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Pastor Scott L. Harris
Grace Bible Church, NY
September 16, 2007
God vs. Egypt
Last week we completed the book of Genesis which ended with the children of Israel in Egypt in the land of Goshen. God had protected them there from the famine that had devastated the region. He had also protected them from the influence of the Canaanites whose sin continued to increase over the years. Joseph reminded them of God’s promise to take them back to the land of Canaan and had them promise to take his bones with them when they did return. (See: Evil Intent & God’s Mercy)
God had revealed to Abraham back in Genesis 15:13-14 that his descendants would “be strangers in a land that is not theirs, where they will be enslaved and oppressed four hundred years. “But I will also judge the nation whom they will serve; and afterward they will come out with many possessions.” This morning we begin our study of the book of Exodus which recounts the arrival of that time and the events that took place by which God freed Israel from their slavery so that they might serve Him.
Oppression (Exodus 1-2)
Exodus begins with Israel under severe oppression because “a new king arose over Egypt that did not know Joseph” (Exodus 1:8). The blessing that Joseph had been in saving Egypt so many years earlier had been forgotten and the current concern was that Israel had increased greatly and become exceedingly mighty (1:7). This was a potential threat against Egypt if they should either join with one of Egypt’s enemies or left the land since much of the economic welfare of the Egypt was tied to them. The king’s solution was to enslave and oppress them with hard labor, but they just continued to multiply which caused the Egyptians even more dread (9-12). The king then commanded the Hebrew midwives, Shiphrah & Puah, to put to death the male Hebrew babies but to let the girls live. However, they feared God and would not obey the king’s command and told him the Hebrew women would give birth before they got there. The result was that the people continued to multiply (13-21). Pharaoh then responded with a command that every son was to be cast into the Nile (vs. 22).
It was into this environment that Amram and Jochebed, both descendants of Levi, gave birth to a son. She was able to hide him for 3 months, but could no longer do so as he got older. She put him into a basket woven out of papyrus reeds and sealed it with tar and pitch, then she put him into it and set it among the reeds by the bank of the Nile. Jochebed then had her daughter, Miriam, watch from a distance to see what would happen (Exodus 2:1-4). They had to leave the baby in God’s hands.
What happened next was the intervention of God. Pharaoh’s daughter had come to the river to bathe and saw the basket. She sent one of her maids to fetch it and they found the baby inside crying. Though she recognized this was one of the Hebrew’s children, she had pity on him (vs. 6). Miriam then came up and asked, “Shall I go and call a nurse for you from the Hebrew women, that she may nurse the child for you?” (vs. 7). Pharaoh’s daughter told her to go ahead and Miriam went and got her mom. When Jochebed arrived, Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this child away and nurse him for me and I shall give [you] your wages.” God’s hand in this is amazing. Not only was the life of the child spared, but Jochebed was also paid to nurse her own son (Exodus 2:5-9).
The time came when the boy was weaned and his mother brought him to Pharaoh’s daughter and he became a son to her. She then named him Moses “Because I drew him out of the water” (vs. 10). Moses comes from a word meaning “drawn.” This also was God’s providence because as an adopted grandson of Pharaoh, Moses received the best education Egypt could offer and learned much which would benefit him later in life. This would have included skills in reading and writing, math and domestic and military leadership. However, there were some other things Moses needed to learn that could not be taught in a school. One of those was controlling his temper.
One day after Moses was grown he went out to his brethren and saw their hard labors. He also saw an Egyptian beating one of them and when he saw that no one was looking, Moses struck down the Egyptian and buried him in the sand. The next when day Moses tried to intervene in a fight between two Hebrews the one that was striking the other rejected his effort saying, “Who made you a prince or a judge over us? Are you intending to kill me, as you killed the Egyptian?” Moses’ fear that the matter had become known was well founded for when Pharaoh found out he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled to the land of Midian (Exodus 2:11-15). He was forty years old (Acts 7:23). He could not deliver his people from their suffering by his own power.
Moses would spend the next forty years in the deserts of Midian tending sheep (Acts 7:30). During that time he married Zipporah, the daughter of Reuel, also known as Jethro, who was the priest of Midian. He also had a son by her whom he named Gershom, meaning “foreigner,” for he was s sojourner in a foreign land (Exodus 2:16-22). The wilderness was a place where God refined Moses’ character and prepared him for what was to come next, for God had not forgotten the sons of Israel in Egypt. He heard their cry for help because of their bondage (vs. 23-25).
