Tuesday, April 30, 2013

The 9th Plague of Darkness Comes With a Death Warning -- Exodus 10:21-29


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.”  So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and there was thick darkness in all the land of Egypt for three days.  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.  Then Pharaoh called to Moses, and said, “Go, serve the Lord; only let you flocks and your herds be detained.  Even your little ones may go with you.”  But Moses said, “You must also let us have sacrifices and bunt offerings, that we may sacrifice them to the Lord our God.  Therefore, our livestock, too, will go with us; not a hoof will 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.”  But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go.  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!”  And Moses said, “You are right; I shall never see your face again!”
 
So the locusts are gone and because of Pharaoh’s hardened heart, the children of Israel are still in Egypt.  God wastes no time to once again tell Moses what to do – and this time it will bring severe darkness over the entire land, a darkness that the text says, “may be felt.”  For three days it was so dark that people could not see each other.  It was so dark that they did not venture outside their dwellings lest they risked being hurt.
But miraculously God had arranged for regular daylight to shine in the homes of the children of Israel.  This is perhaps one of the most difficult miracles of God to explain, from a scientific perspective.  The good news is that once someone accepts that God is Who He says He is, the rest can be taken by faith, trusting it to be true for then (i.e. after we accept He is Who He says He is) it makes perfect sense.  Alternatively, one can try to explain it, ending up in perhaps doubting God, and missing out on the blessings of a life with Him.
Somehow Pharaoh gets word to Moses and when the Israelite appears before Egypt’s ruler he is told to “Go and serve his Lord.”  But Pharaoh does not stop there; he once again, because his decision was still made with his head and not his heart, goes into a “negotiating” mode and while he makes a big concession to allow the young children to go with their parents to worship God, he demanded the livestock to stay.
Moses is probably thinking to himself, “What part of the word ‘no’ does this man not understand?”  And so once again he holds his ground with confidence and tells Pharaoh, “Absolutely not; everything goes with us.”  And I love this next line, “Not a hoof will be left behind.”  I wonder sometimes if we as Christians today concede too much to the Enemy when going about living for the King and carrying out His business.
We note here an interesting comment by Moses basically implying “we need to take everything because we ourselves really don’t know exactly the manner in which we will be serving God.” That is, they did not know how many sacrifices and what kind of sacrifices would be required and thus “we better have all the animals with us”.  And that may well be true – Moses had learned to take instructions from God on an “obey as you go” basis.  On the other hand, it was an honest enough reason to give to Pharaoh as to why every single animal had to come out of Egypt with the Israelites.
There is much that can be said about this symbolically.  For example, we can see this as an indication of the fact that when we devote ourselves to God, we cannot leave any part of life or experience to remain in the land of bondage from which we were saved.  True enough and something to be mindful of.  Many of us try to do just that.  Also of interest here is the issue of intent and integrity with respect to the request the Israelites, especially Moses and Aaron up to this point, were making of Pharaoh.  Was this ‘exodus’ to be just a temporary leave of absence or was this to be a total escape from Egypt?  The evidence was certainly mounting in favor of the latter and certainly Pharaoh was sensing this possibility.  But we shall return to this point later.
For now, suffice it to say that once again, having just lost his last attempt at negotiating a compromise, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened again, and it was now his turn to be fed up.  It is then he hurls out his last ditch threat just like often the union negotiators I deal with regularly do.  They stand up, they pound their fist on the table, and say, “That’s it.  The next time you see us will be on the picket line.  We’ll be on strike.”  Pharaoh is basically saying the same thing here, “Don’t bother seeing my face again, for if you do, you will die.”  “Talks are over.  No more negotiations.  I’ve had it with you guys.”
And then you have to love the response that a man filled with the wisdom of God can give in such a situation as this.  Moses simply replies, “You’ve got this one right.  I won’t see you again.”  Wow.  Somehow Moses knew this was going to be it.  His God had had enough.  The end was near for the Egyptian ruler and freedom lay just ahead for the children of Israel.  Oh, that God would permit you and I to speak with such authority to His enemies.  I think He wants us to.  Perhaps it is us that do not have our relationship so in tune with Him that prevents us from doing so.
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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

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Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, April 29, 2013

The 8th Plague – the Locusts arrive -- Exodus 10:12-20

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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.”  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 the night; and when it was morning, the east wind brought the locusts.  And 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.  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.  Then Pharaoh hurriedly called for Moses and Aaron, and he said, “I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you.  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.”  And he went out from Pharaoh and made supplication to the Lord.  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.  But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the sons of Israel go.
 
