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Smashing Our Idols Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer
The Truth Network Radio
July 13, 2021 1:00 am

Smashing Our Idols Part 1

Running to Win / Erwin Lutzer

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July 13, 2021 1:00 am

In Moses’ day, idols were carved from stone or made of metal. But today’s idols are more subtle, and they often go undetected. Even good things like work, family, or patriotism can take God’s place in our hearts. In God’s view, every idol must go. There’s no room for anything that takes the rightful place of God, not even the flag of our country. In this message we’ll find out why.

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Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith. In Moses' day, idols were carved from stone or made of metal. Today's idols are more subtle. In God's view, idols must go. There's no room for anything that takes the rightful place of God, not even the flag of our country.

Today we'll find out why. From the Moody Church in Chicago, this is Running to Win with Dr. Erwin Lutzer, whose clear teaching helps us make it across the finish line. Pastor Lutzer, I believe someone once said that the mind is an idol factory. Yes, Dave, and I think that that someone was the theologian John Calvin. John Calvin, ministered there in Geneva, has had a great impact on the life of the Church because of his books on theology, believing as he did in the sovereignty of God.

But indeed, he was right about human nature. We are indeed people who desire to worship idols, the idols within our own minds. But I need to take this opportunity to remind you that idols always disappoint their worshipers. You know, I believe so strongly that the ministry of Running to Win is blessed because of people like you who pray for us. You support this ministry.

If you'd like to stand with us as an endurance partner, that would be wonderful. Here's what you can do to find out more info. Go to That's And of course, when you're there, you can click on the endurance partner button. Or you can call us at 1-888-218-9337.

Running to Win is now in Nigeria, heard throughout the country. Why? Because of people like you who stand with us.

Go to, click on the endurance partner button, or call us at 1-888-218-9337. Now let us open our Bibles and once again go to the life of Moses, where in his experience, we actually see ourselves. My sermon topic this morning is entitled Smashing Our Idols. The first commandment that was ever given is, Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

Do you realize that every time we choose to sin deliberately, we break that commandment because what we are doing is deciding that there is something or someone that is more important to us than God. The reason that we have to understand idolatry is because, first of all, all gods make promises. They make promises.

Unfortunately, they don't keep their promises, but they make many of them. And not only that, we need to understand what God has to say about idolatry and see how he wars against it. If you have your Bibles, I want you to turn today to the book of Exodus. We begin with Exodus chapter 7.

Regular members and attenders will know that we are in a series on the life of Moses. Moses has been called of God to go back to the land, your member, back to Egypt that he might be able to bring the people of Israel out from that land. They had settled in the land of Goshen and they had become a great and strong nation, and consequently what the Lord was saying is that he wanted them to be brought out, but Pharaoh wouldn't let the people go. And so in these chapters, what we have is the story of how God had a contest with the gods of Egypt and how the Lord won. We must understand that there were about 80 different gods in Egypt, and what the Lord did was choose some of them to humiliate them. Every one of these plagues was directed to one of the gods or the goddesses of Egypt or a combination thereof. For example, they had a god that was connected with the Nile River, and so the first plague as we shall see is the Nile turning to blood. They had gods of fertility, gods to protect people from bad weather, and so we will see that there was hail and thunder and lightning. In fact, Pharaoh himself thought that he was a god.

The Pharaoh of this particular passage of Scripture is Amenhotep II, and he was a very proud man, and in his garments he wore the symbols of deity. You may say to yourself, well how can somebody call himself a god? That's ridiculous.

I know it is, but we have people today who are doing it. Shirley MacLaine has done it. Frank Peretti has imagined what that must be like for the Lord God. He says, imagine here is the Lord who fills the whole universe, his greatness and his majesty.

He is the creator of the sun, the moon, the stars. And as he looks down from heaven, he sees this speck running out onto Malibu Beach, shouting, I'm God! I'm God! And God says to Michael, Michael, come over here and just look at this.

