“When it rain’s it pours.” The immensity of the plagues was intensifying because Pharaoh refused to take heed to Moses and Aaron’s command, “to let the people go.”
A good fighter conserves his strength and power for the later rounds and God now was unloading His might on Egypt. In this next round, He released a plague against livestock while yet sparing those of Israel.
This plague caused an economic crisis. For many in this world, money is their god. Their happiness depends on how much or how little they own. The children of Israel had been unjustly compensated for their hard work but now the tables were being turned. The Bible says the wealth of the wicked is laid up for the just (Pro. 13:22). That the righteous will inherit the earth (Psalm 27:29).
Let us look to God for He provides all we need (Phil. 4:19), it is our season for a financial turnaround. God blesses those with a pure heart (Matt. 5:8), He grants the desires of those who delight themselves in Him (Psalms 37:4), and releases His provision, exceedingly, abundantly, above all we can ask or think (Eph. 3:20).
Pharaoh sent officials to investigate and likewise, people will investigate our lives, they will think that we must be doing something wrong. We don’t need to feel offended but honored because God is using us to reveal His glory through His favor and blessings in our life.
Pharaoh heart remained stubborn so it went to the next round where Moses and Aaron released the plague of festering boils. They tossed ashes into the air and it spread like dust over the whole land of Egypt, causing boils out on all the people and animals. The ash became hot, blistering dust that caused boils to break out on all the people.
The children of Israel had to work tirelessly under the sun hour after hour, day after day, having their bodies burned under the sun. Egypt did wrong to the Israelites and it was now coming back on them. The Bible promises “what we sow, we will reap” (Gal. 6:7). Malachi 4:1 says “The day of judgment is coming, burning like a furnace. On that day the arrogant and the wicked will be burned up like straw.”
If you are suffering from righteousness sake do not despair, wait unto the Lord for the day of reckoning is near. God will punish all evil doers and the humble will be exalted. Do not lose focus, do not take punishment into your own hands, let God be the judge, for His judgment will come.
The Lord has Moses wake up early and instructs him again in how to face Pharaoh. This pattern we see with Moses waking up early is an example for us to follow.
If we don’t take the time before we get going to seek God we will not be prepared for what we are going to face and will be walking outside of His will.
Moses warns Pharaoh that if he doesn’t let God’s people go, more plagues will be released. God tells Pharaoh that He has spared him for the purpose of showing His power and spreading His fame throughout the earth.
God can wipe His enemies out at any time. Yet for the sake of the lost, He spares His full wrath until His power is fully known and His fame spreads throughout the earth. The enemy is a puppet in the hands of God, he will eventually be knocked out but for now, he is the punching bag for God to demonstrate His greatness.
Pharaoh again refuses to back down and so the Lord releases a hailstorm like no other killing everything that was left outside, including all vegetation, animals, and humans. Though the Egyptians were warned to go inside some of them paid no attention to the word of the Lord and it cost them their lives.
We have people in our life that no matter how many times we warn them because of their ego they won’t listen and it may cost them their lives. We are to keep warning them but don’t be surprised if something devastating happens. This time Pharaoh quickly summoned Moses and Aaron and admits this time he and his people have sinned. He begs the Lord to end this terrifying thunder and hail. Saying enough is enough you and your people can go and worship the Lord. Moses says okay when I leave the city I will lift my hands and pray and he hail will stop and you will know that the earth belongs to the Lord, but I know still yet your officials still do not fear the Lord.
People will repent when their sins expose them but if they refuse to repent of the things they have done previously or the hidden sins that nobody else knows their heart will remain hard. We need discernment because we don’t want to be fooled. We need to help people fully surrender, half stepping will never cut it, it is either all the way or not at all with God.
As the Lord foretold despite Pharaoh’s temporary act of repentance, his heart remained hard and he went against his word and did not let the people of Israel go.
Sunday January 7th
Would you rather lose all of your money and valuables or all of the pictures you have ever taken?
Would you rather be famous when you are alive and forgotten when you die or unknown when you are alive but famous after you die?
Would you rather go to jail for 4 years for something you didn’t do or get away with something horrible you did but always live in fear of being caught?
Would you rather your shirts be always two sizes too big or one size too small?
Would you rather be alone for the rest of your life or always be surrounded by annoying people?
Would you rather be completely invisible for one day or be able to fly for one day?
Would you rather be locked in a room that is constantly dark for a week or a room that is constantly bright for a week?
Would you rather have a horrible job, but be able to retire comfortably in 10 years or have your dream job, but have to work until the day you die?
The question that Moses raises to Pharaoh here in Exodus chapter 8 is “Would you rather be swarmed with frogs, gnats, and flies, or let my people go?”
God had started to unleash the plagues against Egypt in chapter 7 by turning the Nile into blood, which killed all of the fish and made the water undrinkable. But because Pharaoh’s heart was still hardened, God was about to unleash 3 more plagues, starting with the frogs:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 2 But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs. 3 The Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed, and into the houses of your servants and on your people, and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls. 4 So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants.”’” 5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’” 6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt. 7 The magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
8 Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Entreat the Lord that He remove the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord.” 9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “The honor is yours to tell me: when shall I entreat for you and your servants and your people, that the frogs be destroyed from you and your houses, that they may be left only in the Nile?”
