Through a series of ten plagues, the LORD reveals to Egypt both His person and His power. As we examine the plagues of diseased livestock, boils, and hail, we see the LORD specifically target the lifestyle of Egypt as He again takes aim at the gods in their pantheon. Join us in our study of Exodus 9, where God hardens Pharaoh's heart for the first time--and we weigh the conditions of our own hearts as well.
Beginning in the brickyards of Egypt and ending in the tabernacle filled with God's presence, the book of Exodus chronicles the deliverance of God's people from Egypt and records the end of their oppression under Pharaoh. It also provides an account of the beginning of a prophecy fulfilled: God promised Abraham descendants beyond number, and on the pages of Exodus we see Israel become a great nation.
In this verse-by-verse study, Pastor Skip Heitzig presents an in-depth look at Moses, the ten plagues, the ten commandments, the desert wanderings, the construction of the tabernacle, and more. As we study, we'll see the grace of God, witness the glory of the Lord, and a catch a glimpse of Israel's coming Savior.
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Figures Referenced: Sharifa Zein, J. A. Alexander
Publications Referenced: Admonitions of Ipuwer
Cross References: Exodus 8:19; Exodus 8:25; Exodus 8:28; Exodus 9:27; Exodus 20:3-4; Exodus 32; 1 Kings 20:28; Proverbs 28:14; Matthew 12:31; Matthew 24; Romans 1:18-28; 1 Timothy 2:8; 2 Timothy 3:5; Titus 1:16; Revelation 16:21
Keywords: Moses, plagues, Egypt, pharaoh, pestilence, boils, hail, hard heart, blasphemy of the Holy Spirit
All right. Find a seat and open your bibles to Exodus Chapter 9. Exodus Chapter 9. Tonight we're going to cover one chapter. Next week, we're going to cover two chapters. The detail has been fun but we have to start picking up the pace and I was reading ahead and discovering that the next two chapters are a bit shorter and can be can be combined as we'll finish out the plagues next week. But tonight we're going to look at one chapter, Exodus Chapter 9.
You may not know this, but this service, Wednesday night is carried live on the radio in our local area and through the state of New Mexico as well as every single service. We have the ability to be live streaming on the internet and people from all over the country and all over the world can and do tune in and watch the live service from Calvary Wednesday Nights Expound and what we have also to service that is what we call a "Cyber Pastor". He's in a chat room during the study monitoring as people are logging in and conversing with them and getting to know them and develop relationships of prayer with them and so, we have a pastor working in cyberspace while this internet feed goes out. So all of that to say, why don't you give a shout out and a welcome to all those who are listening by radio and watching via internet?
Monday night I was in Los Angeles and I was teaching a pastors' conference out there and there are about 600 pastors. And Monday night was a meeting where we had families from the community and one family came up to me, a mom and a dad and several of their kids and they've been watching the bible from 30,000 feet if you remember that series. They watch it with their family around the television and their youngest son, mom says, "Our youngest son wants to meet you because he's knows you as the man from 3,000 feet above the earth." That's what the little kid called me.
So, he looked up to him, he's like, "I can fly..." or something. But it was just a precious little time. Well, this is like the bible from 30 feet or 3 feet. We're moving through it slowly but able to plum the depths of the word of God. Why don't we pray together?
Our Father in heaven, how grateful we are to be a part of a family, the family of God that you have called us into. You're our Heavenly Father, you sent your son to die that we might have life and have it everlasting forevermore, and that makes us unique brothers and sisters as part of a spiritual family. It brings a responsibility to help train one another up and encourage each other in the common faith. Help us to do that.
And thank you Lord for the bible, the revelation of your working throughout history in the lives of men and women. Help us to understand and to understand its application. Again, we remember the words of Paul who said these things were written before time for our admonition. And we thank you for them in Jesus' name, Amen.
Superstitions come from Pagan religions. Not always, but often. You'll find that many superstitions that people hold will trace their roots back to Paganism. And that's simply because Pagan religions taught their adherence to be morbidly afraid of their gods. They didn't live in peace and joy like we know it in our relationship with Yahweh, the covenant God. They were in fear of their gods.
Here's an example, if you were to go back hundreds of years into medieval Europe and Paganism prevailed at many places like in Germany and Holland. And let's say, two friends met in the forest. Let's call one Hans and one Franz just for the sake of the illustration. And so Hans walks up to Franz and says, "Hey Franz, I bought a new house." and Franz would go, "Oh, that is good." and Hans would say, "Yeah, and I got for a good price, too." and they all get so happy and then they would realize their mistake and quickly run to the nearest tree and starting knocking hard on the tree. Because they believe that the gods of the forest lived in the trees and were listening in on people's conversations and would become jealous and angry and filled with avarice over any joy that mankind would have on the earth.
And so, to make the gods living in the trees flee, they would beat on the tree trunks. And that's where the old expression comes from, "Knock on wood". And so people say, "Yep, it's been a good week. Knock on wood." All of that has its stem in paganism from that time.
Well the people of the Egypt were also very superstitious and they worshipped many different gods. I count our list today of known gods, verified gods, so they think there were hundreds, of 112 different named gods over different jurisdictions in the Egyptian pantheon.
