Are you for Free Speech?

Freedom of speech is something we value highly in the US. The first constitutional amendment ensures that among other things, “Congress shall make no law … abridging the freedom of speech.” Why is this important? It is important because the citizens of this great country need to be able to voice their opinions without fear of the government throwing them in jail when their opinion is not in vogue.

Other countries have also seen the value of freedom of speech. During World War 2, Prime Minister Winston Churchill brought up the subject of free speech while addressing some thorny issues and the possibility of differing views within the government.

Party government is not obnoxious to democracy. Indeed Parliamentary democracy has flourished under party government. That is to say, it has flourished so long as there is full freedom of speech, free elections and free institutions. So we must beware of a tyranny of opinion which tries to make only one side of a question the one which may be heard. Everyone is in favour of free speech. Hardly a day passes without its being extolled, but some people’s idea of it is that they are free to say what they like, but if anyone says anything back, that is an outrage.

COALMINING SITUATION (Hansard, 13 October 1943) (millbanksystems.com)

This is both a good and difficult statement. It is good because we want to speak our opinions without repercussion. It is difficult because not all opinions are equally valid, and some could also be harmful. We actually don’t want some people to speak their mind. But… consider a few thoughts.

  1. Freedom of speech applies to Christians proclaiming the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ, but also to those who oppose that message or have corrupted it.
  2. Freedom of speech applies to those who are against _________ as well as those who celebrate it.
  3. Freedom of speech applies to those who promote godly behavior, but also to those who promote what God hates.

While it would be nice if people would always govern their thinking by what God says in the Bible, that isn’t usually the case. People have differing views on what they saw happen at a car accident, so it is probable they will have differing views about everything else as well.

As a Christian, I want my beliefs to line up with the Bible. This is important because the Bible reveals what God (our Creator) desires and says is best for us. However, not many people will share that perspective. Their opinions about life, religion, politics, sports, entertainment, marriage, and a whole lot of things may be completely different than what God says.

As a Christian, I value the freedom of speech because I want others to know the Lord. If I am unable to speak freely, the gospel will be hard to share. But that has to go both ways. If I want the freedom to speak the truth to other people, I need to allow them the same right. They can disagree. But without the freedom to have a conversation (or debate) it will be very difficult to have a meaningful discussion.

A couple thoughts:

  1. Speak the truth in love (Eph. 4:15). Both aspects are important. The truth is important to proclaim but the way it is presented is also important. Are you speaking out of duty or because you love the person? It should be evident. For further discussion, consider this article.
  2. Realize that it takes time for people to be convinced. Paul took the time to reason with and persuade the people he was talking to (Acts 19:8-10). Most people don’t believe something the first time they hear it. Neither do you. But with the help of the Holy Spirit, take the time to explain what the Bible says and why it is relevant to each person.
  3. Know when to stop talking. There are times when continuing a conversation may be a waste of time (Prov. 26:4-5). It is hard to know when to keep talking to an argumentative or foolish person. But there are definitely times when you should walk away because further speech is not profitable. In these cases, be sure to ask the Lord for wisdom.

Exodus 9

During the 2022 Oscar Awards, emcee Chris Rock made a joke about actor Will Smith’s wife’s bald head (due to alopecia). When his wife became upset about the joke, Will Smith walked on stage, slapped Chris Rock, and told him not to mention her name again. Although I have no interest in movie actors, it has been hard not to hear about this on just about every radio program and news report. The odd thing is that later in the program, Will Smith still received an Oscar award despite his violent action during the program. This caused some to think that he was “too big” to get in trouble.

Have you ever been wronged by someone and then wondered if the person would get away with the sin? Or you might wonder if God was going to overlook the sin and never address it in this lifetime. Sometimes it may seem that way.

In today’s chapter, we will see that God was well aware of the wrongs done against His people. And He was well aware of the idolatry of the Egyptians and the hard heart of their leader. Did God let them get away with their sin? Let us examine what happened in Exodus 9.

  1. Plague 5 – Livestock Pestilence

    [Read Exodus 9:1-7.]

    a. God’s demand (1-3)

    The Lord told Pharaoh to let His people go again. But promised that if Pharaoh refused, he would send a severe pestilence on the Egyptian cattle, horses, donkeys, and sheep.

    What is a pestilence or murrain?

    “Pestilence is a deadly disaster, usually a disease, that affects an entire community. Pestilence is contagious, virulent, and devastating. For example, the Black Plague in Europe that killed over thirty percent of the population during the late Middle Ages was a pestilence” (Gotquestions.org).

    In this case, God’s promised plague would be a pestilence/murrain that affected all the animals in the fields of Egypt.

    b. God’s discrimination (4)

    But God also told Pharaoh that He would spare the Israelites’ livestock from the pestilence. This would show to Pharaoh the difference between those who serve idols and those who serve the Lord.

    c. God’s judgment (5-6)

    ILLUS. Tomorrow, our cat Lilly has an appointment with the veterinarian in Willard. This is an appointment that we are looking forward to.

    Surprisingly, the Lord made an appointment with Pharaoh for the judgment. Why did he do this? He wanted Pharaoh to know that what happened was not random chance but something that the Lord sovereignly decreed. It would show him that the Lord was in charge and not Pharaoh.

    The next day, all of the livestock in Egypt died. But none of the livestock owned by Israelites died.

    What was God trying to tell the Egyptians?

    To the Egyptians, “many animals were sacred, particularly … the bull which represented the god Apis or Re, and the cow which represented Hathor, the goddess of love, beauty, and joy. Hathor was depicted in the form of a woman with the head (or sometimes only the horns) of a cow. Also Khnum was a ram-god” (Hannah 123).

    God was showing the Egyptians that the Lord was the one, true God and that their idols were unable to help them.

    d. Pharaoh’s response (7)

    After suffering much loss in Egypt, Pharaoh sent messengers to see how Israel was doing. Sure enough, none of their livestock had been harmed. As promised, God had protected their livestock.

    I kind of wonder if Pharaoh didn’t rustle some of their livestock at this time.

    However, despite the tremendous show of the Lord’s power, Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he refused to let the people go.