10 Then he said, “Tomorrow.” So he said, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will depart from you and your houses and your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.” 12 Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord concerning the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh. 13 The Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields. 14 So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Part of the significance about the Nile swarming with frogs was that the Nile River was supposed to be divine in Egyptian religious beliefs, and frogs themselves represented the goddess Heket. So now this supposedly divine river and these supposedly divine frogs were bringing misery upon the lives of the Egyptians instead of blessings. All of this was intended to demonstrate Jehovah’s supremacy over all of these false Gods.
But of course Pharaoh follows a familiar pattern here. He makes a deal with Moses to let the people go and sacrifice to the true God, but as soon as the plague lifts, he reneges on his promise. Which leads right to the next plague:
16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, that it may become gnats through all the land of Egypt.’” 17 They did so; and Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff, and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats through all the land of Egypt. 18 The magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats, but they could not; so there were gnats on man and beast. 19 Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
Notice that the Egyptian magicians admit that they can’t duplicate this sign and they tell Pharaoh that this swarm of gnats (or some translations say lice) must truly be directed by the finger of God. But Pharaoh was still not persuaded. So here comes plague number 4 – flies!
20 Now the Lord said to Moses, “Rise early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh, as he comes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 21 For if you do not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and on your servants and on your people and into your houses; and the houses of the Egyptians will be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they dwell. 22 But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land. 23 I will put a division between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign will occur.”’” 24 Then the Lord did so. And there came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and the houses of his servants and the land was laid waste because of the swarms of flies in all the land of Egypt.
In verse 23 God says to Pharaoh that “I will put a division between My people and your people”. God is going to distinguish between the area called Goshen, where the Hebrew slaves lived, and the rest of Egypt. He is going to show His favor upon His own people by sparing their area from the effects of the plagues. Pharaoh actually investigates this to see if it is true in chapter 9 verse7, which says:
“Pharaoh sent, and behold, there was not even one of the livestock of Israel dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.”
Now pay attention to the negotiation that the Pharaoh starts to have with Moses in the final verses of this chapter:
25 Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 26 But Moses said, “It is not right to do so, for we will sacrifice to the Lord our God what is an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice what is an abomination to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not then stone us? 27 We must go a three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the Lord our God as He commands us.” 28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go, that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you shall not go very far away. Make supplication for me.” 29 Then Moses said, “Behold, I am going out from you, and I shall make supplication to the Lord that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people tomorrow; only do not let Pharaoh deal deceitfully again in not letting the people go to sacrifice to the Lord.”
30 So Moses went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 31 The Lord did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants and from his people; not one remained. 32 But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and he did not let the people go.
During this swarms of flies, Pharaoh offers to negotiate a deal by agreeing something to less than what the Lord was demanding, but Moses refuses to compromise.
First Pharaoh offers to let them worship in the land nearby but not to go on a three-day journey.
But Moses tells him in verse 26 that the animals that the Israelites sacrificed would be an “abomination” to Pharaoh’s people because the Egyptians actually worshipped some of the same animals that would be sacrificed by the Israelites. Moses feared that the Egyptians would stone the Israelites for sacrificing those animals in their presence.
Later Pharaoh promises that the Hebrew men can go sacrifice if they will leave behind the women and children.
Exodus 10:9–11 Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we shall go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.” 10 Then he said to them, “Thus may the Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind. 11 Not so! Go now, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you desire.” So they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.
Finally, Pharaoh offers to let all of the people go and worship if they will simply leave their flocks and herds behind.
Exodus 10:24 Then Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you.”
There is something here that we must pay heed to. God has given us a promise of what our lives are supposed to look like. And that promise involves freedom.
But the devil doesn’t want to let you go. He doesn’t want to see you free. And he will try to get you to settle for something less than what God has promised for you. He will try to offer you a compromise – a deal.
For example, the devil may say to you, “So your sins are forgiven, and you will get to go to heaven, but for the rest of your life here on earth you will have to live with the guilt and shame of the things that you’ve done.”
Or maybe the devil will tell you that you can be set free from certain addictions, but other addictions are so powerful that you’ll never overcome them, so you’ll have to settle for being partially free.
Or maybe the devil will tell you that some of the people you pray for will get saved or healed, but others are just hopeless, so you shouldn’t even bother praying.
How about this deal – you can be saved and live a comfortable, trouble-free life as long as you stay on the sidelines and don’t try to reach others for Christ!?
But God didn’t promise you any half-measures. He didn’t ever tell you that you had to be satisfied with a limited version of salvation. Jesus didn’t pay a heavy price on the cross to give you a semi-abundant life!
Let me encourage you this morning to be like Moses.
When the devil tries to offer you half-measures and compromises, tell him what Moses told Pharaoh – “That’s not good enough!”
Don’t make any deals. Don’t take any deals. Don’t settle for anything less that the full freedom that was purchased for you with the precious blood of Jesus!
This final Sunday of 2017 was a Q & A Sunday. Stay tuned for the video of Pastor Josh and Pastor Steve answering a set of questions that were submitted by members of our church!
