Song of Victory (Exodus 15:1-21)
It was wonderful to witness certain members of the Superbowl winning Philadephia Eagle's give glory to God after their victory. Success will either elevate one's ego or be used as a platform to elevate the name of God. The humble recognize that the hand of God is behind their every feat. The proud love to rub it in the face of their opponents not realizing that they are creating their own fall.
The children of Israel experienced their own victory parade after the crossing of the Red Sea. It was now time to celebrate, the end of 400 years of captivity was over, so the people began to dance and sing. Just like millions of people erupted in celebration in the streets of Philadelphia during the Superbowl parade, the children of Israel erupted in Praise in Exodus 15:1-21. The song sang by Philadelphia fans and players was "We Are The Champion," the song sang by Israel was "The Lord has triumphed gloriously."
In the Lord's song, credit is given to God as the source of strength and victory. He is the one by His right hand that crushed the horse and rider under the sea. "Who Is like the Lord, glorious in holiness, awesome in splendor, performing great wonders." It is His unfailing love and His might that leads and guides His people to safety.
We no longer have to wait until we see victory to celebrate for we are already victorious. Even when things look bleak and unpromising we are to celebrate. Faith is the key that releases power and favor that breaks up the fallow ground. Faith is the evidence of things not yet seen. One must already see spiritually that they are victorious before they will see it witnessed naturally.
Life in Christ is a non-stop Holy Spirit Victory Party. It all depends on whether we look through the lens of fear or faith, defeat or victory.
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).”
How Quick They Turn
The first part of Exodus 15 the children of Israel were celebrating through dance and song, the second part they are complaining.
Just as excited as Eagles fans are after winning the Superbowl if they start losing in the coming season the fans will quickly turn. That is how people are they celebrate when things go there way and complain when they do not.
The children of Israel had gone three days without finding water, when they finally found some at Marah, it was too bitter to drink. Instead of turning to God to do a miracle they complained to Moses.
Every need that God allows to go unmet is an opportunity to bring forth a miracle through faith.
Moses unlike the children of Israel who complained, prayed to God, and God told him to take a piece of wood, throw it into the water and you will be able to drink.
When bitterness is within someone they can celebrate only so long before they begin complaining again. Bitterness is a virus that you can only get healed from through the wooden cross. Only by applying the blood, offering forgiveness, can it be uprooted and pulled out of your heart.
You only know if you are delivered from bitterness when you are tested. If the person that wronged you comes near you or a thought of them comes to your mind and you choose to pray for them in all sincerity rather than dwell on negativity then you are free.
Prayer turns people and situations over to God who now steps in and does what only He can. When you surrender your bitterness to God the consequences of sin gets lifted and you are healed and delivered. God now leads you away from your place of want into a place of plenty.
Sunday February 18th
You know it’s not that easy to do something really big if you haven’t had some time to practice first. That’s why Moses, before he parted the waters of the Red Sea, used to practice separating smaller things, like his laundry!
So now the plagues and the Passover have ended, the Exodus has started, and God is about to do one more fantastic miracle to insure the deliverance of His people:
Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Tell the sons of Israel to turn back and camp before Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea; you shall camp in front of Baal-zephon, opposite it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the sons of Israel, ‘They are wandering aimlessly in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 Thus I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will chase after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, and the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
Keep in mind that the unfolding of the plagues and the continual hardening of Pharaoh’s heart were all part of a bigger picture, where God is proclaiming to Pharaoh and all of Egypt who the real sovereign power in the universe is. And this confrontation by the sea is another example.
5 When the king of Egypt was told that the people had fled, Pharaoh and his servants had a change of heart toward the people, and they said, “What is this we have done, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made his chariot ready and took his people with him; 7 and he took six hundred select chariots, and all the other chariots of Egypt with officers over all of them. 8 The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he chased after the sons of Israel as the sons of Israel were going out boldly. 9 Then the Egyptians chased after them with all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and they overtook them camping by the sea, beside Pi-hahiroth, in front of Baal-zephon.
In order to get the full effect of what is about to unfold, you have to recognize the fact that the Israelites we basically on foot, with no real army, and their group included women and children, along with herds of animals.
Pharaoh, on the other hand, had an army with over 600 chariots. This was an elite fighting force. Each Egyptian chariot carried three men, so there are at least 1800 highly trained soldiers coming after the fleeing Hebrews. This is like the original “David versus Goliath” battle! And the people of Israel quickly recognized how outmanned they were. And they were none too happy with Moses about this!
10 As Pharaoh drew near, the sons of Israel looked, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they became very frightened; so the sons of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Is it because there were no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you dealt with us in this way, bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we spoke to you in Egypt, saying, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.”
How’s that for gratitude? Thanks a lot for freeing us from slavery Moses! Now we get to die out here in the desert!
Of course this will become a constant pattern with them – grumbling and complaining against Moses and against God.
But Moses isn’t flustered by their accusations. By now, he has learned to fully trust in God, no matter what the circumstances look like:
13 But Moses said to the people, “Do not fear! Stand by and see the salvation of the Lord which He will accomplish for you today; for the Egyptians whom you have seen today, you will never see them again forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you while you keep silent.”
And God adds His “AMEN” to Moses’ exhortation:
15 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to Me? Tell the sons of Israel to go forward. 16 As for you, lift up your staff and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, and the sons of Israel shall go through the midst of the sea on dry land. 17 As for Me, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians so that they will go in after them; and I will be honored through Pharaoh and all his army, through his chariots and his horsemen. 18 Then the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord, when I am honored through Pharaoh, through his chariots and his horsemen.”
To paraphrase God – “Let’s DO this thing! Go big or go home!”