After Moses and Aaron were “driven out of Pharaoh’s presence”, God wasted no time.  He held no further discussion with His agents.  He just gave a command and Moses obeyed.  Oh what a model of pure faith in one’s Commander that describes.  Moses had had his share of arguing with God.  He lost.  And He had seen God’s power and experienced everything that God had said in advance would happen.  There was no point in disagreeing ever again.  These days we are often too encouraged to challenge God.  Blind obedience is indeed to be avoided but let us not fear it to the point where faith plays no role in our lives.
Can you imagine the feelings of the Egyptian people as the east wind blew on Egypt all that day and all that night?  Had they heard from Pharaoh and his servants, or even from Moses or Aaron or others of the children of Israel who knew, what was coming in the morning?  Can you imagine the fear they felt or the efforts they made to protect themselves?  I wonder if this is just a little foreshadowing of what it will be like when the Son of God returns to establish His Kingdom forever.
And then as promised by God, and Moses, the locusts did come in the morning.  They came in swarms.  So many in fact, that no one had ever seen such quantities before.  And the Scriptures assure us no one would ever see such quantities again.  It is worthwhile to stop here and ponder whether that assurance was only for the Egyptians or was it for all the earth, similar to the promise God had made to Noah after the flood back in Genesis – that He would never cause such flooding over the whole earth again?  So far, either position holds.
The locust swarms were so thick that although it was morning and perhaps the sun was shining, the actual land was darkened as if a great cloud had covered it.  The spiritual darkness of the nation’s leaders had led to the physical darkness of the nation.  [Are we seeing the same thing in many of our lands today?]  And the locusts did not just make buzzing noises and hop around; they went to work.  The text says they ate every plant that existed and every fruit on the trees that the earlier plague, the hail, had left.  There was nothing ‘green’ left for food or perhaps even widespread plant reproduction.
Now Pharaoh is really in a tizzy for the text says he “hurriedly” called for Moses and Aaron.  But he  gave them the same old story – “I have sinned; please ask God to forgive me; only this once; to save me from death.”  Pharaoh knew that Moses too was fed up with him.   Sometimes I wonder if “asking someone else to plead with God on your behalf when you yourself are not prepared to do so” is, among other things, a clear indication of the fact that one does not really know God.  We are indeed to ask others to pray for us, but not if we have not prayed first for ourselves on that matter.  Unless of course, we have been incapacitated or come to an extremity in our life where the prayers of others are needed because we do not how to pray for ourselves.
Nevertheless, partly because of his desire to believe him or perhaps because of his desire to get his brethren out of Egypt as quickly as possible, or was it that he himself could stand to see any more devastation befall the land of Egypt, Moses does indeed go and pray to God on Pharaoh’s behalf.  And God heeds Moses’ prayer and this time He sends a west wind – the Bible refers to it as a “very strong” wind (as compared to the east wind which had no adjectives attached) – and it literally picked up all the locusts and blew them by force into the Red Sea.  The closest thing I can relate to would be seeing my entire backyard covered with fallen autumn leaves piled up very high and then a wind coming, thrusting them into the air and then like a flying carpet blowing them away until I could see them no longer.  God had control of not only the locusts but also the winds and their direction that brought them and then took them away.  And if I am reading the text correctly, God drowned the locusts in the Red Sea.
And then this wonderful phrase, “not one locust was left in all the territory of Egypt.”  Not “one” locust “anywhere” in Egypt.  What a thorough and complete act on God’s behalf.  But is not that our God?  No matter what He decides to do for the earth, for the people of the earth, for His children – it is a whole job totally and perfectly executed.  So, it is with His plan for salvation for each of us.  It is available to all and it is perfect – including the fact that He does not force us into it but allows our “free will” to play a part.
But dear old Pharaoh, like many we know, and perhaps some of us, even though we see this incredible work on God’s part, he hardened his heart and God allowed him to exercise his free will so that he did not let the sons of Israel go.  Eight plagues and he had not learned a thing, it seems.  But God was not finished with him yet.  What would it take for him to do so?  What will it take for someone you know or you yourself to accept God as your God and Lord?  Know this, God is not finished with us yet.
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[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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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Negotiating Before the 8th Plague – the Locusts -- Exodus 10:7-11