Sunday December 17th
Sometimes you can really benefit from a name change. Here’s one suggestion for you. Instead of referring to your bathroom as "the John," (as in I have to go to the John) start calling it "the Jim." It sounds way better when you tell people that you go to the Jim several times a day.
In Exodus chapter 6, we are going to see a lot of names, plus God is going to give Moses a new name to know him by:
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for under compulsion he will let them go, and under compulsion he will drive them out of his land.” 2 God spoke further to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord; 3 and I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Almighty, but by My name, Lord, I did not make Myself known to them.
God had already revealed Himself to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob using the name God Almighty. The Hebrew words for that name are El Shaddai. But now here in Exodus God has revealed to Moses that not only is His name El Shaddai, but it is also Yahweh, which simply means “I AM”. In the Old Testament we see this name is always translated as LORD, because the name of God was considered too holy to even pronounce out loud.
Now God is going to remind Moses what it means for Him to be the “I AM”, the covenant-making God:
4 I also established My covenant with them, to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they sojourned. 5 Furthermore I have heard the groaning of the sons of Israel, because the Egyptians are holding them in bondage, and I have remembered My covenant. 6 Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 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. 8 I will bring you to the land which I swore to give to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and I will give it to you for a possession; I am the Lord.’” 9 So Moses spoke thus to the sons of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses on account of their despondency and cruel bondage.
What we are reading here is basically God’s reply to Moses’ complaint and question back in chapter 5 verses 22–23 - Then Moses returned to the Lord and said, “O Lord, why have You brought harm to this people? Why did You ever send me? 23 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.”
Moses’ frustration was based on the fact that he was doing everything that God told him to do, but things were getting WORSE for the Israelites, not better.
Did you ever feel that way?
But God tells Moses, “I haven’t forgotten my promises or my covenant. I have a plan to rescue and redeem my people.”
That word redeem refers to paying a price or a ransom. Israel was going to be redeemed, or bought back from Egypt to be God’s own people, his treasured possession.
So despite Moses’ frustration, God tells him it’s time to get back to work:
10 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 11 “Go, tell Pharaoh king of Egypt to let the sons of Israel go out of his land.” 12 But Moses spoke before the Lord, saying, “Behold, the sons of Israel have not listened to me; how then will Pharaoh listen to me, for I am unskilled in speech?”13 Then the Lord spoke to Moses and to Aaron, and gave them a charge to the sons of Israel and to Pharaoh king of Egypt, to bring the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt.
When God tells Moses to renew His demand for Israel’s release, Moses reverts to his same old excuses – “Nobody listens to me. I’m not even any good at speaking.” But God seems to basically just ignore him. “Yeah, whatever, just do what I told you to do and stop whining!”
As one commentary points out:
“The discouragement of Israel and Moses shows that the deliverance must be God’s work completely.”
The point is - it doesn’t matter that the people won’t listen. It doesn’t matter that Moses can’t speak very well. It doesn’t matter that Pharaoh has a hard heart.
God is going to accomplish what He has set out to do!
This next section is one that we might tend to gloss over as we read through this chapter. Verses 14 through 25 are essentially a list of names:
14 These are the heads of their fathers’ households. The sons of Reuben, Israel’s firstborn: Hanoch and Pallu, Hezron and Carmi; these are the families of Reuben. 15 The sons of Simeon: Jemuel and Jamin and Ohad and Jachin and Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman; these are the families of Simeon. 16 These are the names of the sons of Levi according to their generations: Gershon and Kohath and Merari; and the length of Levi’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. 17 The sons of Gershon: Libni and Shimei, according to their families. 18 The sons of Kohath: Amram and Izhar and Hebron and Uzziel; and the length of Kohath’s life was one hundred and thirty-three years. 19 The sons of Merari: Mahli and Mushi. These are the families of the Levites according to their generations. 20 Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses; and the length of Amram’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. 21 The sons of Izhar: Korah and Nepheg and Zichri. 22 The sons of Uzziel: Mishael and Elzaphan and Sithri. 23 Aaron married Elisheba, the daughter of Amminadab, the sister of Nahshon, and she bore him Nadab and Abihu, Eleazar and Ithamar. 24 The sons of Korah: Assir and Elkanah and Abiasaph; these are the families of the Korahites. 25 Aaron’s son Eleazar married one of the daughters of Putiel, and she bore him Phinehas. These are the heads of the fathers’ households of the Levites according to their families.
What is being established here is that God has not forgotten His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This seemingly random list of names is actually a genealogy, or family tree, that starts with Reuben, Jacob’s oldest son, then proceeds down to Simeon, the second son, and so on down the line to Levi’s descendents.
And Levi’s genealogy establishes the link to Moses and Aaron, showing that they are descended from the priestly line.
The final verses of this chapter are a repeat of God’s command to Moses and Aaron and one more repeat of Moses’ same old tired excuse!
26 It was the same Aaron and Moses to whom the Lord said, “Bring out the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt according to their hosts.” 27 They were the ones who spoke to Pharaoh king of Egypt about bringing out the sons of Israel from Egypt; it was the same Moses and Aaron.
28 Now it came about on the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 that the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “I am the Lord; speak to Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I speak to you.” 30 But Moses said before the Lord, “Behold, I am unskilled in speech; how then will Pharaoh listen to me?”
