Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Pharaoh Pleads for Relief and Gets It -- Exodus 8:8-15


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.”  And 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?”  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.  And the frogs will depart from you and your houses and your servants and your people; they will be left only in the Nile.”  Then Moses and Aaron went out from Pharaoh, and Moses cried to the Lord concerning the frogs which He had inflicted upon Pharaoh.  And the Lord did according to the word of Moses, and the frogs died out of the houses, the courts, and the fields.  So they piled them in heaps, and the land became foul.  But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

Do you remember the film Ghostbusters back in the mid-eighties?  That film gave us the song Who You Gonna Call?  It went on to become a household expression whenever things went wrong and one was overwhelmed with something troublesome.  I think, with frogs jumping all over his house and his land, Pharaoh knew it was time to call for the ‘exterminators’.  But who was he going to call?  He knew Who had caused the problem and he knew Who could stop it.  (Certainly his magicians could not; they would only bring on more frogs.)  He also knew how to reach Him.  So Pharaoh calls for Moses and Aaron and tells them to beg God to remove the frogs and, in exchange, he would let the people go.
It would have been nice had he entreated God himself, but admittedly, it is hard to do so when you really do not know God and perhaps more so when you may not really be sincere in what you offer to God.  Pharaoh promised a lot in his time of need and although he may have had every intention of keeping his promise when he uttered it, certainly did not end up doing so as we will see time and time again.
I find it interesting that Moses did not just say, “Okay, I’ll do that.”  He did not run off right away to ask God to stop the frogs from literally running the land.  Instead, in a moment of sheer brilliance, he said to Moses, “I’ll even give you the honor of picking exactly when this arrangement will take place.”  He knew he had to make preparations for the Israelites to leave so he wanted to know when was God supposed to get rid of the frogs so the people could leave on their journey.  One supposes that Pharaoh could have said “Right now” but instead he said “Tomorrow”.  We can wonder why that was.  Was it perhaps an indicator of his unwillingness to accept these frogs had beaten him?  Was it a desire for an ‘escape’ or ‘change your mind’ period in case he could have had second thoughts?  Sometimes it wise to have such opportunities, and at other times the adage, “he who hesitates, loses” is more apropos.  We need discernment as to when the right approach applies.  Usually making a godly positive decision (going to church with your family when you normally do not; inviting a widow over for dinner; giving a large donation; stopping to help someone in need; etc.) should be done right away.  Making a questionable decision (going somewhere you know you should not go; making a purchase for the wrong reasons; etc.) are good candidates for the ‘change your mind’ clause.  The problem with Pharaoh was that, at this point in the text, he was making a good decision but chose the wrong approach to its implementation – tomorrow.
Now notice what happens next in our text.  After Pharaoh says, “we’ll do this as of tomorrow”, Moses indicates, in advance, that God will respond favorably when he says, “If you keep your word, God will show you there is no one like Him.”  What a relationship Moses must have had with God by now in order to be able to make that statement with assurance.  I often wonder if I know God well enough to feel that confident about His next action in a particular situation I may be involved in.
Then Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh to his misery and perhaps some self-initiated hope, and Moses cries out to God on behalf of Pharaoh and his people, but also on behalf of the Israelites who would be let go if God were to answer positively.  Can you imagine how Moses was feeling at this time?  He nearly had a deal or at least God nearly had a deal; all God had to do was to grant Pharaoh his desire and all that God had planned for Israel would ensue.
God has an incredible way of both satisfying His servants and also, because He knows the bigger long-term picture, accomplishing His will.  Moses’ crying out to God was indeed heard and God did respond positively.  The Bible specifically says, “God did according to the word of Moses” implying that a big part of the reason for the response was God’s love for Moses, even though the Lord knew what the outcome would be.
Nevertheless, the frogs died and the people piled them up.  But the foul smell remained.  It was enough to remind Pharaoh of the power of God and to keep him humble before God.  Unfortunately, one can get used to a dirty smell in one’s life as long as he does not have to deal with the creatures that give rise to it.  So, sensing this relief, and believing perhaps that the sun would eventually dry out the carcasses of the frogs and the smell would diminish over time, Pharaoh hardened his heart.
And is it not the same with mankind today?  We get into trouble and we call on God to save us from it, promising Him everything – our life, our money, our time, our love and worship of Him.  Then God does His part and we realize, “hey, we’re okay now, it wasn’t that bad – we could do it again on our own if we had to, or we’ll just not make that mistake again”.  And we forget our promise to God.
And maybe that is where you are today.  Maybe you had made a promise, but the good times have come along and you have forgotten your word to God for what He did for you.  It is time to get the matter settled.  This time for real, and for good.  Who You Gonna Call?
[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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Monday, February 18, 2013