And in addition to His words, God gives them a visible sign:
19 The angel of God, who had been going before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud moved from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of Egypt and the camp of Israel; and there was the cloud along with the darkness, yet it gave light at night. Thus the one did not come near the other all night.
God provides a temporary buffer zone between the Hebrews and the Egyptians. The Angel of God is identified as the one who is going to be with them.
For Example, look at Exodus 23:20
“Behold, I am going to send an angel before you to guard you along the way and to bring you into the place which I have prepared.”
So while the angel is providing cloud cover, Moses obeys God’s command by stretching out his hand, with his staff, towards the water. And of course God moves miraculously:
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord swept the sea back by a strong east wind all night and turned the sea into dry land, so the waters were divided. 22 The sons of Israel went through the midst of the sea on the dry land, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
The fact that God uses the wind to accomplish His purpose doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a supernatural event. The wind had to hold the waters back while the people walked about ten miles through the Red Sea to safety. The path was reportedly about a half mile wide and is at an area where there is a slope down to the bottom of the Red Sea and then back up to the other side. On either side of this path are the depths of about 3000-5000 feet. Quite a bit of heavenly power was needed to hold those walls of water on both sides of the escape route.
Then God sent it back again with enough force to destroy Pharaoh’s army – which is what happens next:
23 Then the Egyptians took up the pursuit, and all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots and his horsemen went in after them into the midst of the sea. 24 At the morning watch, the Lord looked down on the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud and brought the army of the Egyptians into confusion. 25 He caused their chariot wheels to swerve, and He made them drive with difficulty; so the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from Israel, for the Lord is fighting for them against the Egyptians.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea so that the waters may come back over the Egyptians, over their chariots and their horsemen.” 27 So Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the sea returned to its normal state at daybreak, while the Egyptians were fleeing right into it; then the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 The waters returned and covered the chariots and the horsemen, even Pharaoh’s entire army that had gone into the sea after them; not even one of them remained. 29 But the sons of Israel walked on dry land through the midst of the sea, and the waters were like a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
We are told that by “the morning watch” all of the Israelites were safely across the dry sea and the Egyptians were in the middle of trying to catch them by crossing the safe dry ground. The morning watch was from 2:00 A. M. to 6:00 a.m. so it was likely still dark, plus the Lord threw the Egyptian army into confusion and made their chariots drive crooked and get stuck in the mud. Even the Egyptian soldiers recognized that God was fighting them!
And that was right before they all drowned!
And certainly the people of Israel realized that God’s miraculous power had just saved them again:
30 Thus the Lord saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 When Israel saw the great power which the Lord had used against the Egyptians, the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in His servant Moses.
So they feared God with a reverent fear and believed in Moses as their true leader and God’s servant. At least at this point in time, Israel as a nation is professing faith and trust in God and His appointed leaders.
Of course we know that later, in the wilderness, they will apostatize, grumble, complain, and make themselves a golden calf as an idol to worship!
But on that particular day, things were good between them and God. Why? Because He had just met their needs.
So what does this mean to us, the church? Well, for one thing, we are specifically told that we should avoid the example of the Israelites who praised God one day and then complained about Him the next day.
Check out what Paul said about them in 1 Corinthians 10:1:6. This is a section that in the NASB has a heading over it that says: Avoid Israel’s Mistakes“For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.”
And now look at Hebrews 3:5-17
Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later; 6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house—whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.
7 Therefore, just as the Holy Spirit says,
“Today if you hear His voice,
8 Do not harden your hearts as when they provoked Me,
As in the day of trial in the wilderness,
9 Where your fathers tried Me by testing Me,
And saw My works for forty years.
10 “Therefore I was angry with this generation,
And said, ‘They always go astray in their heart,
And they did not know My ways’;
11 As I swore in My wrath,
‘They shall not enter My rest.’”
12 Take care, brethren, that there not be in any one of you an evil, unbelieving heart that falls away from the living God. 13 But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called “Today,” so that none of you will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin. 14 For we have become partakers of Christ, if we hold fast the beginning of our assurance firm until the end, 15 while it is said,
“Today if you hear His voice,
Do not harden your hearts, as when they provoked Me.”
16 For who provoked Him when they had heard? Indeed, did not all those who came out of Egypt led by Moses? 17 And with whom was He angry for forty years? Was it not with those who sinned, whose bodies fell in the wilderness?
So we can clearly see how the Israelites blew it in the wilderness, and that we are told to NOT be like them.
But let’s give them a little bit of credit today for the things that they DID do right and how we CAN be like them in some positive ways.
First of all, they were facing a situation that can best be described by the phrase – “Between a rock and a hard place.”
On the one side they were pressed against the Red Sea, which at that moment was deep and unpassable. On the other side they had Pharaoh and the Egyptian army, led by 600 chariots, chasing them down with the intent of killing them, or at best, putting them back into slavery.
That’s a bit like how Paul describes the challenges of our Christian walk in 2 Corinthians 4:8“we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing”
Does that describe some of the things you’ve faced in your life? “Afflicted in every way”? “Perplexed”?
Do you think that the Israelites were perplexed about why God had led them to this place? Listen to this commentary:
Instead of sending Israel directly to the promise land, God sent them toward the Red Sea. To their left and right is nothing but desert sand and impassable rocks. At their front is the depth of the Red Sea. They are surrounded by problems with Pharaoh on their back and they have little time to think and find the solution for their escape.
Did you ever try to follow God with your whole heart but you end up somewhere that you hadn’t planned to go, wondering how you got there and why in the world would God have let this happen?
But notice that Paul says we are not crushed by our circumstances. We are not in despair even though we don’t see the way out yet!
