A Divine Lesson for the Ages

A Divine Lesson for the Ages

Rev. Terrance Albritton


"And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them." Exodus 7:5 NKJV

We continue our study of the life and leadership of Moses. From Exodus 5 through Exodus 11, we recount the story of God's ten plagues against Egypt. In the last few weeks, we've discussed the paradox of how our obedience to God can sometimes backfire in our faces.


If you’ve ever felt like your life got worse the minute you decided to do what God asked, you're in good company. The wisdom we can leverage from these experiences in obedience is not just a means to an end. We obey God because God deserves to be trusted. We don't obey God to make God give us the outcomes that we want.

Obedience is like cake. The icing on the cake is God will bless us as He sees fit. So, let's hold on to a valuable principle of obedience because Moses' capacity to obey is keying the narratives about the plagues.


The first three plagues attack the luxury of Egypt. The second three plagues strike the lifestyle of Egypt. Finally, the last three plagues attacked life itself in Egypt. 


Here's an overview of all ten plagues:

  • The water in the Nile River turned to blood
  • Frogs all over the land
  • Dust that turned into gnats
  • Flies filled Egyptian houses only
  • The livestock of the Egyptians died
  • Soot in the air caused boils on the skin
  • Hail destroyed everything outside
  • Locusts ate plants and trees
  • The darkness covered Egypt for three days
  • All firstborn Egyptian males, both human and animal, died


Why would God do this? Why would a holy, fair, and just God do this? There's a simple answer to all these complexities. It's that God answering a question that Pharaoh asks in Exodus 5:2,


"And Pharaoh said, "Who is the Lord, that I should obey His voice to let Israel go? I do not know the Lord, nor will I let Israel go."


"And the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord when I stretch out My hand on Egypt and bring out the children of Israel from among them." –Exodus 7:5 


Knowing the Lord means learning valuable lessons. Sometimes, a big lesson is filled with many smaller lessons. The main point God intended to make through these harrowing experiences was that he alone was the one true God.

The Egyptians were polytheistic people. They had over a hundred gods and worshiped many of these false gods. Interestingly, God levied a categorical defeat over all the Egyptian gods through each plague. 


In these ten plagues, God attacked 10 of the specific gods that Egypt worshiped, showing them who is the one and true living God. We weave a thread of lessons through each of the plague passages. Let's follow some of these threads to learn the lessons God is trying to teach us.


Lesson # 1: God speaks to those who listen to Him


This narrative repeated, "The Lord said to Moses…" intertwined in these plagues. God was in constant open dialogue with Moses, Aaron, and the people of Israel. All that Moses had been through has matured him now to be able to obey the voice of God.


Before God can ever trust us to represent Him to others correctly, He first trains us to listen to Him. To listen is more than to hear. To listen is to heed—to head to what you're being told. 


"Did you hear me?" This line is what God says to some of us because some of us still haven't done what God has told us to do.


"So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh, and they did so, just as the Lord commanded. And Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh and before his servants, and it became a serpent." –Exodus 7:10


Our problem is we can't just do what we're told. When we obey the Word of God, He will always give us the instructions we need to navigate difficult times. So if you're in a difficult season in your life and you can't hear from God—it's not that God isn't talking because what we see in scripture is that God always gives us instructions to navigate life's difficult times.


While it's good to come into a comfortable sanctuary, a planned worship experience, to listen to God's Word, it is another level for God to speak to you where you are when plagues are happening.


Sometimes, God will whisper directions to you. An example is 1 Kings 19:11-12:


Then He said, "Go out and stand on the mountain before the Lord." And behold, the Lord passed by, and a great and strong wind tore into the mountains and broke the rocks in pieces before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice." 


Do you know why you can't hear from God? It's because your lifestyle speaks too loudly. Sometimes, we expect God to speak in a big booming voice, but that's not how God does. Instead, God speaks in the stillness. In the stillness, we can hear God's voice. Sometimes, you're by yourself because God is trying to seclude you so you can hear what He's speaking. 


