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. 

There is no escaping the Lord’s Judgment

“Then the kings of the earth and the great ones and the generals and the rich and the powerful, and everyone, slave and free, hid themselves in the caves and among the rocks of the mountains, calling to the mountains and rocks, “Fall on us and hide us from the face of him who is seated on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb, for the great day of their wrath has come, and who can stand?” (Rev 6:15-17)

There is a day coming from which no one can hide. One day the fabric of the cosmos as we know it will roll back like a scroll to reveal the Creator and Judge of all the earth (Rev 6:14). A time of judgement will come. A time where the Lord’s wrath will be poured out.

What, when, and how this will take place is hotly disputed, but the most interesting aspect of the Day of the Lord is that no one can escape. Notice the text highlights “everyone” from those who are in power to those who are slaves. Kings and wealthy oligarchs and influencers will face the same wrath as those who are enslaved, used, and abused by those who wield power.

At the judgment seat, as well as at the foot of cross the ground is level. The ground is level because all are sinners. Sinners are not just those who miss the mark from time to time, or those who fall short of God’s commands, even though that is true. Sinners do fall short of God’s commands. We fall short because we are rebels. Not just because we messed up at that moment. No, we are rebels. We want to call the shots. We want to be King. We want to be Creator. We are rebels. As rebels, we all deserve God’s wrath.

Thankfully, there is a Lamb who was slain for our rebellion. The precious blood of Jesus was spilt on our behalf. Those who believe in Jesus as their Lord and Savior are united with Him in His life, death, and resurrection. The Father’s wrath passes over Christians, not because we are better or more righteous than another, but because Jesus is better and more righteous.

There is a judgment coming. The only way to prepare for it is to believe in Jesus. We cannot build a bunker or run far enough away. There is no escaping the Lord’s judgment.

We have more than we deserve, bless the Lord all His saints

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (1 Pe 1:3-5)

We are such a blessed people. Not only has the Father given His only Son so that we might experience salvation from His wrath. But He has caused us to be born again to a living hope. A hope that will not perish or be defiled. It will not fade. Instead, it is kept in the most secure place possible — it is kept in heaven.

When Jesus returns, He will bring His kingdom with Him. A kingdom that is perfect. One that will never be defeated. One that will last for all eternity. Finally, when Jesus returns and sets up His kingdom, we will be able to experience life as God designed. There will be no sickness, no death, no disunity, no racism, no winter storms. There will be nothing that hinders our ability to live as God has designed.

We can trust that will take place because Jesus was raised from the dead. After three days in the grave — there was no way He was just faking it — He rose from the dead. After interacting with well over 500 people for 40 days, He ascended into heaven in front of the disciples. He promised to come back. His promise is guaranteed because we have been sent the Holy Spirit who works in our life day in and day out.

We are a blessed people. As blessed people, we should bless God. We should praise Him. We should submit our lives to Him giving Him His due worship by allowing Him to guide and direct our lives instead of trying to guide and direct it ourselves.

Blessed the Lord all those who have experienced God’s blessing. We have much more than we deserve.

Let the gospel empower you to run the Christian race with endurance

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,” (Heb 12:1)

Many have come before us and Lord willing many will come after us. We are not the first and only generation to follow the Lord. We exist in a long line of witnesses (see Heb 11). These witnesses should serve to bolster our faith in the Lord. When life is not going as planned, we can think back to Abraham, Moses, Joseph, David, Daniel and others and meditate on how they continued to trust in the Lord despite the adversity they faced.

Our God is a faithful Lord who is worthy of our trust and worship. We should, as the writer exhorts in today’s verse, lay aside our burdens and the sin that clings to us and faithfully run towards the Lord with endurance.

How do we run with endurance?

We look to Jesus and the good news of His sacrifice on our behalf. The writer continues in verse 2,

“looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2)

If we are wavering in our trust, if our burdens seem too heavy, and sin too appealing, we need to look to Jesus. We need to mediate on, preach the gospel to, ourselves. The gospel should both warn us and encourage us. On the one hand it should warn us. Our sin is so repugnant its wages is death. But on the other hand, our God loves us so much that He was willing to pay the penalty for sin Himself so as to rescue us from its misery and outcome.

Let that sink in. God died the death we deserve so that we might experience release from the bondage of sin and death. What an amazing God we serve!

On this cold winter’s morning, turn to Jesus and let Him warm your heart, let Him and His cross work melt your burdens and sin away so that your affections grow hot for Him. Praise Him! Worship Him! Trust in Him! Run the race set before you with endurance!

Turn to Jesus, not the Law for salvation. He is a perfect High Priest.

“For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens.” (Heb 7:26)

Keeping the Law doesn’t save, but Jesus does. The law in what we refer to as the Old Testament doesn’t provide us with salvation because it cannot make us perfect (Heb 7:19). But Jesus is a better hope. He makes it possible for us to draw near to a perfect God. Our verse this morning highlights the reason. Jesus is holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners in every way.

If we place our trust in rules and regulations, if we believe keeping the law and adhering to the commandments will make us righteous, we are sadly mistaken. The Law made it possible for man to live in God’s presence. Not through our goodness, but through the sacrifices the priesthood offered daily on man’s behalf. It was that covering for sin that allowed man to live in the presence of God.

Jesus is that covering for us today. Except He is a perfect covering. One that will not end. He is a priest according to the order of Melchizedek. A priest who has no beginning and ending. A priesthood completely different from the old order (Heb 7:17; 22; 25). Jesus, then, is able to save to the uttermost, making intercession for us as a faithful and eternal high priest (Heb 7:25).

Turn to Jesus, not the Law for salvation. He is a perfect High Priest.

Jesus helps us defeat temptation

“For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.” (Heb 2:18)

Jesus did not have an easy life. He was misunderstood, attacked, beaten, and finally nailed to the cross. Along the way He was tempted. Unlike us, He did not succumb to temptation. He held fast, proving Himself to be faithful and righteous. As a result, He is able to act as our high priest, as the one who is the go between us and the Father.

As our high priest, He not only brings sacrifice on our behalf, but He is the sacrifice. He gives Himself so that He might propitiate (satisfy) the Father’s wrath against our sin (Heb 2:17).

Through Jesus’ high priestly activity we are also released from bondage. We no longer have to fear the power of death. It’s bondage has been broken (Heb 2:14-15). We experience these benefits because Jesus took on flesh and blood, partaking in our life, living righteously and defeating temptation (Heb 2:14;18).

Jesus can help us, then, in our suffering because His suffering resulted in our release from bondage and empowerment by Him. Therefore, when we are tempted, we should not turn inwardly, nor should we run from God. Instead, we should turn to Jesus. He is able to help us defeat the temptation to which we are experiencing.