  2. Plague 6 – Boils

    [Read Exodus 9:8-12.]

    a. God’s command (8-9)

    The Lord told Moses to take ashes from a furnace and throw them into the air in front of Pharaoh. “The original [word] for ‘furnace’ signifies also a ‘lime-kiln’ or ‘brick-kiln;’ and as these were among the instruments of oppression to the Israelites, it was fitting that they should be converted to the means of chastisement to the Egyptians, for God oftentimes makes men to recognize their sin in their punishment” (Bush 113).

    When Moses threw the ashes into the air, God said that they would become a fine dust that would cause boils to break out on people and animals.

    “As one commentator says, ‘This was a poetic justice.’ They would have been illustrative of Pharoah’s harsh treatment on the Israelites. Pharaoh forced the Israelites to slave over the brick making furnaces. Hard long, excruciating days with soot covering the body and pure exhaustion, it was time for God to exact that on Pharoah… causing the furnace dust to create a far more physical problem—festering boils!” (Free Sunday School Lessons)

    What are boils?

    Boils are enflamed sores that bubble up on the skin. You may recall that Satan afflicted Job with boils.

    “Job’s body is said to have been covered with itchy, irritating sores which made his face unrecognizable, Job 2:12, caused continual burning pain (Job 3:246:4), and which were infested with maggots (Job 7:5) and exhaled a nauseous [stench] (Job 19:17)” (ISBE).

    ILLUS. During junior high, I spent an afternoon swimming without sun screen and got a very bad sunburn which included blisters on my nose and back. My skin burned and the blisters eventually burst and dripped down my body. If boils are worse than that, they must be very bad.

    b. God’s judgment (10-11)

    Without warning Pharaoh, God sent Moses to cast the ashes into the air in front of the hard-hearted ruler. As the dust settled, boils broke out on people and animals. Even the magicians were affected by the boils and were unable to help their leader.

    “The Egyptians, fearfully aware of epidemics, worshiped Sekhmet, a lion-headed goddess with alleged power over disease; Sunu, the pestilence god; and Isis, goddess of healing. Yet these deities could not deliver the people and animals from their torments” (Hannah 123).

    God was once again showing Egypt who the one, true God was and is.

    c. Pharaoh’s response (12)

    Despite going through the painful boils of God’s judgment, Pharaoh refused to listen to Moses and Aaron. God hardened his heart just as predicted.


  3. Plague 7 – Severe Hail

    [Read Exodus 9:13-21.]

    a. God’s command (13-14)

    The Lord told Moses to get up early to speak to Pharaoh. But this time, he would not only repeat his command to let His people go, but would also speak straight to Pharaoh’s hard heart.

    To this point, Pharaoh had been resisting the Lord. The plagues were merely inconveniences, but now God would do something that would get his attention and cause him to repent … even if for only a few moments.

    b. God’s reasoning (15-17)

    The Lord told Pharaoh that He could have destroyed the stubborn ruler with a pestilence and be done with him. But he did not do this because He had a purpose for him and the plagues. Through Pharaoh’s stubborn rebellion, the Lord’s power would be seen in Pharaoh and be heard around the world.

    This would be possible because Pharaoh continued to exalt himself, fight against God’s people, and not let them go. Because of this, God would send another plague that would demolish the land of Egypt.

    Why did God reason with Pharaoh?

    Doesn’t it seem odd that God would not only warn Pharaoh about the coming plagues and also reason with him? From our perspective, Pharaoh has been given too many chances already. Six plagues have been unleashed against him and he still refused to let God’s people go. Enough is enough.

    We know that God is merciful and wants people to repent. But in this case, I think Pharaoh was a lost cause. God was not reasoning with him to bring him to repentance, but to show him over and over again the reasons he was guilty and was being judged by God.

    c. God’s warning (18-21)

    Once again, the Lord announced when the plague would begin. At the same time the next day, He would send a heavy hail storm unlike anything Egypt had ever faced. The Lord promised that any animal or person in the field would be killed by the hail.

    Where did these animals come from after the pestilence?

    “Skeptics and critics of the Bible like to point to Exodus 9:6 and 20 as an example of a contradiction in the Bible. However, there is a reasonable explanation for how the Egyptians could have their livestock destroyed and then possess livestock again in the same chapter. … There could have been a significant amount of time in between some of the plagues. … They could have imported (or forcefully acquired) animals from neighboring countries. The animals could also have been taken from the Israelites, whose livestock were spared from the fifth plague. The Israelites were slaves, after all” (GotQuestions).

    After six plagues, some of the Egyptians were beginning to listen. They heard what Moses said and brought their livestock and workers in from the fields. It makes me wonder if some of them (like Nebuchadnezzar or the people of Nineveh) truly turned from their idols to the Lord.

    d. God’s judgment (22-26)

    [Read Exodus 9:22-26.]

    At God’s command, Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky to call hail on Egypt. Huge chunks of hail mixed with fire fell from the sky and decimated the land where the Egyptians lived. Any person, animal, or crop left in the field was struck by the hail storm.

    What did this show to the idolatrous people of Egypt?

    “Clearly the abilities of several Egyptian gods were again being challenged. Nut, the sky goddess, was not able to forestall the storm; and Osiris, the god of crop fertility, could not maintain the crops in this hailstorm; nor could Set, the storm god, hold back this storm” (Hannah 123).

    But God’s people were not under judgment at this point. As Egypt was being decimated by the hail and fire, the Israelites were safe and unaffected by the storm.

    e. Pharaoh’s response (27-35)

    [Read Exodus 9:27-35.]

    This plague seemed to have a profound affect on Pharaoh. He actually seemed to repent this time. He admitted his sin, that the Lord was righteous, and that he and his people were wicked. Then he asked Moses to call on the Lord to stop the terrible storm. He even promised to let the people go.

    Moses responded to Pharaoh. He promised to ask the Lord to end the storm. But he knew (finally believing what the Lord has said repeatedly) that Pharaoh would not keep his promise.

    With half of the Egyptian crops destroyed, Moses left the city to intercede for Pharaoh. He prayed and the Lord caused the storm to cease.

