Today we are looking at plague #8. Last time we dealt with the grace of God working in the lives of His people and the fact that He was not trying to destroy Egypt because He liked to destroy Egypt, but because He is a faithful God. He knows what is best for us, and He will do whatever He has to do in order to prevent us from missing what is best for us.
So part of this process in destroying Egypt is #1 to reach Pharaoh, #2 to reach the Egyptians, #3 to reach the pagan world outside of Egypt. He was particularly interested in the Canaanite civilization which He was going to have to destroy 40 years down the road. #4 He wanted to remind the Israelites, who had a remembrance of how God could operate, that God was a sovereign God, that He was Mr. Big, that nothing was too tough for Him, that He was always faithful, and that He would always be there so they didn't have to worry. He was doing this because He was going to ask a nation of people, who have been living in the lush part of Egypt, to go out into a howling wilderness and to leave behind all their past ties. They had been in Egypt for over 400 years now, and it was their home. It shouldn't have been their home since they went down as sojourners, but it became their home. God is now going to take them to a land, which while it is literally oozing with milk and honey, it is a foreign land. It is a land which they are going to have to battle they way into. The battle is the Lord's, but they don't understand that yet. So God has been trying to show them that the battle is indeed the Lord's. That is very important. Remember this because the Canaanites, from whom they flee shortly, are right now in bondage to Egypt. They jump when they are told to jump and they ask, "How high?" on the way up. And so in one sense God is destroying Egypt to make the Israelites realize, "Hey, the people that control the nation to which I am sending you, and for which you are going to have to fight, are under the control of the king I am destroying, and you aren't even raising a finger in that destruction. In other words, the battle is won. I am the God of the battle. So when you go into this new land and have to fight to take it, remember Who is in charge."
Canaan is never a picture of heaven in Scripture. It is a picture of rest in Christ down here, and rest in Christ down here involves spiritual battles. While the victory is won "in Christ," and Satan is conquered "in Christ" and on a leash "in Christ," God allows him quite a lot of latitude at times. But "in Christ" he is already beaten. God is trying to demonstrate that to the Israelites. It is not only a beautiful picture for them in those days but also for us today. The battle is the Lord's. First before He asks them to take one step of faith, He crushes the power that holds Canaan in sway, and He does not allow them to participate one iota. He asks them to walk by faith. Sure there are giants in that land, but God always lays a foundation for us. He never asks us to take a great leap out into space without a basis, a foundation, a prior experience. God, like any other father, does not expect you to mow the lawn before you learn to walk. So God takes you from crawling around on the floor and teaches you how to walk, then maybe to pick up your toys and make your bed and finally to go out and mow the lawn. That is what God does to the Christian. So He wants Israel now to go out and take some steps of faith, but before He does that He lays a solid foundation for them. The tragedy is that the foundation wouldn't have had to be so painful if Pharaoh had cooperated by freeing the Israelites and if the Egyptians had also cooperated. As we are seeing, there are 10 plagues and each one increases in intensity. The last one is a real tragedy. But we saw last time that God is doing this in grace. He is like a cancer surgeon carving out all that needs to be carved not because He likes to carve but because He loves the person He is trying to save.
So Chapter 10:1 we move on to the next plague. The last four plagues [7,8,9,10] are the climatic plagues. They continue to increase in intensity. While the Israelites are protected in Goshen, the Egyptians are beginning to pay the penalty of human death as well as the devastation of their land.
Starting in verse 1 of chapter 10 let's look at plague #8 which is the locusts.
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, [#1 He is going to perform signs among the Egyptians and #2] 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."[And for 2 reasons, #1 was to make the Egyptians realize their gods were no good, and #2 was to make the Israelites realize the Egyptian gods were no good, that idolatry just didn't cut it.] 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 all your servants [Those were the courtiers, the grandees] and the houses of all the Egyptians, [Those were the common people] something which neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day that they came upon the earth until this day.' "And he [Moses] turned and went out from Pharaoh.