Bring on the Frogs -- Exodus 8:1-7


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.  But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs; And the Nile will swarm with frogs, which will come 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.  So the frogs will come up on you and your people and all your servants.”’”  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.’”  So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.  And the magicians did the same with their secret arts, making frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

Chapter 7 of Exodus ends with Egypt experiencing the first plague for a whole week.  Its entire surface water had been turned to blood.  But still no change of heart by Pharaoh.  So chapter 8 begins with God giving Moses more instructions.  In those instructions He identifies His next plague to be inflicted on Egypt if His people are not freed to serve Him.  Based on the knowledge of Moses’ former behavior in terms of obedience, we can assume that he did exactly what God told him to do this time – he told Pharaoh what God would do.
God had promised the entire territory would be smitten with frogs.  The River Nile would teem with them.  This diverse and largely carnivorous group of short-bodied, tailless amphibians would get into Pharaoh’s house and impact his daily life.  They would get into his bedroom and his bed and impact his intimacy with his wife as well as his ability to rest.  They would inhabit the houses of his servants and thus symbolic and practically affecting industry and commerce in the land.  And the frogs would be found in Pharaoh’s ovens and in the bowls they used for making bread affecting his ability to gain nourishment.  It is one thing to see a frog or two hop out of the pond in your backyard and visit your porch steps; it is another thing to have frogs simply engulf you, your family, and your servants.  From the instructions God gave Moses to pass on to Aaron, we know that this went way beyond Pharaoh’s own household over the entire land of Egypt.
And the text says that Aaron did exactly what he was told by his brother, which tells us that Moses had done what he was told by God.  And God delivered what He promised to deliver – frogs, the Scripture says, covered the land of Egypt.
The same waters that were turned into blood were now being called upon again, at God’s command, to yield up sufficient frogs to cover Pharaoh’s land.
The last sentence of this passage is, I must admit, puzzling.  At its simplest level, it informs us that Pharaoh’s magicians or sorcerers were able to replicate the miracle or the plague of the frogs.  But just what exactly did they do?  Where did God’s supernatural act end and theirs begin?  Or as some may well ask, “Whose frogs were who’s?”
Again, for the magicians to be able to do this indicates that a supernatural occult power was present.  But alas, it could only make things worse.  It was not able to cause the frogs to retreat to the depths of the Nile River.  As for all of our questions pertaining to what exactly these magicians did, we will have to settle for not knowing for sure.
But what does this passage say to you and me?  I noticed that neither Moses nor Aaron complained about God’s instructions this time.  They had learned to rely on His authority and wisdom and power.  They just did what they were told by God and left the response of man to Him.  Are you and I there yet?
[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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Check our firm out at Accord Consulting.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Pharaoh’s Dogged Determination -- Exodus 7:20-25


