Exodus 7:Looking for Loopholes
The story is told that in his last days, W.C. Fields was confined to a hospital and not expected to leave. Upon visiting him one day, his wife found W.C. reading a Gideons Bible. Bill, she exclaimed, I did not know you were religious. To which W.C remarked in his distinctive voice, Just looking for loopholes, my dear.
As we study the book of Exodus we see: the mighty hand of God; how God operates in a relationship with an individual and His people; how God builds our faith. Exodus is a story of faith and denial. And though we have portrayed the Pharaoh as a type of devil, Moses a Redeemer , and Egypt a symbol of the world where the slavemasters are a picture of our old nature, the flesh. But today I want us to consider these two men- Moses and Pharaoh and see how faith and denial develop and affect a person.
Against this historical account we have also overlaid the elements of what we must come to believe as Christians. We must believe: God is who He says He is; and as such, God can do what He says He can do; but also- we are who He says we are and can do what He says we can do. In order for this to be true the Word of God must be active and alive in our lives.
But today I want us to look at this storys two main characters- Moses and the Pharaoh. In Moses we see a man whose is learning to live by faith. Learning to believe Gods Word. On the other hand we see what happens when one does not heed the Word of God, continues to deny the Truth of the Word of God as the Pharaoh does. Let us consider the following verses regarding faith: Hebrews 11: 6 tells us: Without faith it is impossible to please God and those who come to Him must believe that He is; and He rewards those who diligently seek Him.
Furthermore we know faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. ( Romans 10:17). We are saved by grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God not of works lest any man should boast. ( Ephesians 2:8,9) We are saved by grace through faith alone; but not a faith stays alone. A saving faith result in works. For the next verse in Ephesians 2:10 tells us: we are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus unto good works that God has ordained us to walk in. Perhaps one of the most sobering verses is found in James 2, when James says as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead. Paul tells us to examine ourselves to see if we are in the faith. (2 Corinthians 13)
We see all these verses illustrated in the story of the Exodus- how faith and denial work.
After the encounter with Pharaoh in which his magicians were able to duplicate the miracle of turning staffs into snakes, the Pharaoh hardens his heart and will not let the people go. The enemy is always ready to snatch the seed like the bird in the parable of the seed and the sower found in Luke 8. The seed represents the Word of God and the soil represents the heart of man, those who hear the Word of God. The Pharaoh hears the Word of God, but because his magicians can duplicate the miracle of the staff to serpent trick, he is not convinced the Word of God is to be heeded. The enemy has snatched away the seed, knowing that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. The method used to snatch away the Word comes in different forms- from intellectual debate that substitutes mans explanation for Gods truth. It is the age old strategy of exchanging a lie for the truth. We also can understand the Pharaoh is looking for a reason NOT to believe Gods Word, rather than looking for a reason to believe Gods Word. To believe Gods Word will mean a major adjustment in his life and perhaps even the giving up of his throne. So Pharaoh is looking for reason or reasons not to believe God.
The Pharaoh was looking for loopholes.
In the study of the parable of the sower and the seed in Luke 8, Jesus tells us how the enemy steals or takes away the Word: the seed as it was sown fell along the path where people walked and it was trampled on. The path was the pathway where many walked around the edge of the field it represents the way of the world. This is broad way that many enter in- they trample on the word of God because it condemns their lifestyle and the way they want to live. Thus the enemy comes and snatches it away. The next condition we read about in Luke 8 is the soil with rock underneath it. They receive the seed with joy, but not brokenness. The soil must be broken, the hard heart must be removed and a new heart given. God will not despise a broken heart and a contrite(repentant) heart. Therefore in the time of testing they fall away- the seed has not germinated and taken root because it was received without brokenness, godly sorrow over ones sins.
The other seed fell among the thorns which stands for those who hear, but as they go on THEIR WAY, they are choked out by lifes worries, riches and pleasures and they do not mature. Notice they chose to go their way, not the way of the Lord who is the WAY, THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE. These wanted to ADD Jesus to their life, but did not want Him to be their life.
For the Pharaoh, Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, meaning they opposed the truth of Gods Word. Today we have intellectual magicians who oppose the truth of God Word and deceive many who end up hardening their hearts rather than heeding the Word of God. Many who do not heed the Word of God are looking for reasons NOT to believe the Word of God, rather than believe it. Many want salvation and eternal life, but they do not want sacrifice and servanthood. So they look for reasons not to believe it and there will always be the Jannes and Jambres in their lives and in the world who can explain away Gods Word and Actions with their magic. Those who are looking for loopholes always seem to find what they are looking for. Are you looking for loopholes or looking for the truth? Truth is a person. Truth is the Lord Jesus.