Moses is going to let them think about this. You need to understand the fear of locust plagues the countries of that area have. Locusts are destructive beyond belief when they come in waves. There was one plague in Africa in 1926 that lasted 14 years. It destroyed 5,000,000 square miles. That is double the area of the United States. In one square mile of a locust plague there can be between 100 and 200 million locusts. They have recorded locust plagues that have been up to 400 square miles, 40 to 80 billion locusts. They literally cover the land. They eat everything in their path. Nothing can withstand them, and they strike terror. When they leave the land is ravaged. There is not a green leaf anywhere. There is not a green plant anywhere. Everything has been eaten right down to the ground. We don't have any feel for that over here, but over there it strikes terror in the hearts of people. The locusts move based upon the wind, so they can move a couple of miles a day or, if the wind blows harder, they can move as much as sixty miles a day and nothing is safe. So this is a terrifying thing to them.
God is trying to make a point with the Egyptians. He want them to understand their gods are useless against the plagues of Yahweh [literally the "stroke" of Yahweh. The word in the Hebrew is stroke] He also wants to make the point with the Israelites that any god outside of Yahweh is useless. They are to make this clear to their sons and grandsons so they will not go into idolatry. Let me ask you, how long did this lesson last for the Israelites? How quickly did they go into idolatry after leaving a devastated Egypt?
Class comment: Until they got to the Sinai.
Bob's response: Yeah! Until they got to Sinai. So they left Egypt, wandered down the Sinai Peninsula to Mt. Sinai; Two months. For one year, 7 to 10 months, they watched the hands of Jehovah trounce an Egypt where gods were powerless, and the belief in that incredible example of sovereignty lasted just two months.
I want to ask you another question. How much more deserving are the Israelites than the Egyptians? No more. The only reason God is doing this is because God has chosen to do it. The Jews are the elect of God. When we have an election we go into a little booth and vote any way we want. Our vote is sealed and nobody, under the law, is allowed to look at it. When it is counted, it is a number and not our name. That is election in the Scriptures, and that is election in our land. It is a pact of sovereignty. We are exercising our sovereign right when we vote. It must be done in secret and no one can know how we voted. All right, God elects. God does it sovereignty. God does it because He chooses to do it. Unlike our elections, however, He does not choose based upon the merits of the candidates. He bases it upon His purpose, and the Jews were not better than the Egyptians. In fact they were a little worse. They had far more light than the Egyptians, and they sinned just as much. They arrived at what they were by the grace of God. You are what you are, and I am what I am by the grace of God. We are no different than anyone else.
Here's another question. How much better is Moses than Pharaoh? God chose him remember. He is the greatest man in Israeli history. He is the preview of Jesus Christ. "The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him." [Deut 18:15] Again, inherently, how much better is Moses than Pharaoh? No way. We read about Moses in Hebrews 11, and we think he is an exceptional man of God, but Moses had a temper that wouldn't quit. If you read carefully in Acts chapter 7, Hebrews chapter 11 and Exodus chapter 2 and get into Numbers, you will discover Moses had flaws in his character, one of which of course, was he was gutless. But he had one gigantic character flaw. He had a vicious temper. Remember when Moses, after 40 years in the palace, was called by God to save the Jews. What was his first act? By the way, in verse 22 of Acts 7 it says, "And Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds." This for 40 years. What was he doing for 40 years there in Egypt? Whose side was he on? He was the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He was a learned Egyptian to the core. He wasn't out there saving Israelites for 40 years. No indeed! Just like the rest of the Egyptians, he was floating around on the Nile on barges propelled by Jewish slaves. It wasn't until he was 40 years old that God put into his heart the idea that he was going to be Israel's deliverer. Up until then He enjoyed very much being the son of Pharaoh's daughter. He liked being a crowned prince. He liked the possibility of having the power of Egypt at his feet. It was God that put into his heart to become the deliverer of the Jews. Then how did he start out? What was his first act of deliverance?
Class comment: Murder.
Bob's response: Murder! Yeah. It says in Acts 7 he took "vengeance" on an Egyptian. An Egyptian was beating a Jew, probably with one of these whips, and Moses took vengeance and murdered him. What does that hot temper cost him? 40 years in Midian. You would think he would learn something from that wouldn't you? Well, he doesn't. When God came to him in Midian and said, "I am going to take you back to Egypt now and make you the deliverer of the Jew." He argues with God five times, remember, and finally tells God, "..send the message by whomever Thou wilt." No way is he going to go back to Egypt. "Then the anger of the LORD burned against Moses."
