Okay, God, I'll obey you. I'll go to Pharaoh, and as he goes, he is probably unaware of the fact that the first plagues will hit his own home. He will climb into bed, and he will touch a clammy frog.
He'll sit down to eat and plop one of these croakers will land in his bowl. No relief. Obedience to God made his life more miserable in terms of comfort. I think sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, you and I have the idea that if we simply obey God, all of life's waves smooth out. When Pharaoh refused to comply with God's command of letting the Hebrew people go, God responded. He brought about his judgment on Pharaoh and Egypt. We refer to that judgment as the 10 plagues. The nation of Israel was affected by many of them as well. Moses was obedient to God, but that obedience came at a cost.
This is Wisdom for the Heart with Stephen Davey. We're looking at this account from the book of Exodus today. God begins to judge the hard-hearted Pharaoh in today's passage. Stephen Davey called this lesson the battle between the gods.
Let's join Stephen right now. Turn to Exodus where we continue our studies in the life of Moses. It comes to a showdown between the God we know as Yahweh and the gods of Egypt.
Exodus chapter 7 is where our story continues, where we left off last time in Exodus chapter 7. Then the Lord said to Moses, See, I make you as God the Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land, but I will harden Pharaoh's heart. Now, we could stop there and preach a sermon on all of the thoughts and ideas related to the hardening of Pharaoh's heart. I think it could be best explained by a simple understanding of the meaning of that Hebrew word.
The Hebrew word means to twist, to literally ring out. What God is going to do is bring Pharaoh to a place where he will ring out of Pharaoh's heart what is already in there. Chapter 10 verse 3, God says to Moses, we'll get there in just a second, he says, For the heart of Pharaoh is very stubborn, so I will ring it out. That is, I will bring out of his heart what is residing there.
That is a stubborn pride. He says, I will multiply, verse 3, my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay my hand on Egypt and bring out my hosts, my people, the sons of Israel from the land of Egypt by great judgments. And the Egyptians shall know that I am Yahweh, I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst. So Moses and Aaron did it as the Lord commanded them, thus they did. And Moses was 80 years old and Aaron 83 when they spoke to Pharaoh.
Now note what happens. The Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron saying, When Pharaoh speaks to you, saying, Work a miracle or prove it, prove this, Yahweh of the slaves is literally the Yahweh of the heavens. Then you say to Aaron, take your staff and throw it down before Pharaoh, that it may become a serpent. It's interesting that the word is tanin.
It's not the same word used earlier. This literally means crocodile. As we know the servants of the Nile, God was the crocodile. There's the thought and many expositors believe that what happened was that staff became literally a crocodile.
Note what happens. Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, verse 10, and they did just as the Lord had commanded. And Aaron threw his staff down before Pharaoh and his servants and it became a tanin.
It became a crocodile. Then Pharaoh called for the wise men and the sorcerers and they also, the magicians of Egypt, did the same with their secret arts, their sleight of hand, perhaps their demon energized activity. For each one threw down his staff and they turned into tanin, crocodile. But Aaron's staff swallowed up their staffs. Perhaps there in the floor of that courtroom or Pharaoh's court was a deadly battle between these crocodiles and finally the one that had come from the staff of Aaron was victorious.
I wish I could have been there to see that. Yet Pharaoh's heart was hardened and he did not listen to them just as the Lord had said. Plague number one, and I want to give you as we cover these plagues, the God of Egypt that is confounded. It's interesting as we discover so much from Egypt's history, as the archeologists uncovered so many things from that ancient land, we have discovered that each of these, though the text does not tell us, actually confound one of Egypt's key gods. God has specifically chosen 10 plagues to confound the Egyptian to prove that he is the God of gods, the king of kings. And he has also done this so that Pharaoh's heart will be wrung out in rebellion that God may judge him and the people let go. The first is the Nile being turned to blood. The Lord said to Moses, Pharaoh's heart is stubborn.
He refuses to let the people go. Verse 19, say to Aaron, take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, the Nile, over the rivers and over the streams which feed from the Nile and over their pools and over all the reservoirs of water that they may become blood. And there shall be blood throughout all of the land, both in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone. Now, the liberal critics would say that there was simply the explosion of some type of algae known in the land of Egypt that was red so that somehow by the sleight of hand, the waters turned blood red. There is no way around the literal interpretation of this passage that the water became blood and all of the reservoirs. And not only that, but water that they had stored up in pots and jars, that instantly was also turned to blood. Hoping perhaps that Pharaoh would respond, Moses comes back and Pharaoh's heart is hardened.