And 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?”  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?”  And Moses said, “We shall go with our young and our old; with our sons and our daughters, with our flocks and our herds we will go, for we must hold a feast to the Lord.”  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.  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.
 
This portion of Scripture starts off telling us that Moses was ‘a snare’ to the servants of Pharaoh.  And I am sure this included the magicians.  You will remember that they tried to replicate the miracles God was performing through Moses and Aaron, and they could only do so to a point.  This frustrated them greatly and by now, they had had enough.  There is no doubt that they also felt that their own country, Egypt, was being quickly eroded and would eventually be eliminated.  We need to be aware that these ‘servants’ likely included a group of Egyptian civil servants we had not taken note of before – that is, the Pharaoh’s council, his governmental ministers, etc.  They were the ones that brought him the ‘state of the nation’ report from their travels across the land.  They had a responsibility to advise him on the need for action now, before it was forced on them when Egypt would be reduced to nothing.
Two things were at play here.  First, all these ‘servants’ realized that they stood the risk of losing their positions, their authority, and their own wealth.  Secondly, it appears like Pharaoh himself, regardless of how strongly he opposed letting the Israelites go, was now facing growing opposition from his advisors and those that he needed to run his kingdom.  It was clearly time for him to take some, albeit limited, action.
His advisors urged Pharaoh to just let the “men” go.  They were not prepared to let all the Israelites go, just the grown-up males.  To them, it was the men that counted; it was the men’s worship and sacrifice that really mattered.  That should be sufficient.   In addition, they only wanted to give up what they absolutely had to and nothing more.  The women and girls were still housemaids and performed other tasks and responsibilities.  They wanted to hold on to them.  They were the “collateral insurance” that had to be put up toe ensure the Israelites would come back.  Are we not ourselves like that sometimes when it comes to what God wants us to give up?  I know I am.  And yet God is patient with me.  But for some reason, we do not rest completely until we have yielded totally to his will.
I am in the midst of reading again about the life of Hudson Taylor who discovered the need to fully yield all to God and then to fully rest in Him, Who is the “All”.  The principle is as simple as that.  Taylor believes that we need to approach that “All” of God’s not to extract it out and use it for ourselves or our own purposes, but rather we access it by immersing ourselves into His “All” and abiding there, doing His bidding.  And the tool for so doing was and is “faith”.  He writes, “I saw that faith was the only prerequisite, was the hand to lay hold of His fullness and make it my own.”  And then he says, “But I had not this faith.”  He had some, but not the faith in terms of quality and quantity that he felt he needed.  In answer to his own question, “But how to get faith strengthened?” Hudson Taylor responded, “Not by striving after faith, but by resting on the Faithful One.”  There you have it, one of the spiritual secrets of a spiritual giant.  Don’t strive.  Rest (abide, breathe, work, remain, trust, hope, find real joy) totally in the Faithful One.
With the bad advice in hand, Pharaoh orders that Moses and Aaron be brought back before him.  I would suggest that Pharaoh was ticked to say the least as evidenced by the exclamation mark at the end of his first statement, “Go, serve the Lord your God!”  You can just hear the disdain with which those words were uttered.
