Exodus 8 Sermon – Knowing the Lord

Exodus 7:5 – 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.”

Exodus 7:17 – Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, I will strike the water that is in the Nile with the staff that is in my hand, and it will be turned to blood.

Exodus 8:10 – Then he said, “Tomorrow.” So he said, “May it be according to your word, that you may know that there is no one like the Lord our God.

Exodus 8:22 – But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land.

Over and over again in the Exodus account we see God tells us His purposes. His purpose is to make Himself known. He was going to make a statement, a statement that no one could ignore. Almost every civilization at that time in history were pantheists. They believed in many gods. The sun good, the moon god, the harvest god, the fertility god, and so on.

God wants to make it clear that He is God. He is I AM, Yahweh. All of the other gods are nothing. And there is no better place to make that statement than Egypt. Egypt was the most powerful nation in the ancient world. So their gods should have been the most powerful, right? Well, God was going to defeat Egypt’s gods. He was going to do it publicly. And Egypt was the trading hub. So news would travel. And the maximum number of people possible would hear the amazing stories of how Yahweh humbles Egypt and its gods.

And the story did go out. The Egyptians would know who God is. The Jews would know who God is. And many others would hear as well. Forty years later when the Israelites entered the Promised Land, Rahab believed in Yahweh. She said, “we have heard how the Lord dried up the water of the Red Sea.”

So the purpose of these plagues we are reading about is clear. God is making a statement. He is showing the world, and us, who He is. He is making Himself known.

Romans 9:17 – For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.”

Praise God we have a God who reveals Himself to us. Unless He makes Himself known, we cannot know Him. He is infinite and completely beyond our comprehension except for what He has shown us. So thank God this morning. Thank God that today we have the opportunity to get to know a bit more about our Creator, our Savior.

So let’s dig into the passage and see what God has revealed about Himself to us in it.

Read Exodus 8

Knowing the Lord’s Authority

A. He sets the rules –

Exodus 8:1-2 – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let My people go, that they may serve Me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will smite your whole territory with frogs.

God sets the rules for the deal. His rules are simple. Let my people go. If you don’t, I am going to smite your land. Pharaoh is the most powerful person in the world at this time. In fact, most of his people considered him to be a god. They believed that Pharaoh was Horus, son of the sun god Ra. And many of the pharaohs themselves believed they were gods.

But God sets the rules. He issues Pharaoh a command, “Let my people go that they may serve Me.” The word used for serve is actually the same one used for their work in Egypt. The word shows the change in direction. Instead of working for Pharaoh, they should work for God.

Does he threaten Pharaoh? You bet he does! Sometimes we think that threatening is wrong. And the way people threaten each other is often wrong. But God has the authority which means He can make and enforce the rules. He is in charge.

And he gives that authority in this case to Moses. Moses is His representative, His appointed leader. By proxy, Moses then (a shepherd) can give a command and a threat to the most powerful leader in the world.

Here I want to make a brief side point. God appoints people and gives authority to them. Parents, you have God-given authority. You should set the rules. You should give the commands. You should warn of the consequences. And you should enforce the rules by disciplining your children if they break them.

God is the rule setter. He is the ultimate authority. And this is why many people don’t want to follow God. Like Pharaoh, they want to be the authority. They want to do things their own way.

God set the standard and He is not going to change it for you. He is who He is, not necessarily who we want Him to be. Your job is simple. Fall in line. Submit to His authority.

B. He doesn’t negotiate or compromise with His enemies.

God’s demand is clear. Let my people go that they may serve Me (and not you). And if you refuse, I am going to send a plague. We see this in verses 1-2 and again in verses 20-21.

After the three plagues, Pharaoh attempts to negotiate. He first offers that the people go “within the land.” Then when that is not accepted, he says, “you must not go very far.” Pharaoh is trying to maintain the illusion that he is in charge. And he is trying to save face.

But God doesn’t negotiate. He doesn’t compromise. He is the authority. So He lays down the law, and demands obedience.