So Moses and Aaron did even as the Lord had commanded.  And he lifted up the staff and struck the water that was in the Nile, in the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants, and all the water that was in the Nile was turned to blood.  And the fish that were in the Nile died, and the Nile became foul, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile.  And the blood was through all the land of Egypt.  But the magicians of Egypt did the same with their secret arts; and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.  Then Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern even for this.  So all the Egyptians dug around the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink of the water of the Nile.  And seven days passed after the Lord had struck the Nile.
Once again Moses and Aaron right away did as God had commanded them to.  I find the phrase “in the sight of (Pharaoh’s) servants” a type of reminder to us that we are not to hide our dependence on God or our purpose in ministry from the public arena.  What we do with God’s help is not espionage work, trying to convince someone to follow God’s way in secret, “or else”.  No, what we are called to do is to “go in the name of the Lord” and not be ashamed or secretive of what we are doing for Him and with Him.
Interestingly, this whole issue comes up time and time again as various mission organizations deal with “how do we best approach sharing the Gospel with a particular group”.  Do we play it “low key” and “just build relationships” and “when they’re ready, they’ll ask us about Jesus”?  Do we simply “give them the Word of God, tell them what’s in it, and they can take it or leave it as it’s their choice?”  Most people would agree that those are two extremes, neither of which are the preferred approach modeled by Jesus Himself when He shared “the meaning of eternal life” with the woman at the well.  We should never hide whom we are in Christ, or that we have a desire that all should come to know Him as their personal savior.  But having said that, we need to let them know that we love them as people and care about what’s going on in their lives.  From my own personal experience in observing both full-time Christian workers and others, it is most difficult for the majority of those who would witness for Christ to find the right balance in this regard.  I believe the growth of the Church is hindered somewhat as a result.
As Aaron struck the water that was in the Nile, it turned to blood, the fish therein died, the smell of the river became awful, and no one could drink from it.  The text said this blood spread throughout the land of Egypt just as God had said.  God delivers on His Word.
But here is perhaps the most difficult phrase in this passage to explain, namely, “the magicians of Egypt did the same thing with their secret arts.”  What gives?  Literally, these soothsayer priests were able to duplicate the miracle.  Of course, the keen mind would ask, “with what water did they do this?”  Or, you may ask, “why were they able to?”  I am reminded of the lesson I have been learning lately which is that sometimes God allows things to happen which from the Enemy’s perspective have a very different and negative desired result and from God’s perspective are allowed for a very positive end-result for those that love Him.  (We can see this in the New Testament when we read Matthew 4:1.  There we see that both the Spirit of God and the devil himself were actively involved in bringing about a particular situation – the temptation of Jesus.  God allowed it with the ultimate purpose of truly having His Son experience temptation.  He wanted Jesus to fully understand how we are tempted. And He also wanted to make it possible for us to know that our Lord was tempted as we are.  The author of the Epistle to the Hebrews writes in chapter 2, verse 18 – “For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” – you and me.  Amen.
But the devil showed up with other plans at the time.  He tempted Jesus to defeat Him and His claims.  And so it was when the devil showed up in Egypt.  He wanted to work against God.  So God allows the ‘magicians’ to do their thing and succeed.  One commentator (Chuck Smith) suggests that they weren’t helping – they should have used their skills to turn the blood back to water.
David Guzik meanwhile asks the question that we referred to above, “How could the magicians of Egypt find fresh water to turn to blood, if all the water had already become blood?”  Guzik suggests that “all the waters directly associated with the Nile had been turned to blood (including its pools and tributaries, and water in vessels drawn from the Nile). Yet water obtained by wells was not plagued.”  And it is thus that he explains the next part in the passage that indicates the Egyptians dug all around the river for water to drink.  So the magicians had turned “fresh water” into blood.  I am not so sure that this is accurate as the actual text says it was “the blood” that “was through all the land of Egypt”.  However, I suppose Guzik’s explanation is possible if we consider “open water” versus “underground water”.
Most scholars believe the action of the magicians to be a ‘miracle’ from Satan’s hand.  As such, he could only help his magicians do the same, rather than bring about a positive, constructive or as Guzik says, a “cleansing miracle”.  Guzik adds, “he can bring supernatural destruction, but not goodness.”  Satan, he contends, is not in the business of bringing about “alleviation of human suffering” which can only come from God Himself.
Robert Jamieson in addressing this matter of the magicians’ sorcery believes it was on a very small scale using water dug there and then from the sand beside the Nile and then applying some red dye.  We have no evidence of this either.  Whatever happened, we know that Pharaoh used the so-called mirroring of God’s miracle by his magicians as sufficient for him to remain hardened in his heart.  As such, he discounts anything that Moses and Aaron had to say or ask for and returns to his house emotionally untouched and seemingly uncaring for his subjects who now had to work as hard as they could, against all odds, to dig and find fresh water.  Pharaoh’s attitude reminds me a little of what Queen Marie Antoinette is believed (but never proven) to have said when she was told the people had no bread.  She responded, “Let them eat cake.”  In the case of Pharaoh, it seems to be “Let my people find water, obviously there’s some around since my magicians were able to turn it into blood.”  How insensitive and how not that different from the extra work he had placed on Hebrew slaves a little while earlier when he made them gather their own straw to make bricks without reducing the required daily quota.   It is evident that evil men (or women) will go to any extent to get their way even if it means harming their own people.  That is something we have seen time and time again with dictators and it may well be something we will see again in our modern times and even western society.
The chapter ends with the statement that this state of affairs actually went on for seven days before God spoke to Moses again.  Can you imagine what the Egyptians were going through?  What we do not know is how this affected the Israelites.  Nor do we know what was going through the minds of the Pharaoh, Aaron, Moses, and the Israelites as a result.
[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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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.