The Christian walk isn’t a smooth path where we never find ourselves in difficult or confusing situations. Following Jesus simply means that when I find myself in those situations I truly trust and believe that He knows where I am and how to get me out of there. He has a plan and a purpose for my life – and sometimes His plan involves allowing me to face challenges. And He is going to bring something good out of each challenge, because He has promised to work ALL things together for my god!
Most of you have probably heard the famous hymn ‘Just As I Am’. That song was written by Charlotte Elliott, who at one time had been very bitter towards God about the circumstances in her life. Charlotte had been an invalid and she deeply resented the limits that her handicap placed on her activities. In a very emotional outburst on one occasion, she expressed her feelings of frustration to a minister who was visiting her. He listened and was touched by her distress, but he insisted that her problems should not keep her from turning her life over to God, to come to Him just as she was, even with all her bitterness and anger. She initially resented what seemed to be an almost uncaring attitude on his part, but God spoke to her through that man, and she decided to commit her life fully to the Lord, despite her doubts and frustrations. Then while she was alone one night, Charlotte wrote about her spiritual journey in that song. She poured out her feelings to God with words like - Just as I am, though tossed about––With many a conflict, many a doubt,––Fighting’s and fears within, without,––O Lamb of God, I come! I come!
Charlotte learned something crucial about her life - that circumstances and situations cannot be allowed to keep us from coming to Jesus. When we are confused, frightened, or in pain, we must not allow questions and doubts to keep us from the very one who has all of the answers.
Come to Jesus – Beautiful Jesus!
Sunday February 11th
Dedicated to God’s Service
It’s amazing the stories that 911 operators can tell.
One operator got a call and said “911, what’s your emergency?”
The voice on the other end said, “My wife is going into labor. I think she’s about to have the baby!”
The 911 operator asked “Is this her firstborn child?”
And the answer came back, “Uh, no, this is her husband!”
As we saw last week, the firstborn children of Egypt were hit by the final plague, but the firstborn children of Israel were spared. Now in chapter 13, God has something to say to about these firstborn sons of Israel.
Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, 2 “Sanctify to Me every firstborn, the first offspring of every womb among the sons of Israel, both of man and beast; it belongs to Me.”
The children of Israel have finally been set free. They are now moving forward out of Egypt towards the Promised Land. It was the death of their firstborn sons that brought Pharaoh and the people of Egypt to their knees.
The firstborn sons of Israel had their lives spared and now the Lord has told Moses to have all of the firstborn dedicated to His service.
In verses 3-10 God reestablishes the Feast of Unleavened bread and then in verses 11-12 God returns His focus to the firstborn:
“Now when the Lord brings you to the land of the Canaanite, as He swore to you and to your fathers, and gives it to you, 12 you shall devote to the Lord the first offspring of every womb, and the first offspring of every beast that you own; the males belong to the Lord.
And in verses 14-15 God tells Moses that they should explain this plan for dedicating the firstborn to all of their children for generations to come:
14 And it shall be when your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What is this?’ then you shall say to him, ‘With a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt, from the house of slavery. 15 It came about, when Pharaoh was stubborn about letting us go, that the Lord killed every firstborn in the land of Egypt, both the firstborn of man and the firstborn of beast. Therefore, I sacrifice to the Lord the males (animals), the first offspring of every womb, but every firstborn of my sons I redeem.’
In fact this dedication of the firstborn was so important to God that He wanted the people to carry a reminder of it on their hands and their foreheads:
16 So it shall serve as a sign on your hand and as phylacteries on your forehead, for with a powerful hand the Lord brought us out of Egypt.”
You might notice that very devout Orthodox Jews actually still wear a small box on their foreheads and wrists in fulfillment of this command.
The reality is this - that the people of Israel had been delivered from Egypt but deliverance was just the beginning of what God was planning to do in their lives. And the next stage of their journey was learning to dedicate themselves to the service of the Lord.
If we are going to move forward into the promises of God we need to be willing to dedicate our entire lives to His service. Our salvation is not a trophy to be put on our shelf, And God isn’t just a genie who just shows up whenever we pray in order to fulfill our wishes.
We are here on this earth to serve Him – not the other way around!
Romans 12:1 says, "considering all God has done, we offer our lives as a living sacrifice.....which is our reasonable service."
Of course there is no distinction in Christ between first born, second born, and third born children. We must all be born again at some point and dedicate our lives to God.
The fact that God wanted them to put a reminder on their foreheads and hands showed that He wanted to be first in their thoughts and in their deeds.
The forehead represents our thinking and the hand represents our doing.
Ask yourself this - Is God the first thought on your mind? Are you trying to please God in all that you do?
Don’t get me wrong.
God wasn’t trying to rain on their parade.
This was a time for the Israelites to celebrate the great and mighty hand of God and for this celebration to be passed on to the generations that would follow.
God is not a party-pooper!
God loves a good party! In fact God is the author of celebrations. He wants His people to have fun and to remember all that He has done for them. When God's people gather together it should be a time of celebration, full of passion and excitement because of the goodness of the Lord in our lives.
If we allow the Holy Spirit to direct our gatherings He will insure that they are full of passion. Our services should be celebrations of praise, where people gather together and experience the amazing feeling of being in His presence and witnessing His power.
God wants His children to live a celebratory life where we are constantly walking in joy and where people encounter God's presence simply by being near us.
However, that doesn’t mean that every moment of the journey is going to be easy, because sometimes God is going to get us where we need to go, but in a round-about way
Let’s look at Exodus 13:17-18
Now when Pharaoh had let the people go, God did not lead them by the way of the land of the Philistines, even though it was near; for God said, “The people might change their minds when they see war, and return to Egypt.” 18 Hence God led the people around by the way of the wilderness to the Red Sea; and the sons of Israel went up in martial array from the land of Egypt.
