Afternoon Sermon: What Do We Pray For In The First Petition?, Baptist Catechism 108, Psalm 67

Baptist Catechism 108

Q. 108. What do we pray for in the first petition?

A. In the first petition, which is “Hallowed be thy name,” we pray that God would enable us and others to glorify Him in all that whereby He makes Himself known, and that He would dispose all things to His own glory. (Matt. 6:9; Ps. 67:1-3; Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11)

Scripture Reading: Psalm 67

“TO THE CHOIRMASTER: WITH STRINGED INSTRUMENTS. A PSALM. A SONG. May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, Selah that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations. Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. Selah Let the peoples praise you, O God; let all the peoples praise you! The earth has yielded its increase; God, our God, shall bless us. God shall bless us; let all the ends of the earth fear him!” (Psalm 67, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

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Last Sunday afternoon we considered the preface or the introduction to the Lord’s Prayer. I stammered over my words a bit at the beginning of that sermon, saying, these words, “our Father in heaven”, are not a part of the Lord’s Prayer, and then I quickly corrected myself. Here is what I had in mind, but failed to clearly communicate: the words, “our Father in heaven” are introductory. With these words, we address God in prayer. But the first petition or request is this: “Hallowed be thy name…”

So then, we are to address God Almighty as Father, for he has set his love upon us in Christ Jesus. And the very first thing that we should pray for is that God’s name is “hallowed”. 

The first thing that we should notice is that this request is to be our first request, and that itself is very significant. First words are important in any conversation, for they reveal what is most important to you. If you meet with someone and immediately begin talking about business, whatever the business may be, that is very rude. And why is it rude? Because it reveals that you care nothing about the person, but only about the business or the issue at hand. This is why we typically begin conversation with statements like this: hello, how are you? How was your day? How’s the family?, etc. before getting on to business. This communicates that you care about the person. And hopefully you really do! 

Similarly, the way in which we begin our prayers reveals a lot about the condition of our hearts. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are times when we may get straight to business with God in prayer, just as there are times when we get straight to business in our conversations with others. It is not wrong to cry out to God in a moment of fear, frustration, or desperation and to immediately bring your concerns or needs to him. But typically, when bowing before the Lord in prayer we ought to begin, not with requests concerning our own needs, but a request that God’s name be hallowed. This should be our first request, not only because Christ said that it should be, but because it is the highest concern of our hearts. 

When we pray that God’s name be hallowed, we are praying that God would be honored, revered, exalted, glorified. Notice, that is what our catechism teaches, saying, “In the first petition, which is ‘Hallowed be thy name,’ we pray that God would enable us and others to glorify Him in all that whereby He makes Himself known, and that He would dispose all things to His own glory.” That God be glorified should be the leading concern of our hearts, and it should be the first thing we pray for. 

Notice that our catechism helps us to think about the various ways that God may be glorified. 

In the first petition, which is “Hallowed be thy name,” we pray that God would enable us… to glorify Him…” So then, when we pray to God our leading prayer should go something like this: Father in heaven, use me to bring glory to your name today. Be exalted in my thoughts. Be exulted through my words. Be exulted through my deeds. We pray that God’s name be hallowed, we are praying that God would enable (empower) us to live for his glory. 

And because we are to pray, not only for ourselves but also for others, we should pray that “God would enable [empower]… others to glorify Him” too. Lord, we exulted through my spouse and my children. Be exulted through my brothers and sisters in Christ as they live for you in this world. Be exalted through your church as she gathers to worship and serve you Lord’s Day by Lord’s Day. 

The phrase “in all that whereby He makes Himself known”, reminds us that God is to be glorified in all things. As Paul says, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31, ESV). I’m afraid that Christians sometimes assume that God is to be glorified in the chapel and through praise while forgetting that God is to be glorified in every place and through all things. He is to be honored in our eating and drinking, in our thinking and speaking, in our working, and in our recreation. The Christian should do all things to the glory of God, and that is what we are to pray for in this first petition. Lord, empower us to do all things to the glory of your name. 

The phrase, “and that He would dispose all things to His own glory” should remind us to pray that God be glorified, not only through us but in all places through all circumstances. You know, one thing we have witnessed in our study of the book of Exodus is that the Lord will be glorified both in his gracious dealings with man and also through his judgments. When we pray, our Father in heaven, hallowed by your name, we should pray that God would be glorified in all the earth and in all things. He will get the glory at the end of time, this we know. But we are to pray for that. And we are to pray that God would get the glory even now.

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Conclusion

Perhaps you are beginning to see that each one of these petitions of the Lord’s Prayer can be greatly expanded and elaborated on if we are thoughtful…

Q. 108. What do we pray for in the first petition?

A. In the first petition, which is “Hallowed be thy name,” we pray that God would enable us and others to glorify Him in all that whereby He makes Himself known, and that He would dispose all things to His own glory. (Matt. 6:9; Ps. 67:1-3; Rom. 11:36; Rev. 4:11)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: What Do We Pray For In The First Petition?, Baptist Catechism 108, Psalm 67

Morning Sermon: Exodus 12:1-28, The Passover Instituted

New Testament Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:23–34

“For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes. Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. That is why many of you are weak and ill, and some have died. But if we judged ourselves truly, we would not be judged. But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. So then, my brothers, when you come together to eat, wait for one another— if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home—so that when you come together it will not be for judgment. About the other things I will give directions when I come.” (1 Corinthians 11:23–34, ESV)

Old Testament Reading: Exodus 12:1-28

“The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be for you the beginning of months. It shall be the first month of the year for you. Tell all the congregation of Israel that on the tenth day of this month every man shall take a lamb according to their fathers’ houses, a lamb for a household. And if the household is too small for a lamb, then he and his nearest neighbor shall take according to the number of persons; according to what each can eat you shall make your count for the lamb. Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male a year old. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats, and you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of this month, when the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill their lambs at twilight. Then they shall take some of the blood and put it on the two doorposts and the lintel of the houses in which they eat it. They shall eat the flesh that night, roasted on the fire; with unleavened bread and bitter herbs they shall eat it. Do not eat any of it raw or boiled in water, but roasted, its head with its legs and its inner parts. And you shall let none of it remain until the morning; anything that remains until the morning you shall burn. In this manner you shall eat it: with your belt fastened, your sandals on your feet, and your staff in your hand. And you shall eat it in haste. It is the LORD’s Passover. For I will pass through the land of Egypt that night, and I will strike all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and on all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgments: I am the LORD. The blood shall be a sign for you, on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you, and no plague will befall you to destroy you, when I strike the land of Egypt. This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast. Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel. On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread.’ Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb. Take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood that is in the basin, and touch the lintel and the two doorposts with the blood that is in the basin. None of you shall go out of the door of his house until the morning. For the LORD will pass through to strike the Egyptians, and when he sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to enter your houses to strike you. You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses.’’ And the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did.” (Exodus 12:1–28, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

The text that is before us today consists of two parts. In verses 1 through 20 we find a record of the instructions that God gave to Moses and Aaron regarding Israel’s perpetual observance of the Passover memorial under the Mosaic Covenant. And although verses 21 through 28 are certainly related to this, they differ in that they are a record of the instructions that Moses gave to the elders of Israel regarding the observance of the first Passover with some mention made of its future observance. You can clearly see the division in the text by reading verse 1, “The LORD said to Moses and Aaron in the land of Egypt, ‘This month shall be for you the beginning of months…”, etc., and comparing it to verse 21, “Then Moses called all the elders of Israel and said to them, ‘Go and select lambs for yourselves according to your clans, and kill the Passover lamb…”, etc. From this it should be clear to us that Moses and Aaron were priests, and that Moses was also a prophet. That Moses and Aaron were priests is clear because God gave them instructions regarding the religious observance of the Passover under the Old Mosaic Covenant. They, and the priests that would descend from them, were to see to it that the worship of God was maintained. But it was Moses the prophet who then delivered the word of God to the people of God through their elders.  

By the way, did you notice that the Hebrew people are back on board in this passage? We haven’t heard anything about them since chapter 6. Pharaoh had responded to Moses’ original request for the release of the Hebrews by withholding the straw necessary for brick making and thus he greatly increased the already heavy burden of the Hebrews. This caused the Hebrews to turn away from Moses and Aaron. The foremen of the Hebrews spoke to them saying, “The LORD look on you and judge, because you have made us stink in the sight of Pharaoh and his servants, and have put a sword in their hand to kill us” (Exodus 5:21, ESV). And in 6:9 we read, “Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery” (Exodus 6:9, ESV). That was the last we heard about the spiritual condition of the Hebrews. They were broken, greatly discouraged, and unwilling to listen to Moses. But now they are back! I think it is safe to say that although they maintained a low profile to avoid even harsher treatment from Pharaoh while Moses and Arron did their thing, they were watching. They witnessed the judgments that God poured out on Pharaoh, the Egyptians, and the gods of Egypt, and they saw how the LORD made a distinction between them and the Egyptians. In other words, the LORD proved himself faithful through the outpouring of the first 9 plagues, and now we see that the Hebrews are back on board. In verse 21 Moses calls for the elders of Israel, and they come to listen. And after Moses gives his instructions we read of the reaction of the Hebrews in verses 27-28: “…the people bowed their heads and worshiped. Then the people of Israel went and did so; as the LORD had commanded Moses and Aaron, so they did” (Exodus 12:27–28, ESV). This is quite the turnaround, isn’t it? Clearly, the Lord had proven himself faithful and trustworthy.   

I wonder if you can relate? Perhaps you have gone through a season of pronounced difficulty which left you feeling greatly discouraged and doubting. But God showed himself faithful in his judgments and in his grace, leading to your restoration. It seems to me that the Hebrews went through something like this as a people. They were so beaten down that they began to doubt Moses and the LORD in whose name he came. But now they are back. “The people bowed their heads and worshiped”, and they went and did as Moses commanded. 

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Three Observations

With all of that as an introduction, I have three general observations to make concerning the instructions that the LORD gave to Moses and Aaron, and through them to the Hebrew people, concerning the observance of the Passover.

First of all, it is very important for us to recognize that these Passover laws that were revealed to Israel in the days of Moses were positive laws.

Positive laws are laws that are added by the Lord, often in connection with the establishment of a covenant. Positive laws are not inherently moral. Before this time, no one was obliged to keep the Passover. In fact, no one would have thought to, for the Passover had not occurred. This obligation to keep the Passover was imposed upon Israel at the time of the Exodus, and not before. Natural laws are binding on everyone, everywhere, and always, for they are those moral laws which were written on Adam’s heart at creation. They do not change. Murder, for example, was sinful in the beginning, it is sinful to this present day, and will always be sinful. But positive laws are laws are morally neutral. And they are imposed by God, as I have said, often in connection with the making of a Covenant between God and man. Positive laws are often filled with symbolism.