What does his vicious temper do for him finally?
Class comment: It keeps him out of the Promised Land.
Bob's response: It keeps him out of the Promised Land, right! And who else did it keep out of the Promised Land? Who was the mouthpiece for Moses?
Class comment: Aaron
Bob's response: Aaron. He was a brother who blew with the wind. He was a typical politician. If the wind blew left, he went left. If the wind blew right, he went right. In Numbers 20, we discover that Moses' temper sucks in Aaron and poor Aaron loses the Promised Land too. Moses is not allowed into the Promised Land because his vicious temper caused him to fail to honor God.
The point I want to make is that Moses is no better than Pharaoh. Pharaoh is a stubborn, tough guy who will not yield in his pride. He has terrible problems of character, and it costs him everything. But so does Moses. The great lawgiver, the great leader, the great prophet never gets into the Promised Land because of his temper. So I would like you to see that all that is going on here is achieved strictly by the grace of God.
Now we have two Orientals bargaining here. Don't ever forget that. It makes it kind of fun to watch. These men both know the outcome. We know that from prior experience. Even though he is only asking for three days in the wilderness, Pharaoh knows for a certainty that Moses wants out, period! And Moses knows that Pharaoh knows that he wants out. So we have this bargaining going back and forth. But now Moses has an ace in the hole. The locusts. They have been in Egypt for 400 and some odd years, and they know what locusts are like, what the fear of them is like. So, Moses plays his hole card here. He lays the locusts on Pharaoh and marches out. There sits Pharaoh with egg all over his face. Isn't it nice to get even? Isn't it delicious? He doesn't wait until Pharaoh has a chance to say anything. He just goes. This time Pharaoh is going to have to call him back. Up to now he's been going to Pharaoh, but now Pharaoh is going to have to come to him. Doesn't that taste good!
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?"
Remember we talked before about the sovereignty of God and the moral responsibility of man. So while God had hardened Pharaoh's heart, there was still the moral responsibility of man. Pharaoh still could repent and submit to Yahweh. We know that because it was called sin when he did not, and you cannot sin if you are not capable of not sinning. Also it says God hardened not only Pharaoh's heart but the hearts of his courtiers. So both were hardened by God, and yet here the courtiers repent. They say, "Hey, let them go or we're goners, we're dead." Well, now, Pharaoh is forced to do something about it.
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 [In other words, everything] we will go, for we must hold a feast to the LORD." Then he [Pharaoh] said to them, "Thus may the LORD be with you, [Very ironic statement. Pharaoh is saying, "As I have been with you so may he be with you." In other words, stick it in your ear!] if ever I let you and your little ones go! Take heed, for evil is in your mind. [You're not kidding me. You want to go and not come back] "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.
O.K. Moses may have made Pharaoh call him back, but Pharaoh got in his licks with Moses. He uses a very subtle approach. In the ancient religions only the adult males took part in the worship services. Only the men could go out and really worship. The women and children went along for the ride. Pharaoh is saying, "What you desire is to worship your God, right? O.K., take your males and go." It is a very interesting offer. It ties in beautifully with what we have seen before of how Satan works. Remember Satan's priority pyramid? He goes after you based on priorities. He goes after your relationship to the Lord first. If that doesn't work, then he zeros in on you and your wife. If that doesn't work, he uses your kids. If that doesn't work he has to use all others, your possessions, etc. He has tried, now, twice to get Moses and the Israelites to capitulate. Remember he said, "Worship in the land. Your god himself said 'I am Yahweh in the land, and he proved it by what he did. So, go ahead and worship him here. You don't have to go out in the wilderness." In other words, "Stay in your bondage and worship God." Problem is you can't. You cannot cling to the bondage and still worship God whose "Son will set you free."