Was there an easier way to get to the Promised Land? Yes, there certainly was. So why didn’t God just send the people in that direction? Because they weren’t ready to face the Philistines yet, and God knew that. When they were finally ready, He would send them to face their enemies, but they had some training to go through first.
Do you ever feel like you’re going in circles spiritually or seemingly taking the long way to get somewhere?
The reason why God sometimes doesn’t just push the pedal down on the accelerator of our lives is that He knows where we’re at and what we can handle at any given moment.
We’re often in a rush to get from Point A to Point B, but if we really knew what was coming up ahead, maybe we would slow down and let God determine the timetable.
Just because nothing seems to be getting done at any given moment doesn’t mean God isn’t working in our lives. You see, God actually cares more about our inner growth than our outward circumstances. Because, if things on the inside aren't right we’re most likely going to mess up everything on the outside.
God had the children of Israel take the roundabout way so that they could avoid facing circumstances that they weren’t ready for, circumstances that would cause them to want to run back to Egypt.
How many of you know that God doesn’t give us more than we can handle?
He actually wants to increase our faith to the point where we can handle anything.
How many people, when we‘ve had about enough of someone’s issues, we might say, "you’re getting on my last nerve”?
The fact is, it’s when we have no last nerve left that we are finally ready for the Promised Land.
So think about this - how did millions of people leave Egypt without a plan for which direction to go?
Look at verses 21-22
The Lord was going before them in a pillar of cloud by day to lead them on the way, and in a pillar of fire by night to give them light, that they might travel by day and by night. 22 He did not take away the pillar of cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.
That’s how they knew where to go. God led them with a cloud during the day and with a pillar of fire by night.
God will always show us which path to go on if we acknowledge His leading. He might be taking us on the roundabout way, but if we trust Him then we will simply follow, knowing that He sees and knows all things, so His direction is always the best path for our lives.
There’s an interesting exclamation point on all of this if we go back and look at verse 19:
Moses took the bones of Joseph with him, for he had made the sons of Israel solemnly swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones from here with you.”
This is a fulfillment of something that happened way back in Genesis 50:24-26, long before Moses was even born:
Joseph said to his brothers, “I am about to die, but God will surely take care of you and bring you up from this land to the land which He promised on oath to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob.” 25 Then Joseph made the sons of Israel swear, saying, “God will surely take care of you, and you shall carry my bones up from here.” 26 So Joseph died at the age of one hundred and ten years; and he was embalmed and placed in a coffin in Egypt.
Ask yourself this – are you willing to trust God to keep His promises to you, even if you never see them fulfilled in your lifetime?
That’s what Joseph was saying – “I might die here in Egypt, but one day I believe you’ll carry my bones to the Promised Land, because God will not leave me in this captive land forever!”
So let’s sum this chapter up:
God should be first in our lives.
He should be first in our thoughts and first in our actions.
He should be first in our days and first in our nights.
He should be first if we’re taking the direct route and first if we are going the roundabout way.
He should be first in our lives and first, like Joseph, even at the moment of our death.
Are you ready to make God first in your life?
Sunday February 4th
I don’t know if any of you have even noticed, but we started using gluten-free matzo a while back for communion, in case anyone in the congregation is allergic to gluten. They actually make all kinds and flavors of matzo. They have plain, whole wheat, gluten free, salted, unsalted, garlic flavored, and a new kind of bran and fiber matzo, fortified with Metamucil. The slogan for that brand of matzo is "Let My People Go".
And after many chapters and many plagues, it’s finally time for Pharaoh to let the people of Israel go!
Now the Lord said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, 2 “This month shall be the beginning of months for you; it is to be the first month of the year to you.
The first month of the Hebrew year was to be Abib, which falls around March and April. This verse seems to show that God was instituting a new religious calendar at that time, with the Exodus as its starting point. So, for example, in 2018 Passover will begin on Friday, March 30 and it will end on Saturday, April 7.
Now starting in verse 3 God is going to give Moses the instructions for the first Passover:
3 Speak to all the congregation of Israel, saying, ‘On the tenth of this month they are each one to take a lamb for themselves, according to their fathers’ households, a lamb for each household. 4 Now if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his neighbor nearest to his house are to take one according to the number of persons in them; according to what each man should eat, you are to divide the lamb. 5 Your lamb shall be an unblemished male a year old; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.6 You shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month, then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel is to kill it at twilight.7 Moreover, they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and on the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. 8 They shall eat the flesh that same night, roasted with fire, and they shall eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs. 9 Do not eat any of it raw or boiled at all with water, but rather roasted with fire, both its head and its legs along with its entrails. 10 And you shall not leave any of it over until morning, but whatever is left of it until morning, you shall burn with fire.11 Now you shall eat it in this manner: with your loins girded, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand; and you shall eat it in haste—it is the Lord’s Passover.
The Passover observance is the oldest of all of the Jewish festivals and it is celebrated starting at twilight on the fourteenth day of that first month of Abib and then continuing for the next seven days.
The festival involved a sacrifice and a meal. The sacrifice had to be a lamb without any spot or blemish. This would also be true for all of the sacrifices of Israel in the tabernacle and the temple, as we saw in the Book of Leviticus. The idea here was to teach the people the idea of substitutionary death—the lamb was dying instead of their firstborn sons. Jesus’ death was being foreshadowed by the Passover lamb, which is why He is called the Lamb of God in John 1:29 and 36.