Now Pharaoh, who was considered deity as well said to Moses and to Aaron, and we've been referring back to that conversation several chapters ago. He's said, "Who is the Lord that I should obey him?" And we've been discovering the God is happy to introduce himself to Pharaoh through several attention-getting plagues. So Pharaoh will not only know who he is, but know how great he is much more so than any of his gods and goddesses.
Now, I'm going to risk something a little bit. I'm going to date myself. How many here -- and I want an honest show of hands. How many here remember a television commercial called "Ken-L Ration", raise your hands. You remember that? Do you remember the song to it? Go ahead, sing it. No, it goes like this, "My dog is better than your dog. My dog's better than yours." You all know it? "My dog's better because it gets Ken-L Ration. My dog's better than yours." You're singing like a hymn or something. Well when I read this, I picture Moses and Aaron smiling and singing, "My God's better than your gods." My God is better because he's brings indignation, my God is better than yours.
And indeed, Yahweh, the only living and true God is able to go up against all of these false gods and goddesses in the Egyptian pantheon and take them on. God is getting Pharaoh's attention. Being very gracious to him, hoping that he'll turn, giving him ten chances to repent, plenty of warning and events, but he doesn't turn. God has interesting ways to get the attention of world rulers.
Several years ago when I was in Jordan, I met with the Princess of Jordan, part of the royal family at that time. Her name was Sharif Hussein and she was a direct descendant of Muhammad the prophet, very steep in Islam, very gracious lady, a wonderful lady classically trained. And we were there distributing shoe boxes throughout the country of Jordan and she was part of this project. She loved the fact that there were people in other parts of the world that pack gifts and they did it in the name of Jesus to bless people in other parts of the world.
Well this Muslim princess chided her own people saying, "Why is it that the Christians of this world are the ones that are getting our attention and giving our children gifts? And we, in our religion don't do any of that?" Those were her words.
God was getting her attention through those boxes. While on the same trip I also made it over into Baghdad, Iraq when Saddam Hussein was in power. And I met with a couple of his ministers including the minister of religious affairs and he interviewed us one night and it was put on national television. And I'll never forget what he said, he's said, "You know, we've always thought that the Christians in the West hated us. But now we know by this gesture that the Christians in the West love us." And I was seeing how the Lord uses simple things and simpler people to get the attention of even world rulers. And God is doing that but in much more dramatic ways here.
Why dramatic ways? Well, I think it depends on the make-up of the person. Some people you don't have to really do much. You can just nudge them and they'll get the message. You can speak to them and they'll believe. Others have to be persuaded. Others are more stiff-necked, more stubborn. Well, God can take both of those types on. He can nudge you gently and if you don't want to listen, God has ways of getting your attention and he's definitely gets his attention.
Now something we noted about the plagues the last couple of times and I bring it up because you'll find this in most literature that speaks about the plagues. The plagues seem to at least mirror natural occurrences, that is, we have on record in the annals of history similar plagues, natural phenomenon that happened in Egypt before and after the time of Moses. They are similar to this. So it's as if God is using natural phenomenon but these plagues are heightened by supernatural factors. So think of it that way, natural phenomenon heightened by supernatural factors.
I'm going to read a document to you, or a portion of a document I found in a Jewish source. It's a document that has been discovered from the general time of Moses and it was written by a critic, an unknown social and political critic, it is called "The Admonitions of Ipuwer." Let me just read to you.
The Nile is in flood but no one plows for himself because every man says, "We do not know what may happen throughout the land. Many are dead and buried in the river. The river is blood. If one drinks of it, one rejects it and thirsts for water. The homes are destroyed. Barbarians from outside have come in to Egypt, such as our water, such as our welfare. What can we do about it? We're going to ruin. Laughter has disappeared and is no longer made. It is wailing that pervades the land mixed with lamentation." It's as if we're reading a source about possibly these very events that occurred during the time of Moses.
Now in Chapter 9, we come to the fifth plague in the line up of ten plagues. It's the fifth time Moses will say to Pharaoh, "In the name of the Lord, let my people go." And this time, it's a plague of a pestilence, a severe pestilence.
Verse 1, then the Lord said to Moses, "Go into Pharaoh and tell him, thus says the Lord God of the Hebrews. Let my people go that they may serve me."
Now I want you to notice that the freedom that God wants for his people is not just freedom for the sake of freedom, but freedom in order that they might worship and serve the Lord. "Let them go that they may serve me," not that "Let them go because they have human right," although that's important. But first and foremost, let them go because they belong to me and they're going to use that freedom to worship and serve the Lord.
But, or for Verse 2, "If you refuse to let them go and still hold them, behold the hand of the Lord will be upon your cattle in the field." Stop. Remember last week when the Egyptian priests, after one of the plagues said, "This is the finger of the Lord." Remember that statement? "This is the finger of the Lord."
Well if that was the finger, this is the whole hand and you're going to notice that the plagues become much more intense and much more severe until the final, the tenth, the death of the first born. "Behold the hand of the Lord will be upon your cattle in the field and on the horses, on the donkeys, on the camels, on the oxen, on the sheep, a very severe pestilence."
We don't exactly know what this pestilence was. Nobody does. Lots of different guesses. Apparently it's some infectious disease, some commentator says, "An anthrax-like condition." Perhaps, but we don't know. It is more severe than any of the preceding plagues. Those were annoying. Those were infuriating. Those were bothersome and inconvenient. But now, God is touching their wealth. God is touching their wealth. Their livestock is going to die.