Do you see this here? And so we have people today who think that they are a god, and Pharaoh thought that he was god, and God is going to humiliate him too. Now with your Bibles open, we're going to take a very quick tour today.

As a matter of fact, we aren't going to walk, we aren't even going to march, we are going to run. And we're going to look at the ten plagues and we're going to see how God dealt with the idolatry of the Egyptians. Now, when Moses went back to the land, it says in chapter 7 that in order to do a miracle for Pharaoh, so Pharaoh would believe, it says that Moses threw his staff down before Pharaoh and it became a serpent.

That's chapter 7, verse 10. And then it says Pharaoh called for the wise men and the sorcerers and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts. Now they did this with perhaps trickery. They were magicians. They also may have done it with demonic power or a combination thereof.

Because you see, false religion always tries to imitate true religion. And now the Bible says, verse 13, yet Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen to them. You'll find that frequently it says that Pharaoh hardened his own heart. Sometimes it says that God hardened Pharaoh's heart. As I explained in the previous message, what happened is the Lord withdrew his restraint.

The Lord withdrew his grace and just allowed Pharaoh to be as hard and as stubborn as he wanted to be. But now let's take the tour of the ten plagues. The first plague is turning the Nile River into blood.

Turning the Nile River into blood. This is chapter 7, verse 14 to 25. Moses put forth his rod and the Nile, which was the giver of life, suddenly became blood and all of the fish died and the stench throughout Egypt was absolutely unbearable. But Pharaoh looked at it and he would not let the people go.

He said, uh-uh, you're not going. The second plague is in chapter 8. As a matter of fact, chapter 8 has the next three plagues. The plague of the frogs, verses 1 to 15. Suddenly the Lord said to Moses, if you put forth your hand, verse 3, the Nile will swarm with frogs which will come up and go into your house and into your bedroom and into your bed and into the houses of your servants and into your ovens and into your kneading bowls.

Can you believe that? Here are the people of Egypt walking along and they have to walk and crunch these frogs under their shoes. And then the women are baking bread and they have dough and suddenly the frogs get entangled in the dough. And they are croaking from the closets and they are croaking from the cupboards until Pharaoh can scarcely take it anymore and he calls Moses and he says, Moses, pray to your God that these frogs will stop.

And so Moses prays to God. And the plague of frogs was ended but Pharaoh would not let those people go. So the third plague was that of lice, chapter 8, verse 16 to 19. It says, the Lord said to Pharaoh, say to Aaron, stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth that it may become gnats or lice throughout all the land of Egypt.

I want you to visualize this. All the dust suddenly turns into lice and lice are everywhere. They are even on Pharaoh.

Everywhere, through the palace, through the houses, wherever you are, there are lice. Now it says that Pharaoh's advisors called him and they began to speak to him. And they couldn't do what Moses was doing. It says in verse 18, the magicians tried with their secret arts to bring forth gnats but they couldn't do so. And nor could they stop the plague. You see, false religion can do some things but it can't do everything. And then it says, verse 19, the magicians said to Pharaoh, this is the finger of God.

They're saying to their ruler, to their authority, to their quote God, this is the finger of another God who is stronger than we are. But Pharaoh hardened his heart and he said, uh-uh, we're not going to go. Now let's look at the next plague which is flies and more insects. This actually is one of the plagues that was directed to the God of the sun that was represented by the fly. We pick it up in verse 20, the Lord said to Moses, rise early in the morning and go to Pharaoh and tell him that flies are suddenly going to encompass the entire land and they are going to look like clouds that have come down from the sky and the whole earth is going to be covered with them. Now it's interesting to see Pharaoh makes the first of three compromises. It says in verse 25, and Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron and said, go sacrifice to the Lord your God within the land. Moses said, we can't do that.

He said, we have to go outside of the land to do it. And then it says in verse 28, Pharaoh said, I will let you go that you may sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness only don't go far away. He's beginning to bend just a little bit and then he adds something that should jump out at us from the text. He says, and pray for me. We may say to ourselves, well, you know, this is a great spiritual breakthrough because Pharaoh is now recognizing that he needs prayer.