The stage is set. The bell has rung. God has spoken and the Pharaoh has hardened his heart.
This is what the Lord says: By this will you know that I am the Lord: With the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water of the Nile, and it will be changed into blood. The fish in the Nile will die and the river will stink; the Egyptians will not be able to drink its water. (Exodus 7:17,18)
DENIAL IS A RIVER IN EGYPT.
Understand the river Nile was treated like a god. Hapi was the god of the Nile and Isis was the goddess of the Nile. The Nile River was the nations major source of life-giving water for the people and the crops, so taking away their water supply was a devastating judgment. Even the water in wooden buckets and stone jars turned to blood. There is no water to drink, there is no fishing or bathing. The water stinks and is unfit for anything. So much for the mighty gods of Egypt. The people would have to dig around the Nile just to obtain water for drinking.
Again the Egyptian magicians duplicated the water into blood feat, but on a smaller scale. This was enough evidence for the Pharaoh to believe, no matter how small and insignificant the evidence was. He hardens his heart and will not let the people go.
When a person is looking for reasons NOT to believe the Word of God they will believe not only a lie, but the faintest scrap of perceived truth or evidence. They will believe a false gospel,( Galatians 1) and a false form of righteousness, which is self-righteousness,( Romans 10), until finally they will believe a lie. ( Romans 1) And in the end they will believe in a false Christ.
Just a thought, but if I was the Pharaoh I would have wanted my two magicians to turn the blood back into water instead of showing him how they could turn a bucket of water into blood. But what God has done, man cannot undo.
What does it mean to harden ones heart? It means to see clear evidence of the hand of God at work and still refuse to accept His Word and submit to His Will. It means to resist Him by showing ingratitude and disobedience and not having any fear of the Lord or His judgments. Hard hearted people are like this Pharaoh: they defy God and say- who is this Lord that I should obey His voice?
The Pharaoh will harden his own heart against God through the first five plagues, then God will harden the Pharaohs heart. Does this mean God was unfair or unjust to the Pharaoh and thus the Pharaoh should not be held accountable for his actions? No. God is perfect and in His perfection He is always just. The Pharaoh hardened his own heart- before God did. He had received a flood of light and enough evidence through the plagues to convince him that God was Who He said He was. And so it goes 3500 years later- just as the sun melts the ice, it also hardens the clay. It all depends the nature of the material subjected to the light of the sun, or in this case to the Light of the Son, who is the Light of the World. But men preferred darkness.
Many enter into the broad way that leads to destruction. They entered of their own free will and when God spoke to them and many would not heed Him to the very end. They would not heed Him or His prophets in the Old Testament and they would not heed the Lord Himself in flesh in the New Testament. They suppressed the truth in their wickedness. The killed the prophets and they crucified the Son of God.
Peter in his great sermon on the Day of Pentecost explains: This man (Jesus) was handed over to you by Gods set purpose and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put Him to death by nailing Him to a cross. ( Acts 2) (Whenever you are tempted to sin and not believe the Word of God there will always be wicked men/women to help you do so.)
Notice the crucifixion was Gods plan, but men did this of their own free will with the help of wicked men. And yet God is willing to forgive even those who crucified Him. For did not our own sins nail Him to the cross?
Today, Easter Sunday 2012, we celebrate the resurrection of Christ. He was punished for our sins, striped with a Roman whip, a cat of nine tails, that cut through the flesh of his back to the very bone from the top of his shoulder to his buttocks. A crown of thorns was placed on his head, the blood streaming down a swollen face beaten by the soldiers, over his beard that had been plucked from his face, a beard covered in spittle from those who dared to spit into the very face of God.
There on a hill called Golgotha a crucifixion team of three experienced Roman soldiers kicked his feet out from under Him and stretched his arms out and nailed him in place to a cross piece of timber. The spikes were approximately 5-7 inches long and driven into the hollow place in the middle of ones wrist where the spike would hold the Lord fixed to that cross. Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. See Him, like the ram caught by his horns in the thicket of thorns that was a substitute provided by God in place of Isaac. For Abraham had revealed a great truth when he said, God Himself will provide a lamb for the sacrifice. True to this prophecy, it is God Himself we see on the cross.
Sin is man taking the place of God. Declaring ones self to be the decider of what is right and wrong , not God deciding.
Salvation is God taking the place of man. He was the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.
