Exodus 1-18 - The Bible from 30,000 Feet - Skip Heitzig - Flight EXO01
The Bible from 30,000 Feet-- Soaring Through the Scripture from Genesis to Revelation.
Let's turn to the Book of Exodus. Are you there? Good. Because we're going to move quickly. We're flying over it, remember?
So every group of people desire freedom. America was built on that concept of freedom-- life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We broke from England because we wanted the freedom to worship God according to the dictates of our own heart and not be under the oppression of a King.
So it is with the children of Israel. When we open up Exodus, we see a bondage that they are in. Now if you can remember, God promised to Abram back in Genesis chapter 15-- He said go look at the stars. And I want you to know that as the stars are in the heaven-- and you can't count them-- so will your descendants be.
In other words, you are going to grow. You are going to be prolific. You're going to spread out. You're going to be a great nation.
But in that same chapter, He said that your progeny-- those that you birth and when that nation gets sizable-- they're going to be in a foreign land. And they're going to be there for 400 years, and they're going to be oppressed. But I'm going to bring them out with a strong hand.
That was a setup for the book that we are considering now, the book of Exodus. So Genesis was about four great events and four great people. You remember them, right? The four events-- formation of the heavens and the earth, the fall of man, the flood of Noah-- universal flood-- the fallout because of man's rebellion. And then for great people-- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and then finally, Joseph.
Joseph, if you remember, became the second most powerful man in the world at that time-- the prime minister of Egypt. He had a plan to save the world during desperate times.
In chapter 47 of Genesis in verse 11, Joseph situated his father and brothers, gave them a possession in the land of Egypt, in the best of the land, the land of Ramesses, as Pharaoh had commanded. Then Joseph provided his father, brothers, and all of his father's household with bread according to the number of their families.
Awesome. The book closes. Years pass. 350 years pass. Joseph dies at age 110. His dad is long gone. His brothers die. Joseph's sons die. His sons' sons die. The pharaohs from that era die.
And after three and a half centuries, nobody in Egypt can remember the great things that Joseph had done as a deliverer at one time. So when we get to Exodus chapter one 350 years later, we are immediately confronted with two problems-- increased population and decreased popularity.
The children of Israel have grown immensely. They started with 70 people. Now they're up to about 2 million people in a few centuries time. They have just filled the land of Egypt.
With the increased population comes a decreased popularity. It threatens the stability in Pharaoh's mind of the land of Egypt. So in Exodus chapter 1 verse 7-- "But the children of Israel were fruitful and increased abundantly, multiplied and grew exceedingly mighty. The land of Egypt was filled with them." Verse 8-- "Now there arose a new king in Egypt who did not know Joseph."
Now the problem begins. Ever had a job where your first boss leaves the company? A new company buys the company you're in. So now you have a new boss.
You stay, and you think everything's going to be the same. I'm indispensable. The first boss-- he was so good to me. He treated me with special favors.
Now you have a new boss. He didn't care about the old relationship you had with boss number one. It's a whole new day, right? There's a whole new company. And you're not all that special anymore. This is happening on a national level with the children of Israel.
Now in the Book of Exodus, we are witnessing a birth. It is the birth of a nation. The delivery room is the land of Egypt. Births are exciting.
But they're also very painful. Births are very, very painful. You know, I'll tell you. The thrill of my life was watching my wife Lenya grow and glow with that pregnancy of our first born and only born, our only begotten son Nate.
But what I remember-- just that growth. And it was so awesome. But the birth was painful. Not only did I see it, but I felt that because there was one time that she punched me. She still denies it to this day. But I was in the right state of mind, I believe. I think I remember that.
So birth is painful. This birth is an exodus. The word exodus means to go out and outgoing, a going forth. Israel entered Egypt as a family. They are going to go out-- exodus, exit-- as a nation.
Now the theme of this book could be summed up with these two words-- redemption, revelation. Redemption and revelation are the two grand themes of the entire book.
But I'm going divide it up for you into four parts. I'm going to give you four words-- just like I gave you four great events in Genesis and four great people-- four words that sum up the book of Exodus. Domination, liberation, revelation, identification. Now we'll get those again next week. We're going to cover the first two in the next few minutes.
First of all, chapters 1 through 12 is the first section of the book of Genesis. It is domination-- domination by Egypt. Domination by Egypt. Chapters 13 through 18 is liberation from Egypt.
Chapters 19 through 31 is the revelation God gives them after Egypt. He takes them to Mount Sinai, reveals the laws they are to live by. Then finally, chapters 32 through 40-- identification, away from Egypt or apart from Egypt. Now they are God's people. Now they identify themselves as God's unique people, trusting only in Him. A whole new nation develops.