    Sadly, as soon as the storm was over, Pharaoh once again hardened his heart and changed his mind. So did his servants. Despite his former promise, this hard-hearted Pharaoh would not let God’s people go.

Conclusion

Does it seem to you that the Lord is letting Pharaoh get away with his sin? Does it seem that the Lord will never put a stop to this arrogant king’s stubborn rebellion against God?

Or do you see God’s plan amidst the plagues and Pharaoh’s poor responses?

In this chapter, the Lord did two things: (1) He showed Egypt that their idols were unable to protect them from the Lord’s powerful plagues. (2) He showed Pharaoh the reason why He even allowed the ruler to continue living. He was not impressed or distressed about Pharaoh’s hard heart. Instead, the Lord used his stubbornness to show the world His power over the once powerful nation of Egypt.

“Be not deceived. God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth that shall he also reap.”

I would like you to recognize that God is in control of your life as well. First, you cannot exalt yourself above God and get away with your sin. Pharaoh, the great leader of Egypt, could not escape from God’s judgment and neither can you. Second, if someone has sinned against you, the Lord will take care of it in His time. Leave it to God. While you are waiting for God to do His work, pray that God will bring that person to repentance. But if He does not, know that God is the righteous Judge who will take care of each situation in His perfect timing.

Bibliography

• “What is the meaning of pestilence in the Bible?” as viewed at https://www.gotquestions.org/pestilence-in-the-Bible.html on 4/2/2022.

• “How could there be livestock in Exodus 9:20 when all of Egypt’s livestock had been destroyed by the plague in Exodus 9:6?” as viewed at https://www.gotquestions.org/Exodus-plagues-Egypt-livestock.html on 4/2/2022.

• George Bush, Notes on Exodus, (Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976), 111-120.

• F. B. Meyer, Studies in Exodus, (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1978), 122-23.

• John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, (USA: SP Publications, 1985), 123-24.

• “Boil” in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, as viewed at https://www.blueletterbible.org/search/dictionary/viewtopic.cfm?topic=IT0001592 on 4/2/2022.

• “The Plagues of Egypt: Lesson 9: The Plague of Boils,” as viewed at https://www.freesundayschoollessons.org/biblical-theology/the-plagues-of-egypt-lesson-9-the-plague-of-boils/ on 4/2/2022.

Exodus 8

When God told Moses and Aaron what was going to happen, He was very specific. In Exodus 7:1-5, God promised six things: (1) to harden Pharaoh’s heart, (2) to multiply his sign and wonders in Egypt, (3) that Pharaoh would not listen, (4) to lay His hand on Egypt, (5) to deliver Israel, and (6) to show the Egyptians that He is the Lord.

As we read through the account of the Ten Plagues, let’s be looking for the fulfillment of what God promises would happen. But to make things easier to follow, let’s shorten our list to three things: (1) God’s sign to Egypt, (2) Pharaoh’s response, and (3) the results.

  1. The Second Plague

    Read Exodus 8:1-15.

    a. God’s sign to Egypt

    The Lord told Moses to tell Pharaoh what would happen if he refused to let His people go. For the second plague, God would strike the territory with frogs. The frogs would multiply in the river and then invade the homes, ovens, and bowls of the people. Then they would “come up on” the people.

    ILLUS. I don’t know how much you like frogs, but I have always enjoyed catching frogs and playing with them. We have found them at Peniel Bible Camp and along other ponds or lakes. Some people like them enough to decorate their homes with frog pictures or statues. In general, people like frogs.

    But this plague would involve more than extra frog decorations on your mantle. There would be hundreds of frogs in each home. Imagine walking into your home at the end of a long day to find your armchair filled with frogs, your bed filled with frogs, and your microwave, oven, refrigerator, and tupperwear bowls filled with frogs!

    ii. Meaning to Egypt

    “The Egyptians regarded frogs as having divine power. In the Egyptian pantheon the goddess Heqet had the form of a woman with a frog’s head. From her nostrils, it was believed, came the breath of life that animated the bodies of those created by her husband … . Therefore frogs were not to be killed” (Hannah 121).

    But what would happen if hundreds of frogs came into their homes?

    iii. The Event

    God told Moses to have Aaron stretch out the rod over the river, ponds, and lakes to cause frogs to multiply and come into the land of Egypt. Aaron did this and the frogs covered the land. Surprisingly, Pharaoh’s magicians were able to do the same thing with their enchantments.

    b. Pharaoh’s Response

    i. Initial

    Things must have been unbearable because Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron. He asked them to ask the Lord to remove the frogs from him and his people. He even promised to let the Israelites go to sacrifice to the Lord.

    Did you notice that Pharaoh is no longer unacquainted with the name, the Lord? He can no longer say, Who is the Lord? since he had seen the Lord’s power poured out in two incredible signs.

    Moses gave Pharaoh the opportunity to choose when God would destroy the frogs, and keep new ones only in the river. Somehow, Pharaoh requested that it happen on the next day. How strange. Wouldn’t you have thought that someone bothered by frogs would want them gone right away?

    Moses spoke to the Lord about the frogs and God answered his prayer. The thousands of frogs in each house, courtyard, and field died. There were so many that they had to be placed in heaps and the stench of their dead bodies filled the land.

    ii. Final

    So, how did Pharaoh respond? Verse 15 tells us that he hardened his heart once relieved of the frogs. What seemed like a change of heart was just annoyance. Once the frogs were gone, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron.

    c. The Results

    i. Magicians

    The magicians were able to duplicate this plague for Pharaoh. But notice who Pharaoh turned to in order to rid himself of the plague. It wasn’t the magicians.

    ii. Pharaoh

    When Moses gave Pharaoh the choice of when the frogs would be destroyed, he was doing it for a reason. When the frogs died on the next day, this would be a sign that the Lord (not his magicians or his false gods) was unlike any other.
  2. The Third Plague

    Read Exodus 8:16-19.

    a. God’s sign to Egypt

    In response to Pharaoh’s hard heart and his unwillingness to let Israel go, God told Moses to tell Aaron to strike the dust of the land and make lice appear in all of Egypt. Aaron obeyed and all of the dust in Egypt became lice. Both people and animals were affected by this plague.

