Exodus 10.1-29 God's Refusal

January 11, 2009 Series: Exodus

Topic: Old Testament Passage: Exodus 10:1–10:29

 

Exodus 10.1-29:  God’s Refusal

January 11, 2009      

Sam Ford

 

On being Jewish

I had the opportunity to sub for a few days this week at the high school.  Basically, to make sure I don’t become some “professional Christian” and remain sane, I go into what amounts to an insane asylum to gain perspective. I taught a group of kids who aspire to be diesel mechanics, professional quad riders, and landscapers.  Because of their affinity for cars and my last name, they asked me if I drove a “Ford.”  As soon as I said no, a kid in camouflage Carhart jacket loudly whispered—I bet he drives a Prius.  What is that supposed to mean? I think I know.

 

I enjoyed my time there but its amazing how quickly we can make assessments about people about what they look like or who they say they are.  As some of you know, I’m Jewish.  Well, my mom is Jewish so that makes me part of the ‘chosen people’.  A lot of you haven’t a clue what it means to be Jewish, forgetting that Jesus and all his disciples were Jews.  Unfortunately, we are quite indifferent to a lot of Jewish heritage, believing that when Jesus came that every Jewish believe, tradition, or practice must have died with the law. 


While our righteousness is certainly not tied to any form of ceremonial traditions, I do believe we can learn a lot from a culture centered on the worship of God.  One of those traditions is the use of a Mezuzah. 
A Mezuzah (×ΕΎ×–×•×–×”) is a piece of parchment (from a kosher animal) with the Hebrew text from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 & 11:13-21 written using a quill, black ink (not just any), in a special manner or writing.  These small parchments are placed inside ornate receptacles of all shapes and sizes.   Jews secure Mezuzahs on the right-hand side of the doorway from which the room or home is most often entered on the upper third of the doorpost.   Typically, they are tiled because two famous Rabbinic opinions argued over if they should be horizontal or vertical, but in order to demonstrate the importance of peace at home, compromised to make it diagonal.

All of our heart

What it's for is to fulfill the commandment that says to write "these words", from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 & 11:13-21, on your (to Jews) doorposts.  In Matthew 22, Jesus was challenged by a lawyer about what the greatest commandment was.  Considering there are over 600 commandments taken from the Jewish Torah, its significant that Jesus answer with Deuteronomy 6.5 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.  This is the first verse that we teach our kids, and it is probably the one verse we should all post on our doorposts because it is the core of our faith.  A Christian is to LOVE God with ALL of their HEART.  For the past weeks, we have seen a king who loves many things but God.  In fact, God pours out his judgment on his heart because it is the heart with which he loves everything else BUT God.  And that is the very thing that God wants from us. 

 

What is right in God’s eyes?

The fact is that most of us wouldn’t want such a saying posted on our doors because we couldn’t handle the conviction every time we walked in the door!  We know that ALL of us love many things more than God that we have given all of our heart to other things or only given God parts of our heart.  But what does it mean to love God with all of your heart?  In 1Kings, you can read the account of the kings of Israel.  Following Solomon’s reign thing nation of Israel became divided into a northern (Israel) kingdom and a southern kingdom (Judah).  Israel during this time had no fewer than eighteen kings and Judah twelve kings. Jeroboam I became king of the northern state and the Divided Kingdom was begun.  But all of the kings, with the exception of a handful were evil.  And God consistently described them as men who did not love him with all his heart.  About Jeroboam he said, 1Kings 14.7-8 7 Go, tell Jeroboam, ‘Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel:  “Because I exalted you from among the people and made you leader over my people Israel 8 and tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, and yet you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commandments and followed me with all his heart, doing only that which was right in my eyes…

 

Another King

Loving God with all of our heart means believing and living as if we believe in doing what RIGHT in God’s eyes ALL the time.  It means glorifying God in ALL that we do, whether it be eating or drinking.  It means that we are believers of God in more than word but action.  It means we don’t compromise and LOVE God some of the time, or GIVE him some of who we are.  We are very good a parceling up our lives and giving God parts of our heart, but not all of it.  We follow MOST of God’s commands.  We don’t do MOST of what God commands us not to.  We give him Lordship over MOST of our lives.   Although it is tempting to flex on what God has said, to reinterpret it, to ignore aspects o fit…it has disastrous consequences.  God wants to redeem ALL of us.

 

READ - Exodus 10.1-29

God’s “How Long?”