The second offer of Pharaoh was, "Hey, O.K., you can go into the wilderness, but don't go very far." In other words, don't step out in faith and leave your bondage behind. Always leave an escape clause, a path back, just in case it doesn't work. You may not like the wilderness out there all my yourself with just Yahweh.
Satan has tried to get them in their relationship with Yahweh. Now he is going to try to get them with the wife and children. "O.K., I'll let you go, but take just the adult males out [That's the law, very logical] and leave your families here." Leave your family out of your worship of God. That's the next approach of Satan. If he can't get to you and your relationship with the Lord, he'll get to you and your relationship with your family. "Don't bring your family into this." How do you do that? Well, there are all kinds of ways. We hear it all the time in counseling. You are "Head of the house." Indeed you are. You like to give the impression you've got it made, no problems, no need to share your weaknesses with your wife. You don't ever confess your sins to her. You never ask for help. Even knowing she was given to you to be a helper, to fill all those holes God designed into your system, you won't let her fill them. You just shut her out of your life with, "I've got it made," the walk on water routine. The problem is you're not kidding anybody. She can see through you, and you are really hurting her. You keep her out at arm's length and never let her in. This happens time and time again. It is probably one of the major difficulties with the adult American male in a Christian marriage. We think it threatens our manhood, our headship, if we open up and share deep dark areas with her, things we are ashamed of. So, we put on this false front and shut her out.
Or your kids. Don't answer this question, but when was the last time you apologized to your kids when you were wrong? I see a lot of guilty smiles out there. I remember how I felt about apologizing to them. I didn't make mistakes. I was "head of the house." I was an Elder at PBC, a pastor, a Bible teacher, a counselor. I didn't make mistakes. So when I did something wrong with the kids I never apologized. I'd lose my authority. So I shut them out of my life. Shut them away from Jesus Christ. "If that's what Jesus Christ is like, who wants Jesus Christ!" The biggest thing that ever happened to me was the day I apologized to one of my kids for doing something wrong and saw their reaction. It was like the sun coming out, and it suddenly dawned on me I could be human with my children. So Satan will try to keep you playing God. You be the god and leave your family back where they belong and destroy the relationship. That is what Satan is really after here. Do you notice, by the way, how very careful Satan is to always make his rationalizations seem reasonable. He said, "You want to worship your God, well, in our system the males do the worshipping. I'm giving you what you want. 'That is what you desire.'" So we rationalize, "I don't want to worry my wife so I won't tell her about this." Or, "I'll lose my authority with my children." These are all just excuses to keep from losing face.
Now verse 12.
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 that 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. [Excluding probably Goshen here]
God does an interesting thing here. Normally the wind blows from the South, but here God brings the wind in from the East. To the East was rather barren territory without much that was edible. Locusts just don't come out of Arabia that much. They come out of where the land is lush, the Sudan to the South of Egypt. Interesting!
How long did God let this wind blow? He didn't say "Locusts" and there they were. No, the wind blew all day and all night. You can imagine the great tension and anxiety by the time morning came. Locust plagues were a terror to these people. God, in His grace, was giving them a chance to repent. But, since it didn't happen, in the morning here come the locusts. You can hear them coming, something like a mighty groan. God had given them all day and all night to think about it.
Then verse 16:
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.
What we have here is what I call a typical deathbed conversion. I am always very concerned about people who confess Christ on their deathbed. It is difficult to tell whether or not it is truly real. There are two basic emotions when a person is dying. One is fear, fearful of what is going to happen to you, fearful about God and your relationship to Him, fearful about pain, fearful about your family, about their future since you're not going to be around. So one of the deep emotions that grips you is fear. The result is that the patient tends to build a wall around himself and shut people out. The other emotion along with fear is anger. Anger at yourself, "Why me? Why didn't I go get that physical when I should have." At God, "Why me, God? I led a pretty good life. Look at my neighbor across the street. He's out there making money and feeling great. Why me? It's not fair." Anger at the nurses and the doctors. Why? Because they can't heal you. All they do is come in and stick you. Every time they come in it hurts. They are always popping pills at you. They wake you up and destroy your sleep. That's all they can do. Anger at your spouse. "She made me get that physical that said I had cancer. It's her fault."