    What are lice? According to the CDC, “lice are parasitic insects that can be found on people’s heads and bodies, including the pubic area. Human lice survive by feeding on human blood.”

    How many lice were there? If you have ever dusted a room, you know that dust can accumulate quickly in a house. But God told Aaron to strike the dust of the earth throughout the land of Egypt. So, it was not merely the dust in a room, but the dust outside as well.

    Modern Egypt is known for having lots of dust and sand. A recent report showed a picture of a sand/dust storm in Cairo Egypt that made it hard to see the buildings. Imagine if all of that was lice. People and animals would be covered with these biting insects.

    b. Pharaoh’s Response

    i. magicians

    Up until this point, the magicians have been able to duplicate God’s miraculous signs. In verse 18, we find that the magicians tried but could not make lice appear. They even told Pharaoh that what had happened was “the finger of God.” In other words, only God could do something like this.

    ii. hard heart

    Unlike the magicians, Pharaoh was not changed by what happened. His heard grew hard and he would not listen to them … just as the Lord had said.

    c. The Results

    i. Everyone

    The Lord got the attention of everyone in Egypt. With lice bites all over their bodies, every person in Egypt was aware that the Lord was stronger than any of their false gods.

    ii. Israelites

    Do you think that the Israelites were unaffected by this plague? I think they were. Remember, the people were slaves to Pharaoh and his task masters. So, they were required to be in Egypt making bricks and constructing buildings. So, they would have seen and been affected by the lice.

    The results were that the Lord got everyone’s attention.

    ILLUS. As it was then, so it is today. When something happens that affects a lot of people, we all start to ask questions and sometimes these problems drive us to the Lord.
  3. The Fourth Plague

    Read Exodus 8:20-32.

    a. God’s Sign to Egypt

    This time, the Lord told Moses to get up early and meet Pharaoh at the water. Moses and Aaron were to tell Pharaoh to let the Israelites go or else be hit with a fourth plague of swarms of flies.

    But this time the plague would only affect the Egyptians. The Israelites in Goshen would not be affected at all as a sign to them and Pharaoh.

    What were these flies?

    Notice that the Lord promised to send swarms but “of flies” is in italics in our Bibles. This indicates that the translators supplied this word to describe it as best they could.

    The Septuagint (Greek version of the OT) used the word for dog-fly, “an insect that fastens its teeth so deep in the flesh, and sticks so close, that it oftentimes makes cattle run mad” (Bush 107).

    Others think this may refer to a flying beetle which “devours everything in its way, even clothes, books, and plants, and does not hesitate to inflict severe bites on man” (Bush 107). This would be interesting as Egyptians thought highly of the scarab beetle, “an emblem of the Sun and of the abiding life of the soul” (Meyer 121).

    In either case, these swarms would have been a continuing bother to Pharaoh and the Egyptians.

    b. Pharaoh’s Response

    As we have been studying this chapter, I have felt the urge to scratch my head and neck. Just thinking of swarming insects makes my skin feel uneasy.

    Pharaoh responded to these pesky swarms by calling for Moses and Aaron. He was tired of the swarms and was willing to make a deal.

    i. You can go but you must sacrifice here.

    Instead of giving in to the Lord’s demands, Pharaoh only bent part of the way. He would let them make their sacrifices but not travel a great distance away.

    Moses told Pharaoh that their sacrifices would cause a riot in Egypt. “This may have been because the Egyptians considered sacred the bull which represented the god Apis or Re and the cow which represented their goddess Hathor” (Hannah 122). If the Israelites were seen sacrificing a bull or cow to the Lord, the Egyptians would stone them.

    ii. You can go but not far away.

    Can you picture Pharaoh swatting the swarming bugs away from his mouth or talking through a cloth mask? He is vexed by the insects and finally tells Moses that he would let them go (just not too far away). Intercede for me! This is getting to be obnoxious!

    Moses promised to ask the Lord to remove the swarms on the next day. But he also told Pharaoh not to deceive him or change his mind about letting the people go.

    Moses went out and prayed to the Lord and asked Him to remove the swarms from the land. The Lord did as he asked and all of the swarms were removed — not even one remained.

    How did Pharaoh respond?

    iii. You can’t go.

    With the swarms gone, Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to keep his promise to let the people go.

    c. The Results

    Do you remember what God promised would happen in Exodus 7? He promised to harden Pharaoh’s heart and that he would not listen. These were the results of the fourth plague. Pharaoh hardened his heart and refused to listen to the Lord’s demands.

Conclusion

Do you think Moses and Aaron are frustrated at this point? Can you hear them saying something like, “Things are not going well today.” But is that true and should they be frustrated? God’s plan is being fulfilled just as he promised.

  1. Pharaoh is hard-hearted and won’t listen.
  2. God is sending his judgments on the idolatrous Egyptians.
  3. Everyone affected by the plagues now knows who the Lord is.

Instead of being frustrated, Moses, Aaron, and the Israelites could say instead, “Things are going exactly the way God planned.” The only thing left to be fulfilled is the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. And if God had fulfilled His other promises, it is sure that He would accomplish this final promise as well.

Are you frustrated today because things didn’t go the right way for you? Are you thinking that God doesn’t care about your situation and that He is slow or impotent when it comes to helping you? If so, I hope that you will realign your spiritual sensors and note that God is not impotent and that His plan is being perfectly fulfilled in your life today despite any obstacles that seem to be slowing things down.

Someone has said that God is never late but seldom early in fulfilling his plan. It is up to us just to keep doing what we are responsible for and to let God accomplish His plan in His own time.

Bibliography

Heqet | Ancient Egypt Online
• John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament, (USA: SP Publication, 1985), 121-123.
CDC – Lice
Sandstorm hits Cairo – Global Times
• F. B. Meyer, Studies in Exodus, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978 reprint), 120-22.
• George Bush, Notes on Exodus Volume 1, (Minneapolis: James & Klock, 1976 reprint), 98-111.

