Exodus 8: Lets Make a Deal
We notice a pattern that is developing in these encounters between Moses and the Pharaoh. Moses will tell the Pharaoh the next plague God will send if he refuses to let Gods people go and the plague occurs as Moses said it would. All of this is to give Pharaoh an opportunity to repent.
The Pharaoh continues to follow a pattern of asking for relief, promising to let the people go, then when the plague has ended- refuses to keep his promise to let the people go. Here is another observation: in crisis- people want to pray, or want someone to pray; also, they begin to want to make a deal with God for relief.
With each encounter, there is clear evidence of Gods sovereignty. With each encounter, the Pharaoh continues to harden his heart. How can God put up with such behavior and why does He do it? Psalms 107 tells us : Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever. His deeds are wonderful, He is long suffering and He is not willing that any should perish but all would come to repentance.
We are all people of habits and patterns arent we? We go to bed about the same time, get up about the same time, and all our activities in-between seldom vary. In fact, we do not like to have our routine upset. Our plans become our patterns. Our patterns become our life. We learn by repetition and we develop our habits by repetition. Paul said in Philippians 3: it is no trouble for me to write to you again, and it is a safeguard for you. Where there is potential for serious error, there is safety in repetition. ( Measure 2xs , saw 1x.)
Is planning not good? We have heard the age-old axioms: plan your work and work your plan. And surely there is wisdom in this statement. Planning is a tool God may cause you to use, even to the point scripture tells us what man planning to build a tower doesnt first sit down and plan to see if he has enough money to complete it. ( Luke 14)
Many are the plans in a mans heart, but it is the Lords purpose that prevails. ( Proverbs 19:21)
The Lord foils the plans of the nations; He thwarts the purposes of the peoples. But the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of His heart through all generations. (Psalms 33:10-11)
Why do bad things happen in life? Is not God Sovereign? Isnt He in control? Yes. First of all we live in a fallen world. Bad things happen because people break the laws of God which carry consequences that sometimes affect other peoples lives. The person who runs a red light or drives while intoxicated and hits another car- caused problems in someone elses life because they broke the law. Sometimes bad things happen because God has to resort to discipline for his children, for whom the Lord loves, He chastens. Other times God is using these things to lead unbelievers to repentance. On other occasions God is judging the hardened sinner,as in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah and/or the flood. But ultimately, the Sovereignty of God is able through to work all things together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to His purpose. ( Romans 8:28 ] He does this without violating mankinds free will to choose.
When we observe the stubbornness of the Pharaoh it is easy for us to see how wrong he is to not listen to God and obey His commands. However, it is not too easy for us to see how we plan our lives and ask God to bless our plans. Our prayers are usually requests for God to do what we want Him to do. We present a to-do list for our Heavenly Father almost daily, dont we? Not that it is wrong to bring our petitions, cares, concerns and worries to Him, but to bring them to Him so He can direct us- not do what we tell Him to do. It is after all, His Will we are to pray to be done- not our will. Lets face it, sometimes we ask Him to bless us because we have been good. Arent we really trying to make a deal with God? Prayer is a will alignment. An alignment of our will to His will not the other way around. This is not a deal you can negotiate.
FYI: since most of our prayers are for loved ones here are three scriptural prayers you can pray for those and the issues in their lives. Ephesians 1:17-19; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12
Here is what we need to understand, as we study this amazing story that has so much for us to learn. The Pharaoh and Moses were at one time not that different. Both men were given the benefits and privileges their stations in life provided. Moses and the Pharaoh were educated in the wisdom of Egypt and were powerful in speech and action. Both were confident in their abilities and intelligence. But something happened in Moses life that changed him forever. He had an encounter with God Almighty and his life was never the same. The same is true of what is happening with Pharaoh, he is experiencing an encounter with God Almighty. These encounters will either cause you to yield your heart to God or harden your heart toward God.
All of us were at one time like the Pharaoh in this way: we lived self-centered lives not God-centered lives.
Here is a check list for the Self-Centered Life: Life focused on self; proud of self and accomplishments; self confident; depend on self and your own abilities; seek to be acceptable and successful according to the worlds standards; look at circumstances from a human perspective and understanding; live selfish lives.
Now compare to a God Centered Life: confidence in God; dependence on God and His Ability and provision; life is focused and centered on God and His Activity; humble before God; DENY SELF; seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness; pursue holiness.
Which life best describes you?
