Sermon delivered May 15, 1999

by Pastor Donald James Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version unless otherwise noted.
New Living Translation - NLT

Magician Moses

Today is the next to the last in our series on Moses. I have really enjoyed this. Moses is quite an individual.
    There are three great miracle components in the Bible...
  1. Moses
  2. Elijah
  3. Jesus In July we are going to spend 4 great weeks studying the exceptional life of Elijah. You will thrill at how God worked in this mighty man and learn how God can work His will in your life in a mighty way.

    Did you know that Moses is mentioned over 900 times in the Bible! Only God and Jesus are mentioned more frequently. Moses is indeed an exceptional person, maybe the greatest person in the Whole Bible other than the Deity. Also, of course, Moses was the worst sinner in the Bible. How? Moses broke all ten commandments at the same time!

    I love reading about great leaders. As a child I read every one of that set of orange books called "The Childhood of Famous Americans." History is simply the study of great women, of great men, of great people. That's all history is. If you take the people out of the Bible you have very little left.

    Last week we examined the first two plagues that fell on the Egyptians. Let's pick up where we left off.

    PLAGUE #3- LICE!

    Exodus 8:16 --- GNATS? LICE! The King James Version says "Lice." You need to realize that the ancient Egyptians were scrupulously clean. And lice... Have you ever had lice? You'd be almost ashamed to admit that you had lice. Nobody wants to have lice. Now their whole land is infested with one of the most offensive parasites in the world. In fact, all the dust in that dusty land became lice. You can read it there in Exodus 8. They had lice in their hair, lice on their animals, everywhere. Hoards of sickening itching lice. The Egyptians became a nation of nitpickers. Lice lay 150 eggs every day! Imagine a week's worth.

    This plague came unannounced. You know, every third plague came by surprise. Lice covered the bodies of the Priests and contaminated the bodies of the sacred Egyptian beasts waiting to be sacrificed. With this plague the Magicians became believers in the power of the Hebrew God. They were unable to replicate the blood sucking insects. I can almost see them packing their hocus-pocus suitcases and leaving.

    It must have been hard on Moses to inflict so much devastation on anybody because Moses was backward, tender, the meekest man that ever lived. Keeping sheep for 40 years had given him a sympathetic shepherd spirit. Now he has to act as a torture chamber operator. Very uncharacteristic of Moses. A tough job!

    Put yourself in the place of these Egyptians. You know if you itched with lice for a week you would probably beg Moses and his whole gang to leave instantly. But the plagues fell on Pharaoh like rain on a block of polished granite. As a dictator he says, NO! They would never leave this place. His heart was as hard as carbide. Exceedingly hard. Hardening of the heart is more serious than hardening of the arteries. The more you resist God the easier it is to resist. The more you sin the easier it becomes to sin again. So the lice didn't work.

    4- FLIES

    So they sent another plague. Exodus 8:20 These flies may have been a combination of house flies, or hordes of mosquitoes, clouds of sand flies, swarms of little black biting flies. The people became desperate. Bugs everywhere. In their hair, up their nose, down their tunic, in their eyes, on their skin, everywhere. Bugs! No bug spray! No where to escape. If I lived there I would have joined a revolt to oust Pharaoh. "You let them go or you're gone!"

    Now, Moses and Aaron demanded the liberation of their people. Notice something about this plague. Aaron has slipped practically to the sideline while Moses now has become the spokesman. Moses is Mighty. All through these plagues you can see a transition: Moses getting stronger, Aaron fading away. That's the way this happens. You can see his growth through these 10 plagues. First Aaron had to speak for mousy Moses, but Moses became a powerful leader.

    Do you know how it happened?

    I thought about this. I read all these plagues here this week and I thought, 'How did this happen?' And I think I know. My guess is, and Moses' secret can be your secret, I believe that Moses became mighty because of an unwavering, unquestioning obedience to God. I think that's the key. He trusted and he obeyed. There's o other way. It gave him strength of purpose. It gave him enduring patience. It gave him bold courage. It gave him a total indifference to Pharaoh and any human threats.

    Starting with this plague God's chosen people are exempt. Now, you can notice this. Exodus 8:22. There were no bugs bugging the believers. They were exempt. God's invisible hand shielded His children. And don't you think God still protects His followers? How many times has your guardian angel has shielded you. You may be thinking that he never shields you. Every time there's a banana pealing I slip on it. You'd be amazed at the number of times God has intervened in your behalf to avoid some tremendous trouble that would be coming your way. God still protects His followers today. It would be impossible to enumerate the times your guardian angel has saved you in your life.