Adam had the moral law written on his heart at the time of his creation, but the law concerning abstinence from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil was added later. The law to abstain from that tree was a positive law added by God in connection with the Covenant of Works that God transacted with him. The forbidden tree was made by God to signify rebellion against God, whereas the tree of life was made to signify Adam’s perfect, exact, and perpetual obedience. Eating fruit from trees is not inherently sinful. But for Adam, it was a sin to eat of the forbidden tree after the Lord commanded him not to eat of it. The law concerning the forbidden tree was a positive law, for it was added to the moral law and imposed upon Adam. 

Abraham was also given a positive law, the law of circumcision. This law was added to signify the covenant that God had made with Abraham. By this sign, the Hebrew people were marked off from the other nations. Before this law of circumcision was added, it was not a sin for anyone to remain uncircumcised. After this law was added, it was a sin for a male descendant of Abraham to remain uncircumcised. And that remained true up until Christ came into the world through the Hebrew people to accomplish the work of redemption. Ever since then, circumcision is to be regarded as nothing, for circumcision, or uncircumcision is a morally neutral thing. It was only a moral issue for a particular time and for a particular people while they lived under a particular covenantal arrangement according to the command of God. 

Positive laws were also added by Christ upon the inauguration of the New Covenant. Those who have faith in Christ are to be baptized and they are to partake of the Lord’s Supper. Before Christ said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit…”, and before he said, “do this in remembrance of me”, in regards to the observance of the Lord’s Supper, God’s people were not obliged to keep these commands. But now that Christ has added these positive laws, those who have faith in Christ are bound to obey them, for they do signify our union with Christ under the New Covenant, and our separation from the world. This will be so until the Lord returns. In the new heavens and earth, we will not observe baptism and the Lord’s supper, for then the Covenant of Grace will be brought to a consummation. Those in Christ will pass from grace to glory.

And here I am saying that such was the case with the observance of the Passover. These Passover laws were positive laws added by God and imposed upon the people of Israel in the days of Moses. No one was obliged to keep the Passover before this time. Only the Hebrews were obliged to keep the Passover after this. And these Passover laws would remain binding upon them until their purpose was fulfilled. These Passover laws were for Israel under the Old Mosaic covenant; they passed away with the arrival of the Christ, the accomplishment of our redemption through his shed blood, and the inauguration of the New and better Covenant. Neither ethnic Jews nor ethnic Gentiles today are obliged to observe the Passover (religiously), for the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world has come. To observe the Old Covenant Passover today (as if it is a religious obligation) is to deny that Jesus of Nazareth was the Messiah.

If what I have just said regarding the Passover feast binding the Hebrews only, and only under the Old Mosaic covenant, is true, then what are we to make of verse 14 of our text, which says “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast.”? And verse 17? “And you shall observe the Feast of Unleavened Bread, for on this very day I brought your hosts out of the land of Egypt. Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever.” And verse 24? “You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever.” (Exodus 12:24, ESV)

 If the Hebrew word translated as “forever” means, “from this day forward and for eternity”, then what I have just said regarding the Passover laws being no longer binding must be wrong. In fact, if this is so – if “forever” means, “from this day forward and for eternity” – then we must confess that the New Testament scriptures are wrong, for they do clearly teach that all of the feast days that were imposed upon Israel under the Old Mosaic Covenant have passed away. In fact, a word study on this Hebrew word translated as “forever” will show that it is used in relation to all kinds of Old Covenant ceremonial laws. To give just one example, Leviticus 23:21 speaks of the observance of the Day of Atonement, when it says, “You shall hold a holy convocation. You shall not do any ordinary work. It is a statute forever in all your dwelling places throughout your generations” (Leviticus 23:21, ESV). If “forever” means for all eternity, then we are still obliged to observe the Passover, the Day of Atonement, and many of the other ceremonial laws given to Israel in the days of Moses. But again, this contradicts the clear teaching of the New Testament which teaches that these ceremonial laws that were given to Israel under the Old Mosaic Covenant have passed away. Why have they passed? Because they have served their purpose and have been fulfilled by Christ. 

In fact, the Hebrew word does not necessarily mean “forever”, as in, “for all eternity”, but rather “forever”, as in, “for a very long time”, that is to say, “perpetually, for as long as this Covenantal arrangement lasts.” This positive law, along with the other positive laws given to Israel under the Old Mosaic Covenant, governed Israel’s worship for a time. They governed Israel’s worship under the Old Mosaic Covenant. They governed Israel’s worship until the Christ who was promised to them was born into this world to accomplish our eternal redemption. 

This is how all positive laws work, by the way. Because they are not inherently moral, and because they are filled with symbolism, and because they are given in connection with the making of covenants, they remain in place until their symbolic function is fulfilled, and the covenant to which they belong is either broken or fulfilled. Think of the trees in the garden. Adam was to eat of the one and abstain from the other, but those laws do not pertain to us, for Adam broke the Covenant of Works. Think of circumcision. Circumcision was an issue for all the male descendants of Abraham, but not for us. Why? Because the promises made to Abraham have all been fulfilled, the Old Covenant has passed away, and the New has come, having been inaugurated by Christ, Abraham’s true Son. And as I have said, we will not observe the Lord’s Supper in the new heavens and earth, for then we will not be under the Covenant of Grace, but will be translated to glory. There we will eat the marriage supper of the Lamb, of which the Lord’s Supper is but a type. The observance of the Lord’s Supper will thus pass away.

Brothers and sisters, all of this is very important to understand now, and here is why: In Exodus 12 we are beginning to consider that period of redemptive history where the LORD makes the Hebrew people into a nation, the nation of Israel. Think of it. Prior to this — prior to the Passover and the Exodus that follows — the Hebrews were set apart as a people. We may trace this back to Abraham (Genesis 12), and even to Noah’s son, Shem (Genesis 11). But now in Exodus, the Hebrew people begin to emerge as a nation as they are led out of Egypt to journey towards the promised land. And soon we will see that the LORD imposed a whole bunch of laws upon them to govern them as a nation. The moral law that was given to them on two tablets of stone was a summary of the one written on Adam’s heart at creation — it was not new. But in the days of Moses, the Lord added many civil laws (laws pertaining to government) and ceremonial laws (laws pertaining to the worship of God under the Old Mosaic Covenant). And I am saying that the laws regarding the keeping of the Passover are the first of these positive ceremonial laws. We must learn how to interpret these laws, brothers and sisters. They were positive laws — laws added by God to a particular people, for a particular time, under a particular covenant, and for a particular purpose, namely to preserve these people physically and spiritually, until the Christ who was promised to them was brought into the world to accomplish our redemption.  We will need to keep all of this in mind as we continue in our study of Exodus and, Lord willing, come to study Leviticus someday. These civil and ceremonial laws imposed upon Israel are all to be regarded in this way. We may learn a great deal from these positive laws. We may learn something about God’s moral law by considering the civil laws imposed upon Israel. and we may learn a great deal about Christ and the work that he came to accomplish by considering the ceremonial laws imposed upon Israel (for he was in these laws prefigured). But we are not bound to keep them today, for they were given to Israel for a particular time and purpose. 

My second observation is this: the Passover was instituted by God through Moses to serve as a memorial to the act of redemption accomplished by the LORD to deliver the Hebrews from Egyptian bondage. 

The Passover feast is called a memorial in verse 14, where the LORD speaks to Moses, saying, “This day shall be for you a memorial day, and you shall keep it as a feast to the LORD; throughout your generations, as a statute forever, you shall keep it as a feast” (Exodus 12:14, ESV). The Hebrew people, from this day forward, were to keep the Passover to remember what the LORD had done for them. 

Notice that the Passover was instituted before the historical event of which it was a memorial occurred. This should remind us of the institution of the Lord’s Supper. Our Lord, on the night that he was betrayed, the night before his crucifixion, said, this is my body which is broken for you, and this is my blood of the covenant which is shed for you, do this in remembrance of me.  So then, there was something prophetic about the words of Christ when he instituted the Supper. He predicted that his body would be broken and his bloodshed when he told his disciples to do this in remembrance of him. And the same is true of the institution of the Passover. The event of which the Passover was to serve as a perpetual memorial would happen in the future. 

But the main point is this — the Passover was to be observed as a memorial. The people of Israel were to look back and remember what the LORD had done for them to deliver them from Egyptian bondage. They were to remember the plagues, and in particular, they were to remember the 10th plague, the death of the firstborns of Egypt. And they were to remember how the LORD spared them through the blood of the lamb.   

Consider these three elements to the observance of the Passover.  

One, sacred time was set apart. The Passover itself was to be celebrated on the 14th day of the first month of the year (according to the Hebrew lunar calendar). That month — the month of Abib, which was later called Nisan — was to be regarded at the first month, and the Hebrews were to celebrate the Passover on the 14th day of that month. In fact, we do not only find instructions for the celebration of Passover in our text, but also instructions for the Feast of unleavened bread. This feast follows Passover. It was to be observed for seven days, the 14th day through the 21st. No leaven was to be found in the houses of the Hebrews, They were to eat only unleavened bread. 

Sacred time… God has always set aside sacred time for man to rest and to worship. Adam was to keep the weekly Sabbath. Work was to be done for 6 days and the seventh day was to be regarded as holy, a day for rest and for worship. That has never changed, brothers and sisters. The weekly Sabbath is command four of the ten commandments. Of course, the day of observance has changed now that the Christ has accomplished his work, has entered into his rest, and we find our rest in him by faith. The day has appropriately changed from the seventh to the first, but the weekly Sabbath remains. That is what Hebrews 4:9 explicitly says! The weekly Sabbath remains, and it will remain until the thing of which the weekly Sabbath is a sign arrives, namely, eternal rest in the new heavens and earth. But here I want you to see that in the days of Moses sacred days were added and imposed upon the Hebrews. These added days are what Paul refers to in Colossians 2:16, saying, “Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16–17, ESV).

These holy days were important for Israel, for they gave Israel an opportunity to pause and to remember what the Lord had done for them to redeem them, how he had set them apart as his people, and how he had entrusted them with his precious and very great promises. Did Israel keep these holy days? In fact, the scriptures suggest that they were very unfaithful in this. Nevertheless, this was their purpose. 

Dear brothers and sisters, under the New Covenant these holy days that were given to Israel no longer apply to us. They have passed away,  for as Paul says, they were “a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16–17, ESV). But the Lord has not left us without sacred time. A Sabbath rest remains for the people of God. The weekly Sabbath — the one day in seven Sabbath — which was first given, not to Israel in the days of Moses, but to Adam at the time of creation, remains. “So then, there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God…” (Hebrews 4:9, ESV). It is a day for resting. It is a day for worshipping. It is a day for remembering what the Lord has done for us. It is a day to be reminded that we belong to the Lord and that we are living, not for this world, but the world to come. 