So far we have seen the Nile turned to blood; the country filled with frogs and the next plague of lice is enough to convince the magicians God is Who He says He is and can do what He says He can do.
Once again we observe the pattern: The frogs died in the houses, in the courtyards, and in the fields. They were piled into heaps, and the land reeked of them. But when Pharaoh saw there was relief, he hardened his heart and would not listen to Moses and Aaron, just as the Lord said. ( Exodus 8: 13-15)
The next plague involved the turning of the dust in Egypt into lice. The lice infested all the people and the animals. The magicians could not duplicate this feat and admitted to the Pharaoh- this is the finger of God. Sooner or later everyone will realize God is Who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. In fact, one day every knee shall bow and tongue confess He is Lord. The Pharaoh continues in the same pattern. After all each time he has agreed to let the people go- the plague has ceased. Gods grace gives the Pharaoh another opportunity to repent, but once the plague is lifted, his conviction changes with the circumstances.
Remember 9/11? In the days after the attack, the churches were packed like it was Easter Sunday. Men and women of God were being interviewed on the news and praying in the name of Jesus. Dan Rather cried on air; David Letterman could not find anybody or anything to ridicule and all his clever, witty jokes seemed to not be appropriate. The men and women of congress, Republican, Democrats and independents did not spend their time arguing with one another- but joined hands and sang God Bless America.
But days turned into weeks and weeks into months and everyone returned to the same patterns as before. Church attendance which had swelled, now returned to its normal attendance. The crisis seemed to have passed and so did the need to seek Gods help. We could handle it on our own now. It was as if we could bargain with God, make Him certain promises and He would be good to us. We behaved like a child who pleaded with his father to just let him have this, or do this and he would never ask for anything again.
Something jars us out of our pattern of self reliance and we realize we can control nothing. Truly apart from Him we can do nothing. But then things return to normal and we fall into the same pattern as before. We began to live self centered lives instead of God centered lives until the next plague, crisis or trouble hits.
Let us continue with the story and learn from Moses, Pharaoh, the Egyptians, Egypt and the Israelites. For surely this is a picture of our lives in this world. Something different occurs in the next plague. Moses tells the Pharaoh- God will send a swarm of flies on the Pharaoh, his officials, his people and into your houses. Note the difference of this plague: God will deal differently with Goshen where His people live; no swarm of flies will be there so that the Pharaoh would know God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do and we are who He says we are- His People. And we can do what He says we can do.
Flies are associated with decay, filth and waste. The name Beelzebub actually is translated Lord of Flies.
Gods people are called to be set apart, and God had set them apart in the time of Joseph to have them occupy the land of Goshen, separated from Egypt. God has called us a peculiar people who are to be set apart from the rest of the world.
Once again the Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron and tells them to go sacrifice to your God, but do not leave the land, Egypt. This is a call to compromise. Whom God has called to be set apart, will often be tempted by the enemy to compromise .
You cannot negotiate the will of God. You cannot be yoked together with unbelievers. Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? ( 2 Cor. 6) Dont be polluted by the world. Do not listen to those who would advise you to not be too fanatical, too carried away with this religious stuff. Keep it in moderation.
That is not what we are told to do: You adulterous people, dont you know friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God. (James 4)
How does Moses respond to the Pharaohs offer to compromise? That would not be right. The sacrifices we offer the Lord would be detestable to the Egyptians. And if we offer sacrifices that are detestable in their eyes, will they not stone us? We must take a three-day journey into the desert to offer sacrifices to the Lord our God, AS HE COMMANDS US TO DO. (Exodus 8:26,27)
Once again we see the same pattern of behavior- crisis over, plague ends, Pharaoh refuses to let them go. From now on- all plagues will be more costly, and more painful. In addition, Gods people will not be subjected to those plagues.
Now earlier, I mentioned Moses and Pharaoh were at one time not that different. Both were self confident, ambitious, accomplished men. Their confidence was self confidence, that is confidence in their training, abilities and education. They were self reliant, resourceful and successful according to the worlds standards in which they lived.
Let us learn how Moses had his life re-oriented, how his direction was changed from self confident to a man of no confidence in his self at all. In the prime of his life at age 40, an accomplished, successful man, God began to work in his life. Moses decided to do something in his own strength to free Gods people. We know the results, Moses killed an Egyptian slave master and had to flee the country as a fugitive.