What happens next is interesting in that while his advisors had given him the suggested plan to be followed as to who he should allow to go, Pharaoh decides instead to ask Moses and Aaron, “Who are the ones that going?”  Was he being crafty or was he just a good negotiator?  We do not know for sure.  My own guess is that he secretly hoped that Moses and Aaron, on their own, would have suggested that only the men go and then he could grant them that request happily, having now had the extra push from his advisors.  That would make him look good.
But instead, Moses, not being fooled by any insincere approach that the Pharaoh took, sticks to his guns and responds, “All must go.”  Of course, for some of us that begs the question – why do you need everyone including all the flocks and all the herds to go simply to carry out an act of worship and to hold a feast?  A good question and one that God had perhaps not prepared Moses for.  But is that not life when it comes to doing the business of the Almighty?  Sometimes we come to the point where we cannot answer an adversary’s questions and the only thing we can do is to stick to the script and rest in Him.  God wanted to have all of Israel go out from Egypt.  As a good intelligence man for the Hebrews, Moses stuck to the plan – “all of us must go!”  And when you have the power of God behind you, as evidenced by all the miracles performed to date, there is no effective counter-response to such a demand.
Pharaoh can only get madder and he does.  His plan of keeping the women and the children as hostages to ensure the return of the men was not accepted.  David Guzik points out that this was the second failed attempt at a compromise the Egyptian ruler was making.  (The first was in Exodus 8:25-26 when he offered to give them a day off to worship God right there in Egypt and Moses had turned that down flatly too.)  With this second compromise, Pharaoh had hoped to do what many of us try to do and that is as Guzik says, “to find a way to give into God without fully submitting to Him”.  I pray each of us realize that this is an impossible end-position for an authentic relationship between the Almighty and us.
In disgust, Pharaoh accuses Moses and Aaron of being evil when they want to take the children out into the wilderness as he claims that will be very hard for them.  In fact, he says they will do so at their own peril implying the children may well die out there in the desert.  It is amazing how evildoers often end up accusing others of being evil.  And then again, perhaps it is not so amazing when we realize it is the devil himself that causes them to do so and to sow seeds of doubt into our hearts about those we love so dearly.  How many potential missionaries has Satan kept at home because “We can’t do this to the children; it’s okay for us to have gone, but we could not have taken the children or left them behind; so we stayed home.”
In the final analysis, Pharaoh orders them to go, but only the men!  It is Moses and Aaron this time that do not get a chance to respond.  Instead, they were “driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.”  Sometimes that is all we can have to settle for.  We make our case before the unbelievers.  We state our position.  We stick to our guns.  We are told to do otherwise and then we get sent away, and sometimes by force.  And the rest is up to us.  Do we take the orders of the Enemy or do we follow the instructions of our God?
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[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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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Moses Delivers God’s Warning of the 8th Plague – the Locusts -- Exodus 10:3-6

