A Pastor tells the story of a husband & wife having marriage problems. They had been married for only one year and it was seemingly all filled with debate and hate. They argued often, sometimes with screaming matches and other times with silent treatment. For some reason neither could get over the slump of selfishness and learn to love. He was incredibly insensitive and stubborn, while she was emotional and hyperactive with drama over every little thing. They needed counseling.
And so they enter the counseling office and the counselor asks, “What seems to be the problem?” Immediately the husband stares down at the floor and shrugs his shoulders as if to say “I don’t know and I don’t care.” However, the wife launches into a script of story after story, speaking 100 words per minute. She recounts the history of their relationship and traces every problem back to him! And on and on she goes with the husband remaining in silence.
Finally, after 20 minutes of listening the counselor stood up without saying a word and went over to the wife. He stood her up, gave her a giant hug and kissed her on the lips. The wife was stunned and the counselor sat back down. He looked over to the husband and said, “Your wife needs that at least three times a week, every week.” The husband blinked, scratched his head and said, “Well, I guess I could bring her by Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
Sometimes we can be hard-headed. Even more, sometimes we can be hard-hearted.
This illustration may be humorous but should also humble us. We should begin asking the questions:
– Am I growing insensitive to my relationship with God and others?
– Do I find greater joy in keeping up with who gets voted off a show and what the latest Facebook status is of someone than spending time with my own family and my Savior?
– Is my schedule maxed out that I must search to squeeze in opportunities to study God’s word and pray for & with my church family?
In this passage we are going to see God’s strength and man’s stubbornness. The measure of both can be unfathomable. God’s power is steady and human stubbornness can be surprising.
God’s power to help is clear (Exodus 6:1-9).
Throughout the book of Exodus we see God’s glory. It is veiled slightly in the opening chapters showing God orchestrating circumstances over the Israelites and in Moses’ birth and childhood in the house of Pharaoh. However, God’s glory is manifested brightly through the burning bush and signs revealing Himself to Moses (Exodus 3-5), and then of course in the plagues & miracles.
God’s power communicated 15+ times in Exodus 6 “I will…”
Why does God reveal His power? God reveals His power that we might fear and worship. God’s deepest delight is when His people see Him rightly and worship Him truly (Exodus 3:12, 18; 4:23, 31; 5:1, 3; 6:7; 7:5, 16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3). Life is about God’s glory and power, not our own.
Exodus 5:1, 3 Moses to Pharaoh from God “let my people go, that they may [worship] hold a feast to me in the wilderness… The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go that we may sacrifice to the Lord”
Exodus 14:31 “Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.”
Psalm 106:8-12 God “saved them for his name’s sake, that he might make known his mighty power. He rebuked the Red Sea, and it became dry, and he led them through the deep as through a desert. So he saved them from the hand of the foe and redeemed them from the power of the enemy. And the waters covered their adversaries; not one of them was left. Then they believed his words; they sang his praise.”
When you consider the nature and character of God, is it in view that God’s power is to help you? And when I ask that question I do not intend the manner that God’s purpose is to fulfill your desires. No, our desires are to match God’s purposes; we were made for God not the contrast. However, our perception of God determines our devotion to God.
– If we view God as an angry authoritarian then we will seldom seek Him
– If we view God as a faithful Father then we will draw near to Him
Many of us have grown up in church hearing faith is about the way you behave – (don’t smoke, don’t drink, don’t chew or go with girls who do) or in other words faith is reduced to living a life where good works outweigh bad.
The problem is that when the circumstances of life are challenging and we have behaved for so many years – the question arrives, “Where is God? Why is God allowing bad when I am good?” And then we conclude that God is not good but an emotionally erratic emperor in the sky, whom is careless and powerless to do any good.
The Israelites had difficulty trusting Moses, much more God.
Exodus 6:9 “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.”
So, does our faith start with us at the center or God at the center? The book of Exodus is reminding us to not start with our circumstances but start with the character of God.
ð Take a moment to pause & pray. Tell God that you trust His character – believing in His goodness, even if you cannot see anything good at the moment.
Romans 8:26-28 “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
ð Exodus is for us to elevate our view of God.
God’s power to harden is fair (7:3-7; 9:13-17)
As you trace Israel’s redemption it occurred at the expense of the Egyptians. God led Israel to Egypt, He knew Egypt would enslave His people and He knew that He would lead them out of Egypt into a promised new land. Some question God’s fairness towards Israel and even others question God’s fairness toward Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Again, we must understand our starting point – God’s character.