God’s Calling of Moses (Exodus 3-4)
It came about that as Moses was pasturing the flock he came to Horeb, the mountain of God. We pick up the story in Exodus 3:2. 2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire from the midst of a bush; and he looked, and behold, the bush was burning with fire, yet the bush was not consumed. 3 So Moses said, “I must turn aside now, and see this marvelous sight, why the bush is not burned up.” 4 When the Lord saw that he turned aside to look, God called to him from the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then He said, “Do not come near here; remove your sandals from your feet, for the place on which you are standing is holy ground.” 6 He said also, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” Then Moses hid his face, for he was afraid to look at God.”
God then told Moses that he had seen the oppression of His people in Egypt and was going to deliver them and bring them back to the lands He had promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Furthermore, he was going to send Moses to do it.
Moses tried to defer the assignment several times and each time the Lord answered his objection or question. First, Moses responded in vs. 11, “Who am I, that I should go to Pharaoh, and that I should bring the sons of Israel out of Egypt? At least Moses had learned some humility and recognized that he was no one special to be able to accomplish this task. God’s response to him in vs. 12 was “Certainly I will be with you, and this shall be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God at this mountain.” Moses would be able to do it because God would be with him. The same is still true for anyone that God calls to serve Him. They can do it because God will be with them, not because they have special abilities or talents.
13 Then Moses said to God, “Behold, I am going to the sons of Israel, and I shall say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you.’ Now they may say to me, ‘What is His name?’ What shall I say to them?” God’s response 14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM”; and He said, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.'” 15 And God, furthermore, said to Moses, “Thus you shall say to the sons of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is My name forever, and this is My memorial-name to all generations” (Exodus 3:13-15).
The name, “I AM,” is from the Hebrew verb, “to be,” and it signifies God as the self-existent one. He is the only being that is autonomous. He does need you or me, yet, by His only will He sets His mercy and grace upon us that we might have a relationship with Him. Moses was to tell them that he was sent by “I AM,” the Lord (Yahweh), the God (Elohim) of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (See: God Does Not Need Your Money and The Nature & Attributes of God)
Furthermore, Moses was to tell them God was going to bring them out of their affliction in Egypt and take them back to the promised land. However, God also revealed to them 19 “I know that the king of Egypt will not permit you to go, except under compulsion. 20 “So I will stretch out My hand, and strike Egypt with all My miracles which I shall do in the midst of it; and after that he will let you go. 21 “And I will grant this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and it shall be that when you go, you will not go empty-handed. 22 “But every woman shall ask of her neighbor and the woman who lives in her house, articles of silver and articles of gold, and clothing; and you will put them on your sons and daughters. Thus you will plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:16-22). God knew in advance what would happen in the future.
Moses was still uncertain they would believe him, so God had him throw his staff to the ground and it became a serpent. He then had Moses grab it by the tail and it became his staff again. Then God had Moses put his hand into his bosom and when he drew it out it was leprous like snow. He had him put it in again and when he drew it out it was normal again. He also told Moses that He would enable him to turn the water from the Nile into blood. The point of each of these signs was to be an attesting miracle so that they would believe that God had sent Moses and that they should heed his words (Exodus 4:1-9).
Even after this Moses was still hesitant and said to the Lord in verse 10, “Please, Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither recently nor in time past, nor since Thou hast spoken to Thy servant; for I am slow of speech and slow of tongue.” The Lord responded that He was the one that made the dumb, the deaf, the seeing, the blind and his mouth. He would be with Moses’ mouth and teach him what to say (vs. 11-12). Still, Moses hesitated saying, “Please, Lord, now send [the message] by whomever Thou wilt” (vs. 13). At this the Lord became angry and told him that his brother Aaron would become his spokesman, but that He would be with both of their mouths. In addition, Moses was to take his staff and perform the signs God would give him (Exodus 4:14-17).
Moses then returned and talked to his father-in-law who gave his blessing on his returning to Egypt. Moses took his wife and son and headed out. Along the way God again reminded Moses that he would have to perform all the wonders that God would put in his power and he would even harden Pharaoh’s heart against letting the people go so that he could perform all his signs including the death of the first born (Exodus 4:18-26). Along the way Moses also met Aaron and explained everything to him.