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And 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.  For if you refuse to let My people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your territory.  And they shall cover the surface of the land, so that no one shall be able to see the land.  They shall also eat the rest of what has escaped – what is left to you from the hail – and they shall eat every tree which sprouts for you out of the field.  Then your houses shall be filled, and the houses of 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.
 
As we study these four verses in which Moses and Aaron deliver God’s warning to Pharaoh of the eighth plague about to hit him, the plague of locusts, we get more insight into Who God is and how He operates.  To begin with God shows both His heart and His patience towards those that spurn Him when He asks Pharaoh, “How long will you refuse to humble yourself before Me?  I do not believe that was asked of Pharaoh this time simply to have him admit ‘who’s in charge’ here.  I believe in that question, God was hoping for Pharaoh’s sake that He would not have to act decisively against him.  God desires that we should obey and worship Him not only because He is God but also because doing so is for our own good – doing so gives us purpose, happiness, and a desirable eternity.  God’s great plan of Exodus for the Hebrew children had two sides to it.  Yes, it was on the one hand all about getting Pharaoh to let the Israelites go, to give them their freedom from bondage, and to protect the people through which eventually the Messiah would come.  But at the same time, it was about the sinful spiritual condition of the tyrant and his servants and the opportunity they had to get on God’s side.  We need to remember that as we work through our own struggles or as we help rescue those that are under the bondage of others.  God loves the perpetrators just as much as He loves the victims and wants them redeemed as well.  That is often a hard thing for us to accept or even think about, as many of us would just rather see those folks be condemned now to an eternity without God.
So Moses and Aaron tell Pharaoh that if he does not let the people go, ‘tomorrow’ his land would be covered with locusts and he would not be able to see the ground.  Where I live, we had a very long winter this year and only recently were we able to see the ground that was, for many months, covered with snow.  In fact, in some western parts of our great land, they are still waiting for that day to come this year.  Just as snow covered our grass this year, so locusts were going to cover the land of Egypt if Pharaoh did not let the people go.  Sometimes, I wonder what our decisions of disobedience delay in our lives, in the lives of our families, in our communities, or in our land itself.  Maybe it is the collective disobedience of so many of us, including and especially God’s children, that delay the blessings that God otherwise wants to pour down on us.
And then the content of the text seems to switch from ‘what’ would happen and why, to make reference to the ‘boundless extent’ to which it would happen.  It seems as if God was saying, “Do you remember the last plague, the plague of hail?  Well, in that one, I saved you from starvation this year by saving the wheat and spelt (see Exodus 9:32) so you would have food.  Well, this time, I’ll see to it that the locusts eat everything that escaped or was spared last time.  I had left it for you, so you would not starve, but not this time.  Enough is enough.”
Then God warns that the locusts will fill every Egyptian’s house in the land – not just Pharaoh’s, not just the houses of his servants, but also the houses of “all the Egyptians”.  Here God makes a point, clearly distinguishing among the three groups.  When we sin against God, we do not sin in isolation – there is always a consequence to others.  There is a consequence to our immediate family or to perhaps to our employees.  And ultimately the consequence may impact many more – as in the case of rulers sinning against God.  That is what Pharaoh was up against.  But we too, in our own sins need to consider the impact on others, some of whom we may love very much.
And then God says, “This will be big!”  It would be like nothing Pharaoh had seen before – in fact, nothing his fathers or grandfathers (previous two generations or more before) had seen.  It would essentially change the legacy of ancient Egypt forever.  As we have been studying this for some time now, I cannot help but see the parallelism between the story of Exodus and the story of God’s true Church today being finally freed one day from an oppressive sinful world.  And God is warning the powers that be today, “Repent and bow the knee to me, because if you don’t, you will see the action I will take against you and it will be big!  Like nothing you’ve seen before.  I pray that each of you will be part of the Church and not part of those God is addressing in that way.
The last sentence of this portion of Scripture is surprising to me.  Moses and Aaron say their piece and then they turn around and walk out.  No waiting for a response; no begging his permission to leave; no “We’ll be back.”  At the begin of the text we note that two went in, and the implication is that one spoke and he turned around and went out, assumingly followed by the other.  There was no need to wait for a response – Moses had already figured out this plague too had to happen before the people would be released.  And likely Pharaoh was too stunned by what he had just heard to be in a position to give them permission to leave.  Their point was made and as we’ll see soon, Pharaoh was ready to negotiate.
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[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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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

God’s Intentions for Performing His Signs (the Plagues) on Egypt -- Exodus 10:1-2


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, 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.”
 