Exodus 7

Up until this point, it has been difficult for Moses and Aaron to do what God had commanded them. Even their conversation with God had not given them the strength to deal with Pharaoh’s hard heart and cruel response. Add to that the response of the oppressed Israelites and they were knocked out of the fight.

But God did not allow them to be discouraged for very long. He God knew exactly what they needed to get back into the fight. He did not yell at them. He did not punish them. Instead, he went back to the basics and carefully explained what He had given them to do and what God Himself would do.

  1. God’s careful explanation (7:1-5)

    [Read Exodus 7:1-5.]

    Note how God explained the situation to Moses and Aaron. He simply explained their part in the plan, what He would do, and what would happen.

    a. He would use them as ambassadors to Pharaoh (1-2).

    The first thing He explained to them was what they would be to Pharaoh. When they spoke to Pharaoh, Moses would seem to be God and Aaron would be his prophet.

    Moses was not God, but Pharaoh would view him as such. Apparently, the Egyptians were a polytheistic nation. They had gods for everything. Even Pharaoh’s first-born son was considered to be a god. You can imagine that each god had its own temple and leader. So, God told Moses that this is how Pharaoh would look at him.

    Simply put, “Moses was to be God’s representative in this affair… . He was authorized to speak and act in God’s name.” (Bush 89). Everything Moses and Aaron said was what God intended for Pharaoh to hear. Let my people go.

    APPLIC. Christian, have you ever considered that this is how the world may view you? They may not consider you to be God, but when you speak with the authority of Scripture, they will see you as an ambassador for Christ (2 Cor. 5:20). So keep in mind what a great privilege and responsibility God has given to you.

    b. He would do His work in Egypt (3).

    The next thing He explained to them was what He would do in Egypt. First, God would harden Pharaoh’s heart. Despite the many opportunities that Pharaoh would have, he never would respond favorably. As a result, God would harden his heart.

    Second, God would do many signs and wonders in Egypt. During the next three to nine months (Meyer 116, Hannah 119), Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the Israelites would see indisputable signs that they could not deny.

    c. He would guarantee the results (4-5).

    The last thing He explained is what would happen as a result.

    First result: Pharaoh would not listen to them. God knew that Pharaoh’s heart would be hardened beyond any chance of repentance. So, he would disregard what Moses and Aaron said and would ignore the miracles done by God.

    Second result: God would use these great judgments against Egypt to bring his people out of the land.

    Third result: The Egyptians would know that God is the Lord when they saw the great wonders that He did in their land and when the Israelites were freed from captivity.

    As mentioned before, the Egyptians had many gods. On one of their temples to Isis, they had this inscription: “I am that which was, and is, and shall be, and no man hath lifted my veil” (Meyer 107). When God was through with his judgments against Egypt, they would have no trouble knowing that the Great I Am had done it and not their false gods.

    God’s careful explanation would have made it clear to Moses and Aaron what their job was and what God would do in the near future.

  2. God’s dynamic duo (7:6-7)

    [Read Exodus 7:6-7.]

    What was the result of God’s conversation with Moses and Aaron? These two became a dynamic duo used by God during the plagues of Egypt and for many years afterward.

    a. They were willing to obey (6).

    Isn’t it interesting how God’s careful (and repeated) explanation led Moses and Aaron away from their discouragement to obedience? Instead of sulking and wondering how they could accomplish anything God had told them to do, they believed what God had said and obeyed His orders.

    b. They were old (7).

    One interesting thing is the age of these men at the time God sent them to Pharaoh. Moses was eighty and Aaron was eighty-three. We have several in that age range attending our services today.

    While people may have lived longer back then (Moses died at 120), they were considered old back then. The Law said that priests had to retire from duty at age 50. So, Moses and Aaron were past retirement age.

    This ought to be an encouragement to those who are older today. If God could use two octagenarians, then maybe he can use all of us in some way to accomplish his purposes.

  3. God’s amazing miracle (7:8-13)

    [Read Exodus 7:8-13.]

    Pharaoh was someone who had respect for the supernatural. This is why he had magicians working for him. Because of this, God prepared Moses and Aaron with a sign to attract Pharaoh’s attention.

    a. They were given a sign (8-9).

    Why should Pharaoh have listened to Moses and Aaron? He was king of the land and they were just spokespersons for the slave population.

    His magicians had probably gained his respect by doing some “magic” act. So, God instructed Moses and Aaron to do their sign when Pharaoh asked for it.

    The sign used would be the rod turning to a snake. Remember how Moses had fled from his rod when God had him perform that sign on the mountain? This would be certain to get the Pharaoh’s attention… right?

    b. They did the sign before Pharaoh (10-12).

    Aaron cast his rod to the ground and it became a snake. But instead of fleeing, Pharaoh called for his magicians to do the same thing. Surprisingly, each magician did this and their rods became snakes.

    How did they do this?

    “Pharaoh’s magicians duplicated the feat by their secret arts, probably miracles empowered by Satan, not merely some sleight-of-hand trickery. Satan is able to perform ‘all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders’ (2 Thes. 2:9) that deceive (2 Thes. 2:10; Rev. 13:11-15; cf. Matt. 24:24)” (Hannah 118).

    While they were able to duplicate God’s miracle, they didn’t get their staves back. Aaron’s snake swallowed each of their snakes and there was nothing they could do about it!

    c. They were unsuccessful (13).

    After seeing his magicians duplicate God’s miracle, Pharaoh’s heart became hard and he didn’t listen to God’s command to let the people go.

    This response did not invalidate Moses and Aaron, or God. Instead, this was exactly what God had said would happen (see Ex. 7:4).

    Moses and Aaron had failed to convince Pharaoh to let the people go. However, they had shows him and his magicians that God is greater then they are. This by itself is success.

  4. God’s first plague (7:14-25)

    [Read Exodus 7:14-25.]

    Although, they were unsuccessful in getting Pharaoh’s attention with the rod-to-snake sign, God was not done with His plan. These verses cover the first of ten plagues which God used for His purposes in Egypt.

    a. It was done because of Pharaoh (14-16).

