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Free Daily Bible notes by Rev Stephen Thompson

Month

November 2021

Exodus 9:13-19: Glorify your Name in all the earth

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning, confront Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me, 14 or this time I will send the full force of my plagues against you and against your officials and your people, so you may know that there is no one like me in all the earth. 15 For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth. 16 But I have raised you up for this very purpose, that I might show you my power and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth. 17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”

The plagues started out like a warning shot across Pharaoh’s bows. If he had responded well, there would have been no need for this intensification.

However, ‘God wanted to make Pharaoh a permanent example to all people of the folly of resisting Israel’s God (verse 16). Evil men are sometimes raised…up so that God can demonstrate His justice and power in dealing with them (see Romans 9:17). No ruler – good or evil – sits in power without God having placed him there (Romans 13:1).’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.221.

God is rightly and supremely interested in glorifying His own Name, and He has the right to do it in whatever way He chooses.

‘God is most jealous for his own glory, fame, and honour. He desires above all else that His name be preserved and promoted and He will act quickly and powerfully to vindicate His glory.’ Nigel Lloyd.

Exodus 9:8-12: “Do whatever He tells you”

Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Take handfuls of soot from a furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. 9 It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on people and animals throughout the land.”

10 So they took soot from a furnace and stood before Pharaoh. Moses tossed it into the air, and festering boils broke out on people and animals. 11 The magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils that were on them and on all the Egyptians. 12 But the Lord hardened Pharaoh’s heart and he would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said to Moses.

You never know what God is going to use in His purposes. We may be surprised! A car, a home, a ten pound note, a particular personality trait, a book, a possession, an ability…”handfuls of soot from a furnace”. The thing is to stay tuned, try to walk with God, and do what He tells you. Then see what He does with what He’s told you to take hold of.

When a certain boy left home one sunny morning, carrying his picnic of 5 loaves and 2 fishes, I’m sure he had no idea how the Lord He was going to listen to would use it. Surely more than he could have asked or thought.

So…

…the words of Mary to the servants at the wedding in Cana are always pertinent for Christ’s followers:

“Do whatever he tells you.” (John 2:5).

Exodus 9:1-7: We make our choices…

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: “Let my people go, so that they may worship me.” 2 If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, 3 the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field—on your horses, donkeys and camels and on your cattle, sheep and goats. 4 But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.’”

5 The Lord set a time and said, “Tomorrow the Lord will do this in the land.” 6 And the next day the Lord did it: All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one animal belonging to the Israelites died. 7Pharaoh investigated and found that not even one of the animals of the Israelites had died. Yet his heart was unyielding and he would not let the people go.

I am reminded of a story I read about a lawyer who was confronted with the evidence for the resurrection of Christ. Having examined it he said, ‘The resurrection is established beyond all doubt as fact. But I find I am no nearer to conversion because my problem is not with my head but my heart.’

Whether the story is true or apocryphal, it is certainly true to life. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

We make our choices and then our choices turn around and make us.

Pharaoh was being formed in his repeated rejection of the light.

Even after Jesus had performed so many signs in their presence, they still would not believe in him. 38 This was to fulfill the word of Isaiah the prophet:

“Lord, who has believed our message

    and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

39 For this reason they could not believe… John 12:37-39

‘True ignorance is not the absence of knowledge, but the refusal to acquire it.’ Karl Popper

Exodus 8:24-32: Don’t go too far

And the Lord did this. Dense swarms of flies poured into Pharaoh’s palace and into the houses of his officials; throughout Egypt the land was ruined by the flies.

25 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God here in the land.”

26 But Moses said, “That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord our God would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? 27 We must take a three-day journey into the wilderness to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, as he commands us.”

28 Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to offer sacrifices to the Lord your God in the wilderness, but you must not go very far. Now pray for me.”

29 Moses answered, “As soon as I leave you, I will pray to the Lord, and tomorrow the flies will leave Pharaoh and his officials and his people. Only let Pharaoh be sure that he does not act deceitfully again by not letting the people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”

30 Then Moses left Pharaoh and prayed to the Lord, 31 and the Lord did what Moses asked. The flies left Pharaoh and his officials and his people; not a fly remained. 32 But this time also Pharaoh hardened his heart and would not let the people go.