It is interesting that after the seventh plague God momentarily suspends His focus on Pharaoh (and what all these plagues are intended to show him and the Egyptians) and focuses once more directly on Moses, Aaron, and the children of Israel explaining His intentions for them in all this display of His powers.  He shares with Moses that He is performing these signs of His among the Egyptians in order that Moses (and it is assumed other men of Israel) will be able to tell their sons and their grandsons (and other future generations) of what God did for them.
Backtracking just slightly, we note that God here also says that not only did He harden Pharaoh’s heart, but He also hardened the heart “of his servants”.  Commentators seem to be, for the most part, silent on this.  In trying to find some basis for this phrase, my search took me back to a phrase I had missed in Genesis 9:34 – the immediately prior portion of Scripture we looked at in this study.  That verse reads as follows, “But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.  And our current passage tells us that God had a hand in that as well.  When God pursues His plan for His people and His Church, and requires them to overcome the enemy, we can be sure that while one man may be pivotal in the plot, many others who have a similar heretical view of the Almighty often abet him.  I believe we are seeing this in various governments around the world today.  The Enemy first cultivates his leaders and then works on getting them followers to accomplish his work.  We see this principle at work in the cabinets of some governments around the globe.  And so it was in the case of Pharaoh and his servants.
We know that God will not be mocked.  But here we also see the Almighty telling us that He wants us to know and remember how He “made a mockery” of the Egyptians.  Now one may challenge that as being unlike the character of God, or unfair given His advantage, and so on.  May I suggest that if one is tempted to do so, there is a possibility that he/she has not understood the Sovereignty of God and Who He really is.  Also, God does not always choose to mock His adversaries without cause.  He seems to do so when they mock Him and we clearly saw signs of this earlier in Exodus.  In Exodus 5:2 we read of Pharaoh asking, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go?  I do not know the Lord….”  And Pharaoh also displayed a type of mockery when he twice said, “I will let you go, just stop the plague” and then twice changed his mind.  We cannot play like that with the Almighty.
There is currently a well-known song called How Great Is Our God that comes to mind as being most relevant here.  I share the lyrics with you below.  You can hear Chris Tomlin sing his song at this url: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cKLQ1td3MbE .
The splendor of a King, clothed in majesty
Let all the earth rejoice
All the earth rejoice

He wraps himself in Light, and darkness tries to hide
And trembles at His voice
Trembles at His voice

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God

Age to age He stands
And time is in His hands
Beginning and the end
Beginning and the end

The Godhead Three in One
Father Spirit Son
The Lion and the Lamb
The Lion and the Lamb

Name above all names
Worthy of our praise
My heart will sing
How great is our God

How great is our God, sing with me
How great is our God, and all will see
How great, how great is our God
I think it is important for us, as it was for Moses and the children of Israel at the time, to realize that what God did from the beginning of time, including how He ultimately freed His people from the bondage of the Egyptians, and how He continued to bless them, then providing them (and us) with a Savior, as well as what He still does for us – all of it is a series of facts that need acknowledging, sharing, and explaining to all generations.  We have been tasked with that great responsibility but also that great honor and opportunity to be messengers of God’s involvement in the world.
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[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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Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Pharaoh Pulls His Second “Mea Culpa” -- Exodus 9:27-35:


Then Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “I have sinned this time; the Lord is the righteous one, and I and my people are the wicked ones.  Make supplication to the Lord, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail; and I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.”  And Moses said to him, “As soon as I go out of the city, I will spread out my hands to the Lord; the thunder will cease, and there will be hail no longer, that you may know that the earth is the Lord’s.  But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the Lord God.”  (Now the flax and the barley were ruined, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud.  But the wheat and the spelt were not ruined, for they ripen late.)  So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh, and spread out his hands to the Lord; and the thunder and the hail ceased, and rain no longer poured on the earth.  But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.  And Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not let the sons of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.