Moses Arrives in Egypt (Exodus 5-6)
When Moses and Aaron arrived in Egypt they both went to the elders of the people and told them what the Lord had said and performed the signs in the sight of the people. The people then believed the Lord was concerned about them and they bowed low and worshiped (Exodus 4:27-31).
Exodus 5:1-23 records that things did not go as well in their first meeting with Pharaoh. They told Pharaoh“Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Let My people go that they may celebrate a feast to Me in the wilderness.'” Pharaoh’s response was “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, and besides, I will not let Israel go.” They gave further explanation for the need to go and worship the Lord, but Pharaoh’s response was agitation and increased oppression of the people. He reasoned that by increasing their labor the people would not pay any attention to Moses (vs. 9). So he stopped providing the straw for making bricks, yet demanded that the same daily quota still be filled. The people scattered throughout the land gathering stubble for straw since it was a necessary binder that would hold the brick together. But as would be expected with the greater work load the number of bricks produced dropped and Pharaoh had the Hebrew foremen beaten for not fulfilling the quota. This resulted in the effect Pharaoh wanted. The foremen then told Moses, “May the Lord look upon you and judge [you,] for you have made us odious in Pharaoh’s sight and in the sight of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us” (vs. 21).
Just because it is God’s will that you do something does not mean that it will be easy, without opposition or even that the people you are trying to help will understand and be supportive. The opposite is often true. Moses’ response was to pray and lay out the situation before the Lord that Pharaoh was causing even more harm to the people and they had not been delivered (Exodus 5:22-23).
Exodus 6 gives God’s response that Moses would now see what He would do to Pharaoh for only under compulsion would he let them go and God would make that compulsion so strong that Pharaoh would drive them out (vs. 1). God went on further to tell Moses that he would bring them out from bondage and redeem them “with an outstretched arm and with great judgments. 7 ‘Then I will take you for My people, and I will be your God; and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.” God would bring them back to the land promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. However, when Moses told the people this they did not listen because of their despondence and cruel bondage (Exodus 6:1-9).
God told Moses again to tell Pharaoh to let the sons of Israel go out of the land (6:10-11, 29), but Moses was again hesitant because he was unskilled in speech (vs. 12, 30). Exodus 7 gives God’s response. 1 “Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I make you [as] God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. 2 “You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land. 3 “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart that I may multiply My signs and My wonders in the land of Egypt. 4 “When Pharaoh will not listen to you, then I will lay My hand on Egypt, and bring out My hosts, My people the sons of Israel, from the land of Egypt by great judgments. 5 “And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the sons of Israel from their midst.” 6 So Moses and Aaron did [it;] as the Lord commanded them, thus they did.”
The signs, wonders and plagues that were about to come upon Egypt had a two fold but unified purpose. It was so that both the Hebrews and the Egyptians would know that He was the Lord (6:7 & 7:5), and further that the Hebrews would be His people and He would be their God (6:7). God would harden Pharaoh’s heart for the purpose of multiplying the signs and wonders in Egypt for each of them would be over areas supposedly under the control of particular gods and/or goddesses of the Egyptians and so be against them. God was going to make a mockery of them (Exodus 10:1-2). (Note: The religion of the ancient Egyptians was complex and sometimes contradictory with their gods and goddess often having multiple functions and those worshiped in one area and time may have assimilated those of other areas and time periods, so references made here may not be in agreement with all sources explaining ancient Egyptian deities).
God Multiplies His Signs & Wonders (Exodus 7-12)
Water is Turned into Blood (Exodus 7:14-25)
The next miracle was against the Nile river which was considered related to several deities by Egyptians including Hapi or Apis, the bull god, the Spirit of the Nile; Isis, the goddess of the Nile; Khnum, the ram god, guardian of the Nile; and Osiris because the Nile was considered his bloodstream. God had Moses meet Pharaoh on the bank of the Nile in the morning , which was time of daily worship of it, and warn him that He would turn the Nile and all other streams, pools and reservoirs of water, including vessels of wood and stone, into blood. The fish in them would also die showing the life sustaining power of Nile was removed (vs. 14-19). Moses struck the Nile with his staff and it was all turned into blood just as he had said so that the people had to dig for water (vs. 20-21). But when the magicians of Egypt were able to replicate something similar to it, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened (vs. 22-24).
