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The Ten Plagues and The Glory of God - Life of Moses Part 19

So What? / Lon Solomon
The Truth Network Radio
June 22, 2024 7:00 am

The Ten Plagues and The Glory of God - Life of Moses Part 19

So What? / Lon Solomon

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This morning, we want to begin our study of what is commonly referred to as the Ten Plagues. Now, in all of human history, I think the Ten Plagues ranks among some of the most magnificent judgments that God has ever carried out here on this earth. As you might suspect, critics of the Bible, however, try to explain away the Ten Plagues as mere natural occurrences, as normal acts of nature.

But there are a couple of problems with their theory. Problem number one is that these plagues had an intensity far beyond simple natural occurrences. Problem number two is that the beginning and ending of each of these plagues were predicted precisely by Moses in advance, which I think is fairly difficult to do when it comes to natural events. And finally, problem number three is that if these were simple normal events of nature, then how do we explain the fact that after plague number three, the remainder of the plagues fell only on the Egyptians and not on the Israelites living right next to them in the land of Goshen. Friends, the Bible presents the Ten Plagues as divine, miraculous acts of God, and that is exactly how we are going to treat them here at McLean Bible Church as we study them.

Now, just before we dig in, it's been a while, so let me give you just a tiny bit of background. Back in the beginning, when Moses first shows up in Egypt to demand that Pharaoh let God's people go, Pharaoh said this to Moses, Exodus chapter five. He says to him, who is the Lord that I should let your people go? And the Bible goes on to say, Exodus 7 13, that Pharaoh's heart became hard and he would not listen to Moses. And so as a result, God starts to bring out the heavy artillery on Egypt and on Pharaoh, and we know the heavy artillery today as the Ten Plagues. So what we're going to do today is we're going to go back 3500 years and look at what happened in Egypt, and then we're going to bring all of that forward and we're going to talk about, well, what difference does that make to you and me today? If you brought a Bible today, I'd like you to open it to Exodus chapter seven, Exodus chapter seven. If you did not bring a Bible today, reach under the armrest next to your chair, you'll find a copy of the Bible.

And we're going to be on page 44, page 44 in our copy of the Bible, Exodus chapter seven in your copy. Now, I don't know about you, but for years, I always thought that the Ten Plagues were just sort of ten random arbitrary things that God picked out and sent on the land of Egypt. But actually, that's not true. To the contrary, the Ten Plagues followed a very careful design by God. And to understand this design of the Ten Plagues, we have to go back and understand just a little bit about Egyptian religion at the time of Moses. The Egyptians in Moses's day, my friends, had a god or a goddess for just about everything. In fact, archaeology tells us that in the time of Moses, there were over 80 gods and goddesses in Egypt. And each one of these gods and goddesses was associated with some animal in Egypt, like frogs or cattle. Or these gods were associated with some natural resource in Egypt, like the Nile River or the sun or precipitation. And in Exodus chapter 12, in referring to the Ten Plagues, God says something very important. He says, against all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgment. In other words, God specifically designed each one of the Ten Plagues to disgrace a particular god or goddess in the Egyptian religious system. And I want to go through the plagues and show that to you because I think this is pretty exciting once we really understand the design that God had behind these plagues.

So, here we go. Plague number one was blood, turning the Nile River into blood. Exodus 7, verse 20. And Aaron raised his staff in the presence of Pharaoh and struck the water of the Nile and all the water was changed to blood. The fish of the Nile died and the river smelled so bad that the Egyptians could not drink its water. Now, it's quite fitting that plague number one should be directed at the Nile. The Nile was the lifeline of Egypt. As the Greek historian Herodotus said, Egypt is the gift of the Nile. But the Nile represented far more than this to the Egyptians. The Nile represented one of the two main gods of Egypt, the god Osiris.

Here's a picture of what he looked like. And the Nile was worshiped as his very blood stream. So, plague number one was designed to strike at the very heart of the Egyptian religion by striking at the divine Nile and at the mighty god Osiris.

Plague number two was frogs. Exodus, chapter 8, verse 1. Then Moses said to Pharaoh, this is what the Lord says, let my people go. And if you refuse, I will plague your whole country with frogs.