You know, when you find somebody with a hard heart and they tell you pray for me, you say to yourself, well, there's hope for this person. In fact, Moses may have been encouraged to think that Pharaoh might ultimately change his mind. And so the Bible says that Moses prayed and the flies were blown away by a wind and Pharaoh begins to rethink his decision and he says to himself, the sky is now clear.

He hardened his heart and he would not let the people go. Well, the fifth plague is in chapter nine. It is the cattle that die out in the field. God says, because you haven't let the people go, what's going to happen is all those cattle that are on the field, not the ones that are in your barns, they were not affected because there were some cattle left, but all the cattle that were in the field, the Lord says, you are going to find that they will die. And the Lord says, I'll make a distinction between your cattle and the cattle of the Israelites. Theirs will remain alive and yours will die. And so that's exactly what happens. And after the disease set in, Pharaoh sent and discovered that the other people, the Israelites cattle had not died, but he hardened his heart and he said, I will not let you go. Well, there's more to follow.

Aren't you enjoying this? Imagine what Pharaoh, he lived at. We're just talking about it.

He went through this over a period of maybe seven or eight months. Now the next one is hail, chapter nine, verses 18 to 35. Now Egypt always has had hail and various kinds of experiences. Actually, I even missed boils. You wouldn't mind if I skipped over the boils, would you?

But logically, we should make a comment about them. That is number six in chapter nine, verse eight. Can you imagine these ulcerated sores on Pharaoh and over all the people?

And they're going through this experience of these itching because of the boils. And still, Pharaoh, though embarrassed and humiliated, he hardened his heart and he said, no. Well, number seven is the hail. That's in chapter nine, beginning at verse 18. Suddenly, the Lord God said that he would send hail and lightning throughout the land so that trees would be uprooted and the barley and the flax would be chopped in two and totally destroyed. You know what Pharaoh says after all this? It says in verse 27 of chapter nine, Pharaoh sent for Moses and Aaron and said to them, I have sinned this time. The Lord is the righteous one and I and my people are the wicked ones. Make supplication to the Lord for there has been enough of God's thunder and hail and I will let you go and you shall stay no longer. Almost sounds like a conversion to me. I have sinned. Pray for me.

Forgive me. This once sounds as if Pharaoh is making some kind of a decision to serve the Lord God. Maybe a heart change, we might superficially think. But no, after the hail ended and the sky was clear, Pharaoh went for a walk and he breathed the deep fresh air of Egypt. And the sun came and stroked his face and he said, you're not going.

The answer is no. I spoke too soon, too quickly. So what we have next is the plague of locusts. Actually this is chapter 10 now. You'll notice that suddenly locusts go throughout the entire land and they now take care of everything that the hail and the storm has not totally destroyed. In fact, it's interesting that when these locusts came, the advisors to Pharaoh suddenly have the nerve to tell him something. Chapter 10 verse 7, 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 being destroyed? They're saying to Pharaoh, this is the Egyptian version of telling the king that he has no clothes. They're saying, Pharaoh, don't you understand?

We're being devastated. Let them go. And they say, at least let the men go. If the wives and the children stay, then the men will return, but let them go sacrifice. Let them go out of the land.

Do something. Give a little bit, Pharaoh. Well, Pharaoh says in verse 17 of this chapter, it says, I have sinned, middle of verse 16, 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 remove this death from me. Well, we know that Pharaoh wasn't converted last time when he said he had sinned. We know that he later changed his mind and decided that he was far too stubborn to give in to God.

But maybe this time it took. Well, the bad news is that it didn't, because after the plague was over, it says in verse 20, the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart and he did not let the people go. The next plague is darkness over the land.

That's in the last part of chapter 10. This was unusual darkness. It was darkness, the Bible says, that even could be felt. And for three days, people couldn't move around at all.

They all had to sit where they were when the darkness came. It was total pitch, darkness, throughout the whole land for three days. And Pharaoh was so angry, it says in verse 27, that his heart was hardened and he said finally in verse 28, beware, do not see my face again, for in the day that you see my face you shall die.