Also, look at 1st Peter 1:18-19
“knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.”
The Passover meal had a lot of symbolism, including the fact that it was to be eaten quickly and with their sandals on, as a reminder that they were about to be set free. The meat of the lamb was accompanied by unleavened bread, also a sign of hurriedness as well as an absence of sin. The bitter herbs they ate were to recall the bitter suffering of slavery that they had experienced in Egypt.
Notice also that they were to cover their doorposts with the lamb’s blood. Now God explains to Moses why this is so crucial:
12 For I will go through the land of Egypt on that night, and will strike down all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments—I am the Lord. 13 The blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you live; and when I see the blood I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
There are a couple of very significant elements to this final plague. One is that it targeted only the firstborn, which makes a difference because in those cultures all of the hopes and dreams of each family were invested in that firstborn son, who had the right of inheritance. This was clearly a planned act by God. As one commentary put it “no epidemic or accident could have been so selective”.
Secondly, God says that He is pouring out His judgment “on all the gods of Egypt”. The death of the firstborn included their animals too, many of which were considered sacred animals. Furthermore, the inability of Egypt’s gods to protect the people who worshipped them was going to be very clearly demonstrated by this plague.
Now God will establish this as a permanent festival:
14 ‘Now this day will be a memorial to you, and you shall celebrate it as a feast to the Lord; throughout your generations you are to celebrate it as a permanent ordinance. 15 Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread, but on the first day you shall remove leaven from your houses; for whoever eats anything leavened from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. 16 On the first day you shall have a holy assembly, and another holy assembly on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done on them, except what must be eaten by every person, that alone may be prepared by you. 17 You shall also observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt; therefore you shall observe this day throughout your generations as a permanent ordinance. 18 In the first month, on the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread, until the twenty-first day of the month at evening.19 Seven days there shall be no leaven found in your houses; for whoever eats what is leavened, that person shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is an alien or a native of the land.20 You shall not eat anything leavened; in all your dwellings you shall eat unleavened bread.’”
Again we see this emphasis on removing all yeast (or leaven) which was regarded as a symbol of sin or corruption. No Israelite sacrifice was ever allowed to contain any leaven. And neither did Jesus’ sacrifice!
In verses 21 through 27 Moses simply repeats to the people of Israel everything that God just told him to say.
(21 Then Moses called for all the elders of Israel and said to them, “Go and take for yourselves lambs according to your families, and slay the Passover lamb. 22 You shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning.
23 For the Lord will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the Lord will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. 24 And you shall observe this event as an ordinance for you and your children forever. 25 When you enter the land which the Lord will give you, as He has promised, you shall observe this rite. 26 And when your children say to you, ‘What does this rite mean to you?’27 you shall say, ‘It is a Passover sacrifice to the Lord who passed over the houses of the sons of Israel in Egypt when He smote the Egyptians, but spared our homes.’” And the people bowed low and worshiped.)
And verse 28 tells us that they were obedient:
28 Then the sons of Israel went and did so; just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.
And starting in verse 29 the plague begins:
29 Now it came about at midnight that the Lord struck all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sat on his throne to the firstborn of the captive who was in the dungeon, and all the firstborn of cattle. 30 Pharaoh arose in the night, he and all his servants and all the Egyptians, and there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was no home where there was not someone dead. 31 Then he called for Moses and Aaron at night and said, “Rise up, get out from among my people, both you and the sons of Israel; and go, worship the Lord, as you have said. 32 Take both your flocks and your herds, as you have said, and go, and bless me also.”
Do you remember how Pharaoh kept trying to bargain with Moses to settle for less than what God was asking for?
Well, he’s not bargaining anymore! He just wants these Hebrews GONE – men, women, children, flocks, herds, the whole bunch of them!
And the Egyptian people felt the same way as Pharaoh did:
33 The Egyptians urged the people, to send them out of the land in haste, for they said, “We will all be dead.” 34 So the people took their dough before it was leavened, with their kneading bowls bound up in the clothes on their shoulders.
But God wasn’t finished what He wanted to accomplish:
35 Now the sons of Israel had done according to the word of Moses, for they had requested from the Egyptians articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; 36 and the Lord had given the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they let them have their request. Thus they plundered the Egyptians.
God wasn’t going to let His children leave Egypt empty-handed, especially since they had slaved so hard serving the Egyptians. They may not have received any wages during their time as slaves, but they were going to get some long-overdue silver and gold on their way out!
Now the journey begins:
37 Now the sons of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, aside from children. 38 A mixed multitude also went up with them, along with flocks and herds, a very large number of livestock. 39 They baked the dough which they had brought out of Egypt into cakes of unleavened bread. For it had not become leavened, since they were driven out of Egypt and could not delay, nor had they prepared any provisions for themselves.
Of course we know now that this journey to the Promised Land was going to take a whole lot longer than they anticipated, but they begin by traveling from Rameses to Succoth, which was somewhere in the eastern Delta of the Nile. And there are hundreds of thousands of them.
How did they grow into such a large people group? One reason was that they had been in Egypt for many generations:
40 Now the time that the sons of Israel lived in Egypt was four hundred and thirty years. 41 And at the end of four hundred and thirty years, to the very day, all the hosts of the Lord went out from the land of Egypt.
This is pretty close to what God had foretold to Abraham in Genesis 15:13
God said to Abram, “Know for certain that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years.
Now there are just a few more instructions about the Passover regulations, focusing on the restriction of the ceremony to the Hebrew people only, because as verse 38 mentions, there were a few non-Israelites leaving Egypt with the Hebrews.
42 It is a night to be observed for the Lord for having brought them out from the land of Egypt; this night is for the Lord, to be observed by all the sons of Israel throughout their generations.