They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed and into the houses of your officials and onto your people. And when plague number two was over, verse 13 of chapter 8 says, the frogs died and were piled into heaps and the land reeked of them. Now friends, frogs were sacred animals in ancient Egypt. It was strictly forbidden to kill a frog in Egypt. It was punishable by death, even if you did it by accident, because they were symbols of the female goddess Hecate, the god of fertility.

If her head looks a little bit like a frog in the slide, it's because frogs represented this goddess. And plague number two, therefore, was a mighty humiliation of this goddess. Not only was she unable to control the number of her frogs, but in the end, millions of these animals, to kill one of which was a capital offense, millions of them lay rotting and stinking all over Egypt. Plague number three was gnats.

Verse 17, chapter 8. Aaron stretched out his hand and all the dust of the ground became gnats. And when the magicians of Egypt tried to do this by their secret arts, they could not. So the magicians said to Pharaoh, this is the finger of God.

But Pharaoh's heart was hard and he would not listen. Now friends, there was no gnat god in Egypt, but the Bible tells us that these gnats were being made out of the dust of the earth. And in ancient Egypt, the god Geb, who you'll see on the screen, was the god of the dust. And yet in spite of all the prayers offered to this god by the Egyptians, poor Geb could do nothing to stop this awful plague. Number four, the plague was insects. The Hebrew word literally means insects, not flies. And no doubt these were scarab beetles. I think if you know anything about Egyptian culture, you know that scarab beetles were among the most sacred of animals in Egypt.

In fact, all of us who saw the mummy returns know that these things crawl up inside of you and they blow you up under the skin. Yeah? I'm just trying to see if you're awake. That's all.

Just keeping you with me. Anyway, these scarab beetles were the symbol of the god Kephra. Kephra once again wasn't able to control his bugs. And one interesting note here, footnote, is from this plague onward, God exempts the Israelites living in Goshen from all of the rest of the plagues to prove to Pharaoh that these were not simply natural events, but they were from the hand of Almighty God himself. Plague number five, cattle disease. Cows also were sacred in Egypt. They represented the goddess of love, the god Hathor. In fact, we know from archaeology that Amenhotep II, the Pharaoh of the Exodus, Eulbrenner, we know that this Pharaoh, the one that Moses is confronting here with the plagues, was fanatically devoted to this goddess, Hathor.

In fact, in 1906, we found a wall painting that shows Amenhotep II, Eulbrenner, kneeling under this cow goddess, Hathor, and drinking milk from her udder. I guess God wanted to make it clear to Amenhotep that he was drinking from the utterly wrong fountain. I like that. I thought that was kind of good myself. All right, well, let's go on.

I guess we've milked that enough. Boils, number six, Boils, Exodus chapter nine, verse eight. Then the Lord said to Moses, take handfuls of soot from a furnace and toss it into the air, and it will become fine dust on the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on men throughout the land. Basically here, God sent a medical epidemic on the land of Egypt and the Egyptian god, Imhotep.

This was a direct blow to him. He was the god of healing. He was the physician god of Egypt, and yet he was unable to heal his own people. Plague number seven was hail. This was a direct attack on the goddess Nuit, who was the god who was in control of the air and all forms of precipitation. Plague number eight, locust, was a direct attack on the goddess Isis, whose job it was was to protect the crops and the agriculture in the land of Egypt. Plague number nine, darkness. This was not a solar eclipse, like many critics of the Bible said, because no solar eclipse has ever lasted three days. This was an act of God, striking at the very heart of Egyptian religion, much the way plague number one did, because this plague was a direct assault on the other main god of Egypt, besides Osiris, the sun god Amun-Re, who could not even keep the sun shining when confronted with Almighty God of the universe. Now I'm going to stop here, because we're going to talk a lot more about plague number ten in detail in the weeks to come, but let me just summarize and say that the ten plagues were not haphazard random events.

They were carefully designed by God to be a direct assault on the gods of Egypt, to be a direct humiliation to every single one of them. Now that's as far as we want to go in the passage for today, because it's time for us to stop and ask our most important question. And we haven't done this for a few weeks, so I know you're going through withdrawal. We're going to fix that this morning. Is everybody ready? You ready? Here we go, nice and loud.

One, two, three. So what? Yeah, you say, Lon, so what? Say frogs and dust and all that. I mean, that's wonderful. You know, that's wonderful that all of this had a purpose.