And Moses said, you're right, I shall never see your face again. There is a tenth plague, and that's the one that we're going to be discussing next week when we talk about the Passover. An amazing plague where the angel of death went throughout the land and killed all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, but those who belonged to the Hebrews, the sons of Israel, were exempt because they had blood on their doors, and the angel of death therefore passed them by. But oh, what weeping and wailing throughout all of Egypt. And finally, Pharaoh says in desperation, go. But after they leave, he changes his mind and begins to try to retrieve them, but is drowned. Well, we've taken this very fast tour of the plagues, and maybe some of you were a little wearied with ten different episodes like this in the land of Egypt. What do we make of all this? Where does it land?

What is its application? What is God trying to say? A couple of comments. First of all, I want you to know that these plagues actually happened. They actually happened.

Because I can imagine there's someone here saying, you know, I just don't believe all this. Well, I feel sorry for you because if you believe in God, it is not difficult to believe in these plagues. You say, well, they were natural occurrences. Egypt has always had frogs and darkness and hailstorms.

That's true. But did you notice in this quick tour that actually Egypt's darkness and frogs and lice was always dependent upon the prayer of Moses? And when Moses prayed, they came, and when Moses prayed, the plague was lifted. As a matter of fact, the timing was in response to prayer.

The intensity increased. The plagues got worse as they moved through. God used the arrows of his judgment and kept sending them more difficult ones as time went on. And then notice the distinction that was made between the Israelites, who did not have these plagues, God protected them, and the Egyptians, who had to endure the full effects of these awful judgments.

No, oftentimes magicians are wrong, but the magicians of Pharaoh were very right when they said, this is the finger of God. But there's a second comment I must make, and that is a reminder that God is always at war, always at war with idolatry. God hates idols.

God is the God who pervades the whole universe and because he does, he says, thou shalt have no other gods before him. There is no other being on planet earth who deserves praise and adoration and worship. And because God is unique and special and there is none other like him, he hates rivalry. You say, well, isn't that pride? It would be pride for us, but it is not pride for God. You see, pride in our lives is sin because everything that we have is a gift of God. None of it is what we deserve, and therefore all praise that comes to us must be passed on to the Almighty. But God has nowhere to pass on the praise that comes to him. It stops with him, and he says his glory he will not share with another. He hates idolatry. Well, my friend, this is Pastor Lutzer, and I think that all of us remember the words of Tozer that the most important thing about us is what we think about God.

He's awesome. He has no one to pass praise on to. It stops with him, and it's all about him. You know, this ministry, Running to Win, exists because we have so many people who are a part of what I like to call the Running to Win family. The Running to Win family are those who stand with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts. I have in my hands a letter from a woman by the name of Kathy who shares with us how that Christian radio is her real-life source. Now, I need to tell you that during the time of COVID, the number of listeners to radio has dramatically increased. And so the gospel of Jesus Christ through the ministry of Running to Win is in more than 20 different countries in three different languages.

Thank you for your help. If you'd like to become an endurance partner that is someone who stands with us regularly with their prayers and their gifts, here's what you do. Go to Now, that's all one word, Click on the endurance partner button, and there you'll find the info that you need. Or if you prefer, you can call us at 1-888-218-9337. That's 1-888-218-9337. Consider becoming an endurance partner, part of a ministry that is much larger than any one of us, Click on the endurance partner button or 1-888-218-9337. You can write to us at Running to Win, 1635 North LaSalle Boulevard, Chicago, Illinois, 60614. Dr. Erwin Lutzer, recounting the story of the plagues against Egypt in part one of Smashing Our Idols. This has been the fourth in a series of twelve messages about Moses, a man getting closer to God. Next time, we'll see the outcome of these judgments. For Dr. Erwin Lutzer, this is Dave McAllister. Running to Win is sponsored by the Moody Church.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-22 23:36:50 / 2023-09-22 23:45:37 / 9

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