One foot in Egypt

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Summary: In Exodus, chapter 6-10, Moses and Aaron approach Pharaoh with a series of displays of God’s power and authority over all aspects of life. Each consecutive plague, God ratchets up the temperature. Rather than displaying the full might of His authority, thus giving Pharaoh plenty of opportunities to free the Israelites. Nonetheless Pharaoh refuses to concede and Egypt is left in ruins.
-If you have your bibles, or if you’re following along in the bible app
-we’re going to be looking at Exodus chapters 7 through 10
-AND actually we’re going to be starting at the very tail end of exodus chapter 6
-and that’s a lot of Bible
-so what I want to do is jump in and start reading

Exodus 6:28-7:7

Exodus 6:28–7:7 NIV
Now when the Lord spoke to Moses in Egypt, he said to him, “I am the Lord. Tell Pharaoh king of Egypt everything I tell you.” But Moses said to the Lord, “Since I speak with faltering lips, why would Pharaoh listen to me?” Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have made you like God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron will be your prophet. You are to say everything I command you, and your brother Aaron is to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go out of his country. But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and though I multiply my signs and wonders in Egypt, he will not listen to you. Then I will lay my hand on Egypt and with mighty acts of judgment I will bring out my divisions, my people the Israelites. And the Egyptians will know that I am the Lord when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring the Israelites out of it.” Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord commanded them. Moses was eighty years old and Aaron eighty-three when they spoke to Pharaoh.
-God is making some pretty big claims here
-he’s claiming that moses will appear so powerful to pharaoh that pharaoh will thing he’s a god with his own prophet?
-he’s claiming he’s going to bring all of isreal out of slavery
-and God is using military language here
-I will bring out my divisions
-Remember how in Chapter 1 Pharaoh wasn’t worried about his slaves, he was worried about the neighboring armies coming and taking his slaves away.
-I want you to imagine you’re moses for a second
-maybe you grew up hearing the stories of God
-Maybe you heard about how back in your great great great grandfathers day God used to intervene in peoples lives and make promises with people
-but for the past 430 years God has been nowhere to be seen.
-and all of a sudden he’s promising to turn a bunch of backwoods sheepherders from slaves into soldiers?
-That is a very big promise
-What I want to do, I want to jump down to verse 19 and start looking at how god fulfils that promise
Exodus 7:19 NIV
The Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt—over the streams and canals, over the ponds and all the reservoirs—and they will turn to blood.’ Blood will be everywhere in Egypt, even in vessels of wood and stone.”
-Remember what Jesus’ first miracle was in John chapter 2?
-turning water into wine inside of what?
-That was Jesus’ first public sign that he was the son of God
-and here we have God’s first plague to pharaoh
-turning water into blood
-God is pointing you to Jesus here

Exodus 7:20-23

Exodus 7:20–23 NIV
Moses and Aaron did just as the Lord had commanded. He raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and his officials and struck the water of the Nile, and all the water was changed into blood. The fish in the Nile died, and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Blood was everywhere in Egypt. But the Egyptian magicians did the same things by their secret arts, and Pharaoh’s heart became hard; he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said. Instead, he turned and went into his palace, and did not take even this to heart.
-Whether or not the magicians actually were able to turn the water into blood
-or if it was some sort of trick I don’t know
-but either way, they ended up making things worse, not better.
-Like if we went out to the north platte, which is the main source of water here in the panhandle
-and the north platte was just pure blood
-and the governer called in some experts and experts said
-ope looks like there’s blood in the river
-not to worry, we can put blood in all the water towers too
-we’d be like NO
-that is not helpful
-and they do the exact same thing with the frogs
they go to pharaoh and say ok, let us go or we’re gonna unleash the frogs
Jump on down to chapter 8 verse 5

Exodus 8:5-15

Exodus 8:5–7 NIV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, 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. But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
-so don’t mistake the magicians as being a threat to God somehow
-because all they are doing is making things worse
Exodus 8:8–15 NIV
Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.” Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honor of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.” “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said. Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.” After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.
Exodus 8:16 NIV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.”
-now up until this point
-even if it was less than helpful
-Pharaoh’s magicians have been able to reproduce these miracles
-but this is different
-This isn’t God transforming one thing into another
-or summoning creatures from one place to another
-this is God creating literal life out of the dust
-Reminds us a lot of Genesis, doesn’t it?
-And for God this is a simple task
-we’ve already seen that God can create an entire universe with his breath
-that he can create extremely complex creatures like human beings
-just from the dirt
-do you think God has any trouble making gnats?
-and yet the magician even realize that they are way out of their league
Exodus 8:19 NIV
the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.
-For god this is just another day at the office
-and already, pharaoh’s magicians are outmatched