Exodus 10.3  3 So Moses and Aaron went in to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me.   The text begins with God asking Moses, “How Long” will you refuse to humble yourself.  What else do I have to do in showing you that I am God?  How much do you have to lose in order to see that everything you have has been given to you AND I can take it all away in a moment?  How Long, what will you refuse to repent and believe.  

 

For those who claim to be Christians, those who believe, God asks “How Long” will you sin?”  How long will you continue to grieve me?  How long will you try my patience?  How long will you pretend?  How long will it take for you to LOVE me WITH ALL of your HEART and ALL of your mind, and ALL of your strength? “How Long” will you sit on the curb and watch the parade go by?  How many years must pass before you look back on them and say—I wasted it.

 

First, how long will it be before you believe in Jesus?  Then, the question is, how long will it be until you start living like him?

 

Pharaoh’s Compromises

God warns him again about what will happen if he refuses.  Ironically, his advisors ask Pharaoh the same question God did:  Exodus 10.7  7 Then Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long shall this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not yet understand that Egypt is ruined?”  For the first time, Pharaoh listens to his advisors.  He calls back Moses and Aaron that he might negotiate a deal with them.  Perhaps they will make a compromise in order to experience some level of freedom. This is the actually the 3rd of FOUR times that Pharaoh tries to compromise with Moses.  In essence, he is asking to follow MOST or a portion of God’s Word. But certainly not all of it.

 

FIRST (stay in the land) 

Exodus 8.25-26 25 Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.” 26 But Moses said, “It would not be right to do so, for the offerings we shall sacrifice to the Lord our God are an abomination to the Egyptians. If we sacrifice offerings abominable to the Egyptians before their eyes, will they not stone us?  Moses refuses since the Egyptians worshiped cows, they would be offended if they saw the Jews sacrificing their cattle to Jehovah.

 

SECOND (stay close, not 3 days)

Exodus 8.28 8 So Pharaoh said, “I will let you go to sacrifice to the Lord your God in the wilderness; only you must not go very far away.   Moses leaves and prays but Pharaoh does not let him go even that far.

 

THIRD – (only men go)

Exodus 10.8-11 8 So Moses and Aaron were brought back to Pharaoh. And he said to them,  “Go, serve the Lord your God. But which ones are to go?” 9 Moses said, “We will go with our young and our old. We will go with our sons and daughters and with our flocks and herds, for we must hold a feast to the Lord. 10 But he said to them, “The Lord be with you, if ever I let you and your little ones go! Look, you have some evil purpose in mind. 11 No! Go, the men among you, and serve the Lord, for that is what you are asking.” And they were driven out from Pharaoh’s presence.  Moses refuses because God’s worship involves the whole family, not the men only.

 

FOURTH – (only people, not animals)

Exodus 10.24 24 Then Pharaoh called Moses and said,  “Go, serve the Lord; your little ones also may go with you; only let your flocks and your herds remain behind.”   Moses refuses. 

 

Many a commentators make attempts to explain the circumstances of each of Moses’ refusals.  They say things like he refused because we don’t “stay in the world” or worship “near the world”, we completely separate.  Or they go into depth about how men and women worship together…blah blah blah.  And, although I can appreciate those various interpreations, I think they might miss the simplicity of it.  Pharaoh refused to obey what God had said.  It doesn’t matter HOW he refused, as there are a hundred ways to compromise God’s command, and there are a hundred reasons why one might justify that refusal, but any one of them is a refusal to obey THE WORD of GOD is a refusal to obey God.  To disobey the Bible is to disobey God.    

 

Tempting for Moses & Us

And it had to be tempting for Moses to give into to Pharaoh as it is for all of us.  Imagine week after week, experiencing disappointment after disappointment, as his people continue to suffer.  Every time Pharaoh gives in a little more he has to be thinking, “This is close to what God wants, maybe it’s close enough.”  In some sense, you begin to feel sorry for Pharaoh, he is doing MOST of what God has asked him to do.  But by refusing to do exactly what God has commanded him to do, he is refusing to do ANYTHING that God is asking him to do.  Don’t for a second believe that God is up there with a score card like Santa Claus making a list of good and bads, of times when we are obedient and times when we are not, so that he can give us a big present in the end.  If he is up there is a score card it has one box—believe in Jesus—YES OR NO.