God bless you up there. But what difference does any of this make to my life today? Well, let's see if we can answer that question for you. Let's first ask the question ourselves. Why exactly did God design and carry out the ten plagues? Well, remember what Pharaoh said to Moses the first time they met. He said to him, Who is the Lord that I should obey him and let Israel go? And friends, God decided to answer this question for Pharaoh. He decided to show Pharaoh and the Egyptians exactly who he was.

He decided to show them his power, his majesty, his awesomeness, his glory. And he used the ten plagues to do so over and over and over in the Bible. God declares that this was his purpose in sending the ten plagues. Look, with plague number one, Exodus 717, God says, By this you will know that I am the Lord. With the plague number two of the frogs. God says, I'm doing this so you may know that there is no one like the Lord.

The plague of the hail. God says, I will send the full force of my plagues against you, Exodus 9, so that you may know there's no one like me in all the earth. In fact, in Exodus 9, God says directly to Pharaoh, I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might demonstrate my power upon you and that my name might thereby be proclaimed in all the earth. And you know, God's plan worked, didn't it?

God's plan always works. Not only did the Egyptians learn who the true God of the universe really is, but people who heard what was going on in Egypt learned it. You say, how do you know that? Well, I know it because 40 years later, when Joshua invaded the promised land, he came to the city of Jericho and there was a prostitute there named Rahab. And she came out and said these words to Joshua, Joshua chapter 2. She said, the fear of you has fallen on all of us in Jericho, for we have heard how the Lord dried up the waters of the Red Sea for you when you came out of Egypt. We heard about everything else that went on in Egypt.

Indeed, we know that the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on earth below. The Canaanites heard about what happened in Egypt. Later on in Joshua chapter 9, the Gibeonites, a tribe from up in north central Canaan come to him and they say, we have come to make a treaty with you, for we have heard of the fame of the Lord and all that he did in Egypt. Friends, these things that just didn't happen in Egypt and stay in Egypt, the whole ancient Near East heard what God did. And that's exactly why God said he did it. Listen, God didn't have to deliver the Israelites like this with the ten plagues. God could have done it 50 other ways, far less dramatic. But God did it this way because he wanted to use the ten plagues to make his power known to mankind. He did it this way because he wanted to use the ten plagues to reveal his glory for all of the human race to see. He did it this way because he wanted to make it clear that he is the one true God of the universe and that there is none other.

Now, as followers of Christ today, I believe the ten plagues teach us a very important spiritual lesson. It's summed up in Isaiah chapter 45. God says, I am the Lord and there is none other. And everything I do, I do what I do that men may know from the rising of the sun to its setting that I am the Lord and there is none beside me. The lesson God has in all of this for us is, friends, that we need to understand. Everything God does here on this earth has one singular goal, and that is to display God's fame, to exalt his reputation, to put the spotlight on his personhood. God is fanatical about doing this.

Now, for you and me to be this way as human beings, for you and me to walk around all day long trying to exalt ourselves and turn the spotlight on us, well, friends, that would be the height of arrogance. But for the God of the universe to do this, the one who made the universe, the one who sustains the universe, the one who keeps the universe together by his power, for him to go around every day turning the spotlight on himself, well, folks, that is completely appropriate. Now, what does all this mean practically for you and me as a follower of Christ today? Well, friends, if you sometimes go through the Bible and look at all the great prayers of the Bible, prayers that were answered by God with unbelievable power, you will find an amazing thing. You will find that as different as the requests were that all these different prayers were asking, every single one of these prayers had one thing in common, and that is their motive. The motive behind every single one of these great prayers that God answered with unbelievable power, the motive in every case, was not the personal comfort or the personal convenience or the personal gain of the person that prayed it. Rather, the motive in every case was that God's glory should be revealed to the world, that the spotlight should be turned on God in this world by his answering that prayer.

Let me give you a couple examples. The great man of God, Daniel, when he asked God to restore Jerusalem, after King Nebuchadnezzar had completely destroyed the city, he ended his prayer by saying, Daniel chapter 9, Oh Lord, hear my prayer and do this for your own name's sake. Lord, not for us, so we'll be more comfortable.

Not for us, so we'll have our capital back. But Lord, you do this for your name's sake. So you get the glory, and God did it. King Hezekiah prayed and asked God to deliver Jerusalem from King Sennacherib and the invading Assyrian army. Here's what he said, Isaiah 37. He said, Oh Lord our God, deliver us from his hand, so that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that you alone are God.