Now just a side note, the horse was unknown in Egypt until the dynasty we talked about in Genesis and a little bit in Exodus called the "Hyksos Dynasty." Do you remember that? Those Semitic people that came in and we showed how that may have equated with the children of Israel. Horses were unknown until that dynasty. Something else, Camels, though you find them all over Egypt now, were introduced into Egypt from Arabia in one of the earlier dynasties when merchandise traders brought them from Arabia and brought them into Egypt. Now I know that they're there today because I've seen a lot of them when I've been in Cairo and around the pyramids.
So, they're there to stay. Verse 4, "And the Lord will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel." Then, the Lord appointed a time saying, "Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land." In other words, you've got 24 hours Bubba, to think this over or else it's going to happen tomorrow.
So the Lord did this thing on the next day and all the livestock of Egypt died. But of the livestock of the children of Israel, not one died. Then Pharaoh sent -- that is he checked it out. He wanted to see if this thing really happened. Then Pharaoh sent and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead but the heart of Pharaoh became hard and he did not let the people go.
In the Nile delta, there were four separate provinces, areas that had as the overseeing God and there are several I'm going to talk about. Gods that enjoyed the emblem of either a cow or a bull and one of the principle gods was Apis. Apis, the bull god. The second largest temple in the land of Egypt was dedicated to Apis, the sacred bull. Apis was considered to be the sacred animal of the god Ptah, if you're trying to write that down it's P-T-A-H. Ptah had the sacred animal Apis as sort of its guardian animal.
Here's the tradition according to Egyptian pantheon theology. Apis, the bull, the sacred bull was birthed by a moon beam from heaven and a new Apis was born every time the old Apis died. So when the old Apis died, a new one was born. When the old Apis died, it was embalmed and entombed in Memphis, not Tennessee, Memphis, Egypt. He is not like an Elvis follower or anything. Memphis, Egypt.
And in Memphis, Egypt, they have discovered a necropolis. It's a city where dead people live. It's a place where -- a necropolis is a large burial ground, a large cemetery. And they've discovered several of sarcophagi or these stone boxes and inside, the embalmed preserved body of the bull, what they thought was Apis, the bull.
Once Apis died and the new one was born, that dead one passed into the after-life and was joined with Osiris, the god of the afterlife and it became known as Osiris Apis. So archeology has uncovered all of these mummies of these ancient bulls which was the god Apis.
Here's the second goddess, a cow goddess, Hathor. Hathor was the goddess of love and fertility, beauty and joy. And she appears in the depictions in Egypt as having the body of a woman and the head of a cow. Some of the depictions show the king or a Pharaoh being suckled by this cow god that is receiving nourishment directly from this goddess.
In 1906, they found a sandstone monument showing Hathor, the goddess and Amenhotep or Amenhotep II, and some believe that was the Pharaoh of the Exodus, nestling himself under the chin of Hathor. That is becoming completely dependent on this goddess, the cow goddess.
Then there was another goddess or a god that was represented by a cow or a bull and that was Mnevis. But there were several of them. So when God, through this plague touches the livestock, once again, it is a direct assault on the ideology, the belief system of these Pagan Egyptians at that time.
Here's what's interesting. Hold on to this thought because later on we're going to come to Exodus Chapter 32. Now, that might not take place until we're in the millennium at our rate, but in Exodus Chapter 32, when Moses goes up into the mountain and hears from God, the people of Israel gather around there and they go look, "Moses is dead. He's not coming back. We need a god to worship." And what is the depiction that they build?
A golden calf, a cow or a bull, a calf of a bull, and that is because in their minds, they're not used to an unseen god. Each has had representations, visible representations all around them. And so, that golden calf was representative to them of strength and beauty and nourishment and tangibility and they worshipped that false god.
Well here, God has already taken away the fish supply temporarily, damaged the water supply temporarily, now the cows are dead, there's no red meat. You might say God has a real beef with the gods of Egypt, right? I mean, holy cow, that's just crazy.
Okay, that's the video room. I had no idea that was coming, seriously. You guys. Let's get back to the bible. Verse 7, look at Verse 7 once again. "The Pharaoh sent and indeed, not even one of the livestock of the Israelites was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh became hard and he did not let the people go." There's a Proverb you may want to write down on the margin of your Bible or on your notes. Proverbs Chapter 28:14, let me read it to you. "Blessed is the man who fears the Lord but he who hardens his heart falls into trouble." We've talked about a hardened heart. What's the opposite of a hardened heart? You'll tell it's a softened heart, a subtle heart.
Well according to the bible the opposite of a hard heart is a heart that fears the Lord, that is, gives reverential awe to the only true living God and that reverential awe gets translated into obedience. It's a reverential awe that produces obedient behavior to a loving God. But he hardened his heart. He didn't have the fear of the Lord now. I'm sure by this time the Egyptian commoner was saying, "What's next? What kind of a plague could happen after this? What else could possibly happen?"
Well Verse 8 tells us plague number six comes, and these are boils or infectious sores or pustules, if you will, upon the body on man and animals. Verse 8, so the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Take for yourselves handfuls of ashes or soot from a furnace..." or we would call it a kiln, "...and let Moses scatter it toward the heavens in the sight of Pharaoh and it will become fine dust in all the land of Egypt and it will cause boils that break out in sores on man and beast through out all of the land of Egypt."