Keep in mind that God’s real demand is what is being stated here. What He is looking for is not permission from Pharaoh for the people to take a temporary leave of absence for three days to worship God in the wilderness. That’s what Moses asked for the first time he spoke to Pharaoh. But God is looking for a definitive once-and-for-all freedom for his people from slavery in Egypt.
So let’s go back to one of the opening themes to this chapter:
God is a faithful God and He is unchangeable.
Malachi 3:6 says "I am the LORD, and I do not change.”
Hebrews 13:8 says
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
So God doesn’t change, but sometimes His name changes.
Think about that.
When Moses declared the freedom of the children of Israel’s to Pharaoh, he had to proclaim it in the NAME OF HIS GOD. But it wasn’t in the name of El Shaddai, God Almighty, it was in the name of Yahweh, the great I AM!
A new challenge, a new situation, required God to reveal Himself by a new name.
And this isn’t the only time that God does this. He reveals himself to Abraham as Jehovah-Jireh, the God who provides. He reveals Himself to Hagar as El Roi, the God who sees me.
Look at this scenario from the Book of Psalms chapter 24 verses 7 to 10:
Lift up your heads, O gates,
And be lifted up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
8 Who is the King of glory?
The Lord strong and mighty,
The Lord mighty in battle.
9 Lift up your heads, O gates,
And lift them up, O ancient doors,
That the King of glory may come in!
10 Who is this King of glory?
The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.
Do you see how the people were asking to know God in a new way, by a new name? They even asked this question several times, “Who is this King of glory?”
And then they answered their own question with a new revelation about who God is – “The Lord of hosts,
He is the King of glory.”
That phrase “The Lord of hosts” is actually the name “Yahweh Saboath” which means “God of the armies of heaven.”
And if you look at what this knowledge of God by a new name “God of the armies of heaven” did for the people of Israel, it says it allowed them to do what? “Lift up your heads”!
Maybe their heads had been hanging down because of their circumstances. Maybe they were feeling defeated.
But they were able to lift up their heads when they knew that the “God of the armies of heaven” was on their side!
In the same way, we must always remember to proclaim the NAME OF JESUS AS WE CONFRONT OUR ENEMIES!
1 Samuel 12:22 says:
For the Lord will not abandon His people on account of His great name, because the Lord has been pleased to make you a people for Himself.
Psalm 20:5 says
We will sing for joy over your victory, And in the name of our God we will set up our banners.
Proverbs 18:10 says
The name of the Lord is a strong tower; The righteous runs into it and is safe.
‘And it shall be that everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’
And again in Romans 10:13
for “Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.”
But just like Moses, and just like the children of Israel, sometimes we need a fresh revelation of who Jesus really is – a “new name” for Him in a sense.
And it’s really not that surprising to think of Jesus as having more than one name.
In Isaiah 7:14 we are told:
Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call His name Immanuel.
Is that Jesus’ name? Absolutely! Look at Matthew 1:23
“Behold, the virgin shall be with child and shall bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel,” which translated means, “God with us.”
His name is Jesus, but He is also “God with us”, Immanuel.
Go back again to Isaiah 9:6
For a child will be born to us, a son will be given to us; And the government will rest on His shoulders; And His name will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.
Those are all names of Jesus – He is our Wonderful Counselor, and Mighty God, and Eternal Father, and the Prince of Peace.
He is also the Lamb of God, the Word made flesh, the Son of God, the Son of Man, the Son of David, the second Adam, the bread of life, the living water, the good shepherd, and the Light of the World.
When you need Jesus, ask yourself this question:
What aspect of Jesus do you need to have and encounter with?
Of course it’s perfectly fine to call upon the name of Jesus, which means “God’s salvation”, but do you need a Wonderful Counselor in a difficult situation? That’s Jesus’ name too.
Do you need the Light of the World in the midst of a dark situation? That’s Jesus’ name too!
Think about this. When you know someone casually, you general know them by one name, the common name that everyone knows them by. Maybe it’s Bob or Tom or Mary.
But when you get to know someone in a deeper way, you might find out that they have other names too, possibly a nick-name that only their friends and family know. Maybe they are also known at Butch, or Boberino, or Tiny.
When you can call them by that new name it is a sign that you have drawn closer to them.
Do you want to draw closer to Jesus? Learn to relate to him by each of the names that define how magnificent He really is.
He is Jesus the savior, Jesus the Lord, Jesus the Word, Jesus the Light, Jesus the Lamb, Jesus the Prince of Peace, and even Jesus the great I AM.
He wants to reveal Himself to you in every possible way. There is no name for Jesus that He will keep hidden from you if you continue to pursue a deeper relationship with Him. Friends want their friends to know them intimately. And Jesus wants to be your best friend!
Sunday December 3rd
A man had been sitting out in the cold all day, fishing through a hole in the ice with no luck, not even a nibble. He was frustrated, cold and tired, and he was about to leave, when another guy walked up, cut a hole in the ice beside him, and started catching fish as fast as he could drop his line in the water.
The first guy couldn’t believe it, so he yelled over, “What’s your secret?"
"woogatkakeptewrwm" the second man answered back.