Once again Pharaoh does the calling and the asking.  He tells Moses and Aaron that he has sinned -- “this time”.  Somehow I do not read a lot of sincerity in that verbal admission, but I have always been one not to easily accept stated contriteness – I believe supporting action has to go along with the uttered words.  I guess Pharaoh had not seen his disobedience to God in the past as sin.  Oh well, the man has come a long way.  Pharaoh also recognizes God’s righteousness and readily compares it to his own evilness.  But what I find interesting is that he does not take the whole blame for it alone as he includes his people in the guilty party.  Why so and what exactly caused this ‘confession’ of sin?
What seems (for no one knows the heart of any man for sure) to be at play here is the fact that Pharaoh is just starting to learn the difference between righteousness and sinfulness.  That is always an important step in a person potentially coming into a relationship with God.  But true repentance is only evidenced after the fact by the appropriate actions of the repented person, as well as his/her ability to maintain the desire to do what is right, by God.  Pharaoh was not there yet.  As to why he included his people in his identification of  “evil” sinners’ group, it is difficult to say.  One commentator suggests that he is referring to “his land” – the whole country.  So he may be speaking euphemistically as a “commander in chief” – that is, all the troops are guilty of this calamity they have brought about in disobeying God.
So once again Pharaoh asks Moses to beg God, on his behalf, to forgive Pharaoh and his people.  He says he has had enough of all the consequences God has thrown on Egypt and he agrees once again to let the people go freely.  There is an interesting phrase there with which the sentence ends – “and you shall stay no longer.”  It is possible that Pharaoh had now realized it is best, and perhaps even wants, at least at that instant, the Hebrews to leave for good and not just for a few days to worship their God in the dessert.  Certainly, to have arrived once more to this thinking and these words indicates a very torn heart, even for the most stoic of mankind.
However Moses seems to have gotten to know Pharaoh pretty well by now and he knows better than to believe him out-rightly.  So he basically tells him, “Look, I’ll do it and this current calamity will stop.  But it will stop so you will know ‘God rules the earth.’  But you and your servants still will not fear God.”
I believe it is prudent for us at this point to stop and take note of the series of lessons that God wanted Pharaoh to understand and come to believe as He deals with the heart of this man:
·      Genesis 7:1 – that He is the Lord
·      Genesis 8:10 – that there is no one like the Lord
·      Genesis 8:22 – that the Lord is in the midst of the land (He’s actively involved and present)
·      Genesis 9:14 – that there is no one like the Lord in all the earth
·      Genesis 9:20 – our current verse, that the earth is the Lord’s
In some ways, that is the course of mental travel that one needs to arrive at a relationship with God – recognizing He exists as Lord, that there is no one or no power like Him, that He is involved with mankind moving in our midst, that anything the world can offer pales in comparison to His presence in our lives, and that the entire earth is at His command.  When we arrive at that point, most of us would want to have a close relationship with that kind of God.  And it is from there that we can recognize our sinful nature, and seek the remedy that God has provided through His Son, Jesus Christ, to address what Pharaoh well understood in his head, but did not care for in his heart – that is, that there indeed a gap between God’s righteousness and our wickedness, and that it needs to be addressed somehow, so that we may commune with the Almighty.
Our text then seems to take a bit of sidestep (in brackets no less) as the author, Moses himself, tells us that while the crops of flax and barley were ruined by the hail due to the time of the year and the progressive stage of their growth cycle, the wheat and the spelt were not, as they had not ripened yet.  I find this information rather interesting.  Why is it there?  Well, one possibility is that it is there to show us that God often works within His own set of physical laws of nature.  When He acts supernaturally to intervene, sometimes there are consequences that one would expect.  For example, if God allows or causes a drought to take place, one can also expect that various plant life may well die, and so on.  The other possibility is that Moses is intentionally or unintentionally sharing with us the fact that while many stocks were ruined, the people would not be left to die – starvation and famine would be averted.  While Moses, Aaron, and Pharaoh in those days, and we today, may see the long-term cause and effect of circumstances, God keeps His eye on the long-term plans He has for us and for mankind.
So Moses did what he told Pharaoh he would do on his behalf and God did His part – the thunder and the hail stopped, as did the rain.  And then we see that familiar word that can lead to good or to evil – that word “but” appear once more.  The text tells us “but once his troubles stopped, Pharaoh sinned again”.  I think that is what God must dislike very much – the “sinning again”.  Yes, He hates the sin, but He can forgive it.  And He would rather see sincere and determined repentance.  But I believe His heart is broken greatly when after sinning, and repenting, a child, especially one of His own, “sins again”.
It is also interesting that at this point in Scripture the text says in the same passage first that Pharaoh hardened his heart and than also says Pharaoh’s heart was hardened.  Here is the verse many of us look for when we wonder, “did God harden Pharaoh’s heart or did he do it himself?”  Well, the answer seems clear – Pharaoh did it from a human perspective and God allowed it to be so from a divine perspective.  There is no need to assess blame here – the fact remains Pharaoh ended up with a hardened heart – a state which God had predicted would be the case much earlier.  And now, even Moses himself finally got in tune with God on this one as he himself had told Pharaoh, “I know you do not yet fear the Lord.”
Where are you on the journey of fearing the Lord?