So we have a disease that would be airborne. Now something to notice about this plague, whereas in the previous judgments there was warning aforetime like, "Okay, you've got 24 hours to think about this. Tomorrow this is going to happen." There's no warning this time, no grace period of 24 hours. Moses and Aaron simply were instructed, "Go over to the kiln, stick your hand in it, get a bunch of ashes, throw it up in the sky and trust that God is going to do the rest." And God does the rest.
One of the doctors that researches diseases in the Middle East noted that in the summer time, there's a phenomenon called "Nile Blisters" or "Nile Blistering". The intense heat in Egypt along with the dust of the land, and by the way, I say intense heat, it can get upwards over a 120 to 130 degrees in Egypt. You mix that with the sandstorms and the dust that hovers in the air and you get these Nile blisters and the skin turns scarlet purplish. And these enumerable pimples start forming on the skin and soon they cluster into thick posse ulcerations around the entire body. The Egyptians called it "Hamm el Nil", that's their Egyptian term, Hamm el Nil, which means the inundation of heat. It occurs in the summer, as I mentioned when the Nile is overflowing and it produces this itchy, prickling sensation on the skin and doctors say it resembles the symptoms of scarlet fever.
But keep in mind, natural phenomena heightened by supernatural factors. God may be borrowing some of the phenomena that occurred in Egypt but this is clearly a supernatural plague that is falling upon these people. Something interesting, though. The Egyptian priest used to take soot, ashes and throw it in the air to bless people.
They believed in the goddess called Neit, N-E-I-T, sometimes spelled Nuit, N-U-I-T, sometimes spelled Nut N-U-T. I like that one the best. She was a nut. That was the sky goddess, the domain that brought all the blessings of the atmosphere upon the earth. And so there was this incantational prayer that when the priest of Egypt would take the soot, the dust and throw it into the air, it would be a blessing from the sky goddess, Nut. That which was once a blessing has now become a curse.
Something else I find fascinating. This furnace as, I mentioned is probably one of the brick kilns where the slaves, the Israelites baked the bricks before building the cities of Pharaoh. That furnace then was the emblem of suffering for the Israelites. That furnace which was once the emblem of suffering for Israel was now the emblem of suffering for Egypt. God just turns the tables completely as he judges this false religious system. Verse 10, "And they took ashes from the furnace and stood before Pharaoh and Moses, scattered them toward heaven and caused boils that break out in sores on man and beast. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils."
Now, you recall in previous plagues, the Egyptians tried to imitate the very judgments that Moses and Aaron bring forth which I still don't quite get. I've read, I've heard it explained, I still don't get it. It's like, "No, if you're going to do anything, stop it and reverse it." And they go, "No, we're going to bring more judgment. I'm going to copy what you did." Not only do they not do that here, they are affected immediately themselves that they're unable even to stand before Moses because of the boils, "For the boils were on magicians and on all the Egyptians."
What happened when this plague fell upon the Egyptians, I imagine, because this is what Egyptians did. They would immediately sense Nuit or Neit has failed them since the Nut goddess couldn't protect them. They would immediately turn and pray to two other gods for healing and intervention. One of the gods called Serapis and the other god was called Imhotep. And you'll know what that is from the movie, The Mummy. Remember The Mummy? And remember the incarnation of Imhotep?
Imhotep was at one time a doctor, a physician in charge of all of the healing of Egypt in one of the early dynasties of the Egyptians and throughout time, until this time, he became sort of incarnated as the God that they worship to protect them from diseases. They would have prayed for these gods for help and nothing would have helped. Something else, it was the Egyptian regulation that to serve in any of the thousands of temples that dotted the landscape, especially in Memphis and Heliopolis, that you had to be clean from any skin disease.
They wore linen, but if they had any kind of sore or any kind of blister on their skin, they were forbidden from serving. So think of all of the signs they had to hang on all of the temples. "Sorry, closed due to illness." They were completely incapacitated. So effectively, God shuts down the entire false worship system of Egypt for a period of time.
Verse 12, "But the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh." This is the first time we read that. We have read that God promised that he would harden the heart of Pharaoh. We have read that Pharaoh hardened his own heart but this is the first time we read that God hardens the heart of Pharaoh. The Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh he did not heed them just as the Lord had spoken to Moses. I think there's a lesson and I want to talk about it here. When people ignore the repeated promptings of the Lord time after time after time, he will confirm the decision made in their hearts. Remember we talked about that, that there's two different words in Hebrew? One, when Pharaoh hardened his own heart it was a decision that he made, he dug his heels in. God came along and confirmed or firmed up the decision Pharaoh already made. When people ignore the repeated warnings and promptings of God time after time, God will confirm that and a person can come to a place where it becomes impossible for him to believe.
The New Testament refers this as a reprobate mind. God gave them over to a reprobate mind. Let me read it to you, Romans Chapter 1, "God chooses anger from heaven against all sinful and wicked people who pushed the truth away from themselves. They begin to think of foolish ideas about what God was like. The result is that their mind became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they become utter fools instead. And instead of worshipping the glorious ever living God, they worshipped idols made to look like mere people or birds and animals and snakes. When they refused to acknowledge God, he abandoned them to their evil minds and let them do things that should never be done..." or as the King James Version, a New King James puts it, "God gave them over to a reprobate mind."