What do we discover about God from the plagues? Only God is all-powerful and worthy of worship; all creation suffers when sin enters!
7:17 NileRiver into blood attack against Egyptian worship of Nile
Pharaoh irritated but did not listen to Moses
8:2 Frogs attack on Egyptian homes, and water
Pharaoh requested relief, promised release but did not
8:16 Gnats attack on Egyptian land; Egyptian magicians said “this is the finger of God”
Pharaoh did not listen
8:21 Flies attack on Egyptian land but NOT land of Hebrews
Pharaoh wanted relief and told Moses they could worship God in Egypt but not leave
9:3 Livestock Die attack on Egyptian livestock (worshiped bulls) but NOT Israeli livestock
Pharaoh did not listen
9:9 Boils from soot attacked Egyptian peoples but NOT Hebrews
Pharaoh did not listen
9:18 Hail from sky attacked Egyptians but not Israel
Pharaoh admitted sin and requested relief and release but did not
10:4 Locust to eat trees and crops with not a green thing to remain but not Israel
Pharaoh’s servants begged Pharaoh to relent. Pharaoh only wanted to release men not women and children and Israel’s livestock…
10:22 Darkness covered land for 3 days but Israel had light
Pharaoh relented but not Israel’s possessions & livestock but not
11:5 Firstborn shall die of Egyptians but not Israel who sacrificed lamb and applied blood to doorposts
The death angel “passed over” Israel but not Egypt as there was great cry in Egypt
Pharaoh relented – “be gone”
What do we discover about God hardening Pharaoh’s heart? God is sovereign and just.
The Bible shows ten times that God hardens Pharaoh’s heart (4:21; 7:3; 9:12; 10:1, 10:20, 10:27; 11:10; 14.4, 14:8, 14:17) and another ten times that Pharaoh hardens his own heart (7:13-14, 22; 8:15, 8:19, 8:32; 9:7, 9:34-35; 13:15). Therefore, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart is under the sovereignty of God but is also fairly guilty through his own willful stubbornness.
The NT asks the same question in Romans 9:14-21 “What shall we say then? Is there injustice on God’s part? By no means!15 For he says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”16 So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.”18 So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills.19 You will say to me then, “Why does he still find fault? For who can resist his will?”20 But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, “Why have you made me like this?”21 Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for dishonorable use?”
Pharaoh’s repentance was insincere
Exodus 9:27-28, 34-35 “Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, “This time I have sinned; the Lord is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong.28 Plead with the Lord, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer…. But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants.35 So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the Lord had spoken through Moses.”
Today, in our human stubbornness, our words say one thing but our hearts and lives act something entirely different. Our faith is nothing more than insincere lip service to God (1John 1:7-9).
Pharaoh’s commitment was incomplete
Exodus 8:25, 28 “Pharaoh said, ‘Go sacrifice to your God within the land… ‘I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away.”
Exodus 10:7-8 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?”8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them, “Go, serve the Lord your God. But which ones are to go?”
Today, in our human stubbornness, we hold back from God not realizing it all belongs to Him. God says “Give” and we want to say “How much… Which ones?”
In other words, God’s power was sovereign over Pharaoh & the plagues. The plagues revealed God’s power and were meant to cause Pharaoh to reverence but instead he only turned to reject God. Pharaoh’s stubborn rejection of God further hardened his heart.
If you allow sin to build in your life you too are in danger of becoming desensitized to the God-given effects of sin and to God’s intended direction for your life.
Charles Spurgeon said, “It is sadly true, that even a Christian may grow by degrees so callous, that the sin which once startled him does not alarm him in the least. By degrees men get familiar with sin. The ear in which the cannon has been booming will not notice slight sounds.”
“Sin will take you farther than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, and cost you more than you’re willing to pay.” (Steve Farrar, Finishing Strong)
µ God’s power to help is clear
- Turn to Him in sincerity and absolute commitment
- Christ gave all that we might surrender all
- If you hear His voice then act.
Romans 10:13 “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved”
Hebrews 3:7-13 Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says, “Today, if you hear his voice, 8 do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion, on the day of testing in the wilderness, 9 where your fathers put me to the test and saw my works for forty years. 10 Therefore I was provoked with that generation, and said, ‘They always go astray in their heart; they have not known my ways.’ 11 As I swore in my wrath, ‘They shall not enter my rest.’” 12 Take care, brothers, lest there be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart, leading you to fall away from the living God.13 But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.