Thursday, February 07, 2013

God As Strategist -- Exodus 7:14-19


Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh’s heart is stubborn; he refuses to let the people go.  Go to Pharaoh in the morning as he is going out to the water, and station yourself to meet him on the bank of the Nile; and you shall take in your hand the staff that was turned into a serpent.  And you will say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness.  But behold, you have not listened until now.”  ‘Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in My hand, and it shall be turned to blood.  And the fish that are in the Nile will die, and the Nile will become foul; and the Egyptians will find difficulty in drinking water from the Nile.”’”  Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, over their streams, and over their pools, and over all their reservoirs of water, that they may become blood; and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’”
As I reread this passage again prior to meditating on it, I could not help but believe God has a side of Him we seldom consider Him to have.  On close examination, this passage along with many others in Scripture, point out to God being the ultimate “strategist”. 
To begin with, we note that the previous passage ended with Pharaoh rejecting Moses and Aaron and their plea to let the Israelites go from Egypt.  God wastes no time in speaking to Moses again.  He does not wait on this occasion for Moses to steep in his feelings of rejection and failure.  He knows Moses and He remembers the doubts that Moses can easily adopt and project and the complaining that goes along with them.  God knew He had to act quickly in order to keep Moses encouraged and willing to continue the mission.  Perhaps this is not a perfect analogy, but what comes to mind is the football coach that calls a time out – not to hear from his team as to why they cannot tackle the opposing quarterback or another receiver, but rather to give them some new instructions, a different technique that will bring them greater success.  No point in always rehearsing over and over again what went wrong.  The gain is to be had in talking about what we will do different.  Recently our family discovered the seriousness of the memory loss of an elderly parent who is a nonagenarian and lives alone.  Most members were quick to cooperate on what needed to be done although it would have been easy for each one of them to have said, “You know, I told dad several years ago, I was willing to . . .” and each one could have added their own version of what they had offered or suggested in the past to have better addressed then the potential of the current situation.  Doing so would not have helped.  What mattered was what we all did next.  So it is in God’s dealing with us.  What we did or did not do in the past is of little importance compared to what God wants us to do now.
The next thing I note is that God sends Moses back to Pharaoh “in the morning”.  Why couldn’t he go later that night or the next afternoon?  Why did it have to be in the morning?  Again it is a strategic instruction.  It is in the morning that Pharaoh goes down to be close to water and water was going to become very important in God’s next action against him.  So Moses is told to actually go at a particular part of the day and to station himself at the bank of the Nile River where Pharaoh will be going.  And God tells Moses to take again in his hand the staff that he had used and God had turned into a serpent in his previous visit to the Egyptian ruler.  Here is God paying attention to details like a great strategist.  As one reads the whole of Scripture, one sees this over and over.  A great strategist, be he/she a military one, or a political one, or a business one knows that while the overall plan can be an excellent one, it can fail miserably because of either a neglect or poor execution of the details.  Moses, “go in the morning, stand by the bank of the Nile, and take the staff you had last time.”
If anyone ever tells you that Christians should not strategize or plan, you can refer them to this passage.  There is clear precedent for it in the very approach God takes with things.  He wants us to be well-equipped and well-prepared to deliver on the plan He has given us.
We also note that Moses was told once more to go in the name of God Himself.  He was not to go on his own steam or rely on his own fame or position.  When we go, we need to first be sure that God is sending us to go and second to let those to whom we are sent know that it is God Who sent us and it is in His name we are going.  Do we do that?