Notice secondly that the Passover was a ceremonial meal. The Hebrews were to slaughter a lamb or goat without blemish. The blood was to be caught in a basin and some was to be spread upon the doorposts of the house. This application of the blood signified that all in the house believed in YHWH. When the tenth plague was poured out the LORD would pass over all of the homes with the blood applied to the doorpost. And when the Passover was celebrated in the years to come, the people were to reenact this so as to remember the mercy that the LORD had shown to them. And then the people were to roast the lamb quickly and simply over fire. They were to eat it all. If the lamb was too big for one household to consume, they were to join with others. The bread they ate was to be unleavened. They were to eat the meal fully clothed and with sandals on their feet as if ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Everything about the meal communicated preparedness and haste. This was not the kind of meal that families who were well established in their land and in their homes would eat. Rather, it was the kind of meal that those on the go would eat. And that of course is the point. The Hebrews were to prepare the meal in this way by faith, knowing that the Lord would deliver them at the break of dawn. And every Passover feast from that day forward was to be celebrated in the same way as a memorial to the great salvation the LORD worked for the Hebrews to deliver them from Egyptian bondage. 

Sacred meal… why a meal? Well, meals do signify communion. And these Hebrews were redeemed from Egypt to commune with their God and with one another. The theme runs throughout scripture, brothers and sisters. Abraham ate with the angel of the Lord, remember. The Passover was a meal. The people ate before God at Sinai. Many of the sacrifices offered at the tabernacle, and later the temple, were to be consumed by the priests and by the people. Do not forget the Lord’s Supper, brothers and sisters. And lastly, think of the marriage supper of the Lamb which we will enjoy in the New Heavens and earth. That will be the culmination of this biblical theme, won’t it. All of these sacred meals in Holy Scripture signify communion with God through Christ, the Lamb of God whose blood was shed for us.   

The third element of the Passover is teaching. The Hebrews were to observe the Passover, not in a ritualistic way, but mindfully, with faith in their hearts, and they were to teach the significance of the meal to their children. Verse 24: “You shall observe this rite as a statute for you and for your sons forever. And when you come to the land that the LORD will give you, as he has promised, you shall keep this service. And when your children say to you, ‘What do you mean by this service?’ you shall say, ‘It is the sacrifice of the LORD’s Passover, for he passed over the houses of the people of Israel in Egypt, when he struck the Egyptians but spared our houses’”(Exodus 12:24–27, ESV).

Surely you can see that the Passover memorial and the Lord’s Supper share a lot in common. They are not the same thing, mind you. The Lord’s Supper, which you and I are bound to observe today, is its own thing. Like many others elements of New Covenant worship, the Lord’s Supper is much more simple than the Passover. There is a reason for that, by the way. Old Covenant worship was complex, in part, because Christ was portrayed ahead of time in all of the ceremonies and holy days. He was “sketched out” ahead of time so that the faithful might perceive him. But now that he has come — now that “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, ESV), these complex “sketches” of Christ are no longer needed.  Remember, they were “a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ” (Colossians 2:16–17, ESV). We have the substance now. And so a small portion of bread and a small sip of wine are sufficient to remind the people of God of the Christ who has come — his body was broken and his blood shed for the forgiveness of the sins of many. 

The Lord’s Supper is not the Passover. It is its own thing. But it is related. Christ instituted the Lord’s Supper as he celebrated the last Passover with his disciples. The Lord’s Supper is to be observed by the church when she assembles for worship on the Lord’s Day. So there we find the principle of Sacred Time. It is a sacred meal. Yes, it is a small meal — a symbolic meal — but it is a meal nonetheless, for her our communion with God and with one another through faith in Christ is signified. And it is a time for teaching. 

Have you noticed that we observe the Lord’s Supper after the ministry of the Word? Why do you think that is? Answer: Because it is the Word of God that gives the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper its meaning or significance. Without the Word of God, we would not know (or we soon forget) the significance of these elements. And have you noticed the position of the Table in relation to the pulpit? It is placed below the pulpit, signifying the submission of the sacrament to the Word of God. And it is positioned in the midst of the congregation, for here our communion with God and one another through Christ is symbolized. But the point is this: in order for us to approach the Lord’s Supper correctly, teaching from scripture is needed. Just as the Word of God informed the Hebrews that the Passover meal was to be a remembrance of the redemption that God accomplished for them, so too it is the Word of God which informs us that the bread and wine signify Christ crucified for sin, raised in victory, ascended in power, who will one day return to judge the wicked and to bring those washed in his blood safely into their eternal inheritance.    

The third point of the sermon today will be very brief, and it is this: The Passover was more than a memorial. It would also function as a test of faithfulness for Israel and as a picture of the greater act of deliverance that would be accomplished in the future by the Messiah. 

When I say that the Passover (and the Feast of Unleavened Bread which accompanied it) was more than a memorial I mean that it was not just a time for remembering the past, it was also an assessment on the present and a reminder of God’s promises for the future. 

Concerning the assessment on the present, verse 15 of our text says, “Seven days you shall eat unleavened bread. On the first day you shall remove leaven out of your houses, for if anyone eats what is leavened, from the first day until the seventh day, that person shall be cut off from Israel” (Exodus 12:15, ESV). In verse 19 we find the same. Israelites who refused to keep the feast were to be cut off from the people. I take this to mean that they were to be put out of the nations, and if the people would not do it, God would, for this would indicate that the individual was faithless. 

And concerning the reminder of God’s promises for the future that were embedded within the Passover, I have already said that Christ was prefigured in this feast. The New Testament makes this so very clear. Perhaps the clearest evidence for this is the one that has already been cited. Christ, on the night that he was betrayed, took bread. After he had given thanks he blessed it and broke it and said this is my body which is broken for you. The bread that he held in his hand was the unleavened bread of the Passover, and he said, this is my body. And the cup that he took after supper was one of the cups of the Passover meal. He said this is my blood of the covenant. Just think about that. Christ in that moment revealed what was signified in the Passover all along — the broken body of the Messiah and his shed blood. As Paul says in 1 Corinthians 5:7, “For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed” (1 Corinthians 5:7, ESV).

The Passover festival was more than a memorial. It was more than a time for remembering the past. It did also test the faith of the Hebrews in the present — those who did not honor it were to be cut off. And it prefigured the Messiah too. It is anticipated the greater act of redemption that would be accomplished in the future by him. The blood of the lamb spread on the doorposts would shield the Hebrews from physical death. But the blood of Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, shields those to whom is applied by faith from the just wrath of God and his eternal punishment. More than this, it grants us life eternal in the new heavens and earth, which is our inheritance in Christ. 

As you can probably see, the Lord’s Supper is more than a memorial too. Those who are faithless are to be cut off. And in the bread and cup, we are reminded, not only of what Christ has done but of what he will do. For he said, “I tell you I will not drink again of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom” (Matthew 26:29, ESV).

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Conclusion

So what shall I say by way of conclusion? 

One, I do want you to understand what happened historically. I want for you to know what God did for the Hebrews to free them from Egyptian bondage. He put the firstborns of Egypt to death, but he shielded his people who had applied the blood of a lamb to the doorposts of their home.

Two, I want you to understand the Passover feast, along with the Feast of Unleavened  Bread to know what it means to the Hebrews. It reminded them of the past, it tested them in the present, and it contained promises for the future. 

Three, I want you to see that we celebrate something far greater. When we come before the Lord’s Table Lord’s Day after Lord’s Day, we remember a work of redemption that was far greater than the one accomplished in the days of Moses. The deliverance was greater, and the reward was greater. The calling is greater too, brothers and sisters. I close with the words of Paul: “Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth” (1 Corinthians 5:7–8, ESV). This he wrote to Christians. “The festival” that he refers to here is not the Passover, but the Lord’s Supper. And his exhortation to the church is that we celebrate the festival in “sincerity and truth”. May it be so. Lord help us. Let us pray. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Exodus 12:1-28, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 12:1-28, The Passover Instituted

Afternoon Sermon: What Does The Preface Of The Lord’s Prayer Teach?, Baptist Catechism 107, Romans 8:12-17

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Baptist Catechism 107

Q. 107. What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

A. The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven,’ teacheth us to draw near to God, with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us, and that we should pray with and for others. (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:13; Rom. 8:15; Acts 12:5; 1 Tim. 2:1-3)

Scripture Reading: Romans 8:12-17

“So then, brothers, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh. For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” (Romans 8:12–17, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

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I was looking over our Confession of Faith the other day when chapter 12 caught my eye. If you are reading the confession in a full-page format it really stands out because it is so brief. It is by far the shortest chapter in our confession being only one paragraph long. And what is chapter 12 about? The title is, “Of Adoption”. It is situated right in the middle of those chapters which speak of those things which God alone does for his elect. In chapter 10 we learn that God effectually calls his elect to himself, in chapter 11 we learn that justified his elect the moment they believe, and in chapter 13 we learn that God sanctifies his elect, making them more and more into the likeness of Christ. Chapter 12 is situated right in the middle of all of that. There we learn that God adopts the elect as his own. There is something so tender and warm about this teaching. The doctrines of effectual calling, justification, and sanctification are vitally important, of course. But so too is the doctrine of adoption, and I have found that it is often neglected. It is a shame because the doctrine of adoption really gets to the heart benefit of our redemption in Christ Jesus, namely reconciliation with God the Father through faith in the Son by the working of the Holy Spirit. Because of sin, we are by nature children of wrath. But through faith in Christ, we are made to be beloved children of God. Think of that. Is this not the highest blessing of our salvation? Not only have we been cleansed. Not only have we been pardoned and declared not guilty. We have been brought near to God so that we might call him Abba, Father. 

May I read chapter 12 of our confession to you? 

“All those that are justified, God vouchsafed, in and for the sake of his only Son Jesus Christ, to make partakers of the grace of adoption, by which they are taken into the number, and enjoy the liberties and privileges of the children of God, have his name put on them, receive the spirit of adoption, have access to the throne of grace with boldness, are enabled to cry Abba, Father, are pitied, protected, provided for, and chastened by him as by a Father, yet never cast off, but sealed to the day of redemption, and inherit the promises as heirs of everlasting salvation.” 

Oh, what a blessing! How comforting and warm! 

So what does this have to do with the preface to the Lord prayer and Baptist Catechism 107? Well, I think you can see. “The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven,’ teacheth us…”, my words now, to pray to God according to the reality of our adoption in Christ Jesus. Those who have faith in Christ do not pray to God merely as Creator, nor as Lord, nor Savior, nor Provider — he is all of those things to us, and these truths should be considered in prayer too — no, Christians are invited to pray to God Almighty as Father, and this is true only because they have been effectually called, justified, and adopted.  

This brings up an important observation. Not everyone may regard God as Father. Liberal theologians like to talk about the universal Fatherhood of God and the universal brotherhood of man. By this they mean to say, all have God as Father, and all are therefore brothers. There is a bit of truth to this. If by “Father” we mean “Creator” or “source”, then it is true. God is the Father of all, and we are all brothers and sisters. But that is not how the term is used in the scriptures. 