Again, our job is simple. Submit to God’s authority over our lives. Is there some part of your life you haven’t yet surrendered fully to God’s authority? Is there some part you keep for yourself? Perhaps because you enjoy it. Or perhaps because you are negotiating (God I will serve you in other areas, but this one let me have a little longer.) Let today be the day you give it to God.

Knowing the Lord’s Power

In this chapter God continues to reveal His power. He is waging war against the gods of Egypt to prove He is all-powerful. He is not only doing this in general, but the plagues themselves are direct attacks on specific Egyptian gods

The Egyptians worshiped a god called Heqet. This was a god of fertility, water, and renewal. And guess what, it had the head of a frog. But God mocks Heket by sending a plague of frogs. Heket could not protect them. How do you think the Egyptians would feel after this when they saw Heket’s frog head image? They were probably disgusted. They probably cursed it. The very god they worshiped became an object of ridicule and humiliation.

The Egyptians also worshiped a god called Geb. This was a god of the earth, who was over the dust of the earth. And God turns the very thing Geb is supposed to control into a tool for tormenting Geb’s people.

The Egyptians also worshiped a god called Khepri. This god had the head a bug. And another of their gods was called Uatchit, Lady of the Marshes. She was depicted with wings. How would the Egyptians feel when they heard about or saw images of these revered idols? They would be reminded of the real God and the defeat of their gods. They would be reminded of God’s power. And they would know that they and their own gods are truly powerless in front of the Great I AM.

So lets look at the three plagues God sent. One question that often comes up is, “Did God use natural means or miraculous means in sending the plagues?”

And the answer is “both.”

A. He uses natural means miraculously

1. The frogs were actual frogs. He didn’t turn something else into a frog. It could be described as a natural disaster. But it is a natural disaster orchestrated by God exactly according to His timing.

I live next to a river in Pan Yu. And there is also a small pond near where we live. At night we can sometimes hear frogs. So this week, I told Caleb to command the frogs to come forth. Well, it wasn’t effective. We didn’t see any. Frogs don’t listen to us.

God uses natural means miraculously. The frogs were under His control.

Exodus 8:5-6 – Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your hand with your staff over the rivers, over the streams and over the pools, and make frogs come up on the land of Egypt.’” So Aaron stretched out his hand over the waters of Egypt, and the ]frogs came up and covered the land of Egypt.

Through Aaron the frogs were commanded to come out. And they did.

The miraculous part was two-fold, the number of frogs and that it happened right at that moment.

Pharaoh’s magicians did the same thing, but surely in much smaller numbers. It is not clear exactly how. But demons do have some power (remember the swine hurtling themselves into the ocean?) and in this case God let them influence the frogs. Why? It made the problem even worse! They weren’t solving the problem, but compounding it. God is not afraid of cheap imitations. He knows His power will be shown.

2. The flies were actual flies – Having swarms of flies invading the land could occur naturally. But this was also a miracle. Firstly, it happened according to God’s command. He said He was going to do it and then He did it. So He also controlled the timing. But even more amazing than this is that the flies were not found in Goshen. There was a division. The Egyptians experienced the plague and Israel did not.

This demonstrated the power of God. No one could possibly say it was a natural occurrence since there was such a clear division between the peoples.

Application: Let’s make this practical for a moment. God is working in the world around us still today. We have all read the miracles in the Bible. And we have also read of amazing testimonies of modern day miracles. Let’s be honest. We don’t always clearly see those miracles in our lives. And sometimes we question, “Where is God? Why is He not working?”

The answer is that He is working. He is working through natural means. He is Lord of the weather. He is Lord of your circumstances. Do not think anything less of God’s work in your life just because He uses people or circumstances or doctors instead of a direct supernatural miracle. Both are evidence of His power and goodness. Accomplishing His work through natural means does not take away one iota of His glory.