Frogs over the Land (Exodus 8:1-15)
Seven days later the Lord had Moses confront Pharaoh again with His demand to “Let My people go, that they may serve Me.” If he did not, then the Lord would cause frogs to cover the land (vs. 1-6). This was against Heqet, goddess of birth, who was imaged with a frog’s head. The Egyptian magicians were also able to get frogs to come up on the land, but they could not get them to go away, so Pharaoh relented and asked Moses to entreat the Lord to remove them (vs. 7-9). Moses gave Pharaoh the honor of saying when frogs would be left only in the Nile, but when that happened the next day Pharaoh hardened his heart again (vs. 10-15).
The Lord had Moses tell Pharaoh the next day the He would send all His plagues Egypt so that they would know there was no one like the Lord in all the earth (vs. 14). He then added, 15 “For [if by] now I had put forth My hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, you would then have been cut off from the earth. 16 “But, indeed, for this cause I have allowed you to remain, in order to show you My power, and in order to proclaim My name through all the earth. 17 “Still you exalt yourself against My people by not letting them go.”
There is a very important theological point in this. Pharaoh had hardened his heart six times before despite the warnings and what he experienced, but His opportunity for humility and repentance was now past and God confirmed him in his rebellion. The Lord was only allowing Pharaoh and his people to remain in order to show His power and proclaim His name through all the earth (vs. 16). Do not presume on the Lord’s patience with you. He gives many warnings and opportunities for you to repent, but a day may come when that will end and He will confirm you in your rebellion. He will tolerate you only because He can glorify Himself in you as a vessel of His wrath. Today is the day of salvation. Do not delay.
The Lord had Moses prepare the people for what was about to happen with careful instructions. First, on the tenth day of that month each household was to select a year old male lamb, either sheep or goat, and keep it until the fourteenth day. On that day at twilight they were to kill the lamb and then use a branch of hyssop and spread some of the blood on the doorpost and lintels of their house (vs. 1-7). They were then roast the lamb and eat it with unleavened bread and bitter herbs and burn up anything left. They were to eat it in haste while having their loins girded and sandals on their feet (vs. 8-11). They were not to go outside until morning (vs. 22). The Lord would then pass through the land to strike down every first born in the land of Egypt, but if He saw the blood on the doorposts and lintel, He would “pass over” that house and no plague would destroy those in it (vs. 12-13, 23). For this reason the meal would be called Passover and it was to be celebrated as a memorial meal to this event every year afterward. This would be followed by they Feast of Unleavened Bread which would be in remembrance of how quickly they would be forced out of Egypt (vs. 14-20, 24-27, 42-49), for they would leave so quickly there would not be time for the bread they took to be leavened.
They followed the Lord’s instructions and at midnight the Lord struck down all the first born of Egypt so that there was a great cry in Egypt (vs. 29-30). Pharaoh then called for Moses and Aaron that night and told them get out of Egypt to worship the Lord as they said and to bless him also (vs. 31-32). The Lord fulfilled His word (Exodus 3:22) and gave the people favor among the Egyptians so that they sent them away with articles of silver, gold and clothing so that they “plundered the Egyptians” (vs. 33-36).
The sons of Israel had multiplied greatly while in Egypt. They totaled about 600,000 men not counting children, so there could easily have been 1 ½ to 2 million people that left that day along with all their flocks and herds (vs. 37-39). It was 430 years to the very day from when Israel had entered Egypt (vs. 40-41).
The Lord demonstrated to both the Egyptians and the Hebrews that He alone is God by showing He was superior to all the Egyptian pantheon of gods and goddesses. He fulfilled His promises to Abraham and Jacob to bring their descendants back to the land promised to them at the proper time. They were to be His people and He was to be their God.
God is still faithful to all His promises including to save from sin and judgement and give eternal life to those who will believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. That is our hope, our confident assurance of the future. If you do not have that hope, talk with myself or any of our church leaders and we would be glad to tell you how you can have that peace and confidence in God.
Parents, you are responsible to apply God’s Word to your children’s lives. Here is some help.
Young Children – draw a picture about something you hear during the sermon. Explain your picture(s) to your parents at lunch. Older Children – Do one or more of the following: 1) Write down all the verses mentioned in the sermon and look them up later. 2) Count how many miracles took place. Talk with your parents about God’s intervention in their lives and how they have seen God keep His promises.