When Christ taught his disciples to pray, “our Father in heaven”, he invited them to pray to God as the one who had redeemed from sin, Satan, and death unto adoption. The scriptures are so very clear that we do not have God as beloved Father by birth, but we are “by nature children of wrath” (see Ephesians 2:3). Jesus himself spoke to those who persisted in unbelief, saying, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here… You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires…” (John 8:42–44, ESV). This is our natural condition ever since Adam, our Federal head, fell into sin and broke the Covenant of Works that God made with him. So no, we are not natural children of God. By nature, we are his enemies! But by his grace, he has washed us in Christ’s blood and adopted us as his own through Spirit-wrought union with his beloved Son received by faith.  

The words, “our Father in heaven”, are to remind us of all of that. And being reminded of all of that, we are then enabled to “draw near to God” — that is what our catechism says next. In prayer, we are to draw near to God. We are invited to pray to God, not as God Almighty, or LORD (he is God Almighty and LORD to us!), but as Father. Think of that for a moment. We are invited to come near to him and to know for certain that he loves us and cares for us as his beloved children.  

This catechism question is so very helpful in teaching us how we are to draw near to the Father. We are to draw near:

“[W]ith all holy reverence…” To revere God is to fear and respect him. Yes, God is our Father, but he is no ordinary Father. He is our Heavenly Father. He is God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth, YHWH, the self-existent, eternal and unchanging one. He is our Father, but this doe not mean that we we should approach him carelessly, and certainly not irreverently. We are to draw near with holy reverence.

Next, notice the words “with… confidence.” We may come boldly before the throne of grace because we approach the Father not by our own merits, but according to the merits of Christ. By the way, this is what it means to pray in Jesus’ name. It is not that we must add Jesus’ name to the end of our prayers, but rather, we must approach the Father through the Son, being found in him by faith.     

We are to come to God “as children to a father…” Those who had evil fathers, or absent fathers in this world may find it a little more difficult to know what this means, but it is not impossible, is it? I think that all know what a father should be. And we understand that even the best of earthly fathers fall far short of the perfection that is our heavenly Father. Clearly, this is analogical language being used here. When we think of God as Father we must strip away everything creaturely and imperfect associated with earthly father and know that in Christ God is our Father perfectly so. 

In Christ we are to come to God “as children to a father”, knowing that he is “able and ready to help us…” He is able to help us, for he is God Almighty. Nothing is to hard for him. And he is ready because he is willing. He has set his love upon us, has promised to finish the work that he has begun in us, and to keep us faithful to the end. To come to the Father knowing that he is “able and ready to help us”, requires faith. We must pray believing that what the Word of God says is true.  

Lastly, our catechism adds these words: “and that we should pray with and for others.” Where does this insight come from? It comes from the plural pronoun “our” found at the beginning of the Lord’s prayer. We are to pray “our Father in heaven”, not my Father in heaven. This will not only help us in corporate prayer, but in private prayer too, for even when we pray in private we are to pray being mindful of others. 

“Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” (Matthew 6:9–13)

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Conclusion

Q. 107. What doth the preface of the Lord’s Prayer teach us?

A. The preface of the Lord’s Prayer, which is, ‘Our Father, which art in heaven,’ teacheth us to draw near to God, with all holy reverence and confidence, as children to a father, able and ready to help us, and that we should pray with and for others. (Matt. 6:9; Luke 11:13; Rom. 8:15; Acts 12:5; 1 Tim. 2:1-3)

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Afternoon Sermon: What Does The Preface Of The Lord’s Prayer Teach?, Baptist Catechism 107, Romans 8:12-17

Morning Sermon: Exodus 11, Fear The Lord

New Testament Reading: John 3:22–36

“After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison). Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.’ John answered, ‘A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.’ He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” (John 3:22–36, ESV)

Sermon Text: Exodus 11

“The LORD said to Moses, ‘Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely. Speak now in the hearing of the people, that they ask, every man of his neighbor and every woman of her neighbor, for silver and gold jewelry.’ And the LORD gave the people favor in the sight of the Egyptians. Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people. So Moses said, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.’ And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’ Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.” (Exodus 11, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

We’ve considered nine of the ten plagues. They have been presented to us in three sets of three. The Lord plagued Egypt with water turned to blood, frogs, gnats, flies, the death of livestock, boils, hail, locusts, and darkness. In each of these plagues, God demonstrated with unmistakable clarity that he is supreme over all things (including Pharaoh and the so-called gods of Egypt). He also displayed his justice, his mercy, and his particular care for the people of Israel. To understand this last point we must remember the covenant that God made with Abraham. He promised to give Abraham many descendants, to make a nation of them, to bring the Messiah into the world through them, and this Messiah would bless all nations. Here in the outpouring of these plagues upon the Egyptians, God demonstrated his love and faithfulness towards Israel. 

We come now to the tenth of the ten plagues. We will see that It is by far the most severe of the ten, but the message is the same.  The LORD the God of Israel is supreme over all things. He is just. He is merciful. And under the Old Covenant, he had particular care and concern for the people of Israel, for through them the Messiah would be brought into the world to bless the nations.

In chapters seven through ten we observed a very consistent literary pattern as Moses described the outpouring of the first nine plagues to us in three groups of three. Here in chapter 11 that literary pattern is broken. Here in this chapter, the tenth plague is threatened. In chapter 12 verses 1-28 instructions for the observance of the Passover are given. It is not until 12:29 and following that we find a description of the outpouring of the tenth plague, the death of the firstborns of Egypt. This break in the pattern heightens our sense of the severity of this plague. The tenth plague is set apart from the other nine as most significant, for it surely is. 

Now, please allow me to set the stage for our passage. When we read 10:28-29 we may have gotten the impression that Moses had walked out on Pharaoh. Do you remember how Moses’ interaction with Pharoah regarding the ninth plague concluded? “Then Pharaoh said to him, ‘Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.’ Moses said, ‘As you say! I will not see your face again’” (Exodus 10:28–29, ESV). This sounds like the end of their interaction, but in fact Moses had more to say. It is not until the end of 12:8 that we hear of Moses’ departure. There we read, “And [Moses] went out from Pharaoh in hot anger.” So then, we are to think of Moses as still standing before Pharaoh as we begin to consider chapter 11. 

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The Hebrews Would Plunder The Egyptians

Verses 1-3 are parenthetical, meaning, they break the flow of the narrative a bit to help us understand what is going on. 

In verse 1 we read, “The LORD said to Moses, ‘Yet one plague more I will bring upon Pharaoh and upon Egypt. Afterward he will let you go from here. When he lets you go, he will drive you away completely” (Exodus 11:1, ESV). The NIV translates verse 1 in this way: “Now the LORD had said to Moses, ‘I will bring one more plague on Pharaoh and on Egypt…” (emphasis added). I think this is a better translation. It is not that the LORD revealed this to Moses in that moment, but that he revealed it to him previously. 

Moses knew that there was one more plague to come. This would be the final plague. After this plague, Pharaoh would let Israel go. In fact, he would not only let Israel go. He would drive them out of Egypt. In other words, the Egyptians would insist that the Hebrews depart given the severity of the plagues, and particularly this last one.

Here in verse 2, we learn that Moses was also to speak to the Hebrews instructing them to request silver and gold from their Egyptian neighbors. This was not new information given to Moses. In fact, the LORD spoke of these things when he revealed himself to Moses in the bush that was burning yet not consumed. It was way back in 3:20 that God said, ​​“So I will stretch out my hand and strike Egypt with all the wonders that I will do in it; after that he will let you go. And I will give this people favor in the sight of the Egyptians; and when you go, you shall not go empty, but each woman shall ask of her neighbor, and any woman who lives in her house, for silver and gold jewelry, and for clothing. You shall put them on your sons and on your daughters. So you shall plunder the Egyptians” (Exodus 3:20–22, ESV). So this plundering of the Egyptians was revealed ahead of time. Now we learn that Moses was told by God to instruct the Hebrews to ask this of their Egyptian neighbors. 

So then, the Israelites would not merely be released from Egyptian bondage. They would be driven out! And they would not go out empty-handed, but with great wealth. The Egyptians would freely give unto them silver, gold, and clothing. The Hebrews would go out well supplied and wealthy. 

I do believe this illustrates our redemption in Christ. We have been set free from bondage. “[God] has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son…” (Colossians 1:13, ESV). But we also have been well supplied. To quote Peter, “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence…” (2 Peter 1:3, ESV). Or, to help us think in terms of our inheritance, consider Paul in Ephesians 1:7: “In [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. In him we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will…” (Ephesians 1:7–11, ESV). The Hebrews were not freed from Egyptian bondage to wander in the wilderness as poor beggars. No, they were set free and they were also well supplied. And so it is for all who are in Christ.   

Commentators have wondered what to make of this plundering of the Egyptians. Was this theft? Certainly not, for the Egyptians gave these gifts willingly. In fact, I think we are to view this plundering of the Egyptians as a kind of payment for the years of harsh bondage imposed upon the Hebrews by the Egyptians. Here we see the justice of God displayed. God has a way of making things that are wrong, right. We do not always see it with such clarity in this life, but by faith we know that God will right every wrong at the end of time when he judges with perfect equity.  

This parenthetical portion of the text concludes with these words, “Moreover, the man Moses was very great in the land of Egypt, in the sight of Pharaoh’s servants and in the sight of the people.” It is not hard to understand why Moses’ fame had spread amongst the Egyptians. God’s power was put on display through him. So here we have one of many examples in scripture of God using the weak and foolish to shame the wise and powerful. Moses was a nobody, worldly speaking. And yet God, by his grace, used him to show forth his power and glory, and to put Pharoah, the Egyptians, and their so-called gods to open shame.

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God Would Put The Firstborn Of The Egyptians To Death

In verses 4-8 we find the words of Moses to Pharaoh and the Egyptians concerning the tenth plague that was about to befall them. This tenth plague would be by far the worst. 

“So Moses said, ‘Thus says the LORD: ‘About midnight I will go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt shall die, from the firstborn of Pharaoh who sits on his throne, even to the firstborn of the slave girl who is behind the handmill, and all the firstborn of the cattle. There shall be a great cry throughout all the land of Egypt, such as there has never been, nor ever will be again. But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast, that you may know that the LORD makes a distinction between Egypt and Israel.’ And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.” And he went out from Pharaoh in hot anger.” (Exodus 11:4–8, ESV)

Here we learn that at about midnight the LORD himself would go out in the midst of Egypt. The LORD is omnipresent, this we know. He is at all places at all times. When the LORD says “I will go out in the midst of Egypt” he uses the language that is proper to man and applies it to himself to describe what he will do. The LORD, who is everywhere present, eternal, and unchanging would himself “go out in the midst of Egypt”. 