B. He uses supernatural means miraculously

1. The gnats (became as dust) – Out of the first four plagues, God used natural means to work His miracles twice (the flies and the frogs). And twice He used supernatural means. Last chapter we read that God turned the water to blood. That was a supernatural miracle and there is no natural explanation. It is the same as when Jesus turned the water to wine. God is literally changing the very chemical makeup of these objects on a molecular level. And there is nothing surprising about it. He created the world and He can certainly alter it.

And in this chapter we see in verse 16 that God turned the dust into gnats. This is reminiscent of God creating man from the dust of the ground. But this time instead of giving life, He is bringing a curse.

Notice also that God does not announce this judgment ahead of time. Sometimes He announces it first and sometimes He doesn’t. He sets the rules!

Exodus 8:19 – Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he did not listen to them, as the Lord had said.

This was the first plague that the magicians weren’t able to copy. They knew their limited power and recognized that it really was God who was doing this. After only four plagues, they threw in the towel. God had already won. He had shown that He has true power and their gods didn’t.

Yet Pharaoh was unwilling to listen to them. To him it was a matter of personal pride. So He still doesn’t let them go.

These plagues were not life-threatening yet, but they were highly annoying. Frogs are really loud. Some people might be successful in keeping them physically out of their homes, but not the noise. It was everywhere. And flies and gnats. Ugh.

I can remember some nights when I have laid in bed awake unable to sleep because of a single mosquito. I start to doze off and then hear that sound buzzing next to my ear. Its so annoying. I am sure you have had similar experiences. Can you imagine just swarms of pests all over you? In your food. In your clothes. Getting in your mouth. In your ears. In your nose. The whole day. With no rest. How can you sleep? How can you do anything?

It’s miserable. And it was supposed to be. A life of rebellion against God brings only misery. These plagues are a visible picture of the misery of their lives without God’s blessing. If you rebel against God, the misery may not be as visible, but make no mistake you too will be miserable.

You can choose to submit to God and receive His blessing or rebel against God and face His judgment.

Knowing the Lord’s Power and Authority Through Prophecy

God’s authority and power in this chapter are also manifested in His prophecies.

Isaiah 46:10 – Declaring the end from the beginning,
And from ancient times things which have not been done,
Saying, ‘My purpose will be established,
And I will accomplish all My good pleasure’

Over and over again God tells Pharaoh exactly what He is going to do ahead of time. He does this to show His power. So there can be no doubt that these are just random events. He is the author.

A. God controls the future –

In this chapter three times God through Moses tells Pharaoh exactly what will happen (4, 10-11 21). Each time is conditional upon Pharaoh’s response. If Pharaoh repents and obeys God then the disaster will be averted. Otherwise it will go down and nothing can stop it.

B. His prophecies here are specific and time-bound and come true

The prophecies in this chapter have two distinctives. They are specific and time-bound. God says exactly what He will do. He doesn’t speak in vague terms. And He says exactly when He will do it (tomorrow.) And that is very important because it shows us that He has complete control of the future.

I want to make a distinction between a prophecy like this which is specific and time-bound and something called a post-diction. A post-diction is a vague statement that only appears to come true after events have already happened.

Fortune cookies are a good example of post-dictions.

Here are a couple of “prophecies” from fortune cookies:

  • A new perspective will come with the new year.
  • A pleasant surprise is waiting for you.
  • All will go well with your new project.
  • Change is happening in your life, so go with the flow!

They are spoken vaguely enough that you cannot know what it they are talking about. But after something happens in your life that matches it, you might say, “Oh, it was right!”

This is often what fortune tellers do. They do not know or control the future just as Satan doesn’t. So their predictions are a trick couched in vague statements.

Only God knows and controls the future! No one else. Therefore only God can give specific and time-bound prophecies and be right 100% of the time.

So what does this mean for us?

Here are two applications:

1. Have a healthy skepticism of prophets, even so-called Christian prophets. Jesus and the disciples warned us that there are many false-prophets in the world. Jesus said in Matthew 7:15 to “Beware of false prophets.”

