Read Exodus 7:14-25
The battle for the deliverance of God’s people is now on. Moses threw his rod down and it became a serpent. Pharaoh summoned his magicians and enchanters who counterfeited Moses’ signs.
The difference between God’s power at work and the cheap magic of devils is what happened next: Moses’ rod swallowed up their snakes.
Even so, Pharaoh’s heart grew hard and he refused to let the people go. What follows is Moses’ call to strike the waters of Egypt and to turn the rivers and ponds to blood, thereby killing the fish and leaving the Egyptians without water to drink. Pharaoh’s magicians pulled off the same feat and again, Pharaoh’s heart grew hard.
“Neither was his heart moved by this.”
What happens next is nine more plagues each uniquely purposed to humble and break the stony heart of the most self-important man in the land. What God has said, he will bring about.
“And the Lord said to Moses, “When you go back to Egypt, see that you do all those wonders before Pharaoh which I have put in your hand. But I will harden his heart, so that he will not let the people go.” (Exodus 4:21, NKJV)
This week’s devotional will show us what the deliverance of Christ looks like in the life of sinner under the humbling hand of a mighty God. For so many of us, God delighted in humbling us to lead us to see our need for a Savior in Christ. God delights in showing mercy because mercy triumphs over judgment. James 2:3 Indeed, the Lord rejoices over one sinner who repents.
In Pharaoh’s case, there is no repentance in his future. As we will see: Pharaoh hardens his heart in disbelief so God will harden his heart so that he can never believe! He is not an object of mercy but an object of wrath. He will be humbled to destruction so that Abraham’s children may be shown the riches of His goodness.
Read Exodus 8:1-19
“Frogs in the house, into your bedroom, on to your bed…” Some of us have known and others have personally experienced the plague of frogs in our beds before we got saved. It is the sleeplessness of a troubled conscience. It is the worries and anxieties that jumped around in our heads in the middle of the night. Job spoke of soul-startling dreams of the night:
“Then You scare me with dreams And terrify me with visions,” (Job 7:14, NKJV)
A man we know was deep in sin. The Lord disciplined him with great illness and added to it the “frogs” during the night. He called this pastor, shaken to his core, about the things he had done in this life. His dreams at night plagued him. God was bringing this man to a new deliverance. Not too many weeks after, he had a new light in his face and the terror was gone. He had turned to the Lord and frogs went away.
Pharaoh, in the narrative, is a hard-hearted man. Moses asks him, “Tell me when you want me to pray for your houses to rid them of frogs.”
He gives a most shocking answer, “Tomorrow.”
Here is a sinner who loves his sin. He is rebellious, proud, carnal and plagued! God loves us and is ready to remove the frogs of our sin. But like Pharaoh, most will say, “Tomorrow! Give me one more night with the frogs!” What does Christ say? “Come to me all who are weary…and I will give you rest.” The hard-hearted say “No. Not yet. I’m not quite through with the frogs.”
Pharaoh says, “Tomorrow!” What does the Holy Spirit say? “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion…” (Hebrews 3:7–8) Tomorrow is guaranteed to no man.
As for the lice, aren’t these the tiny annoyances that plague the sinner? Gnats interrupt what we are doing. You cannot finish what you start for a ton of tiny, relentless little bugs that irritate you. There is no rest for the wicked but there is much rest to be found in Christ. Isaiah 48:22, Matthew 11:28
Read Exodus 8:20-9:7
Flies. These nasty little visitors plague your home. If you leave the door open, they are happy to come in and live with you. They land on your food, take advantage of anything you leave out and uncovered. You can’t make them behave and they won’t go away. They corrupt the clean things in your house. And just when you think they are gone—they reappear! This sounds like some people we have known.
If your life is full of flies, then your life is full of compromise.
Vultures (and flies) gather wherever there is a dead carcass. Luke 17:37 The life that is dead in sin is a life filled with sin's companions who feast on the flesh. They bring rot with them. They feast on other people's resources. They won’t leave until there is nothing left on the bone. If you want to know who you are, look at your companions. They improve us or they contribute to our ruin.