God is never not speaking. So, whose fault is it if you don't hear from Him? God is always speaking. Why aren't we always listening?


Your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,

"This is the way, walk in it,"

Whenever you turn to the right hand

Or whenever you turn to the left.

Isaiah 30:21


If God speaks, we obey. When you stop obeying, it's like God closes the book. There's silence from heaven, and you're left wondering why you don't hear anything else because God's still waiting for you to do the last thing He told you.


We're good at listening. It's just the obedience part that trips us up. God doesn't give us participation points, but He will give us wisdom in the face of our enemies.


"You, through Your commandments, make me wiser than my enemies;

For they are ever with me." –Psalm 119:98


God is saying that your enemies will always be there, but God's commandments make you wiser than them. So if you're not reading and studying His commandments, you won't know how to deal with them.


Whenever there's a breakdown in our communication with God, chances are, we closed our ears before He closed His mouth. So if you're lost in your predicament, open your heart before asking God to speak because He will not waste His words.


Lesson #2: God strives with those who lie to Him


Pharaoh was prideful and unrelenting. Pharaoh fastened Himself as a god and the son of the sun god, yet we read that he is flunking these divine lessons as a deeply flawed human being. 


God judges Pharaoh, so we should learn from God's dealing with Pharaoh that there are things to watch out for in ourselves because we do not want strife with God. But, unfortunately, we are prone to lie to God by pretending to change. 


We pretend to change when we ask for forgiveness without repentance. Forgiveness is just an acknowledgment that you understand you did something wrong. We want forgiveness but will not stop doing what we are doing. 


You can categorize that in any part of your life. The issue is that you got caught, but you're not repenting. You're just pretending to change. Listen to Pharaoh in Exodus 9:27,


"And Pharaoh sent and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, "I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked." 

Then in, Exodus 10:16-17A says,


"Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron in haste, and said, "I have sinned against the Lord your God and against you. Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that He may take away from me this death only."


Pharaoh was a liar telling the truth. It was factual that he was sinning. The lie was that he didn't want to change. He shows us that you can still be a liar even when you tell the truth.


Asking for forgiveness is necessary, but it's not for repentance. To repent is to change a course of direction and action with an intent to obey God. As people, we can be fooled at first by someone who pretends to change. You may even be the one that's pretending to change, but you can't fool God.


God is giving time for the fraud to become authentic. Look at 2 Peter 3:9,


"The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance."


The Lord is not slacking, so when He says He'll judge sin, He means it. He's not taking time off nor is he derelict in His duties. God is patient towards us because he's not willing for anyone to perish but for all to come to repentance.


He hasn't judged you yet because He's trying to give you an opportunity to get right. God gave Pharaoh 10 times with those plagues to get it right. 


For you, He may only give three but those close calls, warnings, and times you almost got caught are your plagues. That's God tapping you on the shoulder, letting you know that you're not going to be able to keep sinning. 


Your sin is like trying to hold a beach ball underwater. It'll eventually pop up no matter how long you hold it down. So, the plagues are your warning.

How do we lie to God? By praying away the consequences. It's incredible how our consequences get our attention. When we're in the throes of sin, having fun and enjoying ourselves, we don't focus on the consequences. Consequences only become a focus when we have to deal with them. 


After the first plague, Pharaoh was unbothered. The text says:


"And Pharaoh turned and went into his house. Neither was his heart moved by this." –Exodus 7:23 NKJV


The first plague Moses and Aaron did, his magicians duplicated. His magicians also duplicated the second plague that Moses did. Pharaoh was still unbothered. The third plague, the gnats, his magicians couldn't duplicate. His magicians even returned and said this is the hand of the Lord.


But what happened? It progressively got worse. If your life is progressively getting worse, what is it that God's trying to get you to do, but you're unwilling to do?