Now those four words describe your testimony. You were once in bondage. You were delivered by the Savior. He forgave you of your sins.
He revealed His word to you. You and I are growing in our faith as we read His word. The revelation of God as part of our ongoing process. And identification-- we see ourselves as children of God, a new kingdom. We're under the kingship of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Now Exodus, though it is 350 years later, it begins by showing us that this is not a new story. This is the continuation of an old story. So it begins-- even though I went into verse 7 and 8-- if you just glance back at verse 1, it says "And" or "Now" in the New King James.
But in Hebrew it's the word "and." "And these are the names-- [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] is the Hebrew. In fact, that is the name of the book in Hebrew. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] And you go, well, what does that mean? It means "and these are the names." So if we were in a synagogue, I would say let's turn to the book of And These are the Names. [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]
But we call it Exodus because that is the Septuagint name. And it has stuck. And it's a better name, I think-- the book of Exodus. "So these are the names of the children of Israel who came to Egypt. Each man in his household came with Jacob."
Now let's jump to the heart of the problem, verse 9, chapter 1. "He, Pharaoh, said to his people, look, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we. Come, let us deal shrewdly with them lest they multiply, and it happen in the event of war that they also join our enemies and fight against us and so go up out of the land-- or have an exodus. Therefore, they set task masters over them to afflict them with their burdens."
There are, we believe, about 2 million conservatively Jews in the land of Israel at this time. They started out with 70. There's about 2 million.
How do we know this? Because the number 600,000 men is mentioned in the book of Exodus. 600,000 men were counted apart from their wives, apart from their children. So conservatively, we can say a good number-- about 2 million people probably.
So Pharaoh comes up with a plan to deal with this. How do you deal-- he thought. How do you deal with the Jewish problem?
Does that phrase ring a bell? That is what Adolf Hitler called the proliferation of Jews in Europe at his time-- the Jewish problem. And Pharoh's approach was not dissimilar to Adolf Hitler's approach.
First of all, he thought, let's oppress them. Let's make life hard for them. So verse 13-- it says, "The Egyptians made the children of Israel serve with rigor."
Now into chapter 2-- again, these 70 descendants have become 600,000 men, or 2 million people. He oppresses them, making them serve with rigor. But his second approach besides just oppressing them is let's just eliminate them. Let's kill them when they're born.
It's perhaps the first-- at least biblical-- example of state-sponsored genocide. Every male child that is born, he commands the midwives, toss them in the Nile River. Get rid of them, so that the population won't increase. So that is the command.
Now what the Holy Spirit does is interesting. As the story continues and you have all of these people in the land of Egypt, the lens of the Holy Spirit focuses on a single couple, a single Jewish couple. Their names are Amram and Jochebed. They are the parents of a little baby that is born called Moses.
And the Holy Spirit is setting us up for a deliverance. Before there is a deliverance, the deliverer is seen in these chapters. So these next couple chapters are about that.
The baby is born in verse 2. It says, "When she-- that is Mama-- saw that he was a beautiful child, she hid him three months." It's interesting that Moses appearance is described in this verse. It says, he was a beautiful child. Now what's fascinating about that is you know who the author of this book is, right?
Not knocking it. I just think it's kind of interesting. Oh, by the way, I was a beautiful child. My mama said so.
So she hid him three months in the reeds. Let that little boat go down the river. You know the story. It's so familiar.
Pharaoh's daughter was out bathing with her handmaidens, picked up that little baby, got Hebrews to raise him. The Hebrews that she got to raise him were Moses's own mother. And she was I paid for it by the government.
Verse 9-- "Pharaoh's daughter said to her, take this child away. Nurse him for me, and I will give you your wages. So the woman took the child and nursed him. And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter. And he became her son." This is legally became her son. "So she called his name [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]"-- that's the Hebrew term, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH]-- "Moses"-- it was the name given by Pharaoh's daughter to the baby, [NON-ENGLISH SPEECH] means 'to draw out-- "saying because I drew him out of the water."
Moses is perhaps the most remarkable man who has ever lived next to Christ. There's a book that was written several years ago called The Jewish 100. I've referred to it Before Michael Shapiro, a Jewish author, was its author. And he writes about 100 of the most influential Jews. And he ranks them.
Number one in his book is Moses. Now it wouldn't be in our book. The most influential Jew to us wouldn't be Moses. He might rank second or third. But Jesus would be.
In Shapiro's book-- he's unconverted. He is Jewish. Moses ranks number one. He was the law giver. But interesting in his book, he ranks Jesus Christ as number two and Albert Einstein as number three.