Here are some questions you can ask.

  • Has this person ever been wrong? If so, they are a false prophet (Deuteronomy 18:22). For example, I read this week that Pat Robertson (head of the Christian Broadcasting Network) predicted Trump will win the election and then an asteroid will hit the earth. He has made multiple false predictions in the past about the end of the world in the past. He is not a real prophet because God is never wrong.
  • Is the prophecy vague? If so it may be a post-diction and the speaker may be using clever words to disguise the fact he doesn’t speak for God.
  • Does it agree with Scripture? God will never contradict Himself. I will say it again. God will never contradict Himself. Therefore anyone who speaks contrary to Scripture is a false prophet.

Even in our text we have false prophets. The priests of the Egyptian gods were false prophets who misled people. They could do some form of signs and wonders. But we should not believe a so-called prophet just because they do something that appears to be a miracle.

Matthew 24:24 – For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders, so as to lead astray, if possible, even the elect.

2. Take comfort in the fact that God controls the future

Psalm 2:2, 4, “The kings of the earth set themselves,
    and the rulers take counsel together,
    against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,He who sits in the heavens laughs;
    the Lord holds them in derision.”

God laughs because He knows that no one can thwart His plan. If you are on His team, that should comfort you. No political leader, no unkind boss, no controlling relative, and no unpleasant circumstances can thwart God’s plan for your life. The theme for this year is? Press on. Let us press on through all trials in faith, knowing that God is on His throne, that He has a perfect plan, and He is going to bring it to pass.

Knowing the Lord’s Mercy in Justice

A. God is fair.

We see throughout Exodus that the plagues are escalating in intensity. This shows us God’s mercy and His justice. He gives them time to repent and each time they don’t the punishment is more severe. It grows in severity in lockstep with their knowledge. They know more and still refuse to obey. The first plagues were an annoyance, but not life-threatening. Later plagues destroyed their food supply and their animals and inflicted them with boils. And finally the plagues culminated with the great judgment, death on the firstborn.

God’s justice takes into account your knowledge level. It is fair. At the beginning they knew little of God. They chiefly knew about God through Moses’ words. But as the plagues kept coming they saw more evidence of God’s power and authority. And they still refused to submit. So the judgments were greater.

People sometimes ask me, “What about the person on an island who has never heard about Jesus? What will happen to him?” God is fair. He is just. He will judge people according to their own knowledge level and their own works. In Romans we see that everyone sees evidence for God in creation and is still responsible for their sins.

But this applies to us here today more directly. None of you have an excuse. You are in church. You have Bibles. You have been taught the truth. There is no excuse. You will be judged by what you know, and you know a lot! You are responsible to put your faith in Jesus. And you are then responsible to obey Him.

B. God gives a way out of judgment (mercy) –

He gave Pharaoh and the Egyptians many opportunities to repent. Time and again He told Pharaoh that if he would let His people go, then the plagues would end. But Pharaoh didn’t take the way out. And therefore he was responsible for the judgment coming on them.

C. God had mercy on His people –

Exodus 8:22 – But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where My people are living, so that no swarms of flies will be there, in order that you may know that I, the Lord, am in the midst of the land.

In the fourth plague(the flies) we see a new refrain that occurs for most of the subsequent plagues. And that is that God set apart His people in their land and created a division so that the plagues didn’t touch them.

It shows the supernatural nature of the plagues in that only that geographical location was spared. But it also shows God’s mercy. In the book of Genesis, Abraham prays to God about Sodom and Gomorrah saying,

Genesis 8:25 “Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?”

God was merciful to His people. He did not treat them the same as the unbelievers who hardened their heart against Him. This is a thread of truth you will find throughout Scripture.

God saved Noah and his family out of judgment. God saved Lot and his family out of judgment. And God spares His people here.