So here's God giving Pharaoh chance after chance after chance. "Let my people go or else." "No!" "Okay, really that's what you want?" "Yeah." "Okay, you have it your way." Then another plague. "A plague is coming tomorrow. Let my people go." "No." "Really? Okay, have it your way." And God lets this go on until finally he confirms the decision and it harms the Pharaoh who made the decision.
I think this will help us understand what the New Testament refers to as the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. Remember Jesus said, "All manner of sin will be forgiven mankind, except for the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit. It will never be forgiven." And one of the most frequently asked questions of anybody in any ministry is "What is the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit?" The blasphemy of the Holy Spirit seems to be tied into what people do with Christ since the job of the Holy Spirit is to point people to their need for a savior, when people repeatedly reject Christ over and over and over and over again, God will confirm their choice over and over and over again until they can come to a place where all is lost.
And if you die in that condition of rejecting the work of the spirit to point you to Christ, there is no hope for salvation. There's an old hymn that was sung many years ago in the 1800s and one of the stanzas goes like this, "There is a time we know not when, a line we know not where that marks the destiny of men between sorrow and despair. There is a line though unseen, once that line is crossed even God and all of his love has sworn that all is lost."
So Pharaoh is hardening his heart, hardening his heart, hardening his heart and then we read here that God hardened his heart. I have a question that came via text so we're going to throw it up on the screen and look at it and consider it. It says, "If God did supernatural works to clearly attack Pagan gods, then why does he not do that today against the false religions of our day?" Well, one of the things God has at his disposal besides divine judgment as shown in the Biblical text, are God's people, to take the truth of God and to preach the gospel and show them what God feels about false gods and goddesses.
Now God you say, "Well, God could certainly do a better job than I could. If he did some miraculous thing, he'll get their attention more than you are at." You're right. But I got to tell you something. God has decided to limit himself to using men and women to preach the gospel around the world even though an angel would do it a lot better than you or I, even though miraculous signs would get their attention a lot faster than you or I, God has determined to in grace give people the chance by using the words that we have, the knowledge that we have pointing them to the objective truth of the scripture, showing that God did work in history like this in times past and he will do it again. Listen carefully, he will do it again. In the tribulation period, an angel will fly through heaven preaching the everlasting gospel to men and women upon the face of the earth.
So whatever we haven't been able to accomplish in our lifetimes and generations, God will make the gospel absolutely crystal clear to that angel who preaches on the earth in the tribulation period. But you know what the kicker is? They still won't believe. There will be miracles, there will be signs, there will be wonders. It's going to happen in more dramatic fashion than it happened in Egypt in that great tribulation period. But men even then will harden their hearts as they did here in this time.
Let's go to the seventh plague and that is fiery hail. Fiery hail, I have to say that right because you could slip and say "fiery hell" and that is true as well, but we're dealing with hail that fell from heaven.
Then the Lord said to Moses, "Rise early in the morning and stand before Pharaoh and say to him, thus says the Lord God of heaven or of the Hebrews, let my people go that they may serve me. For at this time I will send all my plagues to your very heart, and on your servants, and on your people, that they may know that there is none like me in all the earth. Now if I had stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, then you would have been cut off from the earth. But indeed, for this purpose I have raised you up that I may show my power in you and that my name may be declared in all the earth."
Paul lifts this text out and uses it in Romans to speak of God's sovereignty. Verse 17, "As yet you exalt yourself against my people, in that you will not let them go." Now in reading these verses, we understand there's a two-fold purpose in the plagues that are coming up. God says, "I'm going to direct these plagues to your very heart, the core of who you are and who your people are in Egypt." Number 1, Verse 14, "I want to let you, Pharaoh the King, unmistakably know as the leader of this nation and the representative of this people, that there is only one God and all the rest are false god, they don't exist, they're not real." That's why he says in Verse 14, "That you may know that there is none like me in all of the earth."
Second reason for the upcoming plagues that you are about to read about this week and next, is that the rest of the world would know it as well. Look at Verse 16, "That my name may be declared in all the earth." So now, the judgment is going to be focused on the goddess of the air, that's Neit or Nuit or Nut. The Nut job goddess of the air, God is going to direct this plague against.
But look at Verse 17, "As yet you exalt yourself against my people. In that you will not let them go." Here's a better translation of that, a more literal translation. "You raise yourself up as an obstacle against my people." Imagine being the dude that stands in the way of the work of God for his people. That's a heavy duty place to be. You are standing in the way. You have raised yourself up to get in the way of what I am trying to do with these people. And anybody who does that is in serious trouble, being the one who impedes the work of God and the lives of the people.
So basically God is saying, "Look dude, I've had enough of this. I'm aiming for the heart because there's not enough room in this town for both of us. One of us has to go and it's going to be the Pharaoh."
Verse 18, "Behold tomorrow about this time. I will cause very heavy hail to rain down such as has not been in Egypt since its founding until now." That's quite a statement. God is about to do something that has never happened in Egyptian history. It never happened from the beginning until now. So whatever natural phenomenon that this may be based on, clearly this is heightened by supernatural factors. This is divine judgment. That's an important phrase what we just read because it sounds similar to what Jesus described the great tribulation period as in Matthew Chapter 24. "And at that time, there will be a great tribulation such as has never been from the beginning of this world until then."