43 The Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “This is the ordinance of the Passover: no foreigner is to eat of it; 44 but every man’s slave purchased with money, after you have circumcised him, then he may eat of it. 45 A sojourner or a hired servant shall not eat of it. 46 It is to be eaten in a single house; you are not to bring forth any of the flesh outside of the house, nor are you to break any bone of it. 47 All the congregation of Israel are to celebrate this. 48 But if a stranger sojourns with you, and celebrates the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near to celebrate it; and he shall be like a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person may eat of it. 49 The same law shall apply to the native as to the stranger who sojourns among you.”
50 Then all the sons of Israel did so; they did just as the Lord had commanded Moses and Aaron. 51 And on that same day the Lord brought the sons of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their hosts.
Besides excluding outsiders, the other significant instruction in these verses is that none of the bones of the animals were allowed to be broken.
Just like the Passover lamb, none of the bones of Jesus were broken at His crucifixion.
Look at John 19:31-36
Then the Jews, because it was the day of preparation, so that the bodies would not remain on the cross on the Sabbath (for that Sabbath was a high day), asked Pilate that their legs might be broken, and that they might be taken away. 32 So the soldiers came, and broke the legs of the first man and of the other who was crucified with Him; 33 but coming to Jesus, when they saw that He was already dead, they did not break His legs. 34 But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately blood and water came out. 35 And he who has seen has testified, and his testimony is true; and he knows that he is telling the truth, so that you also may believe. 36 For these things came to pass to fulfill the Scripture, “Not a bone of Him shall be broken.”
So does any of this Passover stuff have anything to do with us as followers of Jesus today?
I think that it clearly does.
Look at 1st Corinthians 5:7-8
Clean out the old leaven so that you may be a new lump, just as you are in fact unleavened. For Christ our Passover also has been sacrificed. 8 Therefore let us celebrate the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Do you want to see the clear connection between Jesus’ death and the feast of Passover? Look at Luke 22:1-2
Now the Feast of Unleavened Bread, which is called the Passover, was approaching. 2 The chief priests and the scribes were seeking how they might put Him to death; for they were afraid of the people.
Now skip down to verse 7:
7 Then came the first day of Unleavened Bread on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. 8 And Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, “Go and prepare the Passover for us, so that we may eat it.” 9 They said to Him, “Where do You want us to prepare it?” 10 And He said to them, “When you have entered the city, a man will meet you carrying a pitcher of water; follow him into the house that he enters. 11 And you shall say to the owner of the house, ‘The Teacher says to you, “Where is the guest room in which I may eat the Passover with My disciples?”’ 12 And he will show you a large, furnished upper room; prepare it there.” 13 And they left and found everything just as He had told them; and they prepared the Passover.
14 When the hour had come, He reclined at the table, and the apostles with Him. 15 And He said to them, “I have earnestly desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer;
Jesus Christ is our Passover lamb. His sacrifice cleansed us from all of the old “leaven” or sin in our lives. We celebrate our Passover every time that we take communion, like we did this morning.
Just like the people of Israel, we have been delivered from slavery to our old way of life.
Our Egypt might have been drugs, or it might have been alcohol. Maybe it was anger, jealousy, selfishness, or pride. Maybe we were in bondage to gambling or pornography – but not anymore!
Jesus came to earth to fulfill the role of the final Passover lamb. Everything that God was doing in Exodus was a prelude to what was going to happen when Jesus’ blood was shed to cover the door of our houses, our lives, to spare us from judgment and lead us to freedom.
The Lord says to Pharaoh in verse one “I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt, after that he will let you go from here.”
We cannot take things into our own hands, or give up and abort the process, if we are going to see the victory of Christ enforced. Every test we go through is to increase our endurance level so we can handle anything.
Consider it nothing but joy, my [b]brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials. Be assured that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. And let endurance have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4
God told Moses who now had become highly favored amongst the Egyptians to gather silver and gold from the Egyptians which will eventually be used as construction materials for the ark of the covenant.
This is an example of the wealth of the wicked being laid up for the just as it says in Proverbs 13:22. It takes money to restore the earth and we are the called out ones to give the earth a makeover. It is time for us to not fear money but fear God. God will give us favor and people who even hate God will give to us not knowing it will be used to fulfill God’s will.
“See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant.” Jeremiah 1:10
The Lord told Moses that He will strike Pharaoh and the land of Egypt with one more blow which will be a knockout. The plague of death in which every firstborn including Pharaoh’s son the heir to his throne will be killed at midnight. There was nothing that could hit Pharaoh and the people of Egypt harder, it will cause them to wail like no one ever before, but now they will beg the Israelites to go, setting the way for the children of Israel to finally be released from slavery.
If we just can maintain our faith in God every battle will end with His victory enforced. We who were once outcasts, nobodies, through the test of time, being proven through round after round of opposition, and yet enduring, respect and favor will be given, even from our enemies.
The battle was already won with the resurrection of Jesus. Satan thought he had the final blow but before the count was finished Jesus got up and in His getting up Satan was knocked down. We now the body of Christ are called to enforce this victory throughout the earth in every sphere of society.
For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea. Habakuk 2:14
There are too many Christians living in defeat, ground is not being taken but rather it is being lost. Your defeated foe continues to operate as if he was victorious. Society sees more of his imprint in everything than they do the Lord. Why is this? Let’s look at Acts 3:17-21 from the amplified for understanding.
17 “Now, brothers, I know that you acted in ignorance [not fully aware of what you were doing], just as your rulers did also.