Were the Jews spiritual giants? Did they have great faith? No. We will see later in Exodus their faith was very weak. Often they disobeyed and turned away from God.

And that is what makes His mercy toward them that much more powerful. He chose to extend mercy to them, not because of their own good, but because of His divine choice.

They were a walking testimony of God’s mercy.

In many ways the Exodus story foreshadows God’s redemptive plan of salvation.

God does deal differently with believers than He does with unbelievers. Praise the Lord for this. He spares us His wrath. This is the essence of the salvation God offers. God doesn’t destroy the righteous along with the wicked. He is merciful and loving and we should enthusiastically take His offer if we want to escape judgment.

Knowing the Lord’s Faithfulness

Because of time, I won’t talk about this one in depth. But we can see it in verses 29-32. God took away the plague of flies as Moses agreed to. He knew that Pharaoh was going to lie and change his mind. But God was still faithful. He kept His word. Pharaoh dealt faithlessly over and over. God never stooped to His level. God is I AM WHO I AM. His character is not dependent on any person or any circumstance.

He is faithful. He is not a man that He should lie. And He never will even if we do.

2 Timothy 2:13 – If we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.

God is always faithful to do what He has said.

Conclusion:

In this passage we have come to know our Lord better. We have seen His authority, power, prophecy, mercy in justice, and faithfulness. This knowledge demands a response. And in our passage today we see three responses to this knowledge of God.

A. Pharaoh knows the words of God and hardens his heart.

Pharaoh experienced firsthand the things we have seen today. But in his pride, he repeatedly hardens his heart. He refuses to submit to God’s authority. He refuses to obey. He believes in himself. He is his own man.

On some level deep inside, he knows who God is. He knows. And he asks Moses to “pray for me.” But He refuses to follow God and instead hardens his heart.

Pharaoh is like the hardened atheist who will never admit God is real no matter what evidence he sees.

B. The magicians know God is real and refuse to follow him.

Pharaoh’s Egyptians admitted that this was “the finger of God.” Intellectually, they knew that the LORD was superior to their gods. But they don’t repent. They don’t seek him. They don’t make him the Lord of their lives.

They are too stubborn, too set in their own ways, too prideful, too afraid of what Pharaoh will think, and too invested in their own well paying careers as Egyptian religious leaders to humble themselves and seek after God.

The magicians are like people who intellectually know God and the Bible are true, but are unwilling to follow after Him.

C. Moses knows the Lord and obeys.

Moses submits to God’s authority. We have seen so far in Exodus that at times, it is a rocky road. Sometimes he stumbles. Sometimes he is confused. Sometimes he makes excuses. But in the end he obeys.

Moses is the believer who surrenders his life to God. He is not perfect, but he grows. He has compared the passing pleasures of sin with the lasting blessings of serving God and chosen to serve God.

Do you know God or do you know God? The Hebrew word for “know” in this passage is yada. This is more personal and intimate than our use of the word know. We might say we know someone meaning that we know of his existence. But in Hebrew this word know means that you have a relationship with that person.

Pharaoh and the magicians knew of God and His works. But Moses knew God. He had a relationship with him.

Which person are you like today? Do you know God or do you KNOW God?

Knowing God is more than an intellectual belief. Even the demons believe and tremble. Our faith in God must change how we live. We must not harden our hearts and continue in sin. If we know God, then we must be willing to submit to His complete authority in every area of our lives.

Pray for submission, specifically in any area where they are struggling to surrender to God’s control.

Discussion Questions

How could Moses have such boldness to stand before the most powerful man in the world and make demands of him? Is there a situation in your life you also need to have this kind of boldness?

In verse 28, Pharaoh says “plead for me” or “pray for me.” Why would an unbeliever like Pharaoh submit a “prayer request?” Does God listen to the prayers of unbelievers?

Share about how you have come to know God better in the past year. (Remember that knowing is not a factual knowledge but a relationship)

How specifically can you press on in knowing God (relationally) in the final two months of 2020?

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