Also, just FYI, Paul the Apostle makes the list at number six followed by Karl Marx at number 7. And for sports fans, pitching great left-handed Dodger pitcher Sandy Koufax at number 98. Man, I'd have ranked him a lot higher than that. That's because I grew up watching him pitch, and he was awesome. It has nothing to do with the text.
Chapters 2 and 4-- 2, 3, and 4 of Exodus are all about Moses's upbringing in that household of Pharaoh's daughter and Pharaoh himself. It would not be an overestimate to say that Moses was a child who grew up with a golden spoon in his mouth. I mean, he was rich and powerful. The book of Hebrews says that he enjoyed all the riches of Egypt. That is, the wealth of Pharaoh's household was at his own disposal.
If you know anything about Egypt, you know that the culture, even at that time, was a very progressive culture. The theory of the round earth-- you know, the earth was thought to be flat for a long time. Way back thousands of years ago, one of the first groups that believe the earth was round were Egyptians. That was their theory.
They also interestingly calculated-- and were almost exactly accurate-- the distance of the earth to the sun way back then. And they were advanced in chemistry. Witness their embalming procedures. If you go to world class museums, you'll be able to see the sarcophagi with inside the remains of those who were buried, like the ancient pharaohs. And you can still see their hair and their skin preserved by Egyptian embalming.
Egypt was known for its famous university. Maybe even Moses went to that. It was called the University, or the Temple, of the Sun. It was the Harvard of the ancient world.
So Moses becomes the adopted grandson of the pharaoh who is in power at that time-- meaning, according to Josephus, the Jewish historian, Moses would have been next in line for the throne. Why? Because according to Josephus, this pharaoh had no sons, only daughters. So this adopted grandson would place him in prime position for being the next pharaoh of Egypt.
But something happened. He, Moses, found out that he was Jewish. And one day, he's out, and he's watching Egyptians beating a Jewish person. And so he kills the Egyptian and buries him in the sand, thinking that no one has seen.
It's interesting. It says he looked this way, and he looked that way, and then he killed the Egyptian. His problem is he looked this way and that way, but he didn't look that way. God saw the whole thing.
And Moses didn't know this. But somebody else saw it as well. Because the next day, after he buries the evidence of his murdered victim, he's walking, and he notices to Hebrews arguing. And he says, hey, what are you arguing about?
And one of them said, what? You want to be lord over us? Are you going to kill us like you killed the Egyptian yesterday?
Now, this stopped Moses dead in his tracks. He didn't know that they knew. And because they knew, others knew. And eventually, Pharaoh got wind of it. So Moses had to run away from Egypt to flee. And he flees-- I mean, he runs. He runs all the way across the desert into the Arabian Peninsula to a land called Midian.
Exodus 2:23-- "It happened in the process of time that the king of Egypt died. The children of Israel groaned because of the bondage, and they cried out. And their cry came up to God because of the bondage."
So here's what I want you to notice. There's a lot of them. They're numerous. The population is increased. But they are not strong. They are weak. They are feeling oppressed. They are helpless. They are hopeless.
So, verse 24, "God heard"-- I love this-- "God heard their groaning. God remembered His covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, with Jacob. And God looked upon the children of Israel, and God acknowledged them."
Meanwhile, Moses, far away from Egypt in Midian, that Arabian desert, finds a girl, falls in love. Her name is Zipporah. Zipporah is the daughter of one Jethro, the priest of Midian.
So for the next 40 years, Moses, the favorite son of Pharaoh at one time, is now out in the desert punching a clock for a shepherd. He's just a shepherd guy working for a guy who has a bunch of flocks, his father-in-law named Jethro.
It's been well said that you could divide Moses's life up into segments of 40 since he lived to be 120 years old. For the first 40 years, Moses went to school, got famous, got wealthy, and tried to be something. For the next 40 years, God took him to the backside of the desert where he finally realized he was nothing. And the next 40 years, God showed Moses that he could take nothing and make something out of him.
And that's what He does. That's the story of his life personally.
So the time of deliverance has come. They cry out to the Lord. What does God do? Does he send the angel Gabriel? Nope. He sends an 80-year-old failure, an ex-murderer, an ex-con, who's washed up and has spent 40 years as a shepherd in the middle of nowhere.
Now when Moses least expected it, God interrupts, through what? A talking bush, a burning bush. You know, the burning bush story. But this is a very interesting bush because it knows Moses's name. And whenever you have a bush yelling at you, you stop. And you pay attention, especially when that bush is burning but not being consumed.
So Moses turns aside to see it. Now according to rabbinic tradition, it was the acacia bush, or the thornbush of the desert. To me, that's just suggestive. Because remember when God cursed the earth? He said, thorns and thistles it will bring forth. It was emblematic. Thorns are emblematic of the curse.
