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!