What we see is that the consequences got more severe. Pharaoh starts to ask Moses to pray for him. Think about that now. Pharaoh thought he was a god. The consequences got so severe that Pharaoh asked Moses to pray for him. But even that was just a bargain with God:


"Then Pharaoh called for Moses and Aaron, and said, "Entreat the Lord that He may take away the frogs from me and from my people; and I will let the people go, that they may sacrifice to the Lord." –Exodus 8:8

Pharaoh was saying to God, "Lord, if you do this. I'll do this." How many of us are guilty of this? There is nowhere in the Bible where God says, "Make me a promise." He never tells us to. God says He's going to make all the promises because He's a keeper, but He does come back and say, but if you make me a promise and don't keep it, scripture calls you a fool.


We make so many promises we can't even remember. Exodus 9:28 says,


"Entreat the Lord, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer."


And the same in Exodus 10:17 "Now therefore, please forgive my sin only this once, and entreat the Lord your God, that He may take away from me this death only."


Pharaoh did not want to live right. He just wanted the plagues to stop. It's the same with us. We don't want to stop doing what we're doing. We don't want to get caught. So instead of stopping, we try to get more creative. We try to be slick and then think we're good at it. 


Remember all those close calls? That's God being long-suffering. That's God being patient. But when God decides enough is enough, and we start dealing with the consequences, we act like the punishment doesn't fit the crime. 


What are you doing right now that you know you shouldn't be doing? How long do you think God will let you get away with it? Do you think you'll just be able to keep doing it? If you think coming to church every Sunday, listening to the Word, and then going back to doing what you know you shouldn't like God is not holy. 


Some of us don't want to live right. We don't want to pay for what we're doing. We hope we never get caught. We even loop friends and family in to help cover what we're doing.


God knows we don't want to change and are trying to pray away the consequences, yet He might still give us ten chances to do it right. 


Today is your plague. Today, God let somebody know that this is your last warning. Understand that if you continue, do not come complaining about the consequences. Whatever you lose as a result of continuing the sinful path, it's on you.


How else do we lie to God? By persisting in callousness.


When we pretend to change and get by without consequences, we are in the most dangerous spiritual territory a person can be. If you can continue to do what you're doing and no longer feel guilty, you no longer have the conviction that you're in a dangerous place.


God loves us so much that He lets us continue doing what we want when He's given us so many signs. God eventually removes the conviction from you, gives you over to yourself, and lets you keep sinning without feeling guilty.


This is a dangerous place to be. A hard heart and a reprobate mind go hand in hand. Romans 9:17-18 says, 


"For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I may show My power in you, and that My name may be declared in all the earth." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens."


God hardens whom He wants.

Lesson #3: God spares those who love Him


"But against none of the children of Israel shall a dog [a]move its tongue, against man or beast, that you may know that the Lord does make a difference between the Egyptians and Israel.'" –Exodus 11:7


Even in a plague, God knows how to make a distinction between His people and other people. Even in a pandemic, inflation, and rising interest rates, God knows how to make a distinction between His people and other people.


There were flies in Egypt but none in Goshen. Have you ever seen folk irritated while you're at peace? That's only something God can provide. During the pandemic, some businesses had their best years because God can distinguish between those who belong to Him and those who don't. So, when trouble happens, ask yourself to whom do you belong?


"Only in the land of Goshen, where the children of Israel were, there was no hail." –Exodus 9:26


We serve a God that's recession-proof, inflation-proof, and pandemic-proof. God can let us experience what everybody else goes through, but we're coming out differently. What happened in Egypt wasn't an attack on a nation. It was judgment upon idolaters of the nation. 


God also spared Egyptians who feared God because our love for God is not tied to our group affiliation or lineage but obedience to His commandments and will for our lives.


John 14:21 says, "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him."


You don't have to pray for what God told you how to get. You are asking God for what He told you how to get because you don't want to do what He told you to when all you have to do is follow Him, and you get everything that comes with it.


You don't have to pray for provision if He manifests Himself to me because if I got Him, everything else comes with it. If you pray for Him, you get everything that comes with it. You get the healing, the deliverance, your prosperity—everything that comes with Him is a matter of His presence. 


If you have God, everything else comes with it. Remember, knowing the Lord means learning valuable lessons. So, stop praying for things He's told you how to get.

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