Then the Lord said to Moses, “Pharaoh's heart is hardened; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning, as he is going out to the water. Stand on the bank of the Nile to meet him, and take in your hand the staff that turned into a serpent. And you shall say to him, ‘The Lord, the God of the Hebrews, sent me to you, saying, “Let my people go, that they may serve me in the wilderness.” But so far, you have not obeyed. Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.” And the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Take your staff and stretch out your hand over the waters of Egypt, over their rivers, their canals, and their ponds, and all their pools of water, so that they may become blood, and there shall be blood throughout all the land of Egypt, even in vessels of wood and in vessels of stone.’”
Moses and Aaron did as the Lord commanded. In the sight of Pharaoh and in the sight of his servants he lifted up the staff and struck the water in the Nile, and all the water in the Nile turned into blood. And the fish in the Nile died, and the Nile stank, so that the Egyptians could not drink water from the Nile. There was blood throughout all the land of Egypt. But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh's heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said. Pharaoh turned and went into his house, and he did not take even this to heart. And all the Egyptians dug along the Nile for water to drink, for they could not drink the water of the Nile.
When studying an ancient book like Exodus, we can sometimes think that we have evolved so much as a society since those that we read about. Surely we have come out of the dark ages into a much more enlightened time. We buy into this theory that we are on an upward trajectory of understanding. This isn’t true.
Yes, we have advanced in the creation of tools, in the practice of medicine, and in the ability to communicate. However, the root issue in the heart of man in Exodus continues to be the exact root issue in the heart of man today. It isn’t a stretch to say that Pharaoh in the book of Exodus is one of us. He is much more modern than you may think and we are much more ancient than you could have ever guessed.
It wasn’t surprising or offensive to Pharaoh that the Israelites had a God. The problem he had was that their God would have any power over his life. He had a problem with their God if He was going to ask him to do something that he didn’t want to do. Pharaoh had a problem that their God would have anything to say about what he should or shouldn’t do (Exodus 5:2).
The same is true today. It is not offensive to others that you believe in God. Only 3.1% of Americans are atheistic. Most believe that there is a God - there is a longing for something more. Most are okay with you believing in your God. However, most would say, “Your God has no power over my life. Your God better not ask me to do something I do not want to do. I reject a God that would have anything to say about what I should or shouldn’t do.”
The condition of the human heart is the same.
Exodus is a story that shows us who the real God is. As we look at the ten plagues that God brought to Egypt, it is important to see that God was not only judging the Egyptians and Pharaoh, but also their gods (Exodus 12:12; Numbers 33:4). The plagues fell on all the areas of life that were supposed to have been protected by Egypt’s gods. They worshipped more than 80 deities that were grouped into 3 natural forces of Egyptian life: The Nile River, the land, and the sky. The first two plagues were against the gods of the Nile. The next four were against the land gods. The final four were against the gods of the sky, culminating with the death of the firstborn.
God put His glory on display by judging these false gods. He is the Almighty.
One Dominant Theme: No Other Gods
God wants everyone to know that He is God and there is no other. This theme echoes throughout the Bible. In Exodus 20:3, the first commandment says, “You shall have no other gods before me”. One of the most important questions that you need to answer is, “Who is your God”?
Years after our current text, Moses told the Israelites about the greatness of God and why He performed the mighty plagues and other miracles, “You were shown these things so that you would know that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him” (Deuteronomy 4:33-35). The Israelites would be told, “Get rid of the gods your fathers worshipped...in Egypt and worship Yahweh” (Joshua 24:14).
We find similar language in the New Testament. Jesus refers to Himself as “I AM” (John 8:58). Jesus prays powerfully in John 17:3, “That they may know you”. The gospel message is clear: there is one God, and you need to embrace Him through Jesus Christ who is from God and is God. He is the living God (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
The plagues show us that God’s judgement is always mingled with His mercy (Exodus 7:5). He wanted the Egyptians to know that He was God - but the Israelites were not better than the Egyptians - neither deserved salvation. Neither do we. Israel saw the signs and believed - most Egyptians did not.
One Dominant Question: Who Is Your God?
In this section of Scripture we meet the real God. This God is Almighty. He rules over creation alone. He is sovereign. He is a jealous God. He will not share His glory with another. He will punish people according to their sins. He is merciful. He will save all who cry out to Him in humility and genuine repentance.
The most important act of mercy and judgement happened when God gave His Son on the cross. God punished Jesus in our place. Jesus Christ - one without sin, was punished in place of us. He was crucified instead of us. He took God’s wrath on behalf of us. Everyone will be judged. Either Jesus took your judgement on the cross or you will have to pay your judgement on your own with something worse than the plagues.
As followers of Jesus Christ, we rejoice because there is no condemnation. Jesus took our curse. He experienced darkness of the cross and death. By His death and resurrection, we who deserve death, have nothing but mercy forever. Each person can know Christ as their Savior or fear Him as their judge.
Do not harden your heart against Him!
This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing to discuss the implications of the message.
This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the expression of that commandment in loving your neighbor (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.
An Examined Life
As we continue to reflect on the sermon, allow these questions to guide your discussion with others concerning the conviction points and what you sensed God’s Spirit was doing in you through the preached Word. Jot notes to help you remember.
What was God doing in you through the message on Sunday?
Describe how you’ve grown in your understanding of the Gospel (good news of Jesus)?
How are you going to respond to God’s Word in your life?