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The stubbornness of Pharaoh
Exodus 9: But for one reason only I’ve kept you on your feet…
Things continue to go downhill for mighty Egypt. Dead animals and a plague of miserable boils have struck the land. As Goliath will stager before falling many years in the future, Egypt is near the end. All the wealth and power Joseph brought to Egypt is draining away. One has to believe that the people of Egypt and even the advisors of the king are practically begging him to end this by surrendering to the demand from God that the people of Israel be set free. As Moses promises yet another massive display of God’s power, he explains the absurd stubbornness of Pharaoh. This is God’s doing. Pharaoh hasn’t given in because he can’t give in. After centuries of seeming silence God is making himself known once again. When he’s finished with Pharaoh the whole world will know about the God of the Israelites. On one hand I squirm a bit in my spirit as I see Pharaoh stripped of his free will, suffering the consequences of his earlier stubbornness. On the other hand, though, I’m reminded that it’s the Almighty who’s doing it. Who has a right to question what the Creator of all things does? Pharaoh’s life is going to bring glory to God, not only throughout the world of his day, but throughout history as well. As I read about the plagues I’m reminded that every life will, sooner or later, bring glory to God.
Take Away: Ultimately, God is sovereign and ultimately, every life will yield to that truth.
Get out of jail free card
Exodus 8: I’ll make a sharp distinction between your people and mine.
The first two plagues that fall on Egypt might be called “equal opportunity plagues.” That is, everyone, Egyptians and Hebrews alike, suffer from them. From the third plague on though, the area inhabited by the slaves, Goshen, is a sanctuary from all the bad stuff that comes. I can’t help but wonder why it happens like this. One thing that comes to mind is that from the third plague on the magicians of Egypt give up on duplicating the miracles. In fact, they tell Pharaoh that this is “God’s doing,” suggesting that he needs to give in. When the magicians drop out of the contest, the descendants of Abraham no longer experience the plagues. Maybe there’s a connection. Another thing I note is that, at first, these people are hesitant to believe that Moses is being sent by God to rescue them. Maybe the Lord allows them to experience the first two plagues to convince them that something beyond the ordinary is happening here. I’m sure there are other explanations but these two come to mind as I consider this passage today. Beyond that, though, is a reminder that sometimes God’s people go through the same hardships as everyone else. Being a follower of the Lord is no “get out of jail free” card. In fact, the unwelcome hardship might just be a part of God’s plan for us. The road to heaven isn’t always a pleasant stroll. Sometimes, there are portions of the route that we’d just as soon never travel.
Take Away: The Lord never promised us an easy journey, but he did promise to be with us on that journey and to deliver us to himself at the end of the road.
Passing the faith along
Psalm 105: All because he remembered his Covenant.
Psalm 105 is one of those “remembering great things” psalms. The events retold in the song happened hundreds of years in the past. I can imagine the boys in the congregation grinning to one another during the verse about frogs in the bedroom of the king and flies filling the air. That kind of imagery gets a boy’s attention! Something else is happening as that psalm is sung. Even as the boys think about flies and gnats and frogs they learn the story of God’s faithfulness, how he kept his promise and delivered his people from Egyptian slavery. Thus that old story becomes their story. Someday, they’ll be the grow ups leading the worship and it will be their boys getting a kick out of the “frog story.” Thus another generation takes ownership of the story of God. We have the same opportunity. Our children need to know of the faithfulness of God. Stories that seem like the same old stuff to us are brand new to these little ones. We owe it to them to tell it to them with the same conviction and wonder and celebration that it was told to us. As we do that we connect them to the God who keeps his promises no matter what.
Take Away: Tell your children the story of God – tell it to them with conviction, wonder, and celebration – make it their story.