"What did you say?"
“I can’t understand you. You’re mumbling”, said the first man. “Can you speak more clearly?”
The second man spit out a large ball of worms onto the ice and said, "You have to keep your worms warm".
Moses apparently had a mumbling problem too. At least we know that he tried to use that as an excuse to God!
Here in chapter 4 we pick right up in the middle of where Moses is arguing with God about why he can’t possibly go and lead the people of Israel to freedom:
Then Moses said, “What if they will not believe me or listen to what I say? For they may say, ‘The Lord has not appeared to you.’” 2 The Lord said to him, “What is that in your hand?” And he said, “A staff.”3 Then He said, “Throw it on the ground.” So he threw it on the ground, and it became a serpent; and Moses fled from it. 4 But the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand and grasp it by its tail”—so he stretched out his hand and caught it, and it became a staff in his hand— 5 “that they may believe that the Lord, the God of their fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has appeared to you.”
As you may already know, that miracle of the staff turning into a snake is going to be used by Moses to demonstrate to Pharaoh that Moses has been sent by God.
Then God adds a couple more additional signs:
6 The Lord furthermore said to him, “Now put your hand into your bosom.” So he put his hand into his bosom, and when he took it out, behold, his hand was leprous like snow. 7 Then He said, “Put your hand into your bosom again.” So he put his hand into his bosom again, and when he took it out of his bosom, behold, it was restored like the rest of his flesh. 8 “If they will not believe you or heed the witness of the first sign, they may believe the witness of the last sign. 9 But if they will not believe even these two signs or heed what you say, then you shall take some water from the Nile and pour it on the dry ground; and the water which you take from the Nile will become blood on the dry ground.”
Those were some pretty powerful demonstrations, wouldn’t you agree? Now Moses is starting to run out of excuses why he can’t possibly be the man for the job. So he tries a new tactic:
10 Then Moses said to the Lord, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since You have spoken to Your servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.”11 The Lord said to him, “Who has made man’s mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the Lord? 12 Now then go, and I, even I, will be with your mouth, and teach you what you are to say.” 13 But he said, “Please, Lord, now send the message by whomever You will.”
Moses says, “I’m just not a very good speaker.”
God says, “I made your mouth didn’t I? If I need you to speak I’ll give you the right words.”
Moses says, “Yeah, that’s true, but you know what, just send somebody else anyway.”
God says, “Now you’re getting on my nerves!”
14 Then the anger of the Lord burned against Moses, and He said, “Is there not your brother Aaron the Levite? I know that he speaks fluently. And moreover, behold, he is coming out to meet you; when he sees you, he will be glad in his heart. 15 You are to speak to him and put the words in his mouth; and I, even I, will be with your mouth and his mouth, and I will teach you what you are to do. 16 Moreover, he shall speak for you to the people; and he will be as a mouth for you and you will be as God to him. 17 You shall take in your hand this staff, with which you shall perform the signs.”
So God essentially says, “Your brother Aaron is going to go with you, and I can assure you that he is very good with words. But you’re not going to worm your way out of this assignment! You are going back to Egypt!”
At this point Moses realizes that he needs to stop arguing and just do what God is telling him to do:
18 Then Moses departed and returned to Jethro his father-in-law and said to him, “Please, let me go, that I may return to my brethren who are in Egypt, and see if they are still alive.” And Jethro said to Moses, “Go in peace.” 19 Now the Lord said to Moses in Midian, “Go back to Egypt, for all the men who were seeking your life are dead.” 20 So Moses took his wife and his sons and mounted them on a donkey, and returned to the land of Egypt. Moses also took the staff of God in his hand.
Moses gets a blessing from his father-in-law, and a reassurance from God that the pharaoh who had wanted to kill him has now died. So Moses will have to deal with the new Pharaoh. God then gives him these instructions:
21 The Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt see that you perform before Pharaoh all the wonders which I have put in your power; but I will harden his heart so that he will not let the people go.22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’”
This is a bit of a complicated passage, so let’s break it down into four parts:
Why would God have Moses perform the signs and then harden Pharaoh’s heart?
One commentary explains it this way:
“The Lord’s hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is a sovereign divine judgment on Pharaoh. God purpose is to display His power over the stubborn hostility of the king so that His people might know that He, the Lord, is their deliverer.”
We see this point emphasized in Romans 9:17
For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”
Keep in mind that Pharaoh is also said to have hardened his own heart in Exodus 8:15
“But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.”
So who is ultimately responsible for the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart? Was it Pharaoh or was it God?
I think we can gain some insight into this puzzle from Romans chapter 1 verses 18-26
For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 21 For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. 22 Professing to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed animals and crawling creatures.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25 For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions
So who is responsible for the darkened hearts of these unbelievers? Clearly they are. They made choices. They chose not to recognize God as their creator. They chose to exchange the truth for a lie. They chose to worship creatures rather than the creator.
So what was God’s part in their downfall?
We see it clearly in verses 24 and 26:
God “gave them over” to their lusts.
God “gave them over” to their passions.
God said “Is that how you want to live? Then go for it. I gave you a free will. Is that how you want to use it? Then by all means, be my guest. Don’t let me stop you from fulfilling your fleshly pursuits.”