So here's a thornbush burning as God gets a deliverer ready to deliver people from their bondage into freedom. And now I'm going to fast forward a couple thousand years to the New Testament when Jesus our lamb had a thorn-- a crown of thorns on his head, emblematic of the curse that he would come to deliver us from.
Exodus 3, verse 10-- "Come now"-- the Lord says through this burning encounter-- "Come now, therefore, and I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring my people, the children of Israel, out of Egypt." Now those are the last words Moses ever wanted to hear. He's been away 40 years from Egypt. Now God says, you're going back.
Now you're a failure shepherd. Now you're 80 years old. You're going back, and you're the deliverer. He never wanted to hear that. He's probably going I don't want to go back.
Did you notice the two words in that verse? "Bring"-- notice that in verse 10-- and "out." Bring out-- there's the exodus. That's what it means-- to bring out, to go out, to go forth. Verse 11-- "Moses said to God, who am I that I should go to Pharaoh and that I should bring the children of Israel out of Egypt."
I want you to mark those words because those are words some of you have said. You have yearned for God to use you. But then you get all worried about your own failures and your own incompetence and your own lack of courage. And you go, who am I?
Some of you are Moses in the making. And God has great things for you. You just need to let him take you through that encounter.
Now Moses asks a very natural question. In verse 13, "Moses said to God, indeed, when I come to the children of Israel and say to them the God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they say to me, well, what's his name, who shall I say to them? What shall I say to them? God said to Moses, I AM WHO I AM.
And He said, thus you shall say to the children of Israel, I AM has sent me to you. Moreover, the Lord said to Moses, thus you shall say to the children of Israel, the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham-- patriarch-- the God of Isaac-- patriarch-- and the God of Jacob-- patriarch. The first three of the four figures of Genesis. The God of Abraham, God of Isaac, God of Jacob has sent me to you." He's reminding Moses of the covenant he made back then. "He says, this is my name forever. This is my memorial to all generations."
What name? I AM that I AM, probably best translated Yahweh. Yahweh is the Hebrew word that means I AM WHO I AM. Yahweh-- we think it's pronounced that way. We're not exactly sure because we're only left with four consonants in the Hebrew texts. The four letters called tetra-- four-- gramaton, the four letters. The YHWH. But we think it's the name of God as Yahweh.
Now the name Yahweh-- He introduces Himself I AM WHO I AM. Maybe a good way to look at it is it means the Becoming One-- the Becoming One. That is, God will become to you whatever your greatest need is. God is so big, God is so powerful, God is so vast, that He will become to you who He is but in your time of greatest need.
For example, in the Bible, He is sometimes called Yahweh Yireh-- or as they used to say it in the King James. Jehovah Jireh. The Lord-- Yahweh-- the Lord is our provider. The Lord provides. He will become your provision when you need provision.
Also He is called Yahweh Tsidkenu, which means righteousness. The Lord will become your righteousness when you are unrighteous. When you feel weak and you need a banner, He will become Yahweh Shammah, the Lord our banner, our strength.
Something else about this name-- in John 8, Jesus lays claim to this name when he says before Abraham was, I AM. Not I was, I AM. He assumes the divine name of God in that chapter.
Well, God calls him. Chapter 4 are Moses's excuses. Excuse number one? What if they don't believe me, God? That's a fair argument. What if they don't believe me?
God says, OK. What's in your hand? Moses said, a staff, a stick. He goes throw it on the ground. It becomes a snake when he does. Then he is instructed to bend down and touch its tail and grab it by the tail. As soon as he does, it turns back into a stick.
Now that's a cool trick. I'd like a snake that did that. I'd like a walking stick that did that. So what if they don't believe me? You got this cool snake stick. Pull that baby out.
But he has another excuse. He goes, who? M-m-m-m-m-m-me? That's essentially what he says. He goes, I can't talk. He says, in this chapter, I am slow of speech. Those are his words here. I never went to high school or college speech class. He probably stuttered.
So God says, Moses, who made man's mouth? I did. If I made your mouth, I can make words to put in your mouth. Go.
But Moses is not done. He has yet another excuse, same chapter. He just says, send somebody else. Now that's the real problem. Now we're dealing with the heart of Moses. Send somebody else. So Aaron becomes the spokesperson, and the contest begins.
Chapter 5 through 11 is the contest, the great confrontation between Moses and Aaron and Pharaoh, the leader of that part of the world, especially Egypt. Moses confronts Pharaoh. And the confrontation includes 10 incredible, miraculous plagues of Egypt.
Why 10 plagues? What is God up to with these 10 incredible, miraculous plagues? God is executing judgment on the false religious system of Egypt. I know that because in chapter 12, verse 12, it said, "Against all the gods of Egypt, I will execute judgment. I am the Lord."
