Do not harden yourself against the Lord, He is God almighty. Instead submit your life and purposes to Him and Him alone.

The Egyptians shall know that I am the LORD, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.” (Exodus 7:5)

The Exodus event is a rich biblical motif of God’s power over all. Through the plagues God shows both Egypt and the world He is Lord of all. There are no other gods greater, stronger, and mightier. The God of Israel, YAHWEH, is the one true God who rules the world. 

To be sure there are a host of counterfeit gods. God’s that are not real but seem to be so for they operate under the control and power of dark forces. They are a part of the Satan’s deception. They lure man in through copy cat practices but are no match for the Lord. In several instances through the plague narrative, Pharaoh’s magicians are able to work the same miracles as Moses and Aaron, but in the end their power is shown to be no match for the Lord as they are not able to continue to go toe to toe with Moses and Aaron. 

In their first encounter with Pharaoh, Aaron throws down his staff and it becomes a serpent (Exodus 7:10). The wise men and sorcerers of Pharaoh’s kingdom where able to do the same (Exodus 7:11-12). However, God shows Himself dominate when Aaron’s staff swallows up the other staffs (Exodus 7:12b). Throughout the narrative, similar instances occur. The wise men’s and sorcerers are able to produce the same miracles. Eventually, however, their power runs dry. Man can only compete with God’s power for so long until He triumphs over them. Our power is no match for the Lord. He is the all-sovereign Creator, Sustainer, and Ruler of the universe.

Pharaoh is not able to see God’s position. Pharaoh’s servants do. They see they are no match for the Lord. But Pharaoh doesn’t. He allows his pride to get the best of him. Even at the counsel of his people, pharaoh does not give in and let the Israelites go (Exodus 10:7). He continues in steadfast opposition to the Lord, even though those around him are telling him otherwise (see also Exodus 8:19).

You would think Pharaoh would eventually relent. He would recognize his place in God’s creation and turn from his sinful rebellion to obey the Lord, but Pharaoh doesn’t. He doesn’t because Pharaoh’s heart was hardened. While there is dispute as to who hardened whom’s heart first — did Pharaoh harden his own heart and then God seeing Pharaoh would not relent harden it so he could not relent, or had God hardened Pharaoh’s heart from the first. I believe the narrative makes it clear the latter is true. Whichever way you lean, it is evident the Lord is using Pharaoh to prove a point — He is the all-sovereign Lord of the universe. No man is more powerful than He. It is our duty to submit our lives to the Lord, allowing Him to call the shots. Shot caller, like Pharaoh, do not win in the end. Instead they pay a hefty price. Pharaoh not only lost his nation but, as we will see next time, he also lost his life. 

Do not harden yourself against the Lord, He is God almighty. Instead submit your life and purposes to Him and Him alone. 

Continue to trust in the Lord even if it doesn’t seem like He is present.

“But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.” (Exodus 3:19)

In this morning’s reading, Moses has an encounter with God. He finds a bush burning in the wilderness but is not being burned up. Like many of us, he turns aside to see how a bush on fire could remain whole, unburned by the fire that should consume it. Upon approaching the bush, a voice, the voice of God, emanates from the bush warning Moses that he has entered a holy space.

Afterwards, God proceeds to tell Moses He has heard the cries of His people in Egypt who are being brutally afflicted by the Egyptians. Not only has He heard their cries but He has seen their affliction. He has come to provide them with relief. But God is not going to smite the Egyptians right away. Instead, His plan is to send Moses to bring the people out of Egypt. Moses is tasked with approaching Pharaoh and asking him to let God’s people go three days’ journey into the wilderness to sacrifice to God (Exodus 3:18).

What is interesting about God’s plan for Moses is that He already knows the outcome. He tells Moses that He knows the King of Egypt will not let them go unless compelled by a mighty hand. He doesn’t tell Moses the mighty wonders He will do just that He will do them. Not only will He do mighty wonders that will result in the Israelites escape, but He will also provide the Israelites favor with the Egyptians. Favor that will result in them plundering the Egyptians of their silver and gold jewelry, as well as clothing. The Israelites will not leave Egypt empty handed.

Again, we see the providential nature of God. He is in control. Life does not happen by chance. It is a part of God’s plan. We see the Lord provides, He protects His people. Continue to trust in the Lord even if it doesn’t seem like He is present. He is present. He has not abandoned you. He remains faithful. Watch and see what the Lord will do in your life!

Our providential God is at work

In Genesis 45:4-5, we read:

So Joseph said to his brothers, “Come near to me, please.” And they came near. And he said, “I am your brother, Joseph, whom you sold into Egypt. And now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.” (Genesis 45:4-5)

Many years before their shocking encounter, Joseph’s brothers had sold him into slavery. They were jealous of him. They wanted him gone. Instead of killing him, they sold him to a passing caravan. They told their father Joseph had been killed by a wild animal. 

Joseph, however, had not been killed. He was enslaved and brought to the land of Egypt. Through events that only God could orchestrate, a Jewish slave rises to power in Egypt. Joseph is more powerful than anyone in the land except the Pharaoh.

Joseph’s meteorite rise did not happen by chance. Rather it was orchestrated by God. What Joseph’s brothers meant for evil God used to preserve the life of the nation of Israel. The family from whom He had chose to save the whole world. The Messiah would come through their family line. In the Messiah, they would be a blessing to the whole world. 