    ILLUS. Have you ever pointed two fingers at your eyes and then at someone else. This means that you are watching the person you pointed to.

    In verses 14-16, note how God pointed out Pharaoh’s hard heart and unwillingness to let Israel go. Rebellion against God is not something that frightens God; neither is it something that goes unnoticed.

    God told Moses and Aaron to address these words to Pharaoh while the king was going to the water, presumably to bather. They were to address him because of his unwillingness to recognize the Lord (Who is the Lord?) and his unwillingness to let the people go.

    b. It was announced for a purpose (17-18).

    By this first plague, God would cause Pharaoh to know that “I am the Lord.” As the water turned to blood in the Nile River and surrounding ponds and streams, Pharaoh would be shown that God is the Lord and should be respected and obeyed.

    As a result of this act of God, all of the fish in the Nile River would die, it would stink, and nobody would be able to drink the water.

    Why would God attack their water supply?

    “The Nile, considered the source of Egypt’s livelihood, was regarded as a god. When the Nile flooded its banks in July and August it inundated the soil, thus making it possible to grow bountiful crops. At that time the Pharaohs officiated at ceremonies commemorating the blessings brought by the river” (Hannah 121).

    If the people considered the Nile River to be a god, they would soon see that it was under the power of “The Lord” and that it was impotent to help them when the Lord said otherwise.

    c. It was fulfilled as promised (19-21).

    Moses and Aaron were sent to meet Pharaoh at the bank of the river in the morning. “Probably Pharaoh’s visits to the river at early dawn were for purposes of worship” (Meyer 120). As the priests chanted their hymns of worship (Meyer 120), they were interrupted with the pronouncement of a plague which would certainly get their attention.

    God told Moses to have Aaron lift his rod over all the water of Egypt including the streams, rivers, ponds, and pools. The plague would cause all the water to become blood including water stored in buckets and pitchers.

    For some reason, Aaron raised his rod and then struck the water in the Nile River. Pharaoh and his servants were watching what they did and saw the water become blood. And as God had promised, the fish in the river died, the river stank, and blood was throughout the land.

    ILLUS. I recently read an article about an ancient document written about 1400 BC. In that article, it describes a terrible time where blood was throughout the land.

    If anything would get the attention of Pharaoh, this would be it. But how did he respond?

    d. It was ignored by Pharaoh (22-25).

    Instead of being amazed at the first plague, Pharaoh turned his attention to his magicians who were able to do the same thing. Somehow, perhaps by Satan’s power, they were able to cause water to turn to blood.

    “If all the water became blood, where did the magicians obtain water to duplicate the feat? The answer seems to be in verse 24: the waters in the Nile were stricken but no the natural springs or waters filtered through the soil” (Hannah 121).

    Despite the seven days of blood replacing the water in the Nile, and despite the discomfort caused to all the people, Pharaoh was unconcerned about the first plague. This is remarkable but not unexpected since God had foretold how Pharaoh would respond to the plagues.

Conclusion

What do we learn from this chapter?

1. Some people are so hard-hearted that nothing will change their minds.

Pharaoh was this same kind of person. He would not believe God’s words proclaimed by Moses and Aaron. Neither would be believe because of the miracles God did through them.

Do you remember when Jesus talked about the rich man and Lazarus? (Luke 16:19-31) The rich man while tormented in Hell asked for Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his relatives about the coming judgment. he reasoned that if a dead man came back to life, they would listen to him. But Abraham stated that if his relatives would not listen to Moses and the prophets, they would not listen if someone rose from being dead.

While God has used miracle in the past to convince people of his truths, there are some who will never listen even if they see great miracles. For these people, we can only pray and ask God to soften their hard hearts before it is too late.

2. Sometimes we just have to obey God and let him handle the results.

Once again, it would seem that God’s plan was foiled by Pharaoh and his magicians. Not only did they not fear God, but they were unwilling to do what He commanded. Had Moses and Aaron failed? No. Moses and Aaron were not told to make Pharaoh let the people go. They were simply told to tell him to do so.

When God gives us a task to do (pray, read the Bible, tell the good news, etc.), our only duty is to obey not to be successful. God is in charge of the results, not us. Remember what Jonah said in the belly of the whale? “Salvation is of the Lord.” When we come to the place where we are willing to obey, we have made it half-way. When we come to the place where we obey and leave the results to God, we have arrived where God wants us to be.


Bibliography

George Bush, Notes on Exodus, (Minneapolis: James & Klock, reprint 1976, orig. 1852)

John D. Hannah, “Exodus” in Bible Knowledge Commentary Old Testament (USA: SP Publication, 1985)

F. B. Meyer, Studies in Exodus, (Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1978)

Exodus 6:1-13

Introduction

As you may recall, Moses and Aaron’s confidence had risen after a good reception by the Hebrew elders. But after being rejected by Pharaoh, seeing the Hebrew slaves being treated badly, and then being blamed for it, Moses and Aaron complained to God that He had not done what He had promised.

Chapter six continues the account of their conversation with God. In it we will see God’s answer to their complaint and their response to Him.

Before we get too far, let us ask ourselves the question again. Do we believe God will keep his promises only when things go well for us? Or do we believe God’s promises regardless of how His plan unfolds?

Message

  1. What God promised to do (1-5)
    [Read Exodus 6:1-5.]

    In this section, God goes through a list of His promises to Israel. This list was given to Moses to calm his fears and to give him hope for the future.

    a. I will make Pharaoh drive them out (1).

    Now you shall see… The Lord answered Moses’ complaint by pointing him to the future. Moses would see how God’s promises were going to be fulfilled.

    Pharaoh’s future actions… A strong hand refers to either God’s power or him raising His hand to keep His promise. Either one means that Pharaoh would be compelled by God to let the people go. The Lord “was arranging circumstances so that Pharaoh would let them go and would even compel them to do so.” (BKCOT 116)

    b. I will reveal myself as the Lord (2-3).

    In the past, God had revealed himself to the patriarchs as God Almighty, “the One who provides and sustains” (BKCOT 116). Now, God was revealing Himself as The Lord, Yahweh, Jehovah.