And what would the LORD do? Two things: He would put the firstborns of the Egyptians to death of both man and cattle, and he would shield the Hebrews from destruction. This would produce a great cry in Egypt such as had never been heard, nor ever would be again, as men and women grieved the deaths of their relatives. 12:30 describes the event and says, “And there was a great cry in Egypt, for there was not a house where someone was not dead.” 

The words, “But not a dog shall growl against any of the people of Israel, either man or beast”, are very interesting. On the surface they clearly communicate that the LORD would protect the Hebrews from this plague. The Egyptians would be struck, but the Hebrews would be shielded. Not even a dog would growl at the Hebrews threateningly. But it is worth noting that the Egyptians worshiped a god named Anubis who was to them the god of the dead. Anubis was depicted as a human with the head of a dog, or jackal. 

Here we have yet another demonstration of the LORD’s supremacy over the so-called gods of Egypt. The LORD, the God of the Hebrews, is God Most High, the one and only. He is creator, sustainer, and redeemer. He is the one who has authority over life and death, not Anubis or Osiris. The LORD would put the firstborns of the Egyptians to death and shield his covenant people from harm. “Not a dog [would] growl against any of the people of Israel…]

Our lives are in the LORD’s hands, brothers and sisters. He is the one with the power to give life, and to take it away. This power does not belong to us. This power does not belong to any created thing, but to the LORD only, and he demonstrated that to the Egyptians — indeed, to the whole world — in the outpouring of this tenth plague.   

The last announcement that Moses made to Pharaoh was this: “And all these your servants shall come down to me and bow down to me, saying, ‘Get out, you and all the people who follow you.’ And after that I will go out.’” With this Pharaoh would be left utterly devastated and thoroughly shamed. In the plagues, the LORD struck at the land of Egypt, the people of Egypt, the wealth of Egypt, and even at Pharaoh himself. And at the end, Pharoah’s own servants would pay homage to the LORD as they bowed before Moses, the LORD’s servant. You can picture Pharoah standing there utterly defeated, humiliated, and dismayed, can’t you? 

And then we read that Moses “went out from Pharaoh in hot anger”, and rightly so. Pharaoh was a very wicked man. He treated the Hebrews brutally. And he stubbornly refused to turn from his sin and to submit himself to the word of God. 

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This Time Of Restraint Will One Day Come To An End And All Who Are Not In Christ By Faith Will Be Judged For Their Own Sin.

Now, in the third and final portion of this passage, we hear the Lord speaking once again to Moses: “​Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Pharaoh will not listen to you, that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.’ Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh, and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go out of his land.” (Exodus 11, ESV)

This should sound very familiar to you by now, for something like this was said at the end of the account of each of the plagues. 

Notice once again that it was Pharaoh who sinned by not listening to the word of the LORD delivered through Moses. “Pharaoh will not listen to you”, the Lord said. 

But God had a purpose even for this: “that my wonders may be multiplied in the land of Egypt.” Isn’t it interesting how God can use even the sins and stubborn rebellion of wicked men for his own glory? It was because of Pharaoh’s stubbornness that the Lord multiplied his wonders in Egypt. 

And we know that it was the Lord who hardened Pharaoh’s heart. This does not take away from the fact that Pharaoh’s sin was Pharaoh’s sin, for we know that Pharaoh hardened his own heart as he willingly and stubbornly refused to heed the word of the Lord. But God was sovereign even over this. He gave Pharoah over to his own sin and even hardened him further as an act of judgment against him. And we must confess that the Lord was right to do so.  

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Reflections

This story that we have considered today is rather straightforward on the surface. I’d like to spend some time now reflecting upon its significance.

As I thought about this announcement that the LORD himself would “go out in the midst of Egypt, and every firstborn in the land of Egypt [world] die…”, I remembered how offensive this is to many in the world, and even to many within the church today. 

You can hear their complaints, can’t you? This is unjust!, they say. How could God be in the right to put these innocent ones to death? Or, the God of the Bible is a God of love and grace! I cannot believe that he himself would go out into Egypt to put these to death! Etc., etc. 

So where do we begin with objections like these?

First of all, we must insist that this is in fact what the Holy Scriptures teach regarding God. This certainly is the God of the Bible. If you have been taught that the God of the Bible is only about love and grace, then you have been terribly misled. For clearly, he is also about justice and judgement. 

God is love; perfectly so. He is merciful, gracious, and kind. This we know. And this truth is also demonstrated powerfully throughout this Exodus story in many different ways. But we must not forget that the LORD is perfectly holy and just. He is not only the God who saves; is also the God who judges. The Exodus event is a demonstration of both things. Here we see the extension of God’s mercy and grace on the one hand, and God’s justice on the other. Both truths must be proclaimed. The God of Holy Scripture is not only merciful, he is also just. He is not only our redeemer, he is also the judge of all who have ever lived. In fact, these truths fit together hand in hand, don’t they? When we speak of God’s justice we declare what our sins deserve. When we speak of God’s mercy we declare that God does not always give us what we deserve. And when we speak of his grace we declare the good gifts that he has bestowed upon unworthy sinners instead. God’s mercy and grace cannot be comprehended apart from his just judgments. 

We get a little taste of God’s judgement in the Exodus, don’t we? Here we are reminded that God is judge of all the earth. It is his right to punish the wicked for their sins. He does not do wrong, but right when he strikes against sinners. This he has done in a partial way throughout the history of the world, and this he will do in full at the end of time. This is the God of Holy Scripture, brothers and sisters. 

I’ve said this before, but I think it is worth saying again: in the book of Exodus, God is revealed to us. His proper name, YHWH, is revealed to us. Here in this book we learn what his name means. It signifies many things. He is God Almighty, the covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. He is self-existent, eternal, and unchanging. But his name does also say something about his right to show mercy to whomever he wills, and right to judge. 

This will become increasingly clear as the story of the Exodus continues. Here we see it demonstrated in action. God poured out his wrath on the Egyptians but shielded the Hebrews. But later in Exodus, the LORD will say it explicitly. 

In that episode where God showed himself to Moses on the mountain the LORD said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The LORD.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy” (Exodus 33:19, ESV). And a little later in that same episode we read, “The LORD passed before [Moses] and proclaimed, ]The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation’” (Exodus 34:6–7, ESV). Do you see the connection? When God reveals himself as the LORD he emphasizes his right to show mercy to whomever he will, and also his right to judge. 

To the professing Christian who says, the God of the Bible is love and not wrath, I say, friend, you are terribly mistaken. In fact, I’m afraid you have slipped into idolatry. You have made for yourself a god in your own image and rejected God’s self revelation.

The God of scripture is “merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but [he] will by no means clear the guilty…” This reality was demonstrated at the time of the flood, at the time of the Exodus, and at the cross. There at the cross of Christ, the mercy of God was displayed as Jesus died to atone for the sins of God’s elect. And there at the cross of Christ the justice of God was also displayed as he poured out his wrath upon Christ as he stood in the place of sinners.     

To all of those professing Chritsians who are troubled by these instances in the Old Testament wherein the just judgments of God are poured out on sinners, I ask, what do you think about what the scriptures have to say about the final judgment? You know, at the end of time God will judge the wicked through Christ. The scriptures teach that all who are not in Christ — all who are in their sins — will be judged fully, finally, and for all eternity. 

The same Jesus who brought us salvation will also judge. Jesus himself said so. In Matthew 25:31 we hear Christ saying, “When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world… Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:31–41, ESV).

At the end of time Christ himself will distinguish between the sheep and goats. The sheep will receive mercy and grace; the goats will receive just condemnation. Jesus himself taught this. And I am saying to you that the plagues of the Exodus, and particularly the tenth plague, were but a foretaste of this. 

Brothers and sisters, this is the God of the Bible. From beginning to end the LORD reveals himself to us as the God who is merciful, gracious and kind, and also just. He will by no means clear the guilty. 

The second thing that needs to be said in response to this idea that God is somehow wrong or unjust to judge as he did at the time of the Exodus, is that none are innocent, but all are deserving of God’s condemnation.

 So you can see, then, that men make two errors. 

One, they misunderstand God. They bring him low in their minds and transform him into nothing more than a god of kindness and love. He is, in their minds, nothing more than a benevolent old man in the sky. It is no wonder they do not fear him. They have managed to form and fashion him into a little idol that they can contain and control. Their god is for them, and never against them, even as they go on living in rebellion against him. This is not the god of the Bible, friends. The God of scripture is love, and perfectly so. And because he is love, he does also hate with perfect hatred all that is evil and all that is opposed to him.

The second mistake that men make is to misunderstand mankind. To put the matter most succinctly, sinful men do error in bringing God low, and in exulting man in their hearts and mind. They immagine that human beings are by nature innocent and deserving of good from God. But the scriptures say otherwise. “As it is written: ‘None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God. All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one.’ ‘Their throat is an open grave; they use their tongues to deceive.’ ‘The venom of asps is under their lips.’ ‘Their mouth is full of curses and bitterness.’ ‘Their feet are swift to shed blood; in their paths are ruin and misery, and the way of peace they have not known.’ ‘There is no fear of God before their eyes’” (Romans 3:10–18, ESV).

Friends, the scriptures are very clear. God is holy and just, and we are born in sin deserving of his judgments.

The Egyptians that the LORD put to death were deserving of this. “[F]or all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23, ESV), and “the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23, ESV). And let us not forget the particularly heinous atrocities that these people committed against the Hebrews by commanding that their male children be thrown into the Nile while subjecting them to a lifetime of brutal slavery. Egypt assaulted God’s son, Israel, and now the God of Israel would enact justice. 

Here in the outpouring of the tenth plague we will see a type of the judgment that is to come at the end of time. It was not the final judgment (clearly), for it was restrained. Only the firstborn of Egypt would die.  And they would die a physical death — the final judgment will bring eternal death. This is why I say that this tenth plague was a type of the final judgment. But we will also find a type of Christ here, for as God passes through Egypt to put these Egyptians to death, he would also pass through Egypt to shield his people from the destroyer. All who had the blood of the sacrificial lamb on their doorposts would be spared.  

The message for us is this: fear the LORD, friends, and run to Christ for refuge. Be washed in his blood by faith. Be found in him and thus be shielded by him from the wrath of God, for he has paid for sins and endured the wrath of God for our sake.

God is holy and just. Fear him! 

But do not run from him. Run to him for “God [is]merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin…” This he does through Christ, the lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, whom God has provided as a substitute for sinners. Be found in him by faith.