Wonder what would have happened if Moses would have continued in self effort to war against the Egyptians, in order to free the people. Same thing that happened to me every time I tried to quit drinking in my own strength- absolute failure.
For the next 40 years, God prepared Moses in Midian as a shepherd. He set him apart from the world in which he had been conformed.
If Moses was to come to believe God is who He says He is and can do what He says He can do. If Moses is to believe he is who God says He is and can do what He says He can do. He must come to realize, as we do, we can do nothing apart from Him. NOTHING?
Can we not do some things? Yes, we can implement our plans even as believers and do what we can do in our own strength. And I can tell you those works when judged by God at the Bema by fire will go up in smoke they will count for NOTHING. Because those works done in our own strength can easily be done by unbelievers in their own strength. Just as Jannes and Jambre could duplicate some of the feats- unbelievers can be clever, accomplishing good things according to the worlds standards. And many people will look at those good works, and say these are good people using their talents and abilities to accomplish good things. It is a form of self righteousness and a religion of good works, it is as old as the story of Cain and Abel. Cain thought the works of his hands, his strength and creative abilities gave his sacrifice more meaning than Abels.
Did you ever in the days before GPS take a wrong turn, go a way that seemed right to you only to find yourself lost? Did you ever try to take a shortcut to somewhere only to find it took you more time?
Often you had to go back to where you made the wrong turn and make the right turn. Moses had to get turned around. God took Moses back to a place where he needed to start over. God took Moses to a place where Moses was set apart from the world that had conformed him .
Has God ever taken you back to a place of starting over in your life? Has he ever through God orchestrated circumstances set you apart from the world that was conforming you?
Here is what we must learn:
If we are to know and do Gods will, we must deny self and return to a God-centered life. We must reorient our lives toward God. We must stop, turn around and go back to where we were before we made that wrong turn.
We must focus our lives on Gods purpose and plan- not our purpose and plan. The Lord Jesus told us clearly in Matthew 6- we are to SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS AND THESE THINGS WE NEED WILL BE GIVEN TO US. God has promised us and taken us on as His responsibility to manage our lives if we will give our lives to Him to manage. Jesus said I have come to give you life, life more abundant.
We must seek to see life and circumstances from Gods perspective rather than our limited human perspective.
We need to be patient and wait on God, who will in His perfect timing direct our paths and show us the way.
You see, like Moses and Pharaoh, we have a tendency to live in a pattern of self reliance. Like the Pharaoh, if we are not careful, we find ourselves negotiating with God regarding His Will. Like Moses will be tempted to compromise. Like thePharaoh will want relief when there is trouble, then once the trouble has passed fall back into the same pattern that caused God to interrupt our plans before.
Listen to what God says: If my people would but listen to ME, if Israel would follow my ways, how QUICKLY would I subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. ( Psalms 81)
Did you notice that word we all like? QUICKLY. Wondering what is taking God so long to answer a prayer or deal with an issue in your life? Are you following His Ways? Or have your followed your own way? Trying a shortcut? How is that working? Beverly Sills, noted opera diva said: There are no shortcuts to any place worth going.
And yet even today as we look around us and what is happening. We see the plagues of spiritual locusts that are devouring our land. We see a spiritual famine where the Word of God, our daily bread has grown stale and is cast aside.
Has called you and me- His People and given us a conditional promise:
If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. 2 Chronicles 7: 14.
Do you believe He is who He says He is?
Do you believe He can do what He says He can do?
Do you believe you are who He says you are? ( His people, His children.)
Do you believe you can do what He says you can do? ( You can do ALL THINGS THROUGH CHRIST WHO STRENGTHENS YOU !)
Is the Word of God active and alive in your life? ( It cannot be active and alive if you do not read, study and obey it.)
Jesus wept for those unbelievers in Jerusalem in his day- how often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but YOU WERE NOT WILLING.
How often has the Lord wanted to gather you in His arms and you were not willing?
How often has He wanted to gather our nation, even the world in His arms and for the most part the world and our nation is not willing?
We will see what happens to Egypt as the plagues continue. Before God is through with the nation of Egypt- they will be bankrupt. A place many nations have come to throughout history as they defied God.
God is a Promise Keeper. His covenants are binding agreements. A covenant is an agreement between two parties. Herein lies the truth, with Gods covenant, you can accept it or reject it, but you cannot alter it. In other words, you cannot negotiate a deal with the will and sovereign purpose of God.Copyright © 2010 Linda Benthal
Last modified: 08/12/14