Some of us have simply been ignorant, we have not been taught or have learned for ourselves what as a citizen of the kingdom of God really looks like. We don’t understand our IPA; our identity in Christ, our purpose, or our God given assignment.
18 And so God has fulfilled what He foretold by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Christ (Messiah, Anointed) would suffer. 19 So repent [change your inner self—your old way of thinking, regret past sins] and return [to God—seek His purpose for your life], so that your sins may be wiped away [blotted out, completely erased], so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord [restoring you like a cool wind on a hot day];
The question you need to ask yourself is have I truly repented? If we have we will not continue to live in habitual sin, repentance frees us from sin because we turn our heart towards God, and God empowers us through the Holy Spirit. He then leads us in living out our purpose, which goes far beyond church attendance and daily devotions. It is a way of life. It is knowing our assignment on earth and being about doing it. It is only as we walk in God’s will that we walk in His presence which brings continual refreshing.
20 and that He may send [to you] Jesus, the Christ, who has been appointed for you, 21 whom heaven must keep until the time for the [complete] restoration of all things about which God promised through the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time.
Each of us are called to the work of restoration. God desires to redeem the earth to bring it back to it’s original purpose. God is a creator, Satan is a deceiver. All things are to be used for God’s glory. We are looking for things to get worse before Jesus returns but as we see here, He is waiting until all things are restored before He returns to complete what we have done to usher in the Millennial reign. It is time we get to work and stop being idle as it says in Luke 19:13 in the parable of the talents our job is to “occupy until He comes.” As Colossians 1:20 says “we are to reconcile all things to Christ.”
Which mountain has God called you? What is your part to play in the discipling of the nations? What talent and gifts has He placed within you and are you utilizing them for His glory?
God told Moses that though Pharaoh witnesses all these miracles and initially lets the people go it will still not be enough. He will harden his heart and try not to let the people go and even greater miracles will be released.
It is like a boxer not agreeing with the outcome of a fight and demanding another match. Pharaoh as we will see regrets this decision and with his army chases after Israel. While Satan is allowed to roam on the earth He has no authority to rule unless we let him. There is no rematch, He has no other chance, He is eternally defeated. What we must do is silence him by giving him no place until Jesus returns and Satan is thrown into the lake of fire for eternity.
And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever. Revelations 20:1
Sunday January 21st
At a recent pastor’s conference each minister in attendance was asked the same question: “How many people does it take to change a light bulb?”
The answers were as follows.
The Presbyterian Pastor responded, “None. If God wants the bulb changed he is sovereign and He will do it all by himself without any human effort.”
The Charismatic Pastor replied, “None. The bulb doesn’t need to be changed. It needs to be healed.”
The Pentecostal Pastor said, “None. We need to cast out the demon of darkness from the bulb.”
The Fundamentalist Pastor stated, “None. Because we shouldn’t even enter that room. We need to keep ourselves separate from all of that darkness.”
The Baptist Pastor responded, “None. If we allow physical contact between a person and a bulb, all that turning and twisting might lead to dancing.”
Well, Moses might be asking a similar question to Pharaoh, because by the time chapter ten of Exodus is over, it’s going to get pretty dark in Egypt!
But first, there will be locusts!
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may perform these signs of Mine among them, 2 and 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, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
We’ve talked before about Pharaoh hardening his own heart on some occasions and then God hardening it for him on other occasions. God essentially allowed Pharaoh to follow his own rebellion against obeying God’s commands. If Pharaoh wanted to have a hard heart, God was not only going to LET him have one, He was going to HELP him have one!
And God tells Moses that the end result of all of this hardness of heart will be an opportunity for God to display his power. And God also tells Moses that this will be something that the Israelites will be able to tell their children about for generations to come.
We see this happening in Deuteronomy 6:20–25
“When your son asks you in time to come, saying, ‘What do the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments mean which the Lord our God commanded you?’ 21 then you shall say to your son, ‘We were slaves to Pharaoh in Egypt, and the Lord brought us from Egypt with a mighty hand. 22 Moreover, the Lord showed great and distressing signs and wonders before our eyes against Egypt, Pharaoh and all his household; 23 He brought us out from there in order to bring us in, to give us the land which He had sworn to our fathers.’ 24 So the Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God for our good always and for our survival, as it is today. 25 It will be righteousness for us if we are careful to observe all this commandment before the Lord our God, just as He commanded us.”
It’s important to remember the value of our testimony. There is power in proclaiming what God has done in our lives – the things that He has set us free from!
Now on to the locusts!
3 Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me? Let My people go, that they may serve Me. 4 For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory. 5 They shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one will be able to see the land. They will also eat the rest of what has escaped—what is left to you from the hail—and they will eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field. 6 Then your houses shall be filled and the houses of all your servants and the houses of all the Egyptians, something which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.’” And he turned and went out from Pharaoh. 7 Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?” 8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh, and he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God! Who are the ones that are going?” 9 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.
Notice that Pharaoh is continuing to try to cut a deal with Moses for less than what the Lord was demanding.
God told Moses that everyone should go, but Pharaoh says he will only let the men go.
And what do we tell the devil when he offers us a compromise? NO DEAL!
That’s exactly what Moses says!
12 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, that they may come up on the land of Egypt and eat every plant of the land, even all that the hail has left.” 13 So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the Lord directed an east wind on the land all that day and all that night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts. 14 The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled in all the territory of Egypt; they were very numerous. There had never been so many locusts, nor would there be so many again. 15 For they covered the surface of the whole land, so that the land was darkened; and they ate every plant of the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Thus nothing green was left on tree or plant of the field through all the land of Egypt.