    “The name Yahweh comes from the Hebrew word for ‘I am.’ When God met Moses at the burning bush and commanded him to go back to Egypt and lead the people out, Moses asked who he should say has sent him. ‘God said to Moses, I am who I am.’ … “The name speaks of the self-existence and self-sufficiency of God. All others are dependent upon Him for life and breath and existence. He is dependent upon no one.” (https://www.gotquestions.org/meaning-of-Yahweh.html)

    c. I will give them the land of Canaan (4).

    God promised to keep his covenantal promise to the patriarchs. Remember the promise made to Abraham? God promised to fulfill that promise by giving them the land of Canaan.

    d. I will remember my covenant (5).

    God was aware of their groanings under the Pharaoh’s cruel bondage. As the beatings continued and morale did not improve, the Israelites may have thought that God had forgotten his promise to them. God wanted them to know that he was aware of their suffering. God had not forgotten his covenantal promise to them.

    Summary: In four statements, God made it clear that he was still acting on the behalf of the suffering Israelites. (1) I will make Pharaoh let you go. (2) I will be known to you as the boundless, self-existing One. (3) I will give you the Promised Land. (4) I will remember my covenant to you.

    When God makes promises, He always keeps them. Moses was not yet convinced that what God had promised would come true. He was listening more to his feelings and experience instead of trusting the One who will keep His promises.

    Learn to look past your personal feelings and experiences to what God has promised. If you are a child of God, you surely have seen Him act on your behalf before, right? Don’t you know that He will keep His promises to you? Take some time today to review His promises and rest in His unfailing care for each of His children.

  2. What God told Moses to say (6-8)
    [Read Exodus 6:6-8.]

    Notice that God begins with the word, “therefore.” He is reminding Moses and Aaron that His promises would be kept. With that in mind, God tells Moses what to say to the Israelites. He gives him the words that will inspire their confidence in God Himself taking care of their problems.

    a. Tell Israel I will rescue them (6).

    He said, I am the Lord, I will rescue you from bondage, and I will show my strength with great judgments. We know what those great judgments would be like. God would send ten plagues that would show Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the Israelites that God can’t be messed with. There would come a time when all of these people would recognize the power of God’s “outstretched arm.”

    b. Tell Israel I will be their God (7).

    He would take them as His people and He would also be their God. It would be a remarkable relationship that no other nation would have. Then they would know that He is the Lord their God.

    c. Tell Israel I will bring you to the promised land (8).

    This is what the Israelites needed to hear. They didn’t want to be slaves in Egypt and to suffer. What would it be like in this new land? Much better. But those promises were made over 400 years previous to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. It was almost as if God had forgotten His promise.

    We also look forward to the fulfillment of God’s promise to send Jesus back to take us to be with Him. Don’t let the passing of time convince you that God will not keep this promise. Read 2 Peter 3:3-9.

    His final statement was signed off with His name. I am the Lord—the Self-Existing God who can do what He promises.

    Summary: Once again, Moses and Aaron must have been confident after hearing directly from God. God had promised to do great things for Israel. God had told them exactly what to say. Now, they only had to believe and obey Him.

  3. What happened as a result (9-13)
    [Read Exodus 6:9-13.]

    In this section, we see that things didn’t turn out as well as Moses would have liked. The response from the Israelites was not good and the prospect of another bad response from Pharaoh was not expected as well.

    a. Moses was rejected by Israel (9).

    Moses and Aaron gave God’s message to the Israelites. But the suffering slaves would not listen to their words. They were overcome with anguish because of their cruel treatment by the Egyptians. Moses and Aaron are now emotionally down again. What was God’s next plan for them?

    b. Moses was afraid of Pharaoh (10-12).

    God told them to tell Pharaoh to let them go again. Moses told the Lord that Israel had just rejected him. Moses told the Lord that Pharaoh wouldn’t listen either. Moses again described himself as a bad speaker. Perhaps he “thought that his lack of success with the people was caused by his lack of oratorical ability.” (BKCOT 116)

    Isn’t it interesting how Moses’ confidence goes up and down. He keeps going back to his inabilities instead of trusting God’s promises.

    Do you think God knew about Moses’ excuses and feelings of inadequacies before He chose him to lead Israel? Now ask the same question about yourself. Do you think God knew about your excuses and inadequacies before He saved you and set you apart for His service? The answer is yes.

    God did not reject Moses or look for another person. He had chosen Moses and would make him fit for the job.

    c. Moses was told what to do (13).

    God spoke to them. This is a magnificent thought. God spoke to them despite their feelings of inadequacy. God told them a command for the Israelites. God told them a command for Pharaoh.

    Whatever he said to them, you can imagine that He had not changed His mind about his promises or what the people needed to hear. Whatever he said to them, you can imagine that He had not changed His mind about his promises or what the people needed to hear.

Conclusion

Moses was discouraged by the bad response of both the Israelites and Pharaoh. So, what did God do to spur him on to obedience? God went back to His sure promises. He listed off all the great things He promised to do for Israel. And when Moses still had trouble being confident, God told him exactly what to do.

The lesson for us is this. When we are discouraged and lack confidence, we should go back and review the promises of God. As we look at His many promises, we will see that His promises include not only positive things but negative as well.

POSITIVE NEGATIVE
I will forgive your sins (1 John 1:9). You will suffer (2 Tim. 3:12).
I will give you eternal life (John 3:16). You will be hated (Luke 21:17).
I will be with you (Matt. 28:20). Evil men will get worse (2 Tim. 3:13).

When we remember all of God’s promises, we will have more of a realistic perspective about what happens as we carry out God’s commands. God doesn’t promise a life without problems. But He does promise that He will be with us, and tells us what to expect, and what to look forward to as we obey His commands.

The Hope Helmet

Throughout the years, authors have thrilled readers with seven-league boots, an invisibility cloak, and King Arthur’s magical sword. The hero of the story would use his special item to do what others could not. And it is certain that the reader always wondered what it would be like to have such an item. What could he have done with it?