Now we're not there yet. So in chapter 5, look at chapter 5. Look at one verse-- verse 2. This is the setup for the plagues you'll understand why. Verse 2-- "Pharaoh said, who is the Lord?"
You see, Moses comes to him and says, thus says the Lord, let my people have an exodus. Let them exit. And his question-- "Who is the Lord that I should obey his voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord-- Yahweh-- nor will I let Israel go."
So his question is, who is the Lord? And it's like Moses said, well, since you asked, here is your answer. And plague after plague after plague after plague hammer the nation of Egypt to answer the question, who is the Lord?
Oh, He's that Lord. Oh, He can do that stuff. Oh, you don't want to mess with that guy. And it is a judgment on the false gods-- as you will see-- and goddesses of Egypt.
So Moses asks nicely. The response is, who is the Lord? Now Pharaoh turns up the heat. Pharaoh responds to the request to go by upping the quota that these Hebrew slaves-- that's what they were in Egypt, these 600,000 men and wives and kids-- he ups the quota of bricks that they are to produce.
And then he cuts out the straw that was meant to fortify the adobe bricks. By the way, adobe is such a terrific built building material. You know, it's pretty common in this state. And I don't know if you've ever been in the middle of summer in a real adobe house, it's like don't need AC. It's just like, wow, it's amazingly cool and resilient.
So so much of the building-- the temples, the graves, some of the tombs, not the fancy Pharaoh tomb, but some of them-- were all made out of adobe. So the fortification of the straw made those bricks heftier.
Now he cuts out the straw. He makes the quota of bricks larger. And by the way, archeologists have discovered-- if you know anything about the Middle East, you can see these brick walls in several sections-- they have found brick walls from this time period. And the bottom layer is pretty hefty adobe bricks laced with full length pieces of straw.
But as you go up the wall, there is no longer straw but stubble weeds that they had to pick up and put into that mud. And then as you go up higher, there's nothing at all but mud. So it corroborates what the biblical text says.
Now the 10 plagues that are in the next few chapters. Let me just go through them quickly. Number one-- water turns to blood. What's that all about? It's about the Nile River. The Nile River was the source of life to them. It was the greatest natural resource.
And the god Osiris was over the Nile. He was called the father of life-- the father of life. There was even a hymn sung to the god of the Nile. Hail to thee, O Nile, that issues from the earth and comes to keep Egypt alive. So this was a judgment on Osiris, the god of the Nile.
Second one-- now that's chapter 7. Chapter 8-- frogs cover the land. Pretty gross. I like frogs but not everywhere. And that's where they were-- everywhere.
Remember the song Jeremiah was a bullfrog? Well, he wasn't. Heqet was the bullfrog. Heqet was the goddess of Egypt who embodied the frog. There was even a special temple to Heqet in Memphis to her worship.
And here's what made the plague worse. It was a major offense to kill a frog. So you think, oh, I got frogs. Easy. I'll just bat them. I'll play baseball. I'll play golf with them. No, you won't. You won't touch them. If you're an Egyptian, it was a major offense.
Also, in chapter 8, the dust becomes lice. This was a judgment on Geb the earth god. In verse 17, it says the dust became lice throughout the land of Egypt.
Plague number four-- a swarm of flies. Some scholars believe the flies were the scarab beatles. And they were found in many of the tombs, the graves of Egypt. It was a symbol of Egyptian eternal life.
So at this point, plague after plague after plague, Pharaoh's attention has been gotten. And Pharaoh now wants to negotiate-- chapter 8, verse 25. He says, go. Go sacrifice. But don't leave the land. Do it in the land of Egypt. That's his first negotiation.
Then verse 28, he says, go out into the wilderness but don't go very far. And he also adds this footnote in verse 28, pray for me. Intercede for me.
When we get to chapter 9, the plagues continue. Plague number five is disease, sometimes translated murrain-- a disease that affects livestock, especially cattle. This was aimed at the god Apis, the bull.
Now keep that in mind-- Apis the bull because the children of Israel are going to build a golden what later on? Calf. Probably reminiscent of this god of Egypt. Apis the bull, called Mnevis in Greek culture-- the judgment was to show the ineptness of that god.
Also in chapter 9, boils. Ashes were thrown into the air, turned into sores. By the way, Egyptian priests used to throw soot in the air, ashes in the air, as a means of blessing people. Now the blessing turns into a curse.
Also, number seven in that same chapter, hail and fire mingled with hail that fell from the sky. Why? To demonstrate God's power over the sky goddess called, get this, Nut. N-U-T. It's appropriate in my view. It's a nut job god. Can't do anything.
