Friday, 24 January 2014

(25) January 25: Exodus 9-10 & Matthew 18:1-20

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note God’s purposes in what he is doing.

To ponder:
Much is similar to yesterday: God’s power over the elements – here sending hail and storm; his exact control – “not one” Israelite animal dying. From plague 4 God’s presence in Egypt is stressed (8v22). His control and commitment to Israel there is such that he exempts Goshen where his people live. Likewise, when Christ returns he will separate the sheep from the goats (Matt 25v31-46). Plagues 7-9 are set-apart by their severity. Consider the ominous darkness “that can be felt” (10v21). Nothing like this has been seen before (9v18, 24, 10v6). Nevertheless, mercy is shown as warning is given so that people can escape (9v19). Likewise with the judgement to come.
Pharoah’s hardness becomes increasingly severe too. His officials urge him to give in (10v7), but whenever he is close to doing so, he refuses to yield. We see throughout the sinful desire to acknowledge God to an extent, but on our own terms. Pharoah even accepts he has sinned (9v27) and seeks forgiveness (10v17), but still seeks to water down God’s commands (10v11, 24). This is a false and futile faith. God, not man, is Lord. We are not at liberty to barter over his will.
The reason for Pharoah’s stubbornness is repeated: God is hardening his heart so that more plagues come - to demonstrate his “power” so that his “name might be proclaimed in all the earth” (9v16), and people might “know that the earth is the LORD’s” (9v29). God’s concern is not just for Egypt, but for the whole world who would look to Egypt as the centre of civilization. And some of Pharoah’s officials do come to fear “the word of the LORD” (9v20). They are therefore saved form the hail.
Difficult as it is, Jesus hints that God still hardens people, and against the gospel too (Matt 11v25-27, 13v10-15). Paul explicitly states this, suggesting it may be so that those who are saved come to appreciate God’s justice, power and glory all the more (Rom 9v16-24). These are hard truths that we trust God over, even though unable to fully understand (Rom 11v33-36). And we must be clear: unbelief is still a choice people have made for themselves (2 Thess 1v10-12).
            God’s purpose is also for the future generations of Israel to know he is the LORD (10v2). It’s a reminder we should eagerly tell our children and their children the matchless deeds of the Lord, seen so supremely in Christ. Much depends on it.

Praying it home:
Thank God for so mercifully warning us of the final judgement. Confess where you may have sought to water down his commands or barter over his will.

Thinking further:
Read Jim Packer on God’s Sovereignty and human responsibility here. Or read the NIV study Bible introduction to Exodus, by clicking here.

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