Now, these may all be irrational but they are very real. Well, Pharaoh has had it. He is fearful of Yahweh, scared to death of Him, and he hates the guts of Moses, and Egypt has just gotten creamed. And so he begins to make deals. Anything to get out of the hole he is in. And that is what we do when we get into an argument with Jesus Christ. We will make all kinds of promises, "Only just this once. If You let me get by, I'll do all kinds of things." And that is what Pharaoh says here, "Please forgive my sin only this once, [It won't ever happen again] and make supplication to the LORD your God, that He would only remove this death from me." The tragedy is that under the deep emotional struggle of dying you don't know how much is from the emotional struggle. The person may have received Christ verbally, but you never really know unless they live long enough to see a change in their lives. I have seen some beautiful changes, but I would warn you, don't ever wait until that time. Your emotions will take over, and you may make statements that are not real in your commitment even though they may be real in your emotional lives. Remember you do not have a lease on life. You are in a day-to-day rental. A family went out to Marriott Great America Amusement Park yesterday and were having a wonderful time.. Today their little boy is home with the Lord. So, don't pull a Pharaoh. It may not work.
So the Lord moves in with plague #9.
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 [Literally a dark of deep darkness. It is very strong in the original] 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 your flocks and your herds be detained. Even your little ones may go with you." [This is really a good offer.] But Moses said, "You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt 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!" [Old Moses comes right back] And Moses said, "You are right; I shall never see your face again!"
This next plague really creams Egypt. Many of the gods of Egypt are associated with the sun, the moon and the stars, with light. Their national god RA is the sun God. This darkness strikes right at the heart of their gods.
It is caused probably by a sand storm. It is spring, and these winds are called "Fifties," because they blow for 50 days. They bring up the sand storms, and the air is thick with sand. It is so thick that no one can go out in it, but they have never seen one like this before. It lasts three solid days, and they can't get out of their houses. They are trapped, and, of course, whatever is left of Egypt is covered with sand, EXCEPT Goshen. Now one of the interesting things about sand storms is that they are very streaky. They shift with the wind. Whichever way the wind varies, the sand storm varies. They can bypass areas much like the tornadoes in the Midwest. Those can destroy one side of a street, and leave the houses on the other side in pristine condition. They'll skip a couple houses and knock over the filling station on the corner. Sand storms do that, and God in His magnificent sovereignty just has the sand storm veer around Goshen. So, during the three days and three nights that the Egyptians are huddled in their homes and can't get out, the Israelites are having a ball. God is trying to show the Egyptians, and also the Israelites, who is God in Egypt. This is when Pharaoh calls out, "Go, serve the LORD; only let your flocks and your herds be detained." He needs those flocks and herds. His country has been devastated, and they are going to starve. The only place there is any arable land left producing fruit, vegetables, crops or cattle is Goshen, and Goshen is a very small area. It is a very lush area, but it is also very small. Pharaoh needs that cattle. He's in trouble. So he says, "Go serve the Lord without your flocks and your herds, but I'll let your little ones go with you."
"Just leave your flocks and herds." That is #4. I can't get between the Lord and you or between your wife and you or your kids and you, so I'll go for your possessions, your things, your job, your retirement, your rights. I have heard that so many times I want to gag. We retire from business because we have worked 25, 30, 40 years, and then we retire from Christianity. I have seen this happen. But let me tell you, I have had the same experience. I went over to Maui on a vacation, and I saw all these retired people out there doing nothing but sitting on their tokus, and I thought, "Jeepers why do I have to be working?" I think I told you, I was visiting a Christian friend there who owns this beautiful $500,000 townhouse. It sits on a gorgeous piece of land, and I was just coveting all over the place. I stepped out onto his front lawn which drops off to a lovely little private beach with sparkling blue water lapping at the sand. I said to myself, "Jeepers, Lord, how come this fellow is a Christian and I am a Christian, and he has this fantastic place, and besides he's not really that mature and I am, so why don't I get one of these?" Do you know what the Lord does when you do something like that? He sticks it to you good. He lets you see yourself as you really are. So, while I'm standing there coveting, out of the very next $500,000 townhouse [the 2 of them sit out on this point by themselves and are joined by a common wall] comes a fellow who cries, "Hi, Bob. What are you doing here?" There is another Christian who owns the $500,000 townhouse next door. Talk about rubbing your nose in it. "Lord, two Christians who own two expensive townhouses here in beautiful Maui and I don't. At least one of them could have been a pagan." I had to chuckle to myself. The Lord is such a beautifully ironic Guy. He has a wonderful sense of humor. I was willfully sinning, and I knew it. I needed a Maui condo about like I needed a hole in the head, but I wanted one. So I coveted my Christian neighbor to whom God, in his grace, had given this lovely townhouse. Then He let me have another shot through the Christian next door. I really chuckled about it.