THINK ABOUT IT!
Questions to consider in discussing the sermon with others. Why did the new king of Egypt oppress the sons of Israel? What was he afraid of? How did God intervene in the life of Moses? Why did Moses leave Egypt? What did Moses learn while sojourning in Midian for 40 years? What is the significance of the name, “I AM”? Why did Moses keep trying to defer God’s commission for him to go to Egypt to free his people? How did God assure Moses to carry out the task? What was the initial response of the people? How did Pharaoh change their minds? Is God’s will easy to carry out? Why or why not? Explain. Each of the signs and wonders / plagues on Egypt were against different Egyptian gods/goddesses – what were the correlations between them? Why did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Was this fair? Explain. Trace the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart – when did he harden it and when did God harden it? Why did God kill the first born? What preparations had to be made for the first Passover? Why is this meal given that name? Why did God command for it to be celebrated yearly? Estimate the number of people that came out of Egypt.
Sermon Notes – September 16, 2007
God Vs. Egypt – Exodus 1-12
A new king arose that did not know ___________
The king enslaved and oppressed the sons of Israel but they _____________ anyway
Pharaoh’s daughter paid _________________ to nurse the baby
________ would have been educated in reading, writing, math, and military & domestic leadership
Moses fled to ____________ because he had __________ an Egyptian.
Moses tended sheep for __________ years. He _____________ Zipporah & had a son.
God’s Calling of Moses – Exodus 3-4
Moses saw a _________________ that was not consumed. God told him to take of his _________
God commissioned Moses to go to _________ and free His people
The name, “I AM” is from the verb, “___________” and signifies God is self____________
Pharaoh would not let the people go except under ______________
Moses’ staff became a _________ and his ________ became leprous
God would make ___________ Moses’ spokesman
Moses Arrives in Egypt – Exodus 5-6
Pharaoh ____________ the LORD and increased the ______________ of the people
God would perform _________&__________ so that everyone would know that He is the LORD
God would ___________ Pharaoh’s heart in order to multiply His signs and wonders.
God Multiplies His Signs & Wonders – Exodus 7-12
The Rod becomes a Serpent – Exodus 7:8-13
This miracle was against the ___________ of Egypt
Aaron’s rod ___________ the rods of the magicians
Water is Turned into Blood – Exodus 7:14–25
This miracle was against the __________ which was related to several Egyptian deities
The water of the Nile, its tributaries and pools and _____________ turned into blood
The magicians replicated the sign and Pharaoh’s heart was ___________
Frogs over the Land – Exodus 8:1-15
The magicians could get frogs to come up, but could not get them to ____________
Pharaoh relented, but when the fogs were gone he ______________ his heart
Gnats Throughout the Land – Exodus 8:16-19
The magicians could not replicate this and recognized it was ___________________
Pharaoh’s heart was ___________
Swarming Insects in the Land – Exodus 8:20-32
Insects would fill Egypt except for the land of __________
Pharaoh tried a compromise, then relented, but finally ____________ his heart when the insects left
Death of Egyptian Livestock (Exodus 9:1-7)
All the livestock in the __________ of Egypt would die, but not those in Goshen
Boils on the Egyptians (Exodus 9:8-17)
The boils were also on the ___________
The _________ hardened Pharaoh’s heart
The Lord allowed Pharaoh to _________ in order to show His power & proclaim His name
Hail upon the Land (Exodus 9:18-35)
Hail would __________________ in the open in the land of Egypt, but no hail would fall in Goshen
Pharaoh admitted his ________, but __________ his heart when the hail ceased
Locusts (Exodus 10:1-20)
This was a locust plague greater than anytime before or after. The land was __________ by them
Pharaoh confessed again, but after the locusts were gone _____________ hardened Pharaoh’s heart
Thick Darkness (Exodus 10:21-29)
This was darkness that could be _________. There was light in the dwellings of the Hebrews.
Pharaoh tried to make unacceptable compromises, and ____________ hardened Pharaoh’s heart
Death of the First Born (Exodus 11-12)
The blood of the lamb was to be put on the ___________ and ___________. The Lord would pass over the houses with the blood on them.
They were to ____________ and ______ the lamb in haste
This meal was to be celebrated ______________ as a memorial to what God had done.
About _____________ men left Egypt. They came out ________ years after Israel went to Egypt.
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