    Again Pharaoh summons Moses and Aaron. He is bugged to death. Moses comes and stands before the king. There are a dozen slave there with fly swatters trying to keep the bugs off of Pharaoh and it isn't working. The king is in misery. Moses is standing there and Pharaoh notices something different about Moses. He can see that the two brothers are not swatting insects and slapping bugs. Moses and Aaron are standing there as if they are covered with an invisible shield. Because this didn't happen on God's people. And there they stand in front of all these Egyptians that are in clouds of bugs and biting insects and Moses and Aaron are there in peace and security. No welts on their bodies. Isn't' that amazing? That's how it is with god. God answered Moses' prayer and the next day not one fly remained. God does a good job as divine exterminator. Not one fly remained. My, what a good job God does. I don't know how He did it. I don't know what happened to the flies. The Bible doesn't say. Maybe they became dust again, who know. Once the bugs bug off though, Pharaoh again gets an icy heart.

    #5- Death Decree to all animals

    So, let's go to the next plague. Exodus 9:1-4 Then the Lord said to Moses, "Go to Pharaoh and say to him, 'This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrew, says: "Let my people go, so they may worship me." If you refuse to let them go and continue to hold them back, the hand of the Lord will bring a terrible plague on your livestock in the field--on your horses and donkeys and camels and on your cattle and sheep and goats. But the Lord will make a distinction between the livestock of Israel and that of Egypt, so that no animal belonging to the Israelites will die.' And so the cattle, horses, sheep, oxen, donkeys, camels, all beasts in the field died. They died in the field: all the cattle, all the sheep. This virtually eliminated all meat from the tables of Egypt. They didn't have any meat to eat, and they loved meat. The stench of bloated carcasses and the accompanying diseases must have been gruesome as well as life threatening. Death was everywhere. Thousands of animal herders were now unemployed. Transportation of goods by land was brought to a standstill. There were no engines to draw the wagons because those were provided by the animals.

    Moses demanded the emancipation of his people. His is gaining spiritual power here. Pharaoh is more in fear of Moses by the day. You can see that. In the beginning Pharaoh could have just wiped Moses out. Now he's a little bit afraid of Moses. I think that it was Moses' trust and Moses' obedience to God that brought on the deep intimacy that enabled Moses to become such a strong godly man. And I will tell you today that unless you have a deep, intimate, relationship with Jesus Christ you will never become a strong woman, a strong boy, a strong man or a strong girl. it won't happen. In fact, "In proportion as we obey we become possessed of those noble elements of character that exist in our hearts as a vapor until they are condensed by some act of obedience." - FB Meyer

    6- BOILS

    Exodus 9:8ff NLT Then the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, "Take handfuls of soot from the furnace and have Moses toss it into the air in the presence of Pharaoh. It will become fine dust over the whole land of Egypt, and festering boils will break out on men and animals throughout the land." Everybody got boils. Deep ulcerated sores broke out on all the Egyptians. Like Job, they suffered immensely. There were now millions of Job's. A nation of Job clones. Itching and scraping and in deep pain. Sitting in ashes, hurting, unable to work, unable to sleep. A nation in misery and torment.

    You would think they would surely let the people go. You notice that each plague gets a little worse, a little more dreadful on the people. All these judgments falling should secure the quick release of the slaves. How hard it is for tyrants to let go of hard working slaves that are earning them a fortune. They were selfish, just like we are today. Even bugs and boils do not move selfish hearts. What it will take for them to give in, only God knows. What will it take for some folks to finally give a liberal offering to God and relax the penny-pinching grip they have on His Tithe? We're too money hungry. We're too selfish today. God want us to give a liberal offering, to return an honest tithe. The love of money was so strong back in Egypt, and I think it is still strong today.

    7- HAIL

    Let's read about it in Exodus 9:23-25 NLT So Moses lifted his staff toward the sky, and the Lord send thunder and hail, and lightning struck the earth. The Lord sent a tremendous hailstorm against all the land of Egypt. Never in all the history of Egypt had there been a storm like that, with such severe hail and continuous lightning. It left all of Egypt in ruins. Everything left in the fields was destroyed--people, animals, and crops alike. Even all the trees were destroyed. The only spot in all Egypt without hail that day was the land of Goshen, where the people of Israel lived. Now, storms are unusual in Egypt. They just don't have storms there. It's not Oklahoma City, not