Class comment: In Christ we have something so beautiful I wouldn't trade it for the whole world.
Bob's response: You wouldn't trade it for the whole world. When you come back from Maui and deed me two townhouses, then I'll listen to you.
Class comment: There are 3 or 4 billion sold out there. We keep our eye on Christ and heaven and eternal life and want to do what Christ put us here to do.
Bob's response: Sure, that works great until I get to Maui and I see those townhouses and then my flesh pops up. It is wrong. I'm not trying to be facetious about this. All I am suggesting is that sooner or later you have to face up to the consequences of a temptation like this. Then we'll see how far your vision extends. It's probably as far as mine that's for sure. Mine only extended to two townhouses. I was amazed that I became so infatuated with things of the world, but they are lovely things and just what I'd like and Christians already have them. Now for them to have them is not sinful. Both these couples are walking with the Lord. Boy, does that make it easy to rationalize coveting then.
Satan says, "I'll let you take your kids with you. I won't interfere, BUT, just let me keep my hands on your possessions." He is wise. If he can keep a piece of you anywhere, he will get all of you eventually. Don't ever kid yourself. He'll get you and you won't even know it is happening. I know a Deacon in a church who is happily married. His kids went through Christian schools, behaved themselves, are all Christians, married Christians. The man is on cloud 9. The only problem is he cheats in his business and brags about it. Years ago in the original Peninsula Bible Fellowship one of the best Sunday School teachers I have ever seen wanted to hang onto one of his "rights." Tremendous teacher. He held my kids enthralled. What a story teller. He hung onto his rights all right. He got a little up tight about PBF, left and didn't come back. His kids grew up outside of Christ. His grandchildren are now growing up outside of Christ. His life is deteriorating rapidly, physically, spiritually and emotionally. He is going down the tubes. He is a believer and one of the finest teachers I have ever heard, but he insisted on one of his "rights." "Don't take the cattle." Just leave a little bit for Satan. Just hang on to one little "right", my friend, and Satan will be right there to get you.
Now the LORD [Literally "has said." This is a past perfect here. He has already told them] said to Moses, "One more plague [One more stroke] I will bring on Pharaoh and on Egypt; after that he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will surely drive you out from here completely. "Speak now in the hearing of the people that each man ask from his neighbor and each woman from her neighbor for articles of silver and articles of gold." [And also articles of clothing from another passage.] And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people.
The only fellow in whose eyes Moses was not esteemed was Pharaoh. It is kind of interesting. This man who was going to keep the Jews in the land no matter what it cost is going to be God's instrument to drive them out. God is going to make Pharaoh drive the Jews out of the land. Not ask them to leave; kick them out. And he is going to do it completely.
Who else doesn't want to leave Egypt? Really doesn't want to leave? The Jews really don't want to leave either do they? You can take the Jew out of Egypt, but you can't take Egypt out of the Jew. Egypt is security. It may be bondage, but it is security. And God wants them to walk by faith. So God is going to actually drive them out of Egypt because they won't go otherwise. But you see their reluctance, their fear, their lack of faith is not going to stop God's purpose for them. He is going to get them out of Egypt whether or not they want to go.