And that night, 185,000 Assyrian soldiers were killed by the angel of the Lord, and Sennacherib went home to Assyria with his tail between his legs, having never captured Jerusalem. When King David, he wasn't king then, when he went out to face Goliath, you remember that, and Goliath ridiculed him, here's what David said. David said, You come against me, 1 Samuel 17, with a sword and a spear and a javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of Israel, whom you have defied this day, David says. The Lord will hand you over to me, and I will strike you down and cut your head off.

Why? So that the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel. Friends, when David prayed before he went out to face Goliath, and I can assure you he prayed before he went out there. David's prayer, in asking God to give him victory, did not have as its motive the exaltation of David. God didn't say, Lord, please give me victory over Goliath, so they'll make me the king and they'll exalt me and they'll name a street after me in Jerusalem.

He didn't say that. He said, Lord, I want you to give me victory over this giant so all the world will know that you are God. And you know what happened. And how about Elijah? He faced the prophets of Baal, you remember, up on top of Mount Carmel, 1 Kings 18. And he built this altar to God and he drenched it in water. And then he asked God to send down fire from heaven. Why would he ask that?

Well, look what he says. He says, answer me, O Lord, answer me, so these people will know that you, O Lord, alone are God. And the result, then the fire of the Lord fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones of the altar, and also licked up all the water in the trench. I would say that is answering a prayer in power, wouldn't you? The point, friends, is that when we pray as followers of Jesus Christ and we ask God for things, we need to drill down a little bit in our prayers and ask ourselves a very searching question. And that question is, why am I asking for what I'm asking for? What is my true motive? Because if we really want to see God answer our prayers in power like he did the prayers of David and Daniel and Hezekiah and Elijah, then we need to pray with the very same motive that these people prayed with.

You say, La, wait a minute, wait a minute, wait a minute, time out. Are you saying that there's anything wrong with asking God for something simply because I want it or simply because I feel I need it? No, friends, there's nothing wrong with that. God tells us in the Bible, 1 Peter 5, verse 7, He says, cast all your cares on Him because He cares for you. God says, bring me all your requests. Praying for something because I want it is not a bad motive in prayer. What I'm saying to you is it's simply not the highest motive in prayer. What I'm here to say to you is that God may or may not grant your request when you're asking for something simply because you want it. But I'm here to say conversely, God will always answer a prayer that is prayed with His glory as its true motive. A prayer that is prayed with the answer of that prayer being designed not for personal gain or comfort but to enable God to display Himself to the world. You pray a prayer like that and you really are authentic about that?

And I'm telling you, friend, you better buckle your seatbelt because God's going to answer that prayer. Now, some of you were here back in 1997 when we first began this new campus project. We were over in a little church on Balls Hill Road. We were blowing out the seams.

We were like the old woman that lived in the shoe. And I began praying in 1995 and 1996 and 1997, Lord, we need you to do something here. We need more seats. We need more parking spaces. We need more classrooms.

Lord, we need you to give us a bigger campus. And I prayed that and prayed that and then we found this property. Fifty-two acres at Tysons Corner, a building program that turned into being $93 million. At the time, 1997, we had 3,000 people attending McLean Bible Church and our annual budget was $3.5 million. And we entered into a $93 million building project.

People thought we were crazy. You know I told you the story. The real estate agent for the National Wildlife Federation that owned this property wouldn't even meet with me. He said, I'm not even going to waste my time.

You guys can't possibly perform on something this expensive. I'm not even going to waste my time. The neighbors were all against us. The civic groups were all against us. The McLean Citizens Association was against us.

In fact, the chairman of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors told Stu Mendelson, the supervisor for this district in a private conversation, that she had done a poll of the Board of Supervisors in Fairfax County and we could not get the six folks we needed to get this passed so he should drop it. Well, you know, as all of this was taking place, my prayer changed. And no longer was I praying, God, we need more classrooms.