But what happened in Egypt, nothing happened from the beginning until that period of time. What's going to happen in the great tribulation will be worse than anything that has ever occurred on the earth from its history onward. "Therefore, send now and gather your livestock and all that you have in the field, for the hail shall come down on every man and every animal which is found in the field and is not brought home, and they shall die."
He who feared the word of the Lord among the servants of Pharaoh made his servants and his livestock flee to the houses. Do you get that? Apparently, there were some Egyptians that were getting the message. The king wasn't doing it, he's not listening, he's hardening his heart, but there's enough of the common people who are going, "This guy is nuts..." like the sky goddess, Nut. "He is crazy. I don't want anything to do with him. I'm getting the message." Their hearts are starting to fear the Lord. "But he who did not regard the word of the Lord left his servants and his livestock in the field."
Some of the Egyptians are beginning to awaken. They are getting the idea that this Yahweh, this God of the Hebrews must be something because none of our gods, none of our goddesses have ever been able to do this. Now, this is important because some of these Egyptians are going to leave with the children of Israel in the Exodus. You understand that, not all the people that went out of Egypt were all Israelites. Almost all of them were, but there was a group of Egyptians that were fearing the Lord and afraid of being under the dynasty of Pharaoh and wanting to escape it.
So they will join the children of Israel in the wilderness. That's good and bad. They'll become what's called "the mixed multitude" and the mixed multitude still has their thinking back in Egypt but they're in the wilderness in transit to a new land and they're going to be the ones that will create the problems and bring more judgment upon the children of Israel in the wilderness.
Now please know this again, ten times in all God has been very patient with Pharaoh in giving him chance after chance. God isn't just judging immediately. I mean, as I read this through, I don't say, "How can a god of love do this?" I'd go, "How can a god of anything allow this nincompoop to have that kind of latitude?" I mean, I wouldn't put up with this ten times, nobody would. God did. That's important.
Had God just immediately judged them without these warnings, without this handout, without the possibility of repentance. The critic would've come along and say, "Well, that's unfair for God to just judge him." So God gave him time, space just like the Antediluvians before the flood, those people that lived before the flood. God sent Enoch, a preacher of righteousness. The bible says, "Noah building an arc and testifying for years about the coming flood." And in grace and patience God dealt with them.
Then the Lord said to Moses, Verse 22, "Stretch out your hand toward heaven that there may be hail on all the land of Egypt on man, on beast, on every herb of the field throughout the land of Egypt. And Moses stretched out his rod toward heaven and the Lord sent thunder and hail and fire darted to the ground. And the Lord rained hail on the land of Egypt."
So there was hail and fire mingled with the hail and so very heavy that there was none like it in the land of Egypt since it became a nation. Now, this fire was probably the lightning that accompanies the thunder that zigzagged its way to the earth, this fire or lightning that came from heaven and darted toward the earth with the hailstorm. And the hail struck throughout all the land of Egypt and all that was in the field, both man and beast and the hail struck every herb of the field and broke every tree of the field.
January 25, 1995, Thomasville, Georgia in this United States, supercell thunderstorms invaded the area sending a hailstorm, hailstones the size of softballs and grapefruit devastating the town. Just great portions of this town wiped out, supercell hailstorm. Imagine walking your little dog during a hailstorm like that. Well, you better get shelter quick. Well, now you think about this hail in Egypt and you think about the hail in Georgia, softball size.
Now fast-forward to Revelation 16, the great tribulation period, the plagues that God sends upon the earth, one of those is hailstones from heaven the size of a talent, a talent is a 125 pounds. When I worked in a delicatessen years ago we had an icehouse out back and we had blocks of ice that were 25-pound blocks. And my job, one of them was to carry these 25-pound blocks of ice out front to any customer who wanted a block of ice. That was 25 pounds, a 125-pound careening from the sky hailstones. Look out. I don't care what building you're in, you're going to be impacted by that unless you're like a 100 feet underground. And even then there would be devastation.
So what would the worshipers of Nut do with this? I mean, they're worshipping the sky goddess, the nut goddess, Nuit, Neit, Nut whatever you want to call her, they would be looking up. This is the domain from which this judgment comes. She's unable to do anything about it. She's responsible for the blessings of the warmth in the sun. Then there were two other gods, Isis and Seth who are responsible for the crops that grew, the agriculture of Egypt and they worked in concert with Nut and Ra, the chief god of the sun, the chief god of Egypt. None of them were helping, none of these was working.
By the way, the Egyptians used to say it was the tears of Isis falling into the Nile River that caused every summer of the Nile to overflow its banks and it was that overflowing of its banks that brought such a blessing to the land of Egypt. None of them had any power. They were powerless.
Verse 26, "Only in the land of Goshen where the children of Israel where there was no hail." And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron and said to them, listen to this, "I've sinned this time." Excuse me, this time? This is called selective memory disorder. Dude, you've been sinning the whole time. "I've sinned this time." He says, "The Lord is righteous and my people and I are wicked." Yeah. Entreat the Lord that there may be no more thundering and hail for it is enough. "I will let you go and you shall stay no longer."