Another interesting thing. In Exodus 3:22 we are told the women are going to ask for jewels and now we are told the men are also going to ask for jewels. God is going to literally plunder Egypt. We know now from the archaeological records and also from the hieroglyphic inscriptions that the men of Egypt wore almost as much jewelry as the women. They have gold and silver on them like you wouldn't believe. God's first promise to Moses was He was going to send out all the women to the women and take all their jewels and walk out of Egypt. I don't know if He has given them a little time of respite or not, but now He is literally going to devastate Egypt. The men are going to the men, and the women are going to go to the women, and when they leave, all the jewelry of Egypt is going to go with them, all the expensive belongings that can easily be carried. God is going to plunder the Egyptians. And He gives the Jews favor in the sight of the Egyptians so they are willing to give up their valuables. "Furthermore, the man Moses himself was greatly esteemed in the land of Egypt, both in the sight of Pharaoh's servants and in the sight of the people." What has happened to Moses in his obedience? He went back to Egypt feeling what?
Class comment: Small, insignificant.
Bob's response: Yeah! He was a shepherd, a nothing. Shepherds were despised in Egypt. He had been out of the court for 40 years. He was no longer eloquent which was required in the court of Egypt. There was apparently a special way of speaking, an eloquence required in Egypt for which you had to be trained. He was 80 at this time. Most of his peers were gone. He was going back alone with nothing, total inadequacy, but now because of his obedience where does he stand. Who fears whom now?
Class comment: Pharaoh fears him.
Bob's response: Pharaoh doesn't fear him yet, but all his courtiers do, the ones Moses was afraid of making a fool of himself before. Also all the people of Egypt fear him.
Now what has Moses used to make them fearful? What weaponry? What mighty display of his strength did he use? None. It was all the power of God. Moses was obedient to God and because he was obedient the power of God was able to be activated through him. He didn't come back with his sword and his spear and his javelin and in his own personal strength. If he had he would have been killed. But one shepherd accompanied by one slave, Aaron, walked back into Egypt with only a staff, and in 7 to 10 months by the power of God, the Egyptians fear him more than Pharaoh. Now he is in the saddle not Pharaoh.
What are your talents? What are your spiritual gifts? Got a yellow streak down your back? So did Moses. Got a violent temper? So did Moses. Don't have any eloquence of speech so you can witness? Neither did Moses. What is the difference between you and Moses if you don't have victory in your Christian life?
Class comment: Obedience.
Bob's response: Obedience, right! Moses went back, chicken little, scared to death, having fought God 5 times until God Himself "burned with anger against Moses." Moses was scared to death and his knees were knocking, but he went. He obeyed! Now, through the power of God, in just 7 to 10 months he is cock of the walk in Egypt.
When God brings into your life some duty, some obligation, some option, some opportunity and you know it is in accordance with your spiritual gifts, don't look at You, look at God. Don't worry about being fearful or grumbling or telling God, "No way," or any of these. You can argue with God all you want as long as finally you say, "Yes, Sir," because God knows your heart. The only thing God will not put up with is disobedience, rebellion, the sin of the high-hand. That is the only sin in the whole Old Testament for which there is no sacrifice, the sin of the high-hand. That God will not put up with. You might be surprised what happens to you in 7 to 10 months if you obey.
The ultimate question is, "Whose god do you trust?" Moses had trust only in his own god [his lack of his former prowess probably] when he refused God, but finally, unwillingly almost, he obeyed, but he obeyed!
If Moses can do it, we can do it. If you don't think you can, go back and read Moses' 5 rejections. Go back and look at Moses' staff which was his only weapon. Go back and look at Moses' lack of eloquence. All he had been doing was calling sheep for 40 years. Anything can happen when you obey.
Father, we just thank you for the fact that you are a God that supplies our needs in a glorious manner according to your riches in Christ Jesus, and, therefore, Father, if you put before us an opportunity to step out by faith, You are committed to supplying our needs and to empowering us to deal with the opportunity. Father, help us to look at Moses and see in him ourselves. And, yes, You allow us to argue with You and disagree with You and talk it over with You and discuss it with You and even tell you, "No," and yet You allow us to repent and go anyway. Father, teach us that you are a God that doesn't want us to play games but wants us totally open and honest with You, but that You are a God that insists on obedience. We do not have the right to say a final, "No." Thank you, Father, for your grace and love in Jesus' name. Amen.
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