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Biblical/Doctrinal Studies:
Desert of Discipline Series

The Religious But Hard-Hearted
(Exodus 8:20-9:12)
by Ed Vasicek

What if God was politically correct? Imagine this:

Moses was sitting in the Egyptian ghetto. Things were terrible. Pharaoh wouldn't even speak to him. The rest of the Israelites were mad at him and making the overseers even more irritable than usual, etc. He was about ready to give up.

Suddenly a booming, sonorous voice spoke from above:

"You, Moses, heed me! I have good news, and bad news."

Moses was staggered. The voice continued:

"You, Moses, will lead the People of Israel from bondage. If Pharaoh refuses to release your bonds, I will smite Egypt with a rain of frogs."

"You, Moses, will lead the People of Israel to the Promised Land. If Pharaoh blocks your way, I will smite Egypt with a plague of Locust."

"You, Moses, will lead the People of Israel to freedom and safety. If Pharaoh's army pursues you, I will part the waters of the Red Sea to open your path to the Promised Land."

Moses was stunned. He stammered, "That's.... that's fantastic. I can't believe it! -- But what's the bad news?"

"You, Moses, must write the Environmental Impact Statement." (Jokes for Passover)

But God is not politically correct. Take the realm or religion.

The Egyptian people were very religious. In some senses, probably more religious than we are. But their religion was false religion, and their gods were false gods.

God is a jealous God, and it angers Him when people worship false gods. He is very narrow in this regard. You can be narrow when You are God. It angers Him when His true people are oppressed. And, in His own sweet time, He has or will address such issues. Enter the ten plagues of Egypt.

  1. The first 9 plagues stand together in three groups of three; the 10th plague (Passover) is the focus and stands alone.

  2. Plagues 1, 4, and 7: God tells Moses to stand before Pharaoh.

  3. Plagues 2, 5, and 8: God tells Moses to go to Pharaoh.

  4. Plagues 3,6, and 9: Plagues not announced. Plagues 1,4, and 7.

Main Idea: If God does not soften one's heart, one may dabble with religion, but one will never find a saving relationship with the true God.

  1. The Fourth Plague: Large Insects (8:20-32).

    Pharaoh on way to Nile early in the morning….probably the religious festival to the Nile 120 days after the rising of the Nile (120 days after it has turned to blood) --end of October (source: Walter Kaiser)

    1. Flies or Beetles.

      We do not really know what the Hebrew term, "he`arob" means. It can be translated: 1) "swarm," 2) "mixed multitude," 3) LXX: "dog fly," 4) Talmud: a variety of animals, 5) god: Kheper.
       

    2. Distinction between Hebrews and Egyptians.

    3. Pharaoh strikes a compromise with Moses and Reneges.

      Bargains that they can go a little distance into the desert. Calls Yahweh "your God" (some recognition). But the Pharaoh does not honor his compromise….heart not in it!

    4. Pharaoh typical of the lost who will not commit.

    1. A false repentance; he thought he was tricking God by his compromise, but it was not conviction on his part; God cannot be deceived.

    2. There are many lost people who attend evangelical churches, make what appear to be professions of faith, but do not endure in their supposed commitment; there are many former born-again Christians out there, many still professing to know Christ…we may not be able to separate the wheat from the tares, but we should not be surprised at the phenomenon… (disabled themselves vs. denial)

    Main Idea: If God does not soften one's heart, one may dabble with religion, but one will never find a saving relationship with the true God.

  2. The Fifth Plague: Death to Animals Outdoors (9:1-7).

    The plague affected only those cattle "in the field." Egyptian cattle were stabled from May to December during flood. Some of the cattle turned out to pasture down south; January.

    1. Pharaoh trusted sacred animals.

      1. The Apis bull was considered the sacred animal of the God Ptah. Only one sacred Apis bull; twenty-eight distinctive marks that identified him.

