Seventh plague: God’s big purpose (Exodus 9:13-35)

Open Exodus 9:13-35.

Hail falls from the heavens. Egypt’s proud rulers run for cover like everyone else. With lightening striking all around them, Egypt’s rulers are powerless before the one who reigns from heaven.

But God’s aim is not to strike Pharaoh dead: Continue reading “Seventh plague: God’s big purpose (Exodus 9:13-35)”

Six demonstrations of divine kingship (Exodus 7–9)

Open Exodus 7.

Whether it’s missiles parades in China or F35 fighters thundering over our heads in the west, our rulers love demonstrating their power. And according to the exodus story, rulers do have power to make people miserable (1:11-14; 2:23; 3:7; 4:31; 5:15; 6:6-9).

But the truth is, human rulers do not control the natural world. God alone controls the earth. That’s what the ten plagues showed. Despite all his claims, Pharaoh was not in control.

God demanded Pharaoh to release the people who weren’t his to rule. Pharaoh refused. The battle for the Hebrews begins. But God doesn’t fight with earthly weapons. With ten mighty acts, he demonstrates his kingship over the natural world. Continue reading “Six demonstrations of divine kingship (Exodus 7–9)”

When faith fades (Exodus 6:8-9)

Open Exodus 6:8-9.

Know anyone who used to go to church? What happened? Disappointed with God? Hurt by people?

What happens when life doesn’t work out as you expected, when pain erodes hope?

There’s an apparent contradiction in the Exodus story:

  • Exodus 4:31 says the people believed Moses’ message.
  • Exodus 6:9 says they were unresponsive to Moses’ message.

What happened in between to destroy their faith? Continue reading “When faith fades (Exodus 6:8-9)”

The Saviour revealed (Exodus 6:2-7)

Open Exodus 6:2-7.

Who governs the affairs of the world? That depends who you trust. Fox News would give you a different answer to China Press, Aljazeera, BBC, or Spiegel.

Truth is, none of the world’s leaders have the kind of control they’d like us to believe. There’s another hand behind history, beyond the best laid plans of mice and men.

Pharaoh was the biggest name in Moses’s world. At least, that’s what Moses thought. Until he learned the name:

Continue reading “The Saviour revealed (Exodus 6:2-7)”

When it feels worse (Exodus 5:14 – 6:1)

What do you do when evil won’t let go?

Open Exodus 5:14 – 6:1.

Remember the time you tried to sort things out, only to make it worse? Moses knew that feeling.

He delivered God’s message to Pharaoh: “Hands off my people! Release them to celebrate with me in the wilderness.”

Pharaoh reacts like any self-serving tyrant: he comes down like a ton of bricks on those who dare to imagine themselves outside his control.

To stop them dreaming about freedom under YHWH, Pharaoh tightens his control over them. They won’t have time to dream of holidays and festivals: Continue reading “When it feels worse (Exodus 5:14 – 6:1)”

The party God (Exodus 5:1-13)

The God of the Bible is not a hard task-master; he calls his people to celebrate.

Open Exodus 5:1-13.

Who is God? What’s he like? What authority does he have in a world where there’s so much injustice?

The God of the Bible turns out to be very different from what many imagine.

Continue reading “The party God (Exodus 5:1-13)”

What does it mean to believe? (Exodus 4:27-31)

Open Exodus 4:27-31.

Did you notice this key moment in the exodus narrative?

Exodus 4:31 (my translation)
The people believed when they heard YHWH’s response to Israel’s descendants, seeing their oppression. They knelt and honoured him.

Jacob’s descendants could not be free from their slavery to Pharaoh until they begin to trust God to be their new sovereign. To believe the promise God gave to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — the promise that they would be his nation — they give their allegiance to YHWH instead of Pharaoh.

That’s why they knelt before YHWH and honoured him. That’s a declaration of their new loyalty, their change of allegiance.

Faith is much more than mental assent to a creedal statement. It is recognizing God for who he is: the rightful authority over humanity. Faith is fealty — allegiance to our sovereign, our Lord. Continue reading “What does it mean to believe? (Exodus 4:27-31)”

Why did God try to kill Moses? (Exodus 4:24-26)

Open Exodus 4:24-26 and 6:13-30.

What do you make of this?

Exodus 4:24 (ESV)
At a lodging place on the way the Lord met him and sought to put him to death.

By this time, Moses was no longer arguing with God. He has accepted his appointment as ambassador for the kingdom of heaven, with a message for the king of Egypt. He has said his goodbyes to Jethro and the Midianite community. His family is obeying God and heading back to Egypt (4:18-20).

On the journey, as Moses obeys, YHWH confronts him and tries to kill him? Why? Continue reading “Why did God try to kill Moses? (Exodus 4:24-26)”

God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:21-23)

Open Exodus 4:21-23.

Moses sets out for Egypt to confront Pharaoh with YHWH’s claim of sovereignty over the Hebrew people:

Exodus 4:22–23 (ESV)
22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.”

The descendants of Jacob are God’s family. God has promised to restore the blessing of his governance to the nations through them. So God “fathers” the nation of Israel: they are born through the exodus.

What a joyful contrast: serving YHWH rather than Pharaoh. Liberated from oppressive human rule, they’re the first nation to be a kingdom of God.

Continue reading “God’s firstborn son (Exodus 4:21-23)”

Does God get angry? (Exodus 4:14)

Open Exodus 4:14.

What do you do with texts like this?

Exodus 4:14 (NIV)
Then the Lord’s anger burned against Moses …

The wrath of God gets people running one way or the other:

  • God’s anger is a core doctrine for some people. They believe God’s anger is the problem that the gospel solves (Romans 1:18).
  • God’s anger is something shameful for many Christians. They fear the image of an angry God drives people away from faith.

So what do we do with texts that talk about God’s anger? Continue reading “Does God get angry? (Exodus 4:14)”

God’s spokesman (Exodus 4:13-20)

Open Exodus 4:13-20.

Delivering ultimatums to a powerful kingdom is high-risk business. Moses has no desire to serve as spokesman of the heavenly sovereign.

Moses sought exemption because he had no power in his hand. Now he claims he has no power in his voice. Continue reading “God’s spokesman (Exodus 4:13-20)”