Those officials of Pharaoh who feared the word of the Lord hurried to bring their slaves and their livestock inside. 21 But those who ignored the word of the Lord left their slaves and livestock in the field.

This is the story of the progress of the gospel in the world in two verses. There are those who believe and those who don’t; there are those who repent and those who won’t; there are those who turn and those who (seemingly) can’t. Life and death are always in the balance.

Reading verse 21 you might think, ‘Why?’ ‘Why would you do that when you already have such a build up of evidence that the Lord says what He means and means what He says?’ There is always something illogical about the stubborn refusal to believe. But someone observed that the original temptation in the garden of Eden involved doubting the truth of judgment, and we see it played out again in the plague stories. We are seeing it appearing today even among some so-called evangelicals who appear to be losing their nerve around this doctrine.

I seem to remember a couple of quotes from Jim Packer’s excellent book, ‘Knowing God’, which I read in the late 1970’s. As I recall he wrote that Adam and Eve first hid from God before they were removed from the garden. Also, I believe he said that all that God ultimately does in judgment is to underline the choices we have already made.

“My hands have made both heaven and earth; they and everything in them are mine. I, the LORD, have spoken! “I will bless those who have humble and contrite hearts, who tremble at my word.” (Isaiah 66:2: New Living Translation).

Whenever we hear God’s Word, life and death are in the balance. The highway of obedience is the way of life, and the way of disobedience is the road of death. Life and death are not only eternal destinies, they are routes through the world now.