You see at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. ( Romans 5: 6-8)
The Pharaoh will receive a flood of light to reveal that God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. But the Pharaoh keeps looking for any shred of evidence, theory or hypothesis that will convince him not to believe, because he is looking for evidence that God is not who He says He is.
So let us close todays lesson by considering the evidence we have. Hebrews 4:3 states this fact: For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith.
Paul said of this very day we celebrate- Easter- if Christ be not risen, our faith is in vain. But He is risen indeed.
Lets take the Bible itself, what I believe is the Word of God and consider the flood of evidence and light for this book being unlike any book in the world. And you will realize why the enemy has been attacking the Word of God since Genesis 3.
Lets turn on the flood light and consider the following:
*The unity of the Bible. Sixty six(66) books written in 3 different languages over a 1500 year period by 40 human authors used by God. No book has ever been written in this fashion and had such unity.
* Fulfilled prophecy. There are numerous prophecies made by God that are fulfilled pertaining to the birth, life, death and resurrection of the Lord. 100% accurate.
*The number of eye witnesses. The Resurrected Lord was seen during His 40 day resurrected ministry and ascension into heaven by over 500 witnesses, I Corinthians 15. Many of whom were still living when Paul wrote this. Now consider how history records as accurate and true, that Napolen Bonaparte surrendered to Wellington at Waterloo yet there were less than 25 eyewitnesses.
*Historical accuracy. All of the accounts in the Scriptures that mention historical people, places and time are accurate as attested to by secular history recorded by such historians, as Josephus, a non-believer.
*Archeological discoveries- numerous discoveries including such finds in the 20th century as the Dead Sea Scrolls. All bear evidence of the accuracy of Scriptures.
* Manuscript evidence- both the amount and the dates. Julius Caesars Gallic Wars has remnants of 10 manuscripts of which the earliest is 1,000 years after their occurrence. The New Testament alone has over 25,000 manuscripts; 5600 in original Greek and they date from only 40-60 years after the occurrence of Jesus crucifixion.
*Then consider the unique power and authority of Gods Word to transform individuals lives. Moses through God, turned water into blood; Jesus turned water into wine; and in my life, He turned alcohol into a life filled with joy unspeakable!…a loving wife, a home, a career, children and now grandchildren. ( There have also been: failures, sickness, heartache and adversity- but God is faithful.)
Sir Thomas Arnold, Chair of Modern History at Oxford and the author of the 3 volume history of Rome, which many consider to be the definitive history of Rome and Arnold one of the greatest historians of modern times said: As a historian who weighs evidence to find the truth, I know of no one fact in the history of mankind which is proven better and more fuller than the resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.
So here is what I believe and what every Christian should believe:
The Bible is the Word of God inspired by the Holy Spirit. It is alive and powerful.
The Bible :
*Generates life- it is the incorruptible seed. I Peter 1.23
*Creates faith. Romans 10:17
*Produces change- new creature;(2Cor.5) transforms our mind. Romans 12:2
*Frightens the devil- Matthew 4.
*Causes miracles, heals hurts, builds character.
*Infuses hope, imparts joy, transforms circumstances and overcomes adversity.
*Defeats temptation, releases power, and cleanses our minds and brings things into being.
*Guarantees our future forever!!
We must accept its authority. Assimilate its truth. Apply its principles.
How does faith work and what does it enable a believer to do?
Faith realizes Gods presence. ( He is who He says He is)
Faith relies on Gods Word. ( He can do what He says He can do_
Faith responds to Gods Word in obedience. ( the Word is active and alive in our lives)
Faith receives Gods grace, which is always sufficient and like the manna is daily and also diverse and manifold.
Faith rests in Gods will.
Faith rejoices in Gods protection.
TO NOT BELIEVE GOD IS WHO HE SAYS HE IS AND CAN DO WHAT HE SAYS HE CAN DO IS DENIAL IN THE FLOOD OF LIGHT GOD HAS PROVIDED.
DENIAL IS THE REJECTION OF THE VALIDITY OF A STATEMENT.
EVERY PERSON HAS RECEIVED ENOUGH LIGHT TO KNOW THE TRUTH.
Even Jannes and Jambre will have to admit this work is the finger of God.
But when one hears the Word of God and will not heed it, and continue to deny its validity in the light of what may be known about God, there will come a time when they cannot hear the word of God, their hearts too hardened and their consciences seared.
DENIAL IS THE RESULT.
DENIAL IS A RIVER IN EGYPT.
Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14