God, we need more parking spaces. I began praying something completely different. I began saying, Lord, here's my prayer now. I want you to bear your mighty arm and I want you to overcome every single obstacle in the way. I want you to overcome the money. I want you to overcome the neighbors. I want you to overcome the political process and county politics. I want you to overcome that real estate agent, not so that we as McLean Bible Church can have a bigger building, not so that we as McLean Bible Church can have a public victory. But God, I want you to do this to show the people of this town what you can do when everybody says it can't be done. And you know what, God? Once you've done it, then I want you to make us the kind of church that keeps on preaching the true gospel here of Jesus Christ here at this church for the rest of the time when the Lord comes back.

So once you put the spotlight on yourself in this town, we keep the spotlight on you. Amen. That was my prayer.

Now, here you sit. And I don't think God did this so we could have a bigger building, frankly. I don't think God answered those prayers so that we could have more parking spaces. God knows I should ask for more.

What's wrong with me? I think God did this for one simple reason, and that is because we gave Him a chance to show who He was in this town. We stepped out and took a risk and put ourselves in a position that the only way it could happen would be for Almighty God Himself to reveal and bear His mighty arm and do something here. And God said, You know what? I'm going to take you up on that because I'm fanatical about showing my glory.

You've given me the chance. I'm going to do it. Now, that's exactly what I'm praying for Jill's house next door. I'm not praying God puts this facility up for children with disabilities because the children need it.

They do. But I'm praying God do it. I'm praying that it happens because I want God to show His power in this town. And friends, we've got a whole bunch of other initiatives coming along that I'm not even going to tell you about because it would make you nervous. But every single one of them, we're going to approach with the very same way. We're going to say, Lord, the reason we want you to do this is so your glory can be seen in this town.

Now, friends, listen to me. If you want to see God really work in your prayer life, if you want to see God really answer your prayers with power, then my advice to you is to drill down in your prayers until you get to the place that you are praying them with the highest motive, with the glory of God as your motive. Why do you want your career to succeed? Why do you want to get married and have children?

Why do you want a new house? Why do you want your ministry to go well? Why do I want to be healthy? Why do I want God to deliver me from this problem or to help me with that situation? Why am I asking God for what I'm asking? Is it for my own benefit? Is it for my own comfort?

Is it for my own welfare? Or is it so that God can receive glory from my life in answering this prayer? And I'll tell you something sad that I find in my life. I've found in my life that very often it takes me a really long time, weeks, months, sometimes years, to peel away the motives of my heart until I can get to the point that I'm really praying things for the glory of God and not myself. Now there's good news and bad news in what I just said. The bad news is that this shows how thoroughly sinful and selfish I am in my flesh. But the good news is this also shows that the power of the Holy Spirit I've found in our lives is so strong that if we really aspire to get to the place in our life where our motives become truly for the glory of God and not for ourselves, I have found that eventually in every case God gets me there.

That's how powerful He is in our lives. And you know what else I've found in closing? I've found that as this process goes along in my life, you know what I've found? I've found the more God purifies my motives in prayer, the more what I ask for begins to change.

And that's a good thing. And I think you'll find the same thing's true. When you start really drilling down, you may find that what you first asked for is not at all what you end up wanting because you can't ask for it with the glory of God as your true motive. You've got to ask for something else.

Same problem, same situation, but you're forced to ask for something different. Well, you know what? That's a good thing.

That's a good thing. And so my challenge to you today, friends, is if God is fanatical about displaying His glory as He showed with the ten plagues, then prayers that are fanatical about asking God to show His glory that are authentic in that regard are the prayers that God will answer in power. You be a person that prays those prayers, and as I said earlier, you buckle your seat belt because God will do more than you ever dreamed in response to that opportunity you give Him to reveal His glory. Let's pray together. Lord Jesus, I'm constantly asked by people who come into my office, why didn't God answer my prayers? Why hasn't God answered my prayers? And I don't think there's a single reason, but I think one of the reasons that we all have to deal with is that maybe what we're asking for is not really centered around the glory and the person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

It's centered around us. And I pray today that you would challenge us as followers of Christ to drill down in our prayer life until we can get to the place where the things that we are asking for are for the glory of the living Christ and not personal convenience or comfort. And Father, when we get there, we've now got a prayer that we can count on your answering because you are fanatical about turning the spotlight on yourself.

We've learned that today. Lord, change our lives because we were here today. Change the way we pray because we were here today. And we ask these things in Jesus' name. And God's people said... Amen. Amen.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-06-22 08:06:53 / 2024-06-22 08:18:47 / 12

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