And I believe that’s what happened with Pharaoh too. God knew that Pharaoh would have a hard heart towards the people of Israel. After all, they were his slaves, his property. And Pharaoh didn’t want to hear about their God, because as far as Pharaoh was concerned, HE was God!
So God allowed Pharaoh to follow his hard heart. In fact God said, “I’ll help you have a hard heart if that’s what you choose, because then we can really find out who the true God is here, you or me!”
And I think we all need to be aware that if we set our hearts on a sinful path, God just might go ahead and let us take that path, just to find out where it leads!
Does he want us to come back to him? Of course he does!
But just like the father of the prodigal son, God will allow us to choose a path that leads away from him so that we can learn that being with our Father is so much better than eating the pig slop that the world has to offer.
And if you think that passage was a bit confusing…
Wait until you see this next one!
24 Now it came about at the lodging place on the way that the Lord met him and sought to put him to death. 25 Then Zipporah took a flint and cut off her son’s foreskin and threw it at Moses’ feet, and she said, “You are indeed a bridegroom of blood to me.” 26 So He let him alone. At that time she said, “You are a bridegroom of blood”—because of the circumcision.
Huh? What? God was going to KILL Moses? Apparently so. But why? That’s the key question.
First of all, biblical scholars say that the Hebrew wording in verse 24 is unclear. These words follow verse 23 which says “Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn” and so they may actually be referring to killing Moses’ firstborn son Gershom, not Moses.
But why would God want to kill Gershom, or Moses?
Possibly because Moses had forgotten his Hebrew heritage and failed to circumcise his son.
Is this a logical interpretation? Probably so, because the next thing that happens is Zipporah jumps up and circumcises her son with a sharp piece of stone (Ouch!). And that seems to solve the problem.
Plus, the fact that she throws the circumcised skin at Moses’ feet and calls him a “bridegroom of blood” is a pretty clear indication that she is ticked at Moses for neglecting to fulfill this important ritual.
It’s like she is saying to Moses, “Duh! You’re supposed to be the leader of the Israelites and you didn’t even obey God’s command about circumcision with your own son!”
Let’s put it all in perspective with these two thoughts:
So now Moses, Zipporah, and their two sons can continue their journey back to Egypt, and just as God had told Moses, Aaron is going to come meet them along the way:
27 Now the Lord said to Aaron, “Go to meet Moses in the wilderness.” So he went and met him at the mountain of God and kissed him. 28 Moses told Aaron all the words of the Lord with which He had sent him, and all the signs that He had commanded him to do. 29 Then Moses and Aaron went and assembled all the elders of the sons of Israel; 30 and Aaron spoke all the words which the Lord had spoken to Moses. He then performed the signs in the sight of the people. 31 So the people believed; and when they heard that the Lord was concerned about the sons of Israel and that He had seen their affliction, then they bowed low and worshiped.
Here is the final thing that we should take away from this chapter today:
Moses wasted a whole lot of time trying to convince God that this wasn’t a very good idea, and that he certainly wasn’t the right guy to do the job, and that the people probably wouldn’t even believe that God had sent him.
But none of that was true.
This WAS a good idea, and Moses WAS the right man for the job, and the people DID believe that God had sent him.
So why do we even bother trying to tell God why His plans for our lives won’t work, and we aren’t really capable of fulfilling His call on our lives, and nobody is really going to listen to us anyway?
Maybe we would be better off just trusting God, believing that He knows better than we do how to accomplish His purposes in us and through us.
It’s really true what God said in Isaiah 55:9
“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Let’s try to allow the higher thoughts and the higher ways of God to direct our path in life, rather than relying on our own limited knowledge and resources.
I think if we do that, we can walk in greater peace, and waste less time worrying about things that will probably never happen the way we were so scared that they would.
Moses had desired to do right, to help his people, but it turned wrong. Now he was far away in the wilderness shepherding a flock.
As a young person I desired to do good, to make a positive difference, the problem though was I needed help myself. I was messed up because of sin.
Moses had a lot to learn, and as a husband, Father, and Shepherd, God was preparing Him but what He really needed was supernatural transformation.
Suddenly far in the wilderness at the mount of Sinai, Moses had a divine encounter. An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the middle of the bush. This, of course, got Moses attention and he came closer. God now spoke to Him and revealed Himself personally.
Moses had known of God but did not know Him personally.
In August 1995, the spirit of God took a hold of me and brought me to a revival meeting 15 miles from my home. I could not leave my seat when people were asked to come forward, I did and God touched me, and I was never the same again.
A desire to do good is not enough, one must have a transformative encounter with God to be changed and in order to be a change agent. Nothing we do for God will amount to anything unless it is done through God.
What the church needs is the baptism of 🔥, as Psalms 104:4 says, "he makes His Messengers winds, his ministers a flaming 🔥." Like Moses, we need to encounter God and be transformed so others can encounter God through us, ask God now to set you on fire, in Jesus Name.
God saves us and calls us. We were not just saved to escape Hell, we were saved to save others.
The Lord spoke to Moses in the burning bush and revealed His calling. We are called out of the world for a divine purpose. All we have been through has been preparation for such a time as this.