Our God has a plan. He is in control. Life does not happen by chance. It falls under the providential care of the Lord. That doesn’t mean life will always be easy. We are refined through trial (see James 1). It does mean life has meaning and purpose. We are not knocked through life like a pinball, rather we are guided by the loving and caring hand of God. You might not see it but God is there. He is working. He is guiding and accomplishing His purpose with your life. 

Trust in the Lord. Rely on Him in the good time and the bad. Our providential God is at work.

Continue to trust in the Lord even in the midst of the wait.

Then Abraham fell on his face and laughed and said to himself, “Shall a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Shall Sarah, who is ninety years old, bear a child?” (Genesis 17:17)

What strikes me most this morning as I read the Abraham narrative, the covenants God makes with him, is the length of time that passes between the promise and its fulfillment. Abraham first encounters God when he is in his 70’s. God not only promises him land but also offspring. Again, in chapter 15, Abraham receives a promise from God regarding offspring. Abraham is in his mid 80’s at this point. Still Abraham and Sarah remain childless. God’s promise doesn’t come to fruition and Abraham has a child through Sarah’s servant, Hagar. But Hagar’s son is not the son of promise. God makes that clear when He visits them again. Once again He promises to provide them with child. Both Abraham and Sarah are in their late nineties at this point. Abraham is pushing one hundred and Sarah is just a year behind. It is amazing but God’s promise comes to fruition. Abraham and Sarah have a child together. Isaac is born! 

God held true to His promise, but it didn’t happen over night. It took thirty some odd years for Abraham to finally have a child and get his family started with Sarah. The family God promised would be a blessing to the nations. 

The time between God’s initial promise and His fulfillment took decades. Decades that I am sure seemed like an eternity. Decades that led them to disbelieve God, so much so Sarah offered Hagar to Abraham so that he might have a child. Decades that made Sarah laugh when God visited them at the oaks of Mamre as they looked out over Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18). Decades that eventually came to culmination with the birth of Isaac. 

God’s timing is not our timing. Days, months, years and even decades can go by without an answer to prayer. What appears to never happen is right on time according to the Lord. His plan is perfect. He perfects us through His plan. We must trust the Lord knows best and His timing is right.

Continue to trust in the Lord even in the midst of the wait. It can be difficult, but the Lord has a plan!

We cannot succeed in making our name greater than the Lord’s.

After man was expelled from the garden for rebelling against God, man’s rebellion did not cease. Even after a worldwide flood wiped out everyone on the face of the planet except Noah’s family, man continued to rebelled against God. In Genesis 11:4 we read,

Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)

We are not sure how many years, but several generations (see Gen 10) removed from Noah, man has a new technology. They are able to make bricks and put them together in such a way as to build stronger and grander structures. Instead of spreading out on the face of the earth exercising dominion for God’s glory, they decide to stay and build a city that will bring them glory. 

Man has been after their own glory since the beginning. Adam and Eve desired to determine what was right and wrong according to their own judgment. Lamech killed a man for wounding him and bragged to his wive’s that his justice would be greater than the justice God promised Caan (Genesis 4:23-24). In Noah’s day, men did what was right in their own eyes so much so that God regretted making man (Genesis 6:5-8). They had no care for God at all. Whatever glory they had earned for themselves was taken in a worldwide flood (Genesis 6-9).

Mankind is still doing the same today. Armed with newer technologies, man seeks to carve out a name for themselves. Man, however, will never succeed in making a name for themselves. Death comes to us all. None will live forever. 

As we have seen recently, even those who succeed in making their way into the history books, have schools named after them, and statues erected in their honor, face the real possibility of being cancelled, erased from the history books and the public eye forever. 

Try as we might, we cannot succeed in making our name greater than the Lord’s.

Turn to the Lord, submit your life to Him, He cares for you.

At the end of the book of revelation we read these encouraging yet unbelievable words:

“And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Revelation 21:3)

The gods of other nations are always distant. They don’t have time for humans. Human’s are second class in their mind, servants who were created through various means for their own pleasure and use. Gods don’t typically come to take up residence with their creation, just as kings typically don’t take up residence with their people. No, they live in a castle distanced and protected from the people.

The God of Israel, the God of the Scriptures, does not distance Himself from man. We are the pinnacle of His creation, created in His image to reign and rule on His behalf (Genesis 1-2). He placed the first humans in the garden in Eden to work and keep it on His behalf. They were to serve as little “k” kings, reigning and ruling over all creation. They, however, didn’t recognize their privileged place and sinned against the Lord. You can read about in Genesis 3. Their sin plunged the whole world into a corrupted state.

God did not give up. He went on a rescue mission for His people, even sending His own Son to die in their place as a means to bring His people back into fellowship with Him and so He could tabernacle among us once again. Here, at the end of the book of the Revelation of Jesus Christ, we see God doing just that. He brings His kingdom, described as a new heaven and new earth (Revelation 21:1), so that He can live among us once again. 

We don’t become His slaves, instead we are His children who live a blessed life. A return to Eden, if you will, takes place when God’s holy city drops out of the sky. The promise in verse 4 is amazing, awe and hope inspiring: 

Revelation 21:4 reads,

“He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

What an amazing God we serve! A God who actually cares for His people. Don’t turn to the counterfeit gods of the world who cannot and will not deliver on their promises. They do not care for you, nor will they provide you what they say they will. Only heartache and death results from following the gods of the world. But life and peace is the result of following the Lord our God. 

Turn to the Lord, submit your life to Him, He cares for you.