Verse 23, Pharaoh turned and went into his house with no concern for this. So all of the Egyptians had to dig around the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile in seven days past. The key God that is confounded by this plague is the God Osiris. This was the God represented by the symbol in a triangle of the all-seeing God. If you pull out a dollar bill, you will see the same Egyptian symbol on our currency.
It is a symbol taken from the paganism of Egypt that represents the key God, one of the key gods of Egypt, meaning he is all-seeing, he is all-powerful. Supposedly, Osiris had the ability to turn death into life. And yet because of this plague, life is turned into death. All of the fish and the inhabiting animals of that waterway were killed. The second, frogs came upon the land to irritate the Egyptians. Verse 2 says in chapter 8 that God said he would smite the whole territory with frogs. Now, the Egyptians had another key God called Heka, H-E-K-A. Heka was known as the god or the frog god. It was actually a goddess whose body was shaped like a woman and yet whose head was shaped and fashioned like a frog, not a very attractive god. And the frogs, although they were considered unclean, were revered. This was the goddess of fertility.
She was supposedly the one that would aid women in childbirth. It's interesting, the text will tell us that the Egyptian magicians also counterfeit this miracle. They also with slight of hand or with perhaps demonic energy also reproduced in the courtroom before Pharaoh frogs. So not only does God inundate the land with frogs, but the Egyptian magicians create a few more perhaps frogs or with slight of hand pull them out of the hat or from behind a curtain, we don't know.
And I also think it's very ironic from studying all that we know of Egypt, this god of course was revered and you were not allowed to even brush one aside, you couldn't kill them. So here is the land and the text tells us that they get, look at verse 3, the Nile will swarm with frogs and they will come up and go into your house, and I think Moses is enjoying writing this part, and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and on your people and into your ovens and into your netting bowls, so the frogs will come up on you and your people. Get the picture, the land is swarming with frogs. A frog is in the netting bowl as a woman is making bread and she cannot scurry it along, she can't brush it aside because this is a god, this is a representative of the goddess of fertility.
They climb into bed and they put their feet under the sheets and they hear a croak and they feel something clammy, the frog jumps and they do too, but you have to change, that frog is going to sleep in your bed. I can't imagine just the irritation, there's no pain involved, just the awful irritation of these little things croaking all over Egypt. I imagine that Moses' credibility with the Israelites is decreasing with every croak as well.
I'm sure that he would tell the people, look, God is going to move in the heart of Pharaoh and he's going to inundate the land with frogs. Now, up to this point, the Israelites are also being plagued. It isn't until after the third will these plagues cease to affect the Israelites.
And I think because they had also perhaps turned to the idolatry, perhaps they were impressed with the gods of Egypt, would God allow them to also suffer? Now, the third comes along and there is a change and that is, according to your notes in the text, lice infesting the land. In the next paragraph, translated perhaps insect in your text, verse 16 of chapter eight begins the story. And the God is the God Geb, G-E-B. This is the earth God. He is the God that is supposedly blessing them with his presence. His earth, the dust of the earth is a blessing to the Egyptians.
It is from this ground that comes nutrition and fruit and fiber and all of those things that help the Egyptians to live. But now, because of this plague, note what happens. Verse 16. Then the Lord said to Moses, Say to Aaron, stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth. Strike Geb, the earth God. And it will become gnats or insects. I believe translated lice throughout all of the land of Egypt.
And they did so. And Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and he struck the dust of the earth. And there were lice on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became lice throughout all the land of Egypt. This, according to the Egyptologist, was that little insect that would burrow into the ears and the nostrils of both human and animal and bite. It was a tremendously irritating thing. And they literally swarmed.
They were so numerous that they are referred to as coming from the dust of the earth. You would think by now they had had enough. In fact, verse 19, the magician said to Pharaoh, This is the finger of God, because they in verse 18 tried by secret art to bring forth the same, and they could not. They had counterfeited the first two. And they were affecting also the Israelite.
Now the third. They cannot counterfeit. They cannot create the illusion perhaps that they also have this power. And because of that, they throw up their hands to Pharaoh and they say, Look, this is the finger of Yahweh. This is done by someone more powerful than we. And they toss it, they bag it and say, Well, we're through.
We can't do anything more. This is a more powerful God than ours. But Pharaoh's heart, verse 19, was hardened, and he did not listen to them as the Lord had said. The next plague would be then the plague of beetles. The plague of beetles or flies, and this is a difficult one to translate because the Hebrew word could be used in a number of different ways, but most would agree that it could be referring to either the fly or the beetle, the God of the flies.
