a few weeks ago when a friend asked me to pray for a doctor’s appointment she had. The test results could have been life-changing. And, although I put the day and time on my calendar – and prayed as I wrote it down… I forgot to pray about it that day.

She called me after she left the appointment, praising God for an answer to prayer. It was good news! She said, “I felt your prayers holding me up…” Well… it wasn’t my prayers she was feeling…

However… even though I rejoiced with her, I could not participate fully in the joy, because I had not prayed…

God is sovereign – He does not need us to “help Him decide” what to do – but He does allow us to glorify Him when we participate in the process.

So which ones did I pray for last night? As many as I possibly could!

Thank You Father for the privilege of prayer and graciously allowing us to see Your mighty hand at work. You are an Awesome God – You are Almighty and You are Sovereign. As the Psalmist said, “What is man that You are mindful of him? Yet You have made him just a little lower than the angels…” And You have allowed us access to the throne room… O God! We hear You bid us “come”. May we indeed – do that very thing. We pray this in the Name of the One who intercedes for us – even Jesus – Amen.

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