Boy, this sounds good. This sounds like he's repenting. This sounds promising. I mean, we've come a long way from Chapter 8 Verse 25 where he said, "Go and sacrifice but stay in the land." And then he said, "Go but don't go very far." That's Chapter 8 Verse 28. Now, he says, "Go, just get out of here." But listen to his language, "I've sinned this time." Forget, the "this time", he said, "I've sinned." He admits that he has sinned, he admits that the Lord is righteous and he is wicked and his people are wicked.
You know if this happened today and some prominent figure or a world ruler and said, "I have sinned and the Lord is righteous." We'd have him go on tour. We'd make him write a book and make it the best selling Christian book and say, "This guy is a believer. Look what he said." But you know what, sometimes there's the thing called "fake repentance". The bible calls it having a knowledge of God but denying the power thereof. "A form of godliness..." Paul writes to Timothy, "...but denying the power thereof." This isn't true repentance. He doesn't really mean it.
Perhaps a better New Testament scripture to refer to Pharaoh is in Titus Chapter 1 Verse 16, let me read it to you, "They profess to know God but in works they deny him being abominable and disobedient and disqualified for every good work."
So don't get fooled by just the confession of the mouth. Now, what is the Pharaoh going to do? Well, let's see, Moses said to him, "As soon as I have gone out of the city I will spread out my hands to the Lord." That's a traditional form of prayer in those days. Often, the Hebrews would pray with their hands stretched out, palms up. That's why Paul said, "I would that men everywhere would pray with holy hands without wrath and doubting." It's that symbol of surrender to the Lord, I'm going to stretch out my hands as if praying to the Lord, trusting the Lord, imploring the Lord. "The thunder will cease and there will be no more hail that you may know that the earth is the Lord's. But as for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the Lord."
"Hey king, loved your little speech back there. Really impressed with those words about God being righteous and you being wicked and that you've sinned, but I'm not buying." Why isn't Moses buying? Well see this is where just the written word doesn't always give all of the information to us like Moses would've had watching his body language or hearing the tone of voice perhaps. Maybe it was the look in the eye that he had seen before in Pharaoh and he saw that that time or the tone of voice and he goes, "Yeah, I'm not buying it. You really don't mean this." So he says, "I know that you will not yet fear the Lord." Or notice something, "Fear the Lord God."
Look at Verse 30, "As for you and your servants, I know that you will not yet fear the Lord God, Yahweh Elohim." Moses combines the two titles of God.
And I'll tell you why I think he does this. Pharaoh has been told about Yahweh, the God of the Hebrews. The word for God is Elohim. In Hebrew, we know that as God but in his literal translation since its masculine plural, Elohim God, to the Pharaoh they were the gods superintended by the God but he did not equate Yahweh with anything more than another deity competing for all of the other deities in Egypt.
Now I'll tell you, there is something important here. In ancient times like in Egypt and in Babylon, there was polytheism, the belief in many gods, sun, moon, sky, water, fire, all of them had superintending gods, number one. Number two, there was a phenomenon known as henotheism, that is, there were gods and goddesses assigned jurisdiction over certain areas whether they were mountains or valleys or waters. And thus, their power only extended to those areas.
So many times in ancient times the way people saw battles between nations is one god of an area battling another god of the area. And if he wins in their area, in the area where the god is supervising, it means that my god is greater than your god.
So I'm going to read a passage, a scripture to you just so you can see this principle. It's 1 Kings Chapter 20. It's the Syrians talking about the Israelites. The Syrians are talking about the Israelites, listen carefully. "Their gods..." the Israelites say to the Syrians, "Their gods are the gods of the hills. Therefore, they are stronger than we. But if we fight them in the plains we will be stronger than they." That's henotheism. We have to fight in the area where our gods, the one that we worship are superintending. If we get in to that god's turf we're dead meat.
So that's henotheism, polytheism, henotheism, a third, very important syncretism. Syncretism is where you take one religious system and you bring it into another religious system. And what happened to the children of Israel through kings like Ahab who marries Jezebel, the princess of Sidon who had her false gods and goddesses, is they brought in all of these belief systems and sort of mixed them together and made a hybrid religion. So that Yahweh, the only God, gets mixed up with all of the other deities once again and that happened in Israel, syncretism, polytheism, henotheism, and syncretism. No wonder in the Ten Commandments, God will say, "I am the Lord God. You will have no other gods besides me. You won't even have a depiction of me because I am so unique you can't capture me in any kind of artistic depiction at all."
Now, some people read those verses and they go, "God is so temperamental, so insecure." I mean, okay, I know he didn't want competition but he's not insecure. He's like totally secure. It's just that he knows there is no other gods besides him. They're all fake. You can make them up, you can call them this or that but there's only one and that's him. And when you recognize it you are to be exclusive. And it's that lack of exclusivity that brought judgment upon God's people eventually.
Verse 31, "Now, the flax and the barley were struck..." this is important, "...for the barley was in the head and the flax was in the bud. The barley ripens and the flax blossoms in January." Okay, if it happens in January and they're struck during this time, this probably was around January or February. That's when it starts. The flooding of the Nile, which happened when the first plague was going on happens around July and August.
So it's already been seven months. This has been a long period of judgment. Seven months, the plagues have lasted. In fact, the last plague, the death of the first born will be Passover. That'll be around April. So it's about a nine-month period of judgment that is going on in Egypt. This didn't happen just in a few days, but over a period of several months that it had been going on. "...but the wheat and the spelt were not struck for they are late crops. So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and spread out his hands to the Lord but the thunder and the hail ceased and the rain was not poured upon the earth."