[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.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED: THE MOVIE "42"

Four of us went to see the story of Jackie Robinson, the "legend", last night (opening night in our big city) based on the true story. The theater was very nicely filled but not packed. And the audience did clap at the end -- a rare occurrence these days. I found the movie starring Chadwick Boseman and Harrison Ford most engaging and with minor exceptions excellently presented. As a lover of baseball, it made my understanding of how the game has evolved at key times and helped mold our society and the role certain men (and women) played in that. It helped me understand why the number "42" is revered in our Rogers (SkyDome) Centre in Toronto and why on certain days all players wear it across the league. As always, change towards good for many often comes at the expense of the suffering of a few -- and sometimes only one. Which takes me to the overtones of Christianity in this movie -- from the Methodist religion of Robinson and the owner of the Brooklyn Dodgers, to the comments about what Robinson has to suffer for others, and finally the closing song -- those of the Christian faith could easily identify the connections to what they believe.

I was surprised that the film did not tell us more about Robinson's life as a child and teenager except one passing reference that his father walked out on the family when he was six months old. We see or hear almost nothing of his mother(one friend reminded me that she is shown very briefly taking care of the baby when Jackie & Rachel were going away).  And no other members of the family are shown or referred to. I don't know what "baby" the director wanted to use in the film to portray the birth of Robinson's son, but in my opinion he certainly wasn't a "newborn" lying there in the hospital in his glass bassinet. Continuity was also questioned by this viewer when supposedly several weeks or months later, the mother is shown cuddling what appeared to be a much smaller bundle in her arms at one of Robinson's games.

If you can forgive those minor flaws as I did, you have a very meaningful and historical movie that is highly recommended and one that you can take the entire family too. There's much there for all of us and I hope there's an oscar or two there for the cast (Harrison Ford, Chadwick Boseman, and Nicole Beharie (who plays Mrs. Rachel Robinson) are so good in this movie.

At the end, we are told what actually happens (in real life) to the main characters. And needless to say, people get their just desserts -- the prime example being the coach of the Phillies at the time. He taunted Robinson the most. A year later he was fired and never rehired again by anyone. Others who couldn't accept the change kept getting sent to "Pittsburgh" and I wouldn't be surprised if "going to Pittsburgh" becomes a phrase which means being "sent to the worse place possible" once this movie gets seen by many.

Finally the friendship of Pee Wee Reese, a Christian, is shown clearly in the movie and Mr. Reese has a story of his own that is also most interesting and worth checking out on the internet. He died in 1984; Robinson in 1972. See the movie with your kids -- the best history lesson they'll get. In one scene, one young boy at the game is a real fan (with his dad) of Pee Wee Reese. Then he hears his dad calling out racial slurs at Robinson and booing him. The kid wants to be like his dad and joins in. Then there's this great scene with Pee Wee Reese and the child is caught in a dilemma -- his hero, Reese, has just embraced the black Robinson which his father abhors. If nothing else, it points out how our children and grandchildren model us.

See the movie. You won't regret it.



You can watch the trailer of the movie here.


[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.]

Thanks for dropping by. Sign up to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends. Ken Godevenos, Church and Management Consultant, Accord Consulting.  And while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.  Ken.

Sign up (on the right) to receive free updates. We bring you relevant information from all sorts of sources. Subscribe for free to this blog or follow us by clicking on the appropriate link in the right side bar. And please share this blog with your friends and while you’re here, why not check out some more of our recent blogs shown in the right hand column.

Also, I’ve read some good books and make some great recommendations for you at http://astore.amazon.com/accorconsu-20 which you can purchase right from there.

Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Finally, if you like what you read here, you may want to donate to my favourite charity, SCA International, by clicking on the logo below. Ken.