      2. Hathor, goddess of love & beauty represented by a cow.

        "Amenhotep II [the Pharaoh of the plagues] surpassed all his predecessors in his fanatical devotion to the worship of animals, and especially of the bull. In 1906 a statue made of sandstone was excavated representing a cow and Amenhotep II leaning his head under its head; he is also depicted kneeling under a cow, drinking its divine milk. He is thus seen as child and slave of the cow goddess." (W.H. Gispen, Exodus)

    2. Pharaoh was an exceptionally religious man.

      1. All religions are not equal.

      2. The gods of the Egyptians seem silly to us, but they were attempts made by the people to deal with the fears and uncertainties of life; it was their attempt to get life to work; but we need to remember that their forefathers had forsaken the true God because they did not want life to work His way.

      3. So we often want life to work within our parameters, not God’s; underneath it all, we are all scared children, but we must choose to walk out on faith and trust the God of the Bible.

      4. Neo-Paganism today (over a million in US/Canada). One example, Hellenic Neo-Paganism:

        What Gods Do You Worship?

        Most of us worship at least the Twelve Olympians, in either Their Greek or Roman forms, as well as other divinities (e.g. Gaia, Persephone, Pan, the Nymphs). Some of us emphasize certain individual Deities over others, or the Goddesses over the Gods, etc. Some of us prefer to approach the Deities in Their Etruscan forms, or through the Minoan or other pre-Hellenic religions of the Mediterranean. Further, in the eclectic spirit of ancient Paganism, some of us include in our worship the Deities of other pantheons (Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Celtic, etc.). {Frequently Asked Questions On Hellenic Neopaganism (Graeco-Roman Neopaganism)}

    3. In the Desert, many Hebrews would return to worship Apis.

    4. Pharaoh typifies perennial Seekers (7).

      1. Those who investigate and see evidence for the truth of Yahweh but prefer the stance of skeptic with or without much evidence; at first, they claim lack of evidence. (Pharaoh said my magicians can do this.) Then they are for a time overwhelmed by evidence. (Okay, I'll let you go to the desert to worship, but not far.) But then, after time, they pull back again.

      2. We often do not think of perennial seekers as hard-hearted, but they are; the truth of the Gospel cannot stick to their Teflon-coated hearts.

      3. 2 Timothy 3:7, "Always learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth."

      4. Problem: afraid to trust their well-being to a God they cannot see and a God they may not like. A God who favors the Israelites over the Egyptians. A God Who has no likeness and is beyond control.

        Main Idea: If God does not soften one's heart, one may dabble with religion, but one will never find a saving relationship with the true God.

  3. The Sixth Plague: Boils on Man and Beast (9:8-12).

    1. Dust taken from Hebrew brick kilns.

    2. Painful boils.

      This insulted Sekmet, a healing goddess.

      Deuteronomy 28:27 "The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed."

    3. The magicians are humiliated.

      These magicians were probably also priests.

      1. God was humiliating the supposed gods of Egypt.

      2. God was humiliating the religious leaders of these false gods.

      3. God was humiliating Pharaoh, a supposed son of the gods and a god himself.

    4. Pharaoh typifies the lost man whose authorities are discredited.

      1. Modern day example: Marxists after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

      2. When the supposed facts of The Da Vinci Code are discredited, adherents still cling to them.

Main Idea: If God does not soften one's heart, one may dabble with religion, but one will never find a saving relationship with the true God.

Conclusion

We cannot reason someone into the Kingdom of God.

We can answer questions, and God can use that in the lives of sincere seekers who are being moved by the Holy Spirit.

Remember, the Pharisees saw Christ raise Lazarus and still did not believe.

Even if you answer every objection and present an airtight case for the Gospel, it takes the Holy Spirit to soften a heart.

John 7:2-8,

Now the feast of the Jews, the Feast of Booths, was near. Therefore His brothers said to Him, "Leave here and go into Judea, so that Your disciples also may see Your works which You are doing. For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world." For not even His brothers were believing in Him.

So Jesus said to them, "My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. Go up to the feast yourselves; I do not go up to this feast because My time has not yet fully come."

Pastor Ed

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SINCE 1996

 


Highland Park Church
516 West Sycamore Street
Kokomo, Indiana, USA
765.452.1779
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