Chapter 9, verse 27. Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron and said to them, I-- now, watch this-- I have sinned this time. What? I sinned this time. This is called selective memory disorder. You sinned every time. I've sinned this time. I've really blown it.
And then he says, the Lord is righteous. And my people and I are wicked. Entreat the Lord that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go. And you shall stay no longer.
That's good news. Man, this is repentance. No, it is not. It's an emotional reaction. Because down in verse 34, when Pharaoh saw that the rain, the hail, and the thunder ceased, he sinned yet more. And he hardened his heart, he and his servants. Verse 35, so the heart of Pharaoh was hard. Neither would he let the children of Israel go, as the Lord had spoken by Moses.
OK, so he almost did, but now he didn't. So the Lord's answer, two more plagues. Chapter 10, locusts. Locusts come in and eat everything left by the hail that was mingled with fire.
Now, most experts in the field believe that this locust was called the short horned grasshopper. These particular grasshoppers breed in deserts. They reproduce rapidly. They migrate long distances. They can travel in columns of hundreds of feet. And the swarm can last for about four miles.
Imagine a four mile, 100-plus foot column of dark cloud coming at you. That's the swarm of locusts. When they appear, it looks like there's an eclipse of the sun, things get so dark. When they leave, the trees have been stripped and the land looks like it has been scorched with fire.
A couple of examples of this. 1866, locusts invaded Algiers, Northern Africa. That's the capital of Algeria. 200,000 people died in the famine that ensued after the plague of locusts in the following days. The worst on record, the worst locust plague on record, is 1951 in the Middle East, in Iran. Every green thing was devoured for hundreds of thousands of square miles. It is still considered the worst in history.
Plague number nine was darkness. As the chapter continues, the darkness came not on Israel, but on Egypt, on the Egyptians. God is very selective in these plagues.
Now, the darkness isn't just like the cloud cover over the sun like we had today. It was a darkness, it says, that can be felt. The text says, darkness that can be felt. This was aimed at Ra, R-A, Ra, the sun god, one of the principal deities of Egypt.
According to the Babylonian Talmud-- interesting tidbit-- the Babylonian Talmud said that God sometimes reserves the judgment of darkness on particularly evil events or on historic evils of epic proportions. God will reserve the judgment of darkness for unusually wicked sin.
Now, to me, that's interesting. Because the Bible speaks of another darkness when probably the worst thing ever happened, when people decided to reject the Savior of the world and put him on a cross and get rid of him. Darkness covered the land. That is found in other historical records besides the Bible, three hours of darkness.
Chapter 10, verse 27. But the Lord-- watch this-- but the Lord hardened pharaoh's heart. And he would not let them go. Now, this is worth remarking. For the first five plagues, the first five plagues, the text says, pharaoh hardened his heart. He hardened his heart. He just dug his heels in, rebelled against God.
But in the sixth plague, and not until, we are told that God hardened his heart. Now, the word for God hardening his heart is the Hebrew word [HEBREW]. It means to strengthen or to make firm. So it's just like God saying, OK, that's the position you're going to take? I'm going to confirm or make firm your hardness.
Now, I believe that God does that. I believe that if you make a choice away from the Lord, and you dig your heels in, and you harden your heart, God will harden that, confirm that, enable that. If you make a step toward him to soften your heart, God will make firm that. God will help you in that. God will enable that to happen. And that's what we see here, God responding to the decisions that pharaoh is making.
Now, these plagues, all of them totaled, probably lasted between three and six months. But we're not done yet. There is an ultimate plague. And that is plague number 10, the death of the firstborn. That takes us to chapter 12. This is the climax of the Book of Exodus.
On this night, it was the splattering of lamb's blood on lentils and door posts of homes that caused the death angel to pass by or pass over. Chapter 12, verse 1, now the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt saying, this month, this month, shall be your beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year to you.
So the calendar is now changed to correspond to the new season of life called redemption. And can I just say that the term born again perfectly sums up what happens when a person gives his or her life to Christ. You get a whole new life. And you reorient your life accordingly. Redemption changes your calendar, so to speak. Clears everything up. It's the beginning of days to you, as it was for them.
Speak, verse 3, to the congregation of Israel, saying on the 10th day of this month every man shall take for himself a lamb-- according to the house of his father, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for the lamb, then let his neighbor next to his house take it according to the number of the persons. According to each man's need you shall make your account for the lamb.
Your lamb, verse 5, shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now, I want you to just notice what we just read. Verse 3, a lamb. Verse 4, the lamb. Verse 5, your lamb. To some people Jesus-- oh yeah, yeah, yeah. He's a lamb. I've heard about what He has done. I know many people believe that He died on a cross.
