The sermon was a little longer than usual this week. We looked at the plagues of Egypt in the context of God revealing himself to humans and drawing them into relationship with him.
The Plagues of Egypt
The Jews mark their new year as beginning after these events (Exodus 12:17-18). The last plague, the death of the first-born was something from which the Jews were spared as death passed over them. So the celebration of that deliverance is called Passover. Because Jesus gave himself as the Passover sacrifice, once for all time, we date Easter according to the date of Passover each year.
This event is so important in the story of God’s dealings with humans (not only the Jews) that a whole book of the Bible is named after their exodus from Egypt. This event shaped the nation for ever afterwards.
If we read these events looking at the people Israel instead of the other players we see that God was leading a process of bringing the people into relationship with him. The relationship we have with God in our New Testament age has foundations in this series of events.
1 God revealing himself as greater than their troubles
Question: See Exodus 5:20-21.
20 They met Moses and Aaron, who were waiting for them, as they came out from Pharaoh; 21 and they said to them, “The Lord look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us.”
How would you have felt?
See the strategy of the enemy of our souls as illustrated in the actions of Pharaoh long ago.
(a) Call the truth lies. See Exodus 5:9
Let heavier work be laid on the men that they may labour at it and pay no regard to lying words.”
Try to prevent the truth being listened to by:
(d) Lack of resolve.
See Exodus 6:9
9 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.
10 When Pharaoh drew near, the people of Israel lifted up their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians were marching after them, and they feared greatly. And the people of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 They said to Moses, “Is it because there are no graves in Egypt that you have taken us away to die in the wilderness? What have you done to us in bringing us out of Egypt? 12 Is not this what we said to you in Egypt: ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” 13 And Moses said to the people, “Fear not, stand firm, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will work for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall never see again. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.”
See how God dealt with the enemy action.
God kept speaking truth to Moses
But the Lord said to Moses, “Now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh; for with a strong hand he will send them out, and with a strong hand he will drive them out of his land.”
And through Moses and Aaron.
2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them. 4 I also established my covenant with them to give them the land of Canaan, the land in which they lived as sojourners. 5 Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. 6 Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgement. 7 I will take you to be my people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.’” 9 Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.
God confirmed the truth with signs.
God took into account the weakness of his people and led them a way that avoided unnecessary temptation.
See Exodus 13:17
When Pharaoh let the people go, God did not lead them by way of the land of the Philistines, although that was near. For God said, “Lest the people change their minds when they see war and return to Egypt.”
2 God revealing himself as greater than any supposed rivals
The plagues were:
- Death of livestock (see Exodus 9:7 And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.)
- Hail (see Exodus 9:26 Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail.)
- Darkness (“that can be felt”)
- Death of firstborn
Egypt was a centre of what we would call the occult. They worshipped many so called gods, each supposed to have different duties and different powers. The plagues were a ridiculing of these cherished idols.
Toad/frog was the goddess Heqt who was believed to assist women in childbirth.
Death of livestock: The bull god Apis and Mnevis, the cow god Hathor and the ram god Khnum.
Darkness was a direct ridiculing of the sun god (or god of light) Ra, who was supposed to be the chief god of the Egyptians.
For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgements: I am the Lord.
3 Purpose of the plagues and Exodus?
One purpose was to reveal himself.
2 God spoke to Moses and said to him, “I am the Lord. 3 I appeared to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, as God Almighty, but by my name the Lord I did not make myself known to them.
From footnotes of NIV Study Bible:
“I am the Lord” appears four times in this passage (verses 1-8): 1) to introduce the message 2) to confirm God’s promise of redemption (verse 6) based on the evidence of verses 2-5 3) to emphasis God’s intention to adopt Israel (verse 7) 4) to confirm his promise of the land and to conclude the message (verse 8).
28 On the day when the Lord spoke to Moses in the land of Egypt, 29 the Lord said to Moses, “I am the Lord; tell Pharaoh king of Egypt all that I say to you.”
15 For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. 16 But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, 2 and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the Lord.”
1 Then the Lord said to Moses, 2 “Tell the people of Israel to turn back and encamp in front of Pi-hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, in front of Baal-zephon; you shall encamp facing it, by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the people of Israel, ‘They are wandering in the land; the wilderness has shut them in.’ 4 And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and he will pursue them, and I will get glory over Pharaoh and all his host, and the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
Another meaning we can see in the Exodus in suffering. Is there purpose in suffering? Or is it that God gives purpose to suffering, is involved in it, walks with us through it?
What remains unchanged today is that your God is still greater than your troubles. He is still far greater than any so called rivals and still calls for our continued allegiance.
God has revealed himself in Jesus, in his life and in his resurrection. “Hallowed be your name” is possible because the name of God is displayed through Jesus, that name that is now above every other name.
And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”
Now God reveals himself through us too, through you and me.
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, 4 even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love 5 he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, 6 to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. 7 In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, 8 which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight 9 making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ 10 as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
11 In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will, 12 so that we who were the first to hope in Christ might be to the praise of his glory. 13 In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is the guarantee[d] of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.