 

Why Moses might be tempted

Like Moses, we are constantly tempted to compromise and settle for following LESS than God’s Word.  Our hearts get divided and we begin to serve TWO or more MASTERS.  Some the excuses we use are:

 

1.      It will take the pain away:  Moses could have stopped the harshness.  Suffering and pain will only be alleviated temporarily.  Disobedience to God’s revealed will result in the same things that Adam and Eve experienced.  The pain that you are trying to soothe will be replaced by a new kind of pain, that of shame.  You will hide from yourself and from those you love. In other words, you will suffer more.

 

2.      It will make men like me:  Moses would be loved by the people.  When we become more concerned with the approval of men than with the approval of God, we will compromise.  When we begin to focus more on WHO WE ARE, who loves me, who is impressed with me, who looks at me, who admires me, we DENY the God WHO IS.  God says don’t lie, but we often do because we want people to think better of us.    

 

3.      I may not get another chance.  Moses could think this might be the “best” it can get.  God’s “best” never includes sin and compromise.  You don’t know what opportunities will arise tomorrow and which will not.  It is never God’s will settle for something less than he has commanded.  If you think that “I may not get another chance at this” you fail to see that your choice to compromise isn’t a “chance” at all.    .

 

4.      It feels right so it must be– Moses has to feel that because the offer will result in “good”, it must be right.  .  The problem with using pleasure/lack of pain/or happiness as the determiner of God’s Will is that God may will you to take the HARDER right over the EASIER wrong.  Sometimes, what is right will be painful.  We do not make decisions based on what might bring us the most pleasure or least amount of pain.  We make decisions based on what is right according to God’s revealed word. 

 

5.      It looks right so it must be   Moses could have began to play mind games thinking—perhaps this is what God meant when he said, “let them go”.  Maybe he didn’t hear God correctly; maybe he misunderstood what he said.  How can we know?  READ THE BIBLE.  (Exodus 3.19-22).  No matter how you cut it, it is WRONG if YOU DO SOMETHING and God commanded you not to do it AND it’s wrong if YOU DO NOT DO SOMETHING and God commanded you to do it. 

 

God wants ALL to REDEEM 100% of Man

Why it’s a BIG DEAL:  99.9% isn’t good enough

This is not about accidentally fall outside of God’s Will, this is about NOT DOING what God has told us to do.  At the heart of what we’re talking about is the fact that we don’t believe compromising God’s Word is that big of deal.  I see this all the time with believers I interact with.  They’ll mention in passing, well “I’m living in sin” as if it is not a big deal.  Or recall a story about being “drunk” or “lusting” after some girl or gossiping about someone.  We spend out lives in ‘good enough” or “better than”, being told that  “doing our best” is good enough.  It is just a white lie.  It just a little too much alcohol.  It’s just a quick look at that porn.  ALL of SIN is a BIG DEAL.  Think about this:

-          1 hour of unsafe drinking water every month.

-          2 unsafe plane landings per day at O'Hare Airport inChicago.

-          16,000 pieces of mail lost by the U.S. Post Office every hour.

-          20,000 incorrect prescriptions every year.

-          500 incorrect operations each week.

-          50 babies dropped at birth every day.

-          22,000 checks deducted from the wrong bank account each hour.

-          32,000 missed heartbeats per person each year.

 

In God’s world, the only standard is perfection.  Jesus said it himself.  Matthew 5.48  48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.  99.9% following God’s Law isn’t going to cut it.  Until we see sin for what it is, EVEN THE SMALL ONES, we will always believe that we have arrived and never accept that there is only ONE who lived sinless, the man Jesus Christ.  We must maximize (as opposed to minimize) what is a sin as well as maximize its offensiveness to God.  That will lead us to the cross.

 

God desires to redeem ALL of MAN, not just different parts of his life.  Moses refuses to compromise, as we should because he knows that God wants ALL of Israel.  He doesn’t want parts of us left in Egypt and parts of us worshipping him—not the woman, not the children, not the animals.  Exodus 10.26…not a hoof shall be left behind.  He doesn’t want us to leave ANYTHING in Egypt.   God is interested in EVERYTHING we have—all of life is a spiritual sacrifice for God.  If you only give God MOST of your life, you don’t give him any of your heart. 

 

Constant disobedience leads to ruin

We really don’t believe verses like 1Cor.10.31 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.  This is a call to action, not a suggestion.   Even though God’s Word says this, we refuse to listen.  Most likely it is because, in God’s mercy, we don’t experience pain from our sinful choices, we often don’t believe they will come.  God passive wrath in allowing us to satisfy our sinful desires will end in our destruction one way or another. Galatians 6.7-8 7 Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. 8 For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.