Someone observed that we see in Moses now, something of a man ‘growing into the job.’ There is such a calm assurance about him, and for all his great power, there is just a sense that Pharaoh cannot win. The transformation is somewhat akin to Peter, pre and post-Pentecost. Moses is a changed man.

In this section of the plague of flies story, I recognise that we can be like Pharaoh in saying to obviously committed people, ‘Steady on now. Don’t go overboard. It’s all well and good to be a disciple, but don’t take it too far.’

Someone said, ‘The devil is always telling us it is dangerous to get too near to God.’ I think that is true, and we can feel threatened by people who have obviously gone further than we have.

“The centre of the fire looked like glowing metal…” (Ezekiel 1:4). This refers to Ezekiel’s vision of God. Could it be we are scared to get too close to the “centre of the fire”? Fearful of what might be burned up?

PRAYER: Lord, please give me a desire to go deeper into you. May nothing hold me back.

Exodus 8:20-23: Distinction

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.

22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land. 23 I will make a distinction between my people and your people. This sign will occur tomorrow.’”

There are two observations I want to make about this plague. Here is the first. The second will come tomorrow:

God will deal differently with His people in judgment. In many ways, the day of judgment will be one of division and distinction. It will clearly and truly be seen who are God’s people and who are not. Before that day, we are not in a position to make such judgments. The Lord knows those who are His and He will make it known.

But even now He makes a distinction between the church and the world. The church is called (and enabled) to be so different, and this difference is meant to be much more than that we go to church while everybody else doesn’t! It is about the lives we lead – being a counter-culture.

“Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life” (Philippians 2:14-16).

There is a definite distinction in the night sky between the darkness and the shining, luminous planets. So it should be with Christians in the world. Even as I came downstairs on this cold, dark morning, the light from the moon made a difference.

G.Campbell Morgan, in a sermon on the beatitudes, asked, ‘What is the character of the Christian’s influence? It is the influence of the Christian’s character?’

Exodus 8:16-19: The finger of God

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the ground,’ and throughout the land of Egypt the dust will become gnats.” 17 They did this, and when Aaron stretched out his hand with the staff and struck the dust of the ground, gnats came on people and animals. All the dust throughout the land of Egypt became gnats. 18 But when the magicians tried to produce gnats by their secret arts, they could not.

Since the gnats were on people and animals everywhere, 19 the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hard and he would not listen, just as the Lord had said.

In this story the plagues go up a gear, because the Egyptian magicians can’t duplicate this one.

‘…suddenly they realised that they were up against a greater power than their own. They told Pharaoh: “This is the finger of God” (verse 19).

From this point on, Pharaoh’s officials began more and more to understand the power of the God of Israel. But Pharaoh himself, in his pride, determined to oppose God.’ Tom Hale: ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.219.

Hale also includes this footnote:

‘God is so powerful that all He needs is His finger to make things happen. The expression “finger of God” (Luke 11:20) is similar to the expressions “arm of God” or “hand of God” (Exodus 9:3); it simply means “God’s action” or “God’s power.”

Exodus 8:6-12: Spiritual Authority

So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land. 7 But the magicians did the same things by their secret arts; they also made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.

8 Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron and said, “Pray to the Lord to take the frogs away from me and my people, and I will let your people go to offer sacrifices to the Lord.”

9 Moses said to Pharaoh, “I leave to you the honour of setting the time for me to pray for you and your officials and your people that you and your houses may be rid of the frogs, except for those that remain in the Nile.”

10 “Tomorrow,” Pharaoh said.

Moses replied, “It will be as you say, so that you may know there is no one like the Lord our God. 11 The frogs will leave you and your houses, your officials and your people; they will remain only in the Nile.”

12 After Moses and Aaron left Pharaoh, Moses cried out to the Lord about the frogs he had brought on Pharaoh. 13 And the Lord did what Moses asked. The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards and in the fields. 14 They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. 15 But when Pharaoh saw that there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord had said.

She attended a ‘mission’ service, and went forward for prayer. She received healing. Some time later, he ran into her in the town. She was well and had gone back to her old lifestyle. She seemed happy, and showed no intention of following Christ or attending church.