“Do not be deceived: “Evil company corrupts good habits.”” (1 Corinthians 15:33, NKJV)
The life of a Christian is a life with right social separation. “Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?” (2 Corinthians 6:14, NKJV)
Is your house full of flies? The problem is first with you, not with them. If you are right with God, you will manage and rule your home under Christ’s authority. See Christ here: “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs up some other way, the same is a thief and a robber.” (John 10:1) Jesus is the door. Every safe and ordered house needs a good door. The Bible is filled with good doorkeepers. David would rather be a doorkeeper in the house of the Lord than to do anything else (Psalm 84). Nehemiah had an enemy hinder him right before he hung the doors on the rebuilt walls (Nehemiah 6:1).
The enemy hates doors. Shut the door, keep Beelzebub and his flies out.
As for the curse upon the livestock, isn’t this the curse upon work? These beasts of burden were the greatest sources of helping the working person. If your vehicles are broken, tools stolen, hours reduced, and even termination at your door--it might be God trying to get your attention.
Read Exodus 9:8-35
Certainly, many physical illnesses are absolutely related to spiritual sin: sexual immorality and STDs, drunkenness and liver disease, smoking and lung cancer, drug use and Hepatitis c, and more. It is a known fact that bitterness, unforgiveness and anxiety will find its way to stomach and intestinal issues. Even a parent’s sin can be passed to the next generation with physical sickness.
The boils that came upon man and beast in Egypt were directly correlated to Pharaoh’s rebellion. Spiritual choices affect physical outcomes. See Christ here: Jesus healed a paralyzed man by the pool of Bethesda. This formerly lame man, now walking, has a startling encounter with his healer a bit later. Jesus tells him, “Stop sinning, or something worse will happen to you!” This is a strong warning from the greatest Surgeon General ever: “Sin causes extreme hazard to your spirit, your health and your eternal soul.” The Great Physician happily heals and mercifully adds a prescription for continued healing, “Now go your way, and sin no more.” (John 8:11)
“He forgives all your iniquities and heals all your diseases, ” (Psalm 103:3, NKJV)
As for the hail, isn’t that when the heavens have turned against you? Judgment is falling on everything you do. Your every plan and every resource is cursed by heaven above. See the Pharaoh play with repentance. He is the kind of person who calls on God when trouble is falling and returns to the vomit after God's merciful reprieve.
“The Lord will strike you with consumption, with fever, with inflammation, with severe burning fever, with the sword, with scorching, and with mildew; they shall pursue you until you perish. And your heavens which are over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you shall be iron. The Lordwill change the rain of your land to powder and dust; from the heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.” (Deuteronomy 28:22–24, NKJV)
Read Exodus 10
In the plague of the locusts and the following plague of darkness, Pharaoh goes back and forth. He seems to relent and yield to the call of Moses but as soon as the plague is lifted, he shows himself for who he is, a hardened man. He tries to bargain with Moses allowing that only the men leave to go worship the Lord (Exodus 10:10-11). He knows that men will come back for their families. That is a “no go” for Moses.
In the midst of the ninth plague of darkness, Pharaoh seems to relent again. He will allow Moses and the children this time to go worship the Lord (Exodus 10:24). But he insists that the flocks and herds be left behind.
Moses stands straight up, “not a hoof shall be left behind!” Friends, partial victory is total defeat.
The devil will bargain if he can because he knows that any compromise on your part is a victory on his part.
See Christ here: Jesus called for total obedience. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” (Matthew 16:25, NKJV)
There is no compromise in following Christ. He wants your whole life. If you look back over your shoulder you will be easily turned back to slavery. A little sin goes a long way. One act of disobedience expelled Adam and Eve from paradise. One act of hatred cursed Cain. One lie killed Ananias and Sapphira.
For Moses it is all or nothing. For the one who will follow Christ, it is the same.
The Locusts and the Darkness: Aren’t the locust the picture of ‘even what you have left”getting eaten away (Joel 1:4)? As one songwriter sang, “Nothing from nothing leaves nothing.”
Isn’t the darkness “that can be felt” an overwhelming depression? Emotions can be “felt”. So can paralyzing discouragement, hopelessness and a kind of darkness that shuts you in. In every plague of sin, let us take to heart the mercy of the Christ who lifts the curse.