And I'll just take both of them and tell you how God would confound their gods. The God of the flies, according to the Egyptians, was Beelzebub, a term referring to Satan. But back in that day, Beelzebub was the fly God, literally the dog fly. It was the fly that bit. It was the large fly that they feared as they went about biting and plaguing them. And Beelzebub was supposedly the protector against this particular kind of fly. It was by worshiping him that Egypt would never be invaded by this fly, this pest. And so what happens?
They come in swarms. If he is referring to the God of the beetles, this is perhaps even more fascinating. The God is Kepara, K-E-P-A-R-A-H, Kepara. And the beetle or the scarab was something that they worshiped. In fact, it was representing eternal life. And this beetle would be found in Egyptian tombs, encased in gold.
It would be found in silver. And they obviously thought so much of this God that they would make idols that literally covered the land. Well, God gives them what they want. He covers the land with this insect. Now, the new aspect here is that Goshen, where the Israelites are living, is unaffected. Look at chapter 8, verse 22. But on that day, that is of this plague, I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people are living, so that no swarms of insects will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land. And I will put a division between my people and your people, and tomorrow this sign shall occur. So in other words, if you're still wondering, Israel, if I am the God behind these first three plagues or two plagues, now you'll know because it will affect all the land, but there is a divine protection about your place of inhabitation.
It'll no longer touch you. You are my people. Chapter 9, look at with me, verse 1. Then the Lord said to Moses, go to Pharaoh and speak to him. Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, let my people go that they may serve me. For if you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them, behold, the hand of Yahweh will come with a very severe pestilence.
Or we could translate that epidemic on your livestock, which are in the field, on the horses and the donkeys and the camels and the herds and on the flocks. Verse 6. So the Lord did this thing on the morrow, and all the livestock of Egypt died. But of the livestock of the sons of Israel, not one died. They say that the second largest temple in Egypt was dedicated to the black bull, Apis.
It was he who they worshiped, and he was considered a very powerful God. And by worshiping the black bull, their cattle would be preserved and protected. So God, in a sense, strikes a blow at their God, the black bull. In fact, you could translate the word plague, stroke or blow. These are nine blows, leveled at the feet of the false gods of Egypt's pantheon.
And Yahweh will come out on top. Or the sixth one, the sixth plague is the one of boils. And this must have been most irritating, boils breaking out on man and beast. And I believe this is an attack on the entire religious system, because in that day, to worship or to serve as a priest in the temple, you could not have a blemish. If a male was blemished or had a mole or a mark or anything on his body, he could not be a priest. And also, they would constantly look after their sacred goats and their sacred bulls, and they would make sure that they also were without blemish.
If they had any, they would not worship them, and they would take their particular unblemished sacred goat or bull there in the temples. And these unblemished males would reverently wash them and lead the people in worship. But now imagine a sign posted on the temple door closed because of boils. All the priests were blemished. All of the cattle were blemished. They all had severe boils.
The boil here refers to that which would leave a scar. It's also ironic that in that day we learn the Egyptian priests would scatter ashes from the furnace where they would have sacrifices. And by scattering the ash into the air, the check or the spread of evil would be stopped or checked. I want you to notice how this plague begins, chapter 9, verse 10.
Let's back up to verse 8. And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, take for yourselves handfuls of soot from a kiln. That is, take the ashes from one of their altars and let Moses throw it toward the sky in the sight of Pharaoh, and it will become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and will become boils breaking out with sores on man and beast throughout all of the land of Egypt. And so they took soot from a kiln and stood before Pharaoh, and Moses threw it toward the sky, and it became boils breaking out with sores on man and beast.
Is this what you believe will check the spread of evil? God says, take a handful of that preserving ash, and I want you to throw it into the sky, and immediately boils broke out on mankind and beast. God is obviously having his say, and yet through all of this, the heart of Pharaoh is hardened, and he refuses to hear.
He refuses to let the people go. Plague number seven, a hail storm will devastate the land. In chapter nine, this is a confounding or a blow against the god Issus, I-S-I-S, literally the sky goddess, the one who would protect them by bringing rain when it was supposed to rain, the god who would protect them from the hail or the lightning or whatever may come from above. This goddess overlooked them with a canopy of protection, and yet the scriptures tell us that this is a storm that Egypt had never seen and has never seen since. Verse 23 of chapter nine, Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, and the Lord sent thunder and hail and fire ran down to the earth, perhaps a reference to lightning, and the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt, and there was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very severe, such as had not been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation, and the hail struck all that was in the field through all the land of Egypt, both man and beast.