But then, for some people, they get a little more serious. No, no, He's the lamb. There's nobody like Jesus. But it's not until He becomes your lamb, where you personally receive Him as your Savior-- not your dad's, not your mom's, not your brother's, not your sister's, not your kid's, your lamb-- is He your lamb? Has He redeemed you of your sin? Do you have your own personal relationship with Him?
Down to verse 40. I think it sums it up. Now, the sojourn of the children of Israel who lived in Egypt was 430 years. Back in Genesis, it said, your descendants will be in this land 400 years. That was round number. Now, it's a specific number, 430 years total. It came to pass at the end of the 430 years. On the very same day, it came to pass that all the armies of the Lord went out-- notice those words. Went out, exodus-- from the land of Egypt.
Now, this 10th plague. The people in the house were protected by one thing, blood. Blood. They weren't protected by race. Well, I'm Jewish. So what? If you don't have lamb's blood on, you're dead. Your firstborn are going to die. And if you were Egyptian, but you're having dinner at a Jewish person's house that night and blood gets applied, you get spared. It's the blood that made the difference. Not the race, not the genealogy, not how good you were. It's only blood.
Verse 24, back up there it says, and you shall observe this thing that is Passover as an ordinance for you and your sons forever. So it is-- Passover has two roles, commemorative and predictive. You commemorate the deliverance from Egypt, if you're Jewish. But also it is predictive of-- behold the Lamb of God, Jesus, who takes away the sin of the world. 1 Corinthians 5, Christ our Passover was slain for us. So it's prophetic of our deliverance as well.
Now, the rest of chapter 12 and 13-- they pack their bags, and they get ready to leave. And it says, they plundered the Egyptians. They plundered them. Remember God said, Abram, when they go out-- they're going to be slaves for 100 years. When they go out, they're going to go out with great possessions, great plunder. Here it is. They plundered the Egyptians.
Now, at this point, pharaoh changes his mind. The very guy who said, go out, says, come back. And God is arranging it all. Look at chapter 14, verse 4. God said, then I will harden pharaoh's heart so that he will pursue them. And I will gain honor over pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.
Now, down in chapter 13, verse 21 is the mention of this odd pillar that goes before them, and then behind them, and then accompanies them for the next 40 years in the wilderness. It's a pillar of cloud by day for shade in the desert sun. If you don't have shade in a desert, especially with 120 degrees as your ambient temperature, you're not going to make it 40-- you're not going to make it four months. So God gave them, graciously, a cloud cover during the day and a pillar of fire by night, God's flashlight by night.
Chapter 14 and 15 is the epic crossing of the Red Sea. Some people have trouble with this. But some people have trouble with everything in the Bible, every story in the Bible. Again, if you can believe Genesis 1 verse 1, the rest is easy. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth. If he can do that, clearing up a Red Sea, or stopping it up, or damming it up, not a problem. Am I right?
Chapter 14, verse 29. But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea. And the waters were a wall to them. Notice that, a wall. There has got to be substantial body of water on their right hand and on their left. So the Lord saved Israel on that day out of the hands of the Egyptians. And Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the sea shore.
All sorts of naturalistic explanations. I have studied them and taught them when we were in Exodus last time. All of them, in my view, fall short of an adequate explanation other than it was a miracle. Chapter 16 and 17 is their trek to Mount Sinai, which we're going to pick up next time in chapter 19 onward. But 16 and 17, they travel to Sinai. And a shift takes place in the heart of redeemed people.
And see if this mirrors some of us. They go from glory to groaning. They saw the glory of God. But you know what? That was then. I'm walking every day in this desert. And it's hot. And I need water. And I need food. So they start complaining.
And every time I read this, I reminisce. I had three brothers, mom and dad and four boys. And my dad would drive us from Southern California to New Ulm, Minnesota sometimes. He didn't like to stop for hotels. Too expensive. So he'd just gas up and drive through. A rambler station wagon, no air condition, four boys in the back. Does that spell trouble? Oh, with a capital T.
So that happened on a grand scale. So God feeds them with manna from heaven, bread from heaven, water from a rock. Chapter 16, verse 14, and when the layer of dew lifted there on the surface of the wilderness was a round, small substance, as fine as the frost on the ground.
And when the children of Israel saw it they said to one another, what is it? For they did not know what it was. That's what you say when you don't know what something is. What is it? Moses said to them, this is bread which the Lord has given you.
We believe the word man, M-A-N, was an Egyptian word-- in fact, Arabs to this day have the word man, referring to a sweet, sticky juice from a shrub in the desert. Maybe that little white juice was reminiscent from the lore that is passed down from the manna in the desert.
Verse 31. Let's move along. Verse 31, the house of Israel called its name manna. And it was like white coriander seed. The taste of it was like wafers made with honey. Man, this was God's baklava.
