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The Plague of a Hard Heart

23 Jul

The comic strip Prickly City poses some questions many of us struggle with.

These questions most definitely lie behind the events described in Exodus 7-10, the first nine of the 10 Plagues.

As you read through the Bible, you discover four eras of great miracles—Moses & Joshua, Elijah & Elisha, Jesus & the Apostles, and the two witnesses in Revelation 11. The first and the fourth eras were heavy in judgments on the earth. Following each of these wrath-storms, God ushered in a new era of peace and a deeper relationship with himself.

The most pressing “Why?” question surrounding the plagues is, “Why were the plagues necessary?”

God predicted the plagues (Exodus 3:19-20). Rather than being an afterthought or reactionary move, the plagues were part of God’s plan and strategy explained to Moses at the burning bush.

Pharaoh’s nature required the plagues (Exodus 5:2). Pharaoh was stubborn and hard hearted. He had to be convinced and learn the hard way to submit to God’s plan.

The plagues were judgments on the gods of the Egyptians (Exodus 12:12). Each one of the plagues was aimed at a god or goddess worshipped by the Egyptians. Together, the plagues demonstrated that Yahweh was the only God worthy to be worshipped.

The plagues affected all the Egyptians. The whole nation suffered as a result of Pharaoh’s callus, obstinate response to the Lord.

The plagues were designed to redeem Israel from slavery so that they could serve and worship God (Exodus 7:16; 8:1, 20; 9:1, 13; 10:3, 7-8, 11, 24, 26).

The plagues were designed to convince both Israel and the Egyptians of God’s presence (Exodus 6:10-12; 7:4-5; 10:2).

God’s grace is evident in the plagues. The plagues occurred over a period of 9-10 months. The first one occurred in July/August when the Nile rises. The seventh plague occurred in January when barley ripens and flax blossoms. The prevailing east winds in March or April brought the eighth plagues. The tenth plague occurred in April. The long period of time, with intervals in between gave the Egyptians more than enough time to repent.

Here are several principles to keep in mind as you consider the 10 plagues: (1) When God judges, he is thorough. (2) It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. (3) Don’t reject God’s warnings. (4) When God blesses, he holds nothing back. (5) God protects his people, even in difficult times.

God demonstrates his power so that people might know him and worship him.

This is the synopsis of a message delivered at First Central Bible Church in Chicopee, MA, on July 23, 2017. It is part of a series on the life of Moses. Please click on the link to download a copy of the sermon notes.

 

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