 

And when the judgment does come, it will be devastating.  The plague of the locusts is a perfect description of what can occur.  Exodus 10.14-16  14 The locusts came up over all the land of Egypt and settled on the whole country of Egypt, such a dense swarm of locusts as had never been before, nor ever will be again. 15 They covered the face of the whole land, so that the land was darkened, and they ate all the plants in the land and all the fruit of the trees that the hail had left. Not a green thing remained, neither tree nor plant of the field, through all the land of Egypt.

 

Locust Swarms

Locust swarms are impressive.  They come without warning with such destructive force that they lead nothing but complete devastation in their path.  If a farmer sees a swarm of locust on the horizon, there is nothing he can do but watch his life be turned to ruin in a matter of minutes.   Again, this locust swarm, God says, HAD NEVER BEEN SEEN before and WILL NEVER be seen again.  So, we are left to imagine how big this was. Imagine this…

 

The larger locust swarms can range in size from 200 to over 400 square miles.  In that swarm there are nearly 40-80 million locusts in less than a half of a square mile.  Each locust can eat its weight in plants each day which equates to 423 million pounds of plants each day.  A ton of locusts, which is a tiny part of the average swarm, eats the same amount of food in a single day as 10 elephants, 25 camels or 2,500 people. In this case, the Locust come and destroy all that was not destroyed by the hail storm.  There was not a single green thing remaining, no plants, no tress, no fields, anywhere in Egypt.  This was the final and complete decimation of a man and a nation that had refused to obey God’s word.

 

All is ruined

Not only did this result in the “ruining” of Egyptfinancially, but its natural beauty was destroyed.  The nation was full of death in every sense of the word.  Pharaoh thought that if he submitted to God’s command to free his people that his nation would be ruined.  He felt he was leading appropriately.  He surmised intellectually that he was leading wisely.  He believed he was leading rightly.  But because he refused to lead according to the Word of God, he destroyed ALL that he loved and worked for. When we refuse to align ourselves with God’s design, when we refuse to follow God’s Commands and heed God’s warnings, things will fall apart. 

 

I think it is frightening how perverted we’ve become, so much so that we can convince ourselves that compromising God’s Word is excusable sometimes and even desired others. The biggest plague on the church today is sexual perversion and lust.  I am always amazed by people who bring sexual sin into their relationships in the name of “Love”.  They believe they are in fact LEADING toward happiness by LEADING away from God.  Whether people sleeping together before marriage or defiling the marriage bed by bringing pornography into it, they will claim they do so for love.  No matter what it feels like, no matter how wonderful it feels to disobey or how hard it is to do it God’s way—His way will always result in life and the World’s way in death.  People who love each other DO NOT do that.  It is NEVER loving, no matter how you cut it, to lead someone into sin. 

 

Final disobedience leads to darkness

Exodus 10.21-23  21 Then the Lord said to Moses,  “Stretch out your hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, a darkness to be felt.” 22 So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 23 They did not see one another, nor did anyone rise from his place for three days, but all the people of Israel had light where they lived.

 

God gave the Egyptians finally over to a darkness that could be felt.  It was a darkness that covered all of the land of Egypt, and was so thick that it prevented them from having any light.  Some scholars would argue that this is a sandstorm, but I would agree with others who say it is a darkness that God uniquely brings.  And it’s a darkness that the people CHOOSE to stay in for three days rather than going to the place of light.    

 

Darkness is where people reside when they do not love God with all of their heart, with all of their soul, and with all of their strength.  All that is not God is darkness, and for those who love God MOST of the time, with THE MAJORITY of what you have, in a GOOD NUMBER of the things you do, in front of NEARLY EVERYONE that means they choose to walk in darkness some of the time.  And anyone who chooses to walk in darkness cannot say they have light.   1John 1.5-9  …that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.

 

How long will you remain in darkness?

How long will you choose to remain in darkness? How long will you tolerate the battle that is in your heart over your compromise? How long will you allow your sin to keep you enslaved? How long will you keep doing what God has commanded us not to do?  How long will sit in the darkness of your place and feel lonely because, like Adam and Eve, you feel you have to hide?  How long will you NOT do what God has commanded you to?  How long will you not love God with ALL of your heart?  It ends today.  Bring it to the light, 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

 

 

 

 

 

More in Exodus

July 19, 2009

Exodus 40: God's Dwelling

July 12, 2009

Exodus 37-39: God's House

July 5, 2009

Exodus 35-36: God's Builders