A swarm of locusts can include as many 130 million locusts per square mile. Some swarms have covered more than 400 square miles (an area 20 miles by 20 miles) Locusts can move across and devour 60 miles per day.
The Book of Joel records a locust plague that was a judgment against Israel in Joel 1:2-4
Hear this, O elders,
And listen, all inhabitants of the land.
Has anything like this happened in your days
Or in your fathers’ days?
3 Tell your sons about it,
And let your sons tell their sons,
And their sons the next generation.
4 What the gnawing locust has left, the swarming locust has eaten;
And what the swarming locust has left, the creeping locust has eaten;
And what the creeping locust has left, the stripping locust has eaten.
When God finally pours out His end-time judgment, He will sent a particularly nasty kind of locust, one that doesn’t attack plants, but people:
Revelation 9:3-6 And there came out of the smoke locusts upon the earth: and unto them was given power, as the scorpions of the earth have power. And it was commanded them that they should not hurt the grass of the earth, neither any green thing, neither any tree; but only those men which have not the seal of God in their foreheads. And to them it was given that they should not kill them, but that they should be tormented five months: and their torment was as the torment of a scorpion, when he strikes a man. And in those days shall men seek death, and shall not find it; and shall desire to die, and death shall flee from them.
The end result of the plague of locusts upon Egypt is a momentary repentance from Pharaoh as usual:
16 Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. 17 Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and make supplication to the Lord your God, that He would only remove this death from me.” 18 He went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord. 19 So the Lord shifted the wind to a very strong west wind which took up the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea; not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt. 20 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.
Pharaoh acts like he is repentant, because he wants the locusts gone, but he doesn’t want his Hebrew slaves gone, which means another plague is on its way:
21 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the sons of Israel had light in their dwellings.
This form of darkness was clearly more than an eclipse of the sun. It was a kind of supernatural darkness. Someone has called it “the most mysterious of all the plagues”.
Verse 22 calls it “thick darkness” and verse 21 calls it “a darkness that could be FELT”!
Verse 23 says that the Egyptians “did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days” which seems to suggest that there was something about this darkness that prevented people from not just seeing, but even moving.
Whatever it was, this uninterrupted darkness settled over all of Egypt for three days, but the Children of Israel still had light in their homes.
Just like we saw with the frogs, there was a real irony here because the Egyptians celebrated the dawn of each morning because they claimed that the sun god had overcome the serpent of darkness once again. This plague of darkness was another proof of the Hebrew God’s superiority over the Egyptian gods.
This also included Horus – who was supposedly the god of the sky. It was believed that the sun was one of his eyes and the moon the other eye.
So when the sun didn’t show up for three straight days, it was like God was giving Horus a black eye!
Even after all of these demonstrations of God’s power, Pharaoh still offers one more deal:
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.” 25 But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice them to the Lord our God. 26 Therefore, our livestock too shall go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we shall take some of them to serve the Lord our God. And until we arrive there, we ourselves do not know with what we shall serve the Lord.” 27 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. 28 Then Pharaoh said to him, “Get away from me! Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!” 29 Moses said, “You are right; I shall never see your face again!”
Here are three things that I want you to remember from chapter 10:
First, when God has called you to do something, you don’t have to fear anyone or anything!
Pharaoh threatens Moses by saying “Beware, do not see my face again, for in the day you see my face you shall die!”
But Moses simply replies “That’s right, I won’t be seeing your face again, because my God is about to deliver me and my people from your slavery. So bye-bye!”
Second, the power of testimony can’t be emphasized enough. God told Moses that when all of this was over, the people of Israel would have something to proclaim for generations to come. And they certainly did proclaim it!
Look at Psalm 78:44-5144 And turned their rivers to blood,
And their streams, they could not drink.
45 He sent among them swarms of flies which devoured them,
And frogs which destroyed them.
46 He gave also their crops to the grasshopper
And the product of their labor to the locust.
47 He destroyed their vines with hailstones
And their sycamore trees with frost.
48 He gave over their cattle also to the hailstones
And their herds to bolts of lightning.
49 He sent upon them His burning anger,
Fury and indignation and trouble,
A band of destroying angels.
50 He leveled a path for His anger;
He did not spare their soul from death,
But gave over their life to the plague,
51 And smote all the firstborn in Egypt,
The first issue of their virility in the tents of Ham.
And again we see the testimony of deliverance in Psalm 105:28-3628 He sent darkness and made it dark;
And they did not rebel against His words.
29 He turned their waters into blood
And caused their fish to die.
30 Their land swarmed with frogs
Even in the chambers of their kings.
31 He spoke, and there came a swarm of flies
And gnats in all their territory.
32 He gave them hail for rain,
And flaming fire in their land.
33 He struck down their vines also and their fig trees,
And shattered the trees of their territory.
34 He spoke, and locusts came,
And young locusts, even without number,
35 And ate up all vegetation in their land,
And ate up the fruit of their ground.
36 He also struck down all the firstborn in their land,
The first fruits of all their vigor.
The final thing that I want you to remember from this chapter is that because of Jesus we are not the objects of God’s wrath and judgment, we are the recipients of His mercy!
Look at this wonderful promise in 1 Thessalonians 5:9
“For God has not destined us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ”
And not only is God going to spare us from experiencing His wrath, He is also going to help us to repair the damage that we did in our lives prior to our salvation. He is going to restore aspects of our lives that we ruined when we lived our lives outside of His will and His plan.
Here is God’s promise to us found in Joel 2:25
“And I will restore to you the years that the locust has eaten”
That’s such a reassuring promise. Whatever things we messed up, whatever relationships we destroyed, whatever self-worth we trashed – God is able, and WILLING to make right again.
Can you trust Him today to do that in your life?
“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!