I remember well the bones of this story which was told to me many years ago. It came back to me as I considered Pharaoh who wanted an answer to prayer, but had no intention of repenting. Many belong to his tribe!

Thinking about the second half of this plague story, who is in charge here? Who is running the show (humanly speaking)? It isn’t the powerful king of Egypt, but the formerly reluctant, excuse-making individual we know as Moses. While he shows courtesy towards Pharaoh, he wields great authority. This is just a glimpse of what God can do with weak, ordinary people. The purpose, of course, was not to glorify Moses, but the Lord Himself (10).

PRAYER: Lord God, I sometimes almost despair when I look in the mirror. I am unremarkable in so many ways. But thank you because your Word shows that when the Spirit comes upon someone in power they are transformed. Help me to lean on you and your strength.

Exodus 8:5,6: Stretch out your hand

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the streams and canals and ponds, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’”

6 So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the frogs came up and covered the land.

Note well:

  • God is able to perform signs and wonders wherever (and through whomever) He chooses. Egypt was a dark and dangerous place, full of idolatry, superstition and occultism. But God’s light broke through again and again;
  • Also, if God tells you do something you will be able to do it. His power accompanies His commands. He will do far more than you can ask or imagine. When you and I do, by God’s enabling, what we are so obviously unable to do in our own strength, He gets the praise. That is only right.

Consider:

  • Who is God telling you to stretch out your hand to? May be it will be an outstretched hand in prayer, or practical help? Perhaps both?
  • What is God telling you to reach out your hand in order to receive? What have you been asking for? It is so true, I believe, that the Lord is more willing to give than we are to receive.
  • What is God telling you to stretch out your hand over in faith, prayer and the authority of God’s Word? As Dave Green said repeatedly at our first church house party many years ago: ‘Things can change!’

Thoughts:

“Pray as you can, not as you can’t.”

– Dom Chapman

“Whether we realise it or not, prayer is the encounter of God’s thirst with ours. God thirsts that we may thirst for him.”

– St. Augustine

Exodus 8:1-5a: Hearing from God

Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 2 If you refuse to let them go, I will send a plague of frogs on your whole country. 3 The Nile will teem with frogs. They will come up into your palace and your bedroom and onto your bed, into the houses of your officials and on your people, and into your ovens and kneading troughs. 4 The frogs will come up on you and your people and all your officials.’”

5 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell Aaron…

First of all, a general comment from Tom Hale which I found helpful:

‘The Egyptians believed in a goddess pictured as a frog’s head, who assisted in childbirth. Therefore frogs were reverenced in Egypt. But the Egyptians were soon to think less of their frogs after this second plague! The ten plagues were in one sense an assault on the gods of Egypt. Egyptians worshiped the Nile River as the source of life; but the God of Israel turned it to blood. The chief god of Egypt was the sun, but the God of Israel would soon blot out the sun for three days (Exodus 10:21-23). Yet as long as Pharaoh’s magicians were able to duplicate Moses’ plagues (verse 7), the Egyptians remained unconvinced that Israel’s God was more powerful than theirs.’ ‘Applied Old Testament Commentary’, p.219.

That provides an excellent insight for our overall understanding of the plagues, but the particular thought I want to share today concerns hearing from God. Notice the interaction with the Lord throughout the entire passage (1-15), with Moses hearing from God, and speaking to God in prayer.

Most people tend to hear God in the realm of thought. One man said, ‘A thought punched me in the brain!’ God may speak with an audible voice, but it is often internally, with a strong, insistent conviction, that we hear Him.

As my wife Jilly said to me a moment or two ago, with regard to something she did yesterday, ‘It is so important to follow those promptings.’ It surely is.

“Individually the disciple and friend of Jesus who has learned to work shoulder to shoulder with his or her Lord stands in this world as a point of contact between heaven and earth, a kind of Jacob’s ladder by which the angels of God may ascend from and descend into human life. Thus the disciple stands as an envoy or a receiver by which the kingdom of God is conveyed into every quarter of human affairs.”

― Dallas Willard, Hearing God: Developing a Conversational Relationship with God

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