Monday, February 04, 2013

When God Acts, Many Try to Duplicate It, or Credit It to Science Exodus 7:8-13

Now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, saying, “When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, ‘Work a miracle’; then you shall say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent.’”  So Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, and thus they did just as the Lord had commanded; and Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants, and it became a serpent.  Then Pharaoh also called for the wise men and the sorcerers, and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secrets arts.  For each one threw down his staff and they turned into serpents.  But Aaron’s staff swallowed up their staffs.  Yet Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
As I study this passage in Exodus, I learn that God knows in advance what is going to happen.  And He wants to prepare us for it one way or another.  In this case, God tells Moses exactly what Pharaoh will do or ask for, that is – “Work a miracle”.  And then God instructs Moses how to respond.  Have you had that experience?  I suggest to you that it comes when we walk close to God on an on-going basis.  It comes when He has an opportunity to whisper His direction to us in our hearts or our minds, both of which He should control.
Next I note Moses and Aaron, having received their ‘final and detailed instructions’ do not hesitate, but right away, the Scriptures say, “came to Pharaoh” and “did just as the Lord had commanded”.  Unless God’s instructions clearly convey a timetable in the future, our assignment, should we choose to accept it, is to carry it out right away.  [As I write this today, I recognized that I had as one of my assignments to call a brother who is in palliative care waiting to be called home to glory.  I made the decision that I could call him later and I commenced my devotions in the study of Exodus that I share with you.  I realized though that what lessons God gives me and I write down, must not only be for others, but also for me.  So, I interrupted my study right here and I went to call my friend and co-laborer, Allen H.  At his bedside now 24/7, his wife answered the phone as he slept.  We were able to encourage her and assure her of our prayers.  She needed that right there and then and was much appreciative.  ‘Later’ would likely not have been as beneficial to her need.]  And it is for that reason that we must carry out God’s directions to us in a timely manner.
The third thing I note about this passage is that the miracle here that took place was from God; Aaron and Moses were just carrying it out.  They followed His instructions.  We may not be in the practice of delivering physical miracles for God, but many of us are involved in carrying out some aspect of ministry whether it be in preaching, teaching, mediating, leading, etc.  We need to be careful to realize that what gets done is not because of us, but because He wills it to be.  He could easily render us ‘of no avail’.  But as long as we simply want to be His vessel and be used by Him for His glory, we will be able to see the results He allows us to have a part in.
And what does the world do?  Pharaoh immediately tries to demonstrate that what Moses and Aaron were doing were not real miracles by God but something that could be attributed to sorcery, magic, or secret arts, or in essence today, scientific explanation.  Acting much like the world does today, Pharaoh calls in his so-called sorcerers, magicians, and other ‘scientists’ of the day to duplicate what God had done in order to explain it away, giving him cause to ignore the demands of the Almighty.  You see, if we can attribute all of what is going on in our lives to chance, or to science, we do not have to address the need to have a personal relationship with God and to love Him, serve Him, and obey Him.
And how well do these learned men (and women) today do?  Well, they get to a certain point simply because God does often work within the laws of nature He Himself has established.  In this case here with Moses and Aaron, they too threw down their staffs and they turned into serpents.  Was God playing with them?  I think so but who knows. Or perhaps He wanted to show them that He could take over their own schemes as well, for the very next thing that happens is that their staffs were swallowed up by Aaron’s staff.  Science can only take us so far.  And it does not meet the needs of our hearts and soul.
You would think that with all that strong evidence of God’s involvement in what Pharaoh just saw, he would relent and bow down before Him.  But instead, just as God had predicted, his heart was hardened and he did not listen to the pleas of Moses and Aaron.  We may well argue, “Well, if God hardened his heart, of course not.”  Let us not be quick to blame God for this.  David Guzik in his study of this verse points out that Pharaoh did this in spite of the evidence, not because of it.  We allow our hearts to be hardened based on our disposition to the truth that is presented us.  We are all masters of our free choice to believe or not believe.
The lesson for us here as Christians is that we follow God’s instructions.  The lesson for those who oppose God is to be sure that you have peace with your decision.
[Are you looking for a speaker at your church, your club, school, or organization? Ken is available to preach, teach, challenge, and/or motivate. Please contact us.]

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