09-20-15 The Law-Giver: A Plague of Plagues

So the Pumpkin Festival has come and gone, and I ate my requisite annual corn dog (and it was delicious, thank you).  Only another 51 weeks until the next Pumpkin Festival begins -- mark your calendars now.

Here at FCC, we had a lovely time of interaction at Sunday School.  In fact, we were so full that we ran out of chairs in the library (which is a wonderful problem to have, lemme tell ya).  I particularly appreciated that Caleb not only brought a friend of his to visit on Sunday, but that he was from India, and we actually talked about India in the lesson (in particular, the ministry of Bartholomäus Ziegenbalg).  It was incredibly enriching to have someone who A) could intelligently add to our discussion, and B) could nonetheless learn something about his own country’s history that he didn’t already know.  This week, we’ll be talking about New Orleans, pirates, and a big ol’ rebellion in Scotland -- come join us!

Oh, this coming Sunday, we’ll also have the opportunity to have a baby dedication in the service, so please come join us so that we can officially welcome little Felicity Doremus into our church family. 

But please do be in prayer for Orpha Erickson, who continues to have issues associated with an infection in her left eye.  Thanks to her antibiotic eyedrops, the ulcer has shrunk from 2.2 x 2.2 mm to only .5 x .5 mm (praise God!), but it will take a while for her eyesight to come back in that eye.

In our message this week, we continued looking at the life and ministry of the Law-Giver, Moses.  This time around, we looked at the ten plagues (well, actually, only the first nine -- we ended by announcing the tenth).

Now, there are a lot of ways to cover those plagues.  You can talk about how they could’ve been completely natural in origin (i.e.; a tainted Nile makes the frogs leave, which creates an overabundance of insects, which then bring disease, etc.), but that doesn’t explain large chunks of the plagues, nor how God knew about and announced them in advance.  Swinging the opposite direction, you can make each plague its own mini-sermon, reading theology into each one (like the nifty notion that each one is an attack against a specific Egyptian god, etc.), but that devolves into eisegesis instead of exegesis, and that’s never a wise move.  Then again, you could just do what Hollywood does and skim over them with a music montage so that you can get back to the real story.

But when you simply read through Exodus 7-11 and catch the pacing and the flow of the text itself, it becomes pretty clear pretty quickly what the section is ultimately about.  It’s not a natural series of plagues -- even the Egyptian magicians decided halfway through that these plagues were the finger of God, laid on Egypt.  It’s not even the plagues themselves that are ultimately the point of the section (motivational though they were to ultimately make Pharaoh release the Hebrews).  Time and again, the point keeps coming down to the fact that Pharaoh continues to harden his heart (a hard heart which God ends up hardening even more)... and to increasingly, self-consciously play games with God.

Pharaoh refuses to obey a god whom he’s never seen or heard of.  He dismisses God as just another source of magic tricks.  He makes promises that he doesn’t ever intend to keep.  He tries to make deals and compromises with God’s expressed will.  He makes a show of being penitent when all he’s really trying to do is to get God and God’s punishments off of his back.  He tries to maintain an illusion of sovereignty in a situation which God increasingly demonstrates that He alone is sovereign over.

To be honest, Pharaoh struggles with the same things that you and I too often do today, even as believers.  He looks for the spectacular, he swears that things will be different this time (but makes no attempt to change himself), he makes empty promises and apologies instead of truly living out his commitments, he tries to get God to jump through his own hoops instead of humbly submitting to God’s will.  The sad part is that, if you’re anything like me (and Moses, so far in the story), you’ve probably struggled with some of those same mistaken responses to God, even without thinking about it.

But as Pharaoh was increasingly growing frustrated that he wasn’t able to maneuver God into doing what he wanted God to do, Moses was increasingly willing to step out and do what God was asking of him.  He went from unwilling to letting Aaron do all of the work, to taking part, to eventually taking the lead.  Both men were learning that you have to let God be God in your life -- and one was broken down by that undeniable truth, while the other was finally set free by it.

So where are you at today?  Is there any attitude or unwillingness that you find yourself self-justifying in your life?  Are there any ways that you find yourself trying to live out your life with God on your own terms, instead of on His?  Are you going to be like Pharaoh and be broken down by God, or are you going to be like Moses and be built up by God?