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 11, Fear The Lord

Morning Sermon: Exodus 9:13-10:29, Judgment Restrained

Sermon Text: Exodus 9:13-10:29

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me. For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth. But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth. You are still exalting yourself against my people and will not let them go. Behold, about this time tomorrow I will cause very heavy hail to fall, such as never has been in Egypt from the day it was founded until now. Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.’’’ Then whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the LORD left his slaves and his livestock in the field. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand toward heaven, so that there may be hail in all the land of Egypt, on man and beast and every plant of the field, in the land of Egypt.’ Then Moses stretched out his staff toward heaven, and the LORD sent thunder and hail, and fire ran down to the earth. And the LORD rained hail upon the land of Egypt. There was hail and fire flashing continually in the midst of the hail, very heavy hail, such as had never been in all the land of Egypt since it became a nation. The hail struck down everything that was in the field in all the land of Egypt, both man and beast. And the hail struck down every plant of the field and broke every tree of the field. Only in the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel were, was there no hail. Then Pharaoh sent and called Moses and Aaron and said to them, ‘This time I have sinned; the LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Plead with the LORD, for there has been enough of God’s thunder and hail. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer.’ Moses said to him, ‘As soon as I have gone out of the city, I will stretch out my hands to the LORD. The thunder will cease, and there will be no more hail, so that you may know that the earth is the LORD’s. But as for you and your servants, I know that you do not yet fear the LORD God.’ (The flax and the barley were struck down, for the barley was in the ear and the flax was in bud. But the wheat and the emmer were not struck down, for they are late in coming up.) So Moses went out of the city from Pharaoh and stretched out his hands to the LORD, and the thunder and the hail ceased, and the rain no longer poured upon the earth. But when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunder had ceased, he sinned yet again and hardened his heart, he and his servants. So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses. 

Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh, for I have hardened his heart and the heart of his servants, that I may show these signs of mine among them, and that you may tell in the hearing of your son and of your grandson how I have dealt harshly with the Egyptians and what signs I have done among them, that you may know that I am the LORD.’ 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. For if you refuse to let my people go, behold, tomorrow I will bring locusts into your country, and they shall cover the face of the land, so that no one can see the land. And they shall eat what is left to you after the hail, and they shall eat every tree of yours that grows in the field, and they shall fill your houses and the houses of all your servants and of all the Egyptians, as neither your fathers nor your grandfathers have seen, from the day they came on earth to this day.’’ Then he turned and went out from Pharaoh. 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?’ 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?’ 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.’ 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. 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. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Stretch out your hand over the land of Egypt for the locusts, so that they may come upon the land of Egypt and eat every plant in the land, all that the hail has left.’ So Moses stretched out his staff over the land of Egypt, and the LORD brought an east wind upon the land all that day and all that night. When it was morning, the east wind had brought the locusts. 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. 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. Then Pharaoh hastily called Moses and Aaron and said, ‘I have sinned against the LORD your God, and against you. Now therefore, forgive my sin, please, only this once, and plead with the LORD your God only to remove this death from me.’ So he went out from Pharaoh and pleaded with the LORD. And the LORD turned the wind into a very strong west wind, which lifted the locusts and drove them into the Red Sea. Not a single locust was left in all the country of Egypt. But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go. 

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.’ So Moses stretched out his hand toward heaven, and there was pitch darkness in all the land of Egypt three days. 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. 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.’ But Moses said, ‘You must also let us have sacrifices and burnt offerings, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God. Our livestock also must go with us; not a hoof shall be left behind, for we must take of them to serve the LORD our God, and we do not know with what we must serve the LORD until we arrive there.’ But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go. Then Pharaoh said to him, ‘Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.’ Moses said, ‘As you say! I will not see your face again.’” (Exodus 9:13–10:29, ESV)

*****

Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

You know, the observations that I made regarding the first two plague cycles (plagues 1 through 6) in the last two sermons could also be made concerning this third and final plague cycle. The cycle begins with an early morning outdoor confrontation with Pharaoh. Moses’ demand is the same: “‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’” Clearly, there is intensification with these plagues. Things get really serious here. Human life is lost. The crops of Egypt are greatly damaged. Flocks are killed. The situation grows very dark and ominous for the Egyptians with the outpouring of the ninth plague. Again, in this cycle, we see that the LORD distinguishes between the Hebrews and the Egyptians as he pours out these plagues, which are an assault against the so-called god’s of Egypt. And though it is clear that Pharoah is greatly disturbed and clearly convinced that this is the work of the God of the Hebrews, his heart was hardened even still. Mention is made of this at the end of the account of each plague. 9:35: “So the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people of Israel go, just as the LORD had spoken through Moses.”  10:20: “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he did not let the people of Israel go.” 10:27: “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go.” Each of these statements places emphasis upon the Lord hardening Pharaoh’s heart. 

In other words, what I have said in the previous two sermons about plagues 1 through 6 may be said here as well concerning plagues 7 through 9. I’d like to take a bit of a different approach in this sermon, therefore, by drawing your attention to three major themes. 

I want for you to see that at the time of the Exodus the judgments of the LORD were restrained. Two, notice that the judgments of the LORD were restrained so that salvation could be accomplished for the Hebrews and offered to the Egyptians. Three, know that time of restraint will one day come to an end and all who are not in Christ by faith will be judged for their own sin. 

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At The Time Of The Exodus, The Judgments Of The LORD Were Restrained

First of all, let us consider the theme of restraint. The judgments of the Lord were restrained in the outpouring of these plagues upon the Egyptians. 

That might sound like a strange thing to emphasize as we consider this third plague cycle. I’ve already mentioned the theme of intensification. Indeed, these three plagues were very severe and ominous. 

Hail like never before. Man and beast killed in the field. There are modern-day accounts of this. Crops destroyed. Fire from heaven, wind, etc. Have you ever been trapped in a severe storm? My brother-in-law and sister were this past summer… something like this led to Luther’s conversion… this was far worse. Heavy hailstones fell from heaven and destroyed everything that was left exposed. 

Locust. When we see locusts we think, oh, a cute grasshopper! That’s not what farmers think. These things devour crops. And God brought massive swarms of them to Egypt by a strong wind. They devoured the vegetation left by the hail. This was devastating. We get bent out of shape when our modern supply chains are disrupted leading to shortages. For us, it has only been inconvenient. This eighth plague meant that people would starve to death in the coming year. 

Darkness. The translation “a darkness to be felt” should probably be understood to mean a darkness that causes people to feel their way around. What caused this darkness? We are not told. But it must have been incredibly disorienting and depressing especially given everything that had been happening in the previous weeks. The Egyptians must have felt like the world was coming to an end.  

The three plagues are the most severe of the nine. In fact, the way the narrative is structured it is as if the first six are to be considered as preparatory for these. They are an awesome display of the glory of God, of his sovereignty over all things in heaven and on earth, of his power and right to judge. 

Why then do I draw your attention to the restrain of God. Answer: because the texts draws our attention to it. Look again at 9:13: “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself before Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me. For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth. For by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth’” (Exodus 9:13–15, ESV).

Here the Lord repeats things that have been said before, but special emphasis is placed upon his restraint. Again, “ by now I could have put out my hand and struck you and your people with pestilence, and you would have been cut off from the earth.” In other words, I could have taken you out, but I have not.  

So then, you can see that the plagues that poured out upon the Egyptians reveal that God is a God of judgment, and he is also a God of mercy. When we speak of God’s mercy we refer to the kindness of God to not give us what we deserve.  And though it may sound strange to you, God’s mercy were indeed put on display in the outpouring of these plagues on the Egyptians. 

Notice that each plague was limited in some way. The water was turned to blood, but the Egyptians were able to dig new wells. All of the plagues were temporary. Most were only a nuisance to the people and did not lead to death. And even where death was the result, warnings were given, and protection was offered.  

Or to put it another way, God judged the Egyptians in the days of Moses, but he did not judge them fully and finally. This was an act of judgment, but this was not the final judgment. This act of judgment is to be viewed as prototypical, therefore. Just as the deliverance of the Hebrews was only earthly, temporary, and prototypical of the deliverance that Christ has accomplished for his people (a deliverance that is spiritual, heavenly, and eternal), so too the judgments poured out on the Egyptians were earthly, temporary, and prototypical of the judgment that Christ will meet out on the last day. And that judgment will be full, final, and eternal. 

Our God saves, brothers and sisters. And God judges too. God has accomplished our salvation through Jesus Christ. And did you know he will judge the world through Christ on the last day? So Christ is Savior, and he is the judge. 

When you see the earthly, temporary, partial, and restrained judgment of God poured out in the world they are to remind you that a full and final judgment is coming. And they are also to remind you that in the meantime, God is patient, merciful, and kind. 

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The Judgments Of The LORD Are Presently Restrained So That Salvation May Be Offered To The Nations 

Secondly, please recognize that the judgments of the Lord are presently restrained so that salvation may be offered to the nations. Now, where do we see that in this text? In a couple of places, actually. 

Look at 9:14: God speaks to Pharaoh, saying, “For this time I will send all my plagues on you yourself, and on your servants and your people, so that you may know that there is none like me in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:14, ESV)

Look at 9:16: “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16, ESV)

And consider the advanced warning that was given to the Egyptians regarding the deadly hail. Verse 19: “‘Now therefore send, get your livestock and all that you have in the field into safe shelter, for every man and beast that is in the field and is not brought home will die when the hail falls on them.’  Then whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the LORD left his slaves and his livestock in the field” (Exodus 9:19–21, ESV).

Here is the observation. When these partial and restrained judgments were poured out upon the Egyptians, the Hebrews, the Egyptians, and indeed, all nations, were at the same time being called by God to turn from their sinful idolatry, to fear him, and to trust him. When Christ returns to judge fully and finally, there will no longer be room for repentance and faith. But until then, room is left for repentance and faith amongst those living on earth. 

Nothing is said in this narrative regarding the perspective of the Hebrews, but surely many of them were being drawn to faith and strengthened in the faith as these partial and restrained judgments were poured out. In 14:30 we find these words following the passing through Red Sea: “Thus the LORD saved Israel that day from the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. Israel saw the great power that the LORD used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the LORD, and they believed in the LORD and in his servant Moses” (Exodus 14:30–31, ESV).

And we know that God was getting the attention of Egyptians too. Again we are told that  “whoever feared the word of the LORD among the servants of Pharaoh hurried his slaves and his livestock into the houses, but whoever did not pay attention to the word of the LORD left his slaves and his livestock in the field.” Some from among the Egyptians feared the word of the Lord. Now, I think it would be a stretch to assume that all of these had saving faith in the promises of God concerning the Messiah. Maybe some did. But I doubt there were many. Notice the text does not say they feared the Lord, but they feared the word of the Lord. I think that is significant. They were convinced that the God of the Hebrews was pouring out these plagues, and so they took action to avert disaster. Did they have saving faith? We do not know. 

I will say, however, that when Israel left Egypt the scriptures tell us they went out as a mixed multitude. We are to understand that there were other ethnicities among them, and possibly Egyptians. Does this mean that these Egyptians who went out with the Hebrews have saving faith? I don’t know. But we must acknowledge that they identified themselves with the Lord and with his people in a big way as they left Egypt to sojourn in the wilderness toward the land promised to Abraham. It’s significant. 