There are people oppressed crying out for deliverance, God is looking for people willing to answer His call to come to the rescue. What God has taken us through He enables us with His power to take others through.
Moses problem to God was the "who me," syndrome. He didn't feel qualified, he felt insignificant, He felt ill prepared. We need to understand whom God calls, He qualifies.
When we feel not able we just got to realize He is able. As Moses protested God said, "I will be with you." This is all that matters. Since God is with us, all things are possible. God would not call us if He knew we couldn't do it.
Worship is the key for it envokes God's presence. As long as we remain in worship God is at work.
It is not wrong to question God! God would rather us be honest with Him than not share how we feel. He understands our humanity and that because of our fallen state we have fear, doubt, and insecurities. He wants to answer our questions, He wants to reassure us our call and His ability to enable us to do His will.
The children of Israel were so far from the days of Joseph they didn’t even know God. Moses protested to God, “who am I to say you are? God replied, say I Am Who I Am, and I Am has sent me to you.”
The Egyptians had many gods, so who was this God. Moses was to reveal the one and only God, the I Am, Meaning He is it, the one true God, who proves Himself by His works.
God now instructs Moses on more of what He is to say. We got to remember we are God’s messengers. Our job is to just give His Message it is not our job to make people believe it. We are just the mailmen, to deliver it, and go. When people reject the message, we are not to take it personally, they are really rejecting God.
God prepares Moses by revealing the struggle that will go on between Pharoah and God’s word, that His mighty hand will first need to be revealed to Egypt before he lets the people of Israel go. Yet, eventually, Egypt will let them go with all kinds of gifts as well.
What we learn from Moses is as we answer the call, which is always much bigger than ourselves, it is okay to question God, in so doing He answers and prepares us, reminding us that we are just the vessel, and as we trust Him and simply follow orders, He will perform and do what He can do.
Sunday November 12th
Here’s a note that a little boy wrote to his mother:
Dear Mom, Sometimes you get mad at me for not acting my age, and then you start crying because I'm “growing up too fast.” Please pick one or the other. You’re confusing me!
Speaking of growing up too fast, did you ever know someone who went from being a baby to a full grown man within eleven verses? Well, that’s what Moses did in Exodus chapter 2!
Let’s read about baby Moses first:
Now a man from the house of Levi went and married a daughter of Levi. 2 The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was beautiful, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got him a wicker basket and covered it over with tar and pitch. Then she put the child into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to find out what would happen to him.
So we know a little bit about the baby Moses’ family:
Moses had an older sister (Miriam) and a brother (Aaron). What you may not have known is that his parents, Amram and Jochebed, were actually nephew and aunt.
We see this in Exodus 6:20
“Amram married his father’s sister Jochebed, and she bore him Aaron and Moses.”
What made Moses’ birth different from his brother and sister was that he was born at the exact time when the Egyptians were trying to kill all of the male Hebrew babies.
So to keep him from being discovered and killed, his mother placed him in a wicker basket made of bulrushes, which was then covered with tar to make it watertight.
And after they set the basket afloat in the water, Miriam walked along the bank to keep an eye on her baby brother.
And this is what she saw:
5 The daughter of Pharaoh came down to bathe at the Nile, with her maidens walking alongside the Nile; and she saw the basket among the reeds and sent her maid, and she brought it to her. 6 When she opened it, she saw the child, and behold, the boy was crying. And she had pity on him and said, “This is one of the Hebrews’ children.” 7 Then his sister said to Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women that she may nurse the child for you?” 8 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Go ahead.” So the girl went and called the child’s mother. 9 Then Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me and I will give you your wages.” So the woman took the child and nursed him. 10 The child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became her son. And she named him Moses, and said, “Because I drew him out of the water.”
This particular daughter of the Pharaoh was supposedly Princess Hatshepsut, who later became the queen of Pharaoh Thutmose II.
Even though she knew that Moses was a Hebrew child, she decided to let him live and so Moses was educated as an Egyptian nobleman.
Acts 7:22 says:
“Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds.”
But of course Miriam was no dummy either. She arranged for her own mother to get paid by Pharaoh’s daughter to nurse her own baby. A pretty sweet deal, don’t you think?
Now get ready, because we are about to hit the fast forward button!
11 Now it came about in those days, when Moses had grown up, that he went out to his brethren and looked on their hard labors; and he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his brethren. 12 So he looked this way and that, and when he saw there was no one around, he struck down the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. 13 He went out the next day, and behold, two Hebrews were fighting with each other; and he said to the offender, “Why are you striking your companion?” 14 But he said, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and said, “Surely the matter has become known.”
15 When Pharaoh heard of this matter, he tried to kill Moses. But Moses fled from the presence of Pharaoh and settled in the land of Midian, and he sat down by a well.
Surprise! All of the sudden baby Moses is forty years old!
Acts 7:23 says:
“But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel.”
So possibly Moses was having a mid-life crisis, because he suddenly decided that he didn’t feel like an Egyptian anymore and he now identified himself with God’s people, the Hebrews.
And in the book of Hebrews 11:24-25 we see that:
“By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, 25 choosing rather to endure ill-treatment with the people of God than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.”
That last phrase is important to remember. Sin can actually bring pleasure, but it always passes away. And the passing pleasure of sin is replaced by the pain of sin.