Exodus 8:25-28

Exodus 8:25–28 NIV
Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.” But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.” Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”
-so first off, I hope I don’t spoil it for anyone,
-but as soon as God takes the flies away, Pharaoh changes his mind and refuses to release the Israelite
-because his remorse is not Genuine, he’s just saying whatever he needs to say to get the flies go away.
-But notice the concession that Pharaoh tries get out of the deal
-he says fine you can have your little religion,
-but you need to stay here in egypt
-You can still practice your faith but I want you to stay under my authority and control.
-if you were here last week we talked about the tension we experience between choosing to be a disciple’
and choosing to live a comfortable life
-And pharaoh is trying to offer is the false choice of “best of both worlds”
-you get get to practice your faith and do all of your sacrifices
-but you stay here and I’ll feed you, I’ll provide for you
-I’ll be the one actually sustaining you
-It actually reminds me of the time that Jesus is wandering in the desert for 40 days being tempted by the devil
-satan gives jesus a very similar choice
-he says you know, if you just bow down and worship me, I’ll give you all the kingdoms of the world
-you’ll get the best of both worlds that way
-you can get all the glory, all the benefits
-with none of the suffering that comes from the cross.
-And the devil gives us that choice every day
-he says you know you could still go to church
-you can still get all of the benefits of being in a community of faith
-but if you really wanted you could still do all the things you used to do
-We’ve been spending a lot of time in matthew chapter 10 these past few weeks
-and once again I want to turn back there and look at what Jesus says to his disciples
-after he warns them of all the suffering they’re going to endure

Matthew 10:37-39

Matthew 10:37–39 NIV
“Anyone who loves their father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; anyone who loves their son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. Whoever does not take up their cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds their life will lose it, and whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.
In mark and Luke they both say whoever does not take up their cross is not worthy of being my disciple
-God doesn’t ask for once a week Christians
-God doesn’t want Christians who practice their religion
-but still remain in Egypt under pharaoh’s authority
-That’s something that Pharaoh doesn’t seem to understand
-and that’s something that our culture today really doesn’t seem to understand
-the world wants to tell you that your faith, your religion should be more like a hobby
-maybe you get most Sundays off
-maybe you have a cross necklace or one of those fish bumper stickers
-but other than that you just look and act exactly like everyone else
That’s not the kind of disciple God wants
-He wants us to freely choose to devote our entire existence to him
-and that free choice is important
-as we continue to work through Exodus, I want you to take note of the great lengths that God is going through to persuade Pharaoh to make the right choice
-In chapter 9 we read that God ups the ante again by bringing a plague on the livestock
-so now we’re not just talking about an annoyance, we’re talking about serious economic consequences
-right we’re getting to the point where peoples lives are at stake
-These final plagues that we’re going to look at should really hit home for us in the panhandle
-because we could probably handle bad weather,
-We can handle insects
-most of the time during the summer there usually ends up being influxes of certain kinds of flies or bugs
-but when God starts messing with the livestock of a society that was built entirely on agriculture
-this is where things start to get really serious
-but don’t miss the fact that we are 4 plagues in
-and Pharaoh has yet to make the right decision.

Exodus 9:1-7

Exodus 9:1–7 NIV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’ ” The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.
-So just a quick note here, in verse 6 where it says “all the livestock died”
-in the Hebrew the word “all” doesn’t always mean “every one” it sometimes means “all kinds”
-and that’s only important because later on in this very same chapter we read about more livestock dying
-so sometimes when you’re reading the bible you have to kind of use a little bit of common sense
-I know that not all all of the livestock died because otherwise the rest of the chapter wouldn’t make any sense
-but nonetheless it was enough livestock that it was big deal
-and yet, verse 7, Pharaohs heart was unyielding
and then in verse 8 God tells them to pick up some soot and it created festering boils on all of the people
-to the point where Pharaohs magicians couldn’t even stand before moses.
and then we read in verse 12
Exodus 9:12 NIV
But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.
-Notice how up until this point,
-every single time Pharaoh’s heart is hardened
-pharaoh is doing the hardening .
-And we’re on plague number 5
-and this is the first time in the entire account that we read about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart
-is that in spite of all of his authority, all of his power
-God always allows us the free choice to reject him
-God does things in ways that you and I would never do
-because I think about it and think you know if the end goal is to release the people from israel
-wouldn’t it have been so much simpler to just go pharaoh in a dream and change his mind
-Just take away one person’s free will and this would have been a lot easier wouldn’t it have
-God wouldn’t even have had to have changed the mind of all egypt
-just the one guy in charge would have done the trick
-And yet time and time again God grants us the free choice to reject Him
-God has decided that our ability to choose whether or not we follow him is one of the most important aspects of our faith.
-Because ultimitely God wants our love
-and true love is not love if we’re not free to choose otherwise .
-And so when we read that God hardened Pharaohs heart
-don’t take that to mean that Pharaoh had no choice in the matter
-in fact, take it to mean just the opposite
-by this point pharaoh is without excuse
-God is merely allowing Pharaoh’s heart to do what Pharaohs heart would do naturally