Interesting, just the thought, this just struck me just moments ago, actually. God will refer to the children of Israel and already has but will again call them "Israel, my first born." Remember that? "Israel, my first born."
Last week we talked about this being -- we're witnessing the birth of a nation. I just find it interesting that the period of judgment lasted nine months. That God is giving them this whole picture in graphic relief, the birth pains that are lasting and becoming more frequent and more intense like the birth of a child. The birth pains of this first born in the land of Egypt. Look at Verse 34, "When Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and thunder had ceased, he sent yet more and he hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hard, neither would he let the children of Israel go as the Lord had spoken by Moses."
Boy proof after proof, after demonstration, after demonstration, trying to get through to this thick headed numbskull called Pharaoh, that all of these other gods and goddesses that he and his forefathers have worshiped are nothing, that he can manage completely his people and will deliver them with his strong hand and yet he will refuse and harden his heart.
It reminds me of a story of a wealthy Chinese businessman who once saw the demonstration of a microscope. Boy, did he fall in love with it. He put his eye up to the lens and he could see at close range flowers and leaves and grass in incredible detail and he loved one and so he decided to buy one and bring it home to China. And one evening before his meal he decided to put some of his favorite food underneath the microscope and look at it. And in that microscopic world he saw that on his favorite food were all sorts of things crawling around at the microscopic level. It so ewwed him out and infuriated him that his only solution was to destroy the microscope.
Get rid of the source of revelation rather than the food that I like to eat. It reminds me of a lot people. God speaks to the heart. They harden the heart. They get rid of the revelation. I believe that there are some here tonight that God has been trying to speak to patiently, maybe even more a little dramatically lately trying to get through to your heart and you've hardened it, you closed it. You've watched other people come to the Lord. You've listened. You're come close but you've never given your life to Christ.
God has been so patient. Friend, you're in serious territory when you harden and harden and harden because God will confirm the choice. If there's any inkling at all in your heart tonight, any desire at all to live a different kind of life, a life of forgiveness, a life of purpose and meaning then you give your life to Christ tonight.
Let's pray. Heavenly Father, we thank you and that what we read here is very, very applicable to what we see and live today. We understand that men and women are men and woman and every generation and in every age the human heart is deceitful and wicked above all things. Who can know it? Well, certainly you know it. You see if our hearts are crying out for you and tender toward to you. Desirous of you and wanting to know your will and will fall in line with your precepts and your word or if we've been hiding from it, running from it, holding back and turning away.
Lord, I pray for anyone who might be here tonight, maybe brought by a friend or coming out of curiosity but they're here, nonetheless. Once again, you're reaching out to them. You're speaking to her, you're dealing with him. You're drawing them into a relationship with you. And I think of the words in the New Testament where when Paul talks about these Old Testament stories. He said, "Don't be like them in those days who hardened their hearts. Don't harden your heart."
Lord, I pray that you would draw men and women, young and old into the kingdom tonight. As we close this service, as our heads are bowed. If you do not belong to Christ tonight, if you can't confidently say, "I am following Jesus Christ. He's my savior. He's my Lord." If you're not walking for him, if you're not living for him or if you've walked away from him. But God has spoken to your heart tonight. And you want to come back to him and see a relationship establish, a covenant relationship between the God of heaven and you yourself upon this earth.
You desire to see your sins cleansed, washed away and have a new status before God and have the joy and the comfort that comes along with it. If you want that, if you really want that as we're praying, I want you to raise your hand up in the air, just raise it up. And I'll pray for you as we close this service. Give your heart to Christ tonight. Anybody, just raise your hand up in the air and you're saying pray for me. God bless you in the middle toward the back on my right. And on my right hand side, on my far right, God bless you. Anybody else, raise the hand up. Way in the back, right up here in the front, on this side. In the family room, I see one, two, three of you in the family room. Another one right up here in the front, on my far left right over here. What about in the balcony? Anybody in the balcony, raise your hand up.
Father, for these around the auditorium we pray tonight that they will leave whatever stronghold that has gripped them up to this point and release them into the kingdom of the son of your love. Let them know the peace that we have spoken about. Let them know how much you love them. Bring comfort to them, bring healing to their broken hearts, their hungry hearts. As they give their life to Christ tonight, Lord, I pray that all things will become new in Jesus name. Amen.
Let's stand. Quickly as we sing this final song, if you raised your hand, you might be in the family room, you can come to the doors right up there on your right, right up in the front. If you're up here and closer to the front or toward the back, find the nearest isle, walk right up here in the front, come right now and allow me to lead you in a prayer to receive Christ. Don't wait another week or another night, just come right now tonight and give your life to Christ or rededicate your life to him, whatever it might be.
And those of you who have come forward, you're about to make a commitment with the Lord himself. And that involves you praying to him and asking him to come inside. So I'm going to pray out loud and I'd like you to pray out loud after me from your heart to the Lord.
Let's pray. Lord, I give you my life. I know I'm a sinner. Please forgive me. I believe that Jesus died on the cross. That he shed his blood for my sin. And that he rose from the grave. I turn from my sin. I'll leave my past and I turn to you. I make you my savior and my Lord. Fill me with your holy spirit and give me power to live a life that is pleasing to you. In Jesus name, Amen.