As Christians, we know that there are no magical talismans given to us by God. Instead, we are given spiritual armor that enables us to fight against the evil one (and also our own thoughts at times). The armor is not hidden in a castle or distant cave but is always available because it is the result of us having right thinking based on God’s promises to us.

In 1 Thessalonians 5:8-10, Paul reminds us that we have, among other things, the helmet of hope. I think the idea is that our head (our thinking) should be controlled by the certain hope of salvation that God has given us through Christ. Knowing that “God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ” ought to produce hope and comfort in us.

Christian, why not try wearing that helmet today? Meditate on the hope that you have in Jesus and find comfort that he has saved you from the wrath to come and wants to live with you forever.

He Shall Save His People from their Sins

During Christmas, we often read Matthew 1:21 and consider the reason why Jesus was born. The angel said, “He will save His people from their sins.” We have already learned that “His people” refers to all Jews and Gentiles who received Jesus as opposed to just the Jewish people. We have also already learned that Jesus saves us from not only the eternal consequences of our sins but also the current problem of sin’s control over our lives.

However, we have pretty much only looked at the principle as opposed to specific evidence in the Bible that shows what Jesus did. Were there people in NT Bible times whose lives were set free from the power of sin both current and future? I can think of several examples.

1. The paralyzed man (Luke 5:17-25)

   a. Jesus forgave him (20).
   b. Jesus proved he could forgive by healing him (21-24).
   c. The paralyzed man was healed and forgiven (25).

2. Zachaeus (Luke 19:1-10)

   a. He was known to be a sinner (7).
   b. He was repentant after meeting with Jesus (8).
   c. Jesus saved him (9-10).

3. The woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-12)

   a. The woman was caught in the act (3-4).
   b. Jesus knew about ALL of them (7-9).
   c. Jesus gave the woman a second chance (10-11).
   d. Jesus gave the woman a light to follow (12).

4. The thief on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)

   a. The first thief mocked Jesus (39).
   b. The second thief recognized his guilt (40-41).
   c. The second thief asked for mercy (42).
   d. Jesus promised him paradise (43).

Conclusion

In each of these examples, the person whom Jesus met had a sin problem.

  • The paralyzed man needed to be forgiven.
  • Zachaeus needed to leave his sinful lifestyle.
  • The adulterous woman needed to be freed from her sin.
  • The thief on the cross needed mercy.

In each of these examples, Jesus (who is the Savior) saved the person from sin.

  • The paralyzed man lived a joyful life both healed and forgiven by God.
  • Zachaeus lived a joyful life, repaid those he wronged, and left his sin.
  • The adulterous woman was given a second chance to leave her sin.
  • The thief on the cross repented of his sin and found paradise.

Just as Isaiah 7:14 was fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, so Matthew 1:21 was fulfilled in the life and ministry of Jesus. He saved these people from their current sin problem and gave them hope for eternity as well.

Today, we know many people who do not know the Lord. They, like us, have a sin problem that cannot be helped with money, pleasure, alcohol, or drugs. While they may look good on the outside, deep down they have a problem that can only be solved by Jesus. They need to know what Jesus can do for them. Will you tell them about the Savior who saves people from their sins?

I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day

I have always liked the words of this Christmas song — especially the change of heart at the end. But were you aware of the usually-not-sung verses at the end? They complete the song well by showing that repenting from sin and the change of life that God brings are the secrets to peace and good will.

I heard the bells on Christmas day
Their old familiar carols play;
In music sweet the tones repeat,
“There’s peace on earth, good will to men.”

I thought how, as the day had come,
The belfries of all Christendom
Had rolled along th’ unbroken song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

And in despair I bowed my head:
“There is no peace on earth,” I said,
“For hate is strong, and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men.”

Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
“God is not dead, nor does He sleep,
For Christ is here; His Spirit near
Brings peace on earth, good will to men.”

When men repent and turn from sin
The Prince of Peace then enters in,
And grace imparts within their hearts
His peace on earth, good will to men.

O souls amid earth’s busy strife,
The Word of God is light and life;
Oh, hear His voice, make Him your choice,
Hail peace on earth, good will to men.

Then happy, singing on your way,
Your world will change from night to day;
Your heart will feel the message real,
Of peace on earth, good will to men.

How do you know?

Christians deal with sexual temptation just like everyone else. With the world propagating the idea that satisfaction is found outside the bounds of marriage, we are tempted to give in to passion “like the Gentiles who do not know God.” So how do we know how to abstain and control our sexual urges?

As I read through 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8, I was struck with the idea that God’s will involves not only abstinence (3) and temperance (5), but also knowledge (4). What knowledge is available to help with this issue? Perhaps the Bible has a few ideas:

  1. Run away (Gen. 39:7-13; 2 Tim.2:22)

    When accosted by his master’s wife’s proposition, Joseph stated that what she proposed was a sin against God and his master. When she persisted, he didn’t stay to argue but ran away. When we are faced with such temptation, it is best to leave as quickly as possible.

  2. Make a promise to yourself and stick with it (Job 31:1).

    Job was a conscientious believer whom God honored for his devotion. His faithfulness to the Lord was evident to all who knew him. And yet this godly man had experienced the temptation to look at women. His way of handling it was to make a promise to himself to not look. Then he made himself keep that promise. When we are faced with the temptation to look, remember your promise to yourself and the Lord and look away.

  3. Don’t put yourself in a bad situation (Rom. 13:14).

    Paul told the Christians that instead of providing opportunities for their lusts, they were to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” The first part is proper thinking. Putting on Jesus is like putting on the armor of God. It is a spiritual choice to think and act like our Lord. The second part is not provisioning the flesh. This is an active choice to not allow things in your life that will enable your felshly desires. As Christians, striving to please the Lord, we need to know our trigger points and avoid them.

Today may be a tough day for you. You may be tempted in this area. And while you might blame the influence of the world, the flesh, and the devil, the decision to abstain, know, and control yourself (1 Thess. 4:3-5) is something that you will have to choose for yourself.

In this article, you have been given tips from the Bible to help you. Now you have to face the battle yourself. With God’s help, make wise decisions today.