Romans 1:20-24

Romans 1:20–24 NIV
For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles. Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.
-And in romans he goes on to talk about sexual immorality and a whole host of other sins
-but the same concept applies
-God didn’t have to do anything to make pharaoh disobey
James 1:13–14 NIV
When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed.
-So after all of this
-So God sends a hailstorm that is greater than anything seen in all of egypt
Exodus 9:20 NIV
Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside.
-now those of you who have cattle
-if it’s hailing outside, do you go and bring in your livestock?
-most people don’t right,
-that’s not something you would typically do
-so think about how big of a hailstorm it would have to be for you to get all of your livestock inside?
-And remember these are the livestock that are left over after the last few plagues
-God continued to give Pharaoh chance after chance
-and even thin this hail storm he doesn’t destroy the entire crop,
Exodus 9:31–32 NIV
(The flax and barley were destroyed, since the barley had headed and the flax was in bloom. The wheat and spelt, however, were not destroyed, because they ripen later.)
-why do farmers multi-crop their fields?
-it’s for this exact reason, right?
-because different crops come up at different times
-different crops are prone to different diseases
-so if some sort of disaster happens to one of your crops you’re not completely devastated you still have something to fall back on
-So Pharaoh’s kingdom has lost all of their livestock, half of their crops
-and yet
Exodus 9:35 NIV
So Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not let the Israelites go, just as the Lord had said through Moses.
Exodus 10:1–2 NIV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the hearts of his officials so that I may perform these signs of mine among them that you may tell your children and grandchildren how I dealt harshly with the Egyptians and how I performed my signs among them, and that you may know that I am the Lord.”
-Now if you’re not careful here, you might get the idea that this is God’s way of threatening the isrealites
-that this is God saying “you better stay in line or else I’m going to do the same thing to you”
-But there’s so much more to it than that
-We have a justice system
-not because we enjoy punishing criminals
-in fact if we lived in a fairy tale world where all we had to do to stop murderers was to pull them aside tell them to quit murdering
-we would do that
-And all God had to do to stop pharaoh was to pull him aside and say release these slaves
-you know the one’s you have been systematically taking their babies and throwing them into the nile
-yeah those slaves, stop doing that
-and if that’s all it would have taken, that’s what god would have done.
-but we don’t live in that world, do we
-one of the verses we skipped over I want to go back and read again
Exodus 9:15 NIV
For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth.
-that would have been effective
-it would have been painless
-it would have been quick
-But god’s not interested in winning the battle against evil at the expense of even one person who might change their mind
-God’s ultimate goal is to remove pain and suffering and sin from the world once and for all
-but he will not do that before every single one of his children has the opportunity to say yes
-even pharaoh.
-if you want to know why Jesus hasn’t come back yet?
-if you want to know why there’s still suffering in the world
-it’s because God is waiting for at least one more of his children.
-he’s not willing to leave anyone behind.
-God’s reminder to isreal is not a threat
-it’s revelation of his nature
-it’s an indication of God’s desire to remove evil from the world
-and also a demonstration of his love for his children.
-and then we get to the second to last plague
-God says
Exodus 10:21 NIV
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness spreads over Egypt—darkness that can be felt.”
-I don’t know how dark it has to be to be “felt”
-but you can just imagine what kind of darkness that is.

Exodus 10:22-29

Exodus 10:22–29 NIV
So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or move about for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived. Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and said, “Go, worship the Lord. Even your women and children may go with you; only leave your flocks and herds behind.” But Moses said, “You must allow us to have sacrifices and burnt offerings to present to the Lord our God. Our livestock too must go with us; not a hoof is to be left behind. We have to use some of them in worshiping the Lord our God, and until we get there we will not know what we are to use to worship the Lord.” But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he was not willing to let them go. Pharaoh said to Moses, “Get out of my sight! Make sure you do not appear before me again! The day you see my face you will die.” “Just as you say,” Moses replied. “I will never appear before you again.”
-see the thing about all of these plagues
-because by now I hope you understand the depth of God’s authority from this story
-that’s pretty evident
-I hope you understand the importance of choosing God’s ways over ours from this story
-nobody misses that point
-even the importance of worshipping God wholeheartedly
-not just with one foot still in egypt
-we need to compeltely leave egypt
-but every single one of these plagues was also a challenge to one of the egyptian idols
-All the way back to the nile river turning to blood
-that was a display of God’s power of the egyptian god osiris, the god of the nile
-the frogs was a display of power of the egyptian fertility godes hapi
-who was displayed as a statue of a frog
-the godess of grains
-the god of the sky
-every single one of them was an indicator that God was more powerful than any idol that the egyptians could put up
-And this last plauge was a direct challenge to sun god ra
-who the egyptians believed to be the most powerful of all of their idols
-and god blotted him out so dark that it could be felt
-and obviously there aren’t a whole host of people out there worshipping frogs and the sun today
-but that doesn’t mean that we don’t put idols up over God
-our jobs, our money, our reputation
-all of these are things that we can put up as idols and worship over God
-and what God is saying is that nothing is not under His authority
-he has power over the river because he created the river
-he has power over the sun because he created the sun
-he has power over your life and your money and your reputation because he created all of those things
-If you still have one foot in egypt
-if you still have idols that you’re hanging on to
-I just want to let this be the moment right here where you let them go
-where you stop resisting God and commit to him in every way
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