And we should not forget the impact that these plagues had upon the nations. The nations took notice of what God had done to the Egyptians and fro Israel. Jethro, Moses’ father-in-law, heard and rejoiced. In the days of Joshua, as the conquest of Cannan began, Rahab said to the Hebrew spies, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction” (Joshua 2:9–10, ESV). 

The point is this: the restrained judgments that the LORD poured out upon the Egyptians left room for repentance amongst the Hebrews, the Egyptians, and the nations. And of course, this is true of the entire course of human history from the fall of Adam into sin to the return of Christ. God’s judgments are restrained. The are restrained so that God’s people will come to faith and repentence. 

Paul teaches this. “Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God’s kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.” (Romans 2:4–5, ESV)

Peter teaches this too. “But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (2 Peter 3:8–10, ESV).

This is a very important doctrine. It helps us to view life in this fallen, sin-sick world which is so filled with suffering, trials and tribulations, wickedness, and injustice from a different vantage point. Why does God put up with it? In part, it is because he is bringing people from every tongue, tribe, and nation to salvation through faith in the Messiah. 

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This Time Of Restraint Will One Day Come To An End And All Who Are Not In Christ By Faith Will Be Judged For Their Own Sin.

The third and final observation is that one day this restrain will come to an end and all who are not in Christ by faith will be judged for their own sin. 

Obviously, I have to go beyond the Exodus story to make this point. But you can see it typified at the end of the ninth plage when, Pharoah, persisting in his sin, says to Moses, “‘Get away from me; take care never to see my face again, for on the day you see my face you shall die.’ Moses said, ‘As you say! I will not see your face again.’”  Pharoah had been called to repentance over and over again, but his time was up. There would be no more room for repentance for Pharoah. And the same is true for every human soul. At some point, there will be no more opportunity for repentance. Surely this happens at the moment of death, or when the Lord returns. 

A question that some might ask is, how could Pharoah be held accountable given the repeated emphasis upon God hardening his heart. You should remember that Paul addresses that question directly in Romans 9. But I want you to notice something very insightful in this passage. In 10:3 we read, “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.’” Did God harden Pharaoh’s heart? Yes, he did. The scriptures are clear. But the scriptures are also clear that Pharoah hardened his own heart and refuse to humble himself self before God. The two truths are not contradictory. God is sovereign over all things, even the hearts of sinful man. He has the right to harden men’s hearts as a form of judgment against them. This he did to Pharaoh. But Pharaoh remained free to act from the heart and to stubbornly and arrogantly resist the word of the Lord. This is true for all who die in their sins. They will be judged on the last day for their own sin and rebellion, which is rebellion from the heart. 

Posted in Sermons, Joe Anady, Posted by Joe. Comments Off on Morning Sermon: Exodus 9:13-10:29, Judgment Restrained

Afternoon Sermon: What Rule Has God Given For Prayer?, Baptist Catechism 106, Philippians 1:3-11

Baptist Catechism 106

Q. 106. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?

A. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer, but the special rule of direction is that prayer; which Christ taught His disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer. (Matt. 6:9-13; 2 Tim. 3:16,17)

Scripture Reading: Philippians 1:3-11

“I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.” (Philippians 1:3–11, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

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Q. 106. What rule hath God given for our direction in prayer?

  1. The whole Word of God is of use to direct us in prayer…
    1. The scriptures are filled with examples of prayers
    2. The scriptures teach us about God, his will, his plans, his purposes
    3. The scriptures teach us about ourselves
  2. But the special rule of direction is that prayer… 
    1. “Rule of direction” means pattern or procedure 
  3. [W]hich Christ taught His disciples, commonly called the Lord’s Prayer.

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Conclusion

“And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. 

Pray then like this: 

“Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. 

Your kingdom come, 

your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 

Give us this day our daily bread, 

and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. 

For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you, but if you do not forgive others their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” (Matthew 6:5–15, ESV)

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Morning Sermon: Exodus 8:20-9:12, A Distinction Made

Sermon Text: Exodus 8:20-9:12

“Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me. Or else, if you will not let my people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants and your people, and into your houses. And the houses of the Egyptians shall be filled with swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth. Thus I will put a division between my people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall happen.’’’ And the LORD did so. There came great swarms of flies into the house of Pharaoh and into his servants’ houses. Throughout all the land of Egypt the land was ruined by the swarms of flies. Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.’ 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? We must go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as he tells us.’ 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. Plead for me.’ Then Moses said, ‘Behold, I am going out from you and I will plead with the LORD that the swarms of flies may depart from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people, tomorrow. Only let not Pharaoh cheat again by not letting the people go to sacrifice to the LORD.’ So Moses went out from Pharaoh and prayed to the LORD. And the LORD did as Moses asked, and removed the swarms of flies from Pharaoh, from his servants, and from his people; not one remained. But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go. Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, the God of the Hebrews, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me. For if you refuse to let them go and still hold them, behold, the hand of the LORD will fall with a very severe plague upon your livestock that are in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks. But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die.’’’ And the LORD set a time, saying, ‘Tomorrow the LORD will do this thing in the land.’ And the next day the LORD did this thing. All the livestock of the Egyptians died, but not one of the livestock of the people of Israel died. And Pharaoh sent, and behold, not one of the livestock of Israel was dead. But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go. And the LORD said to Moses and Aaron, ‘Take handfuls of soot from the kiln, and let Moses throw them in the air in the sight of Pharaoh. It shall become fine dust over all the land of Egypt, and become boils breaking out in sores on man and beast throughout all the land of Egypt.’ So they took soot from the kiln and stood before Pharaoh. And Moses threw it in the air, and it became boils breaking out in sores on man and beast. And the magicians could not stand before Moses because of the boils, for the boils came upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians. But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.” (Exodus 8:20–9:12, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

Introduction

So we have come now to the second of the three plague cycles. Remember that the story of the Ten plagues has a literary structure to it. The ten plagues are grouped into three groups of three, with the tenth and final plague being set off on its own and given special attention. The most obvious marker of this structure is the setting in which Moses introduces each plague. Plagues 1, 4, and 7 are introduced early in the morning and by the riverside. Plagues 2, 5, and 8 are introduced in Pharoah’s courtyard — “go in to Pharoah”, the Lord says at the introduction to these plagues. And plagues 3, 6, and 9 are introduced outdoors without confrontation with Pharaoh. 

Last Sunday we considered the first three plagues one at a time and I made five observations about each. This morning I will take a different approach. I wish to make five general observations about the entire second plague cycle (plagues 4, 5, and 6). We will consider, one, Moses’ firm stance; two, the intensification of the plagues; three, the distinction made between the Hebrews and the Egyptians; four, the shaming of the gods of Egypt; and five, the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. 

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Consider Moses’ Firm Stance

First, consider Moses’ firm stance.

In 8:20 we read, “Then the LORD said to Moses, ‘Rise up early in the morning and present yourself to Pharaoh, as he goes out to the water, and say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me.’’’” 

This confrontation took place early in the morning and by the riverside. Perhaps it was the custom of Pharaoh to rise up early and to worship there? Whatever he was doing, Moses was to “present” himself to Pharaoh. The Hebrew word translated as “present” means to “stand”, to “confront”, or to “take one’s stand”. The meaning is that Moses was called by God to take a firm stance before Pharaoh, and this he did. He stood boldly before Pharaoh on the banks of the Nile and made the same demand, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Let my people go, that they may serve me’” (Exodus 8:20, ESV). 

We have witnessed the development of a great leader in the Exodus story, haven’t we? Moses attempted to deliver the Hebrews 40 years before, but he did it in his own strength, and not by the word of the Lord. He was humbled for 40 years in the wilderness. And when the LORD did call him to deliver the Hebrews, he lacked faith and confidence. It’s as if he had swung from one extreme to the other. But here Moses seems to be in a groove. He is humble, calm, cool and collected, and yet he is firm. He courageously stood before Pharaoh. He consistently delivered the word of the Lord. And he calmly refused to compromise. 

Pharoah did attempt to get Moses to compromise. In 8:25 we read, “Then Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and said, ‘Go, sacrifice to your God within the land.’” Moses refused, saying, “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? We must go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as he tells us’” (Exodus 8:26–27, ESV).

Consider a couple of things about Moses’ resolve. 

One, it was all or nothing for Moses. God’s word demanded that Israel be freed from Egyptian bondage to worship and serve the LORD. But Pharaoh proposed that the people worship the LORD while remaining under his authority. I’m afraid that many attempt to follow after Christ in this half-hearted, compromised way. They wish to worship and serve the LORD, but they remain in bondage. They have a divided loyalty. They attempt to have one foot in the kingdom of Christ, and one in the kingdom of Satan.  But what does Christ say about that? “No one can serve two masters…” (Matthew 6:24). Moses would have none of it. This deliverance would have to involve both freedom from bondage, and freedom to worship and serve the Lord. It would involve a transfer from one kingdom to another — a clean break. And so it is for the Christian. We do not have two Master’s, but One. 

Two, I’m impressed by Moses’ tact. He does not scream and yell at Pharoah. He does not insult him. In fact, he answers Pharoah in a careful and tactful way. “Go, sacrifice to your God within the land”, Pharaoh says. And Moses replies in a way that is fitting when speaking to a dignitary.  “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…” etc. “We must go three days’ journey into the wilderness and sacrifice to the LORD our God as he tells us’” (Exodus 8:26–27, ESV). You know, I think we have a lot to learn from Moses (and from Christ) concerning the way in which we are to stand firm within society and before governing authorities. To state the matter succinctly, a firm stance does not require disrespect. To hold the line one need not be harsh or nasty. Those without faith may feel the need to use such manipulative tactics. But those with deep faith will find a way to be firm and resolute and at the same time respectable in their conduct. Faith produces peace, brothers and sisters. And peace in the heart is what we need when standing firm for God and Christ in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. 

Moses had wavered in the faith previously, but here he seems to be very strong. It is clear that God was preparing him to lead Israel out of Egypt, through the Red Sea, into the wilderness, and towards the land of promise. 

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Consider The Intensification Of The Plagues

So, we have considered Moses’ firm stance. Now let us consider the intensification of the plagues in this cycle. 

The first three plagues were truly miraculous. And the Egyptians were truly inconvenienced by them. They frantically dug new wells. Frogs inundated their land and their dwellings. Gnats (or mosquitoes) covered the land. In the second cycle, things progress from the realm of “nuisance” to the realm of personal affliction. 

First, flies covered the land of Egypt. This is similar to the plague of the gnats, but the description of the plague of flies makes it seem as if it were more extreme. Flies were everywhere. They were in the homes. They even covered the ground.