Unfortunately for Moses, his first effort to deliver the Israelites from Egyptian oppression proved to be a mistake because he ended up killing a man and then realized there were a couple of witnesses.
Not only that, but word of the murder had gotten back to Pharaoh, and Moses realized that it was time to get out of town, so he headed east towards a place called Midian in the Arabian Desert. And when you’re in the desert you are constantly looking for water. So Moses finds a well. But there are others already there when he arrives:
16 Now the priest of Midian had seven daughters; and they came to draw water and filled the troughs to water their father’s flock. 17 Then the shepherds came and drove them away, but Moses stood up and helped them and watered their flock. 18 When they came to Reuel their father, he said, “Why have you come back so soon today?” 19 So they said, “An Egyptian delivered us from the hand of the shepherds, and what is more, he even drew the water for us and watered the flock.” 20 He said to his daughters, “Where is he then? Why is it that you have left the man behind? Invite him to have something to eat.” 21 Moses was willing to dwell with the man, and he gave his daughter Zipporah to Moses. 22 Then she gave birth to a son, and he named him Gershom, for he said, “I have been a sojourner in a foreign land.”
What a heroic guy! Moses chases away the shepherds who are harassing the daughters of Jethro, and then helps them water their sheep.
Moses’ father-in-law was actually known by two names: Reuel and Jethro. The name Reuel means “Friend of God.” And he not only becomes Moses’ friend, he becomes part of his family.
I think it’s significant that Moses named his firstborn son Gershom, which meant, “sojourner in a foreign land.”
This would seem to indicate that Moses know that he was not intended to stay in Midian. And he was quite correct.
23 Now it came about in the course of those many days that the king of Egypt died. And the sons of Israel sighed because of the bondage, and they cried out; and their cry for help because of their bondage rose up to God. 24 So God heard their groaning; and God remembered His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 25 God saw the sons of Israel, and God took notice of them.
Israel’s cry for help goes up to God and God’s response is reflected in these four verbs: God “heard . . . remembered . . . saw . . . and took notice
And God is going to follow up with several more verbs involving Moses. He is going to call him, send him, and use him to set his people free!
Keep in mind that when it says that “God remembered His covenant” with the nation of Israel, it doesn’t mean that he had actually forgotten about them. In this context, the word remembered simply indicates that God now recognized that it was time to put a plan in motion that He had already started working on long before they ever cried out to Him.
When slavery and oppression began to happen to the Israelites, God already had a plan in His mind. God was preparing a man called Moses to bring about the deliverance of His people. Consider the fact that Moses wasn’t born after the Israelites cried to God, he was born forty years before that. And Moses was born at a time when Hebrew baby boys were not allowed to live. But, because God had a plan for His people, He protected and prepared Moses for the freeing of His people from slavery. Even when Moses was walking among the people, seeing their suffering and bungling his first attempt at protecting them, they never knew that he was the man God was preparing to bring the deliverance they were crying out for.
So, what does this have to do with us?
Well, according to the New Testament, you and I are now God’s chosen people. The Apostle Peter calls us a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God's very own people called for a purpose. (1 Peter 2:9).
We are the people of God and God is our father. And we have a Father who does not wait for our problems to overtake us. Before things ever start going wrong in our lives, our loving heavenly Father already has a plan in place to get us out of our mess and ensure a good future for us!
God has said in his word, “For I know the plans I have for you…plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11).
God is working in ways that we cannot always see. But the work He is doing is always moving His people towards His goals that He has ordained for them before the foundation of the world.
Think about how Moses was being prepared for the work that God had in store for him. Pharaoh’s daughter actually looked after and took care of Moses without ever knowing that Moses will lead God’s people out of Egypt.
In other words Moses, who was the answer to Israel’s cry for help, was actually raised up and trained by the enemies and slave-masters of the Hebrew people!
This shows us just how much God is really in control of our lives. Even when we are under stress or in pain, disappointed by things that aren’t going our way, we should always remember that God is able to make all things work together for the good of those who love Him. (Romans 8:28). So, we don’t need to worry, God is already working on it.
Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-34,
“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
Let me emphasize this for you today - The answers to our prayers are found in the very nature and character of God. They are not dependent upon us doing all the right things so that we can earn God’s favor and convince Him to give us what we need!
He already WANTS to meet your needs!
That’s why sometimes God just blesses us and does wonderful things for us when we haven’t even prayed about them - because He wants to be true to his character, true to His nature, true to who He is.
God did not deliver the Israelites from slavery because they were such good people or because they had earned their freedom! They were just like all of us. They all had their own issues and problems that they were struggling with.
When God delivers us from our difficulties we should always remember that it had nothing to do with how good we were or how much we deserved it, or even how great we prayed. God does things for us, not because of who we are, but because of who He is.
God reminded the Israelites of this when He said in Deuteronomy 9:5,
“It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land; but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the LORD your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.”
God had made a promise and He intended to keep it, regardless of what the Israelites did or didn’t do.
And it’s the same way in our lives.
You have a heavenly Father who is indescribably caring and loving and fully able to meet your needs. As the Apostle Paul assured us in Philippians 4:19
And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.