Interestingly too is the fact that God tells Moses to tell Pharaoh that he has “not listened until now”.  Can you imagine that a representative of slaves telling the King of Egypt “you’re not listening”?  The only way we could get away with anything like that is if we say it in the name of God, that is, “Mr. President or Mr. Prime Minister, so far you have not listened to God and it’s high time you did.”  I think that Rabbi Jonathan Cahn, author of book The Harbinger and the 2013 speaker at the Presidential Prayer Breakfast in Washington was doing just that when he spoke there in January 2013.  There is a time and a way to tell people where they have fallen short.  But the messenger needs to be grounded in the instructions of the Lord.
And then God turns His attention to how He will next attempt to get Pharaoh’s attention and ensuing agreement to let His people Israel go.  God is going to use Moses’ staff to turn all the water of Egypt into blood and not only will the water become undrinkable, but all the fish therein will die.  We may ask why God chose water of all things to take away from the Egyptians.  And the answer for me seems to be because water is necessary for life and ultimately God strikes that to point out He is the master of life and death.  He alone can give life or take it away, and all of nature is at His disposal.  And when God goes after something, He does not just strike what is readily available.  He ensured, by further instructions to Moses, that all the water of the land would be impacted – not just natural deposits of it, but water reserved for farming, irrigation, recreational pools, drinking, reservoirs, etc.  Do not get God strategizing against you; He may not pick and choose how He moves to display that anger that gives rise to His actions.
Our text tells us that the water was turned into blood.  Why not just turn it muddy?  The Bible commentator Matthew Henry, in commenting on this chapter, has some interesting thoughts on the reason for this.  He suggests, 
Egypt was a pleasant land, but the noisome stench of dead fish and blood, which by degrees would grow putrid, now rendered it very unpleasant.  It was a righteous plague, and justly inflicted upon the Egyptians. For, (1.) Nilus, the river of Egypt, was their idol; they and their land derived so much benefit from it that they served and worshipped it more than the Creator. The true fountain of the Nile being unknown to them, they paid all their devotions to its streams: here therefore God punished them, and turned that into blood which they had turned into a god. Note, That creature which we idolize God justly removes from us, or embitters to us. He makes that a scourge to us which we make a competitor with him. (2.) They had stained the river with the blood of the Hebrews’ children, and now God made that river all bloody. Thus he gave them blood to drink, for they were worthy, Rev. 16:6. Note, Never any thirsted after blood, but, sooner or later, they had enough of it. (3.) It was a significant plague. Egypt had a great dependence upon their river (Zec. 14:18), so that in smiting the river they were warned of the destruction of all the productions of their country, till it came at last to their firstborn; and this red river proved a direful omen of the ruin of Pharaoh and all his forces in the Red Sea. This plague of Egypt is alluded to in the prediction of the ruin of the enemies of the New-Testament church, Rev. 16:3.  (4.) But there the sea, as well as the rivers and fountains of water, is turned into blood; for spiritual judgments reach further, and strike deeper, than temporal judgments do. And, lastly, (5.) let me observe in general concerning this plague that one of the first miracles Moses wrought was turning water into blood, but one of the first miracles our Lord Jesus wrought was turning water into wine; for the law was given by Moses, and it was a dispensation of death and terror; but grace and truth, which, like wine, make glad the heart, came by Jesus Christ.
I am convinced God is a Master Strategist.
Finally, I want to draw your attention to something that I had not noticed until now.  Look closely at what God tells Moses to say to Pharaoh.  In the very quote that Moses is supposed to use, God utters these words that He wants said, “I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in My hand.”  Notice anything strange about that?  I didn’t until just now.  Whose hand is the staff in when Moses is uttering those words to Pharaoh?  Well, physically it is in Moses’ hand.  But what does God say?  He refers to the staff “that is in My hand.”  Remember that God had told Moses that he would be like God to Pharaoh.  Well, this is God striking the water with His hand holding the staff.  As a Christian do you live your life with that kind of confidence when you go out to do God’s biding?

[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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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.

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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