The hail also struck every plant of the field, and note this, and shattered every tree of the field. In fact, in verse 27, 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. But I want you to notice his insincere response, because as soon as the plague is gone, verse 34, when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.
Let's move on to the eighth. Locusts will ravage the crops of Egypt. I think all of the insect gods are taken on here and confounded. As the locusts come, verse 3 of chapter 10, Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?
Let my people go, that they may serve me. For if you refuse to let my people go, tomorrow I will bring locusts. And just the sound of that word would send terror and fear into the hearts of all of the Egyptians, for they dreaded, they feared the locusts.
The locusts would come and eat all of the remaining crops and literally threaten their very existence. But yet Pharaoh continues to be stubborn. That brings me to the ninth plague, and that is the confounding of the god Re, R-A, and this is the crowning insult for Pharaoh. This is something that is literally leveled at his very feet because darkness in chapter 10, verse 24, will come over the land. Well, verse 21, And the Lord said to Moses, Stretch out your hand toward the sky, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even a darkness which may be felt. You think, Pharaoh, you are a god? You think you are the embodiment of the sun god Re? God will cover the sun with the palm of his hand, if it were, and darkness will rain on the land. But yet in Goshen, like a beam of light, it's like daytime.
But in the land of Egypt, it is dark. I want to give you two lessons that I have learned from studying the life of this very stubborn and rebellious man. First, I really believe from observing him that stubbornness deafens you to the word of God. It's interesting that every time Moses and Aaron came to Pharaoh, they began with, Thus says the Lord. And yet because of the stubbornness of his heart, he was deaf to the word of God. And I think pride secondly blinds an individual to the work of God. Chapter 10, verse three is the key verse. Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said, Thus says the Lord, the God of Hebrews, How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?
That's the key point. You know what the problem of Pharaoh is? He is deity in his own eyes. He is caught up with himself, and because he sees only himself, he cannot observe the work of God. It's interesting throughout history, I imagine if we could see it from God's vantage point, every once in a while he pulls back the curtain on his judgment on mankind, who by stubbornness and pride raised their fist in the face of Yahweh. I think of Voltaire, the atheist, who said, You have seen what one little Jew did for the cause of Christianity.
Now I will show you what one little Frenchman will do to destroy Christianity. But what is really more ironic to me, ladies and gentlemen, is that his very home from which he printed all of these articles, it is now being used by the Geneva Bible Printing Society to publish scriptures. I don't intend to be so dramatic as to make you fear shaking your fist in the face of Yahweh. But ladies and gentlemen, whether you are judged now or later, if you have refused by stubbornness and pride to acknowledge the word of God that says, Now is the day of salvation, that says, My son is the light of the world. He is the giver of life.
He is sovereign. I fear for any who reject Christ, who, like Pharaoh, steal their hearts. I trust that God even now works in your heart if you are an unbeliever and you enjoy the joy of surrender. Two things from the life of Moses. First, obeying God may not bring expected relief.
Think of it. OK, God, I'll obey you. I'll go to Pharaoh. And as he goes, he is probably unaware of the fact that the first plagues will hit his own home. He will climb into bed and he will touch a clammy frog. He'll sit down to eat and plop.
One of these croakers will land in his bowl. No relief. Obedience to God made his life more miserable in terms of comfort. I think sometimes, ladies and gentlemen, you and I have the idea that if we simply obey God, all of life's waves smooth out. Secondly, serving God may not bring immediate results.
Perhaps you have shared Christ with a family member or a neighbor or someone you work with and you're frustrated because they seem to lean toward the gospel. But then on another occasion, you know, they're so far away and you think, God, no results. Why do I bother? Why the agony? Why the burden?
They don't seem to hear. I want you to understand, ladies and gentlemen, that the basic underlying motivation, the foundation upon which Moses obeys God and speaks for him is not result. It is to glorify God. It is to honor God. The reason that I live my life like I do, the reason that I share Jesus Christ is not necessarily so I can jot down all of the results. There is an underlying motivation in your life as you serve him. It is to glorify and honor him. We want to see people come to Christ. We want to see those trust him. We want to see change. But ultimately, the underlying motivation when I get out of bed in the morning, when you get out of bed to face this world is, God, that I that I may honor and glorify you. Now, with that motivation, men and women, regardless of what happens, you and I will stay true. I wonder this morning, as we look into the mirror of scripture, who represents us best?
Pharaoh with his stubbornness and his pride, or Moses with his surrender, his obedience to God. That was Stephen Davey and a lesson called The Battle Between the Gods, here on Wisdom for the Heart. In addition to equipping you with these daily Bible lessons, we also have a magazine that we publish.
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