This week, I’m reading about the plagues in Exodus Chapters 7-11 and wondering what they were all about. Ten of ’em. Really? Moses had to keep showing up repeatedly in front of Pharaoh, even after having been told in advance by God that Pharaoh would not listen to Moses. At first read, I’m wondering, “Why even bother to go and tell Pharaoh if you already know that his answer is going to be a big old NO?” And then, I go back and re-read it. I sit with it for awhile, and it hits me: obedience. When the God of the Universe tells you to do something, you go and you do it, because after all, there is only one true God, and yes, he has a purpose for everything He does.
Apparently, the Egyptians had gods they worshiped for just about every aspect of life and everything they did. There were gods of the river, gods of the land, and gods of the sky, and so the plagues were God’s way of bringing judgment upon all of these false gods of Egypt. Through the plagues, He was able to demonstrate His ultimate power over any and all of the things that the Egyptians had held sacred. Matter of fact, during the third plague, Pharaoh’s magicians even admitted that they couldn’t compete and conceded that, “This is the finger of God” (Exodus 8:19).
So how about you? Do you believe and live as if there is only one true God? Or is there something that you’re letting take the place of God in your life? Last week, I wrote about being lost in the desert of Egypt, just like Moses was, and I compared how my family’s “Egypt” had become the search for a college for our only child who is completing his senior year of high school right now. And this week, I’m wondering if we might be treating this college search process as if it’s as important as the place of God. Could it be serving in opposition to God, since that’s how an idol is defined in our lives? Are we finding ourselves trying to compromise with God while we make our way through this search? “God, if you give our son an acceptance at this university, then we promise we’ll do this next big thing for you;” or, “We’ll drop everything on our schedule and travel to that school next weekend since he was invited if you, God, will guarantee that means getting him into that college.”
Looking back at Pharaoh’s example, we saw how he tried to compromise as he negotiated with Moses, not just once but on four different occasions. It’s as if Pharaoh wanted to be able to keep a close eye on his Israelite slaves, not releasing them completely but tempting them with one foot in the Egyptian world and one foot out. And doesn’t Satan try that whole “compromise tactic” with us too? He wants us to think that we can have the best of both worlds, but God’s Word tells us differently. It says that we “are not of the world” (John 17:14) even though we have been sent “into the world” (v. 18). Hmmm….more to contemplate. We know that Jesus fell back on the Word of God when He was tempted by the devil in the desert. He even cited chapters and verse numbers to face His enemy square on! Is this our method of attack when we’re being tempted by Satan? Might it be a good idea? How’s the old methodology working for us? Perhaps it’s time for you and me to take the offensive – to stop talking to God about our problems and start talking to our problems about God, and the way we can do that is through regular prayer time and the knowledge of God’s Word. It’s no coincidence that I’m also reading Mark Batterson’s Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge at the same time I’m going through this BSF study of Moses.
A few weeks ago, I had decided to circle our son’s college unknowns in prayer over a 40 day period when I sensed that we were in our own little “Egypt” and wondering if it was becoming a family “idol.” And what a blessing this prayer journey has been just 14 short days into it. Wildly enough, today’s reminder from Mark’s book was that, “Prayer has the power to change the heart of Pharaoh,” which I’m beginning to taste and see for myself as I wait upon the Lord. I mean who doesn’t have a Pharaoh or two in their life at any given moment that they have to contend with? Don’t we all have Pharaohs standing in the way of things we want and the things God wants for us, just standing there making us all angry and such as we let them become our mini-gods, our idols? UGH!!! Well, I loved Mark Batterson’s suggestion of what he did when the Pharaohs in his life got him angry. Every time he felt his anger coming on, he decided to switch gears and pray instead. To him, it was the closest he ever got to “praying without ceasing,” (1Thessalonians 5:17) because he was angry all the time! Sure, prayer has the power to change the heart of Pharaoh, but if you ask me, better yet, prayer has the power to draw us closer to God so we can experience for ourselves how His power works mightily for the good of those who trust Him. God’s power is stronger than any of our idols’. Plus, every time we respond to God, our faith will either be strengthened or our heart will be hardened. What potential there is there, huh?
So, back to the beginning with the ten plagues and Moses showing up even though he knew Pharaoh was going to reject his request. Looks like that was ten opportunities for Moses’ faith to be strengthened, while for Pharaoh it was ten more hardenings of the heart. “Wasted time?” I ask you. Never. Never. Never. Not in God’s economy, for He tells us, “If My people, who are called by My name, shall humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2Chronicles 7:14). God is sovereign, and He will not compromise. Those who oppose Him will be broken in the end just as Pharaoh was. Our calling? Believe. Obey. Trust. Submit. Pray. All to the one true God.