 For some time I have been saying that here in So California it is the flies that emerge in the summertime that bother me even more than the extreme heat. They are truly a nuisance. But I’m talking about finding a few here and there. Egypt was covered with flies. Most Egyptians would not have anything like screens on their windows, so the flies would have filled the houses too. They would have pestered the Egyptians even as they slept. It must have been tormenting. 

Next, the Egyptians livestock perished. This must have been utterly devastating economically speaking. 

In 9:6 the ESV says, “ All the livestock of the Egyptians died…” This has led students of the Bible to wonder if we have a contradiction in the text, for in the account of the seventh plague the Egyptians are warned to bring their livestock out of the field before the plague of hail descended upon them. Where did these livestock come from if they all had died in the fifth plague? The answer is that the Hebrew word translated as “all” by the ESV can also mean “all sorts of” or “all over the place”. So the context clarifies that not every animal belonging to the Egyptians died, but all kinds of animals in all places. How many? We do not know. But it was enough to notice.  As 9:3 says, it was “a very severe plague upon [the] livestock that [were] in the field, the horses, the donkeys, the camels, the herds, and the flocks.” 

In the next plague, the Egyptians were struck with boils on their skin. 

There is a theory out there that it was anthrax that produced these skin boils on the Egyptians. In fact, the theory traces this all the way back to the turning of the Nile to blood (or blood-red). This caused the fish to die. The anthrax multiplied in the rotting fish. The frogs were infected as they came ashore. When the frogs died, anthrax contaminated the soil where the flocks grazed, so the flocks perished. Anthrax spores would have then been spread by the flies, inhaled, or ingested by humans leading, not to death in most cases, but to festering sores on the skin. What should we think about this theory?

I’ll say what I said last week regarding the Nile turned to blood, or blood-red. While it would certainly be consistent with the other plagues involving frogs, gnats, flies, hail, etc, to think that the  Lord used natural things like algae to plague the Nile or bacteria to plague the Egyptians with sores, we must not reduce these plagues to mere natural phenomenon. Pharaoh and his magicians were convinced that these plagues were the finger of God because no natural explanation could be found for these events. If would one could be found, then surely Moses would have been quickly dismissed. But these plages struck and relented when Moses said they would. And they struck on such a grand scale and with such precision that all who observed knew for certain it is was the God of the Hebrews who sent them. Was it the bacteria anthrax that caused the boils? Maybe. But it is undeniable that God was working in a miraculous way. 

It is interesting that the magicians of Egypt are mentioned again in this passage. This will be the last time we will hear about them. Notice the progression with these magicians. First, they stood toe to toe with Moses to provide counterfeits to the sign of the staff turned to a snake, to the water turned blood-red, and to the appearance of frogs. In all of these episodes, Moses was shown to be superior. Next, they were unable to reproduce the plague of the gnats with their trickery. They had to admit to Pharaoh, “this is the finger of God”. But now they are struck personally. They were so afflicted with these boils on their skin that they “could not stand before Moses because of the boils”. Isn’t that awesome. Moses stood firm before Pharaoh, but the magicians “could not stand before Moses because of the boils”, and in this way, they were dismissed never to be heard of again in the story. This is what God does with counterfeits. They will succeed for a time and seem to be so powerful, but God will have the last word. He will expose them as frauds and put them to open shame. 

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Consider The Distinction That Is Made Between The Hebrews And The Egyptians

So, we have considered Moses’ firm stance and the intensification of the plagues. Now let us consider the distinction that God made between the Hebrews and the Egyptians. I consider this to be a central feature of this second plague cycle. God clearly distinguished between the Hebrews and Egyptians when pouring out these plagues. 

In the context of the fourth plague, the plague of flies, the LORD said, “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth” (Exodus 8:22, ESV).

In the context of the fifth plague, the death of the livestock, Moses said, “But the LORD will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt, so that nothing of all that belongs to the people of Israel shall die” (Exodus 9:4, ESV). And in the context of the sixth plague, it is said that “the boils came upon the magicians and upon all the Egyptians”, with no mention being made of the Hebrews.

In a previous sermon, I emphasized that God knows who are his and he is able to keep them even as they dwell in a midst of a crooked and perverse generation and God pours out his judgments. Here we see evidence of that great truth again. God plagued the Egyptians with flies, the death of livestock, and skin boils, but the Hebrews were left untouched. This was to demonstrate that the God of the Hebrews is “LORD in the midst of the earth.” The same distinction will be made in the seventh plague regarding the hail.  

It is interesting that no such thing was said regarding the water turned to blood, the frogs, or gnats. And no such thing will be said regarding plagues 8 and 9 involving the locust and the darkness. I’m not sure how far we can push this idea, but in general, it seems evident to me that in some instances the people of God will be caught up in and affected by the judgments that God pours out upon a wicked nation. Doesn’t this just make sense? When a nation falls under God’s displeasure and is judged by the Lord in some way, the righteous may suffer some affliction along with that nation. At the same time, it is true that God is able to distinguish between those who are his and those who are not, and he is able to guard them and keep them. This he clearly did in plagues 4 through 7.

I also think there is something else going on in the statement found in 8:22, “But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell, so that no swarms of flies shall be there, that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth” (Exodus 8:22, ESV). Israel is here being “set apart” by God from the nations. This theme began with the call of Abram out of Ur of the Chaldeans.. He was set apart as holy and was to journey towards the promised land. And now that theme is emerging again. Israel is being set apart in Egypt, will be delivered, and will journey towards the promised land. This was their identity. They were chosen by God (in an earthly sense) and set apart by him as his special possession, for the LORD (YHWH) had entered into a covenant with them. ”But on that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, where my people dwell… that you may know that I am the LORD in the midst of the earth.” It is the LORD who made a covenant with Israel and who keeps his covenant. In these plagues a clear distinction is made between the Egyptians and the Hebrews, for the LORD had set the Hebrews apart by covenant.

*****

Consider the Shaming Of The Gods Of Egypt

Fourthly, consider the shaming of the gods of Egypt. 

I’ve said before that the ten plagues are to be considered an assault against the so-called gods of Egypt.  In fact, that is what the Bible explicitly says. Speaking of the Egyptians, Numbers 33:4 says, “On their gods also the LORD executed judgments” (Numbers 33:4, ESV).

So how were the plagues of flies, the death of livestock, and skin boils judgments against the gods of Egypt? 

Concerning the flies, allow me to quote Philip Ryken from his commentary on Exodus.

Concerning the livestock, it only needs to be said that the Egyptians worshiped livestock, particularly bulls and cows. It is no wonder that Hebrews made an image of a golden calf when they slipped back into idolatry when Moses was on the mountain. 

Concerning the boils, listen again to Ryken: 

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Exodus event was unique. We have to be careful, therefore, when drawing applications out of this story for our modern-day circumstances. But I think it is safe to view the Exodus as a kind of paradigm for the way that God judges sinful cultures and nations. He has a way of putting down the haughty within the world who would seek to have the glory that belongs to God alone as their own.  He has a way of putting down false god’s showing them to be false. 

In some ways, the culture of the Egyptians seems so very different from our own. They worshipped many gods. We would call them primitive and superstitious. We scoff at their views regarding medicine and healing. But really, are we all that different? This culture is filled with idolaters too. Americans worship many gods. Though they do not call them by the name “god” they place their hope in them, find their identity in them, and look to them for joy. I can’t help but think of the way that people talk about “science” nowadays. You would think it was a deity the way that the world speaks about it science today. And I can help but think about the way in which medical doctors are venerated within our society. Scientists and medical doctors — these must not be questioned. I assume the same was true for the Egyptian deities associated with health and healing and the magicians of Egypt. But what did the LORD do to those who were exalted above their proper domain? He put them to open shame. I wonder if the LORD is not doing something similar presently. The world is filled with fear. The fear is largely fabricated, in my opinion. But that is another story. And what is the world looking to for salvation? So-called “science”; medical professionals. They will not deliver, brothers and sisters. In fact, I suspect they will put to open shame. 

There is only one God, brothers and sisters. There is only one who is worthy of our trust and devotion. He is the LORD.  

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Consider The Hardening Of Pharaoh’s Heart

Fifthly, and lastly, let us consider the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart. 

Notice that Pharoah is wavering. He is negotiating with Moses and he is requesting that Moses intercede for him. He’s cracking under the pressure, in other words, for he knows this is the work of the LORD. But his heart is stubborn, hard, and prideful. 

At the end of each plague, mention is made of the hardness of Pharoah’s heart. “ But Pharaoh hardened his heart this time also, and did not let the people go.” “But the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go.” And finally, “But the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he did not listen to them, as the LORD had spoken to Moses.” So we have three different perspectives on this issue in these three plagues. Pharaoh hardened his own heart, his heart was heartened, and the LORD hardened his heart. Remember that God told Moses that he would harden Pharoah’s heart back in 4:21. Now we see it happening. And in 9:16 we will read the word of the LORD to Pharaoh: “But for this purpose I have raised you up, to show you my power, so that my name may be proclaimed in all the earth.” (Exodus 9:16, ESV). This is such an important theme in Exodus, I would be remiss if I did not make mention of it. Clearly, God wants his people to understand that the king’s heart is in his hand. He is the Sovereign One, the King of kings, and the Lord of lords. 

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Afternoon Sermon: What Is Prayer?, Baptist Catechism 105, Philippians 4:4–9

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Baptist Catechism 105

Q. 105. What is Prayer?

A. Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God, by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, for things agreeable to His will, in the name of Christ, believing, with confession of our sins, and thankful acknowledgment of His mercies. 

Scripture Reading: Philippians 4:4–9

“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.” (Philippians 4:4–9, ESV)

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Please excuse any typos and misspellings within this manuscript. It has been published online for the benefit of the saints of Emmaus Reformed Baptist Church but without the benefit of proofreading.

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What is Prayer? Doesn’t God already know what we need? Doesn’t he already know what will happen? Why pray then? 

Well, remember, first of all that prayer is a means of grace.

Q. 93. What are the outward means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption?

A. The outward and ordinary means whereby Christ communicateth to us the benefits of redemption are His ordinances, especially the Word, baptism, the Lord’s Supper and prayer; all which are made effectual to the elect for salvation. (Rom. 10:17; James 1:18; 1 Cor. 3:5; Acts 14:1; 2:41,42)

Secondly, understand what prayer is. 

Prayer is an offering up of our desires to God… 

By the assistance of the Holy Spirit…

For things agreeable to His will…

In the name of Christ… 

So we pray to the Father, through the Son, and by the Holy Spirit.

Believing… 

With confession of our sins…

And thankful acknowledgment of His mercies. 

Yes, prayer changes things. Not the decree of God, of course. But you!

And we know that God has determined to accomplish his decree through means, and prayer is a means of grace. 

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Conclusion

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"Him we proclaim,
warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone mature in Christ."
(Colossians 1:28, ESV)

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