This was God's Krispy Kreme donuts. And if it's in the desert, it's hot now all the time. So according to Numbers 31, just a little preview, they fixed it a number of ways. And Mrs. Moses probably had 1,001 ways to cook manna for all the wives in the desert for those years.
Chapter 17, water came from the rock. And though there was bread from heaven and water from a rock, all miraculous, the children of Israel complained. They complained. God fed them. They complained. God gave them water. They complained. It takes a heavenly appetite to enjoy heavenly food. And if you don't have a heavenly appetite, you will complain when heavenly food is given. It takes a heavenly appetite to enjoy heavenly food.
And so the question is always, how hungry are you? You're hungry. I know you. I mean, look at-- this is Wednesday night. Look at this place, filled with hungry people. Takes a heavenly appetite to enjoy heavenly food.
Chapter 18, where we're going to close. Moses has a meeting back in Midian, back with Jethro, his father-in-law, who he had spent 40 years working as a shepherd. Now, he wants to let Jethro know what God has done. He thinks Jethro, his dad-in-law, is going to be really proud.
Verse 13, so it was on the next day that Moses sat to judge the people. And the people stood before Moses from morning until evening. Jethro is watching this. When Moses' father-in-law saw all that he did for the people, he said, 'atta boy, Mo. You are awesome. You work harder than anybody I know.
He said, what is this thing you are doing for the people? Why do you alone sit, and all the people stand before you from morning until evening. And Moses said to his father-in-law, because the people come to me to inquire of God. I'm awesome.
And when they have a difficulty, they come to me. And I judge between one and the other. And I make known the statues of God and his laws. And Moses' father-in-law said to him, the thing that you do, not good. Both you and these people who are with you will surely wear yourselves out, for this thing is too much for you, and you are not able to perform it yourself.
One person, no matter how gifted-- one person can't do ministry alone. I don't care how awesome he or she is. It takes a team. It takes others that you invest in. And you give ministry away.
What Jethro saw bothered him, because Moses turned into a problem shuffler. He was the executive branch, the judiciary, and the legislative branch all rolled into a single person. It would kill him. Verse 19, listen to my voice. I'll give you counsel. And God will be with you. Stand before God for the people, that you may bring the difficulties to God. You will teach them the statutes. You'll teach them the word, the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk, the work they must do.
Moreover, you shall select from all the people able men such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness, and place such over them to be rulers of thousands, hundreds, fifties, rulers of tens. Verse 23, if you do this thing, and God so commands you, then you will be able to endure. All this people will go to their place in peace. So Moses heeded the voice of his father-in-law and did what he said.
Now, I'm closing. We're done reading. Why the drama? Why all the drama with the children of Israel? Why all the persecution? Why were they almost destroyed by Egypt? Please note this. It is part of spiritual warfare. This is the drama played out from Genesis to Revelation.
Here's the premise. If God's plan of redemption required the existence of a nation and the continuance of that nation, if you can destroy that nation, you will destroy God's plan for the world. That's the warfare played out in the panorama of biblical history. The first move to exterminate the seed that would crush the head of Satan, Genesis 3:15, was Cain killing Abel. God bypasses those two, goes right to Seth.
But then the world gets wicked. God judges the whole world it was so bad at one time. Except Noah. Noah found grace or favor in the eyes of God. But third, Satan motivated Esau to kill Jacob. Why? Because he was the son of promise-- Abraham, Isaac, Jacob. The younger will be served by the older. Esau didn't like that. Tries to kill him.
Now, pharaoh wants to destroy all the male babies born who are Jewish. It won't be the last time. Herod is going to try it again. Why? To exterminate the seed, the nation, that brings forth the deliverer. Not Moses, Jesus. It's all a spiritual warfare, punch and counterpunch, to destroy the Jews.
Because God's plan of salvation and redemption requires the existence of the nation and the continuation of that nation. Enough said. Let's pray together.
Father, how we thank you for our own personal exodus. Thank you, Lord, that you raised up a deliverer. And when we were in bondage, we needed liberation, Jesus was revealed to us by a friend, or through a sermon, or at a concert, or at a crusade. And we have been freed from that. And then, Lord, you revealed to us who you are. And you still do that. And now we identify as people of God, sons and daughters of the living God, royalty who will rule and reign with you forever.
Lord, thank you for your story of redemption that has been woven into our story of our own personal redemption. Lord, we don't just want to commemorate the Lamb. We want to commemorate and honor our Lamb. And I pray that everyone here will have a relationship with Him in Jesus' name. Amen.
We hope you enjoyed this message from Skip Heitzig of Calvary Church. For more resources, visit CalvaryNM.church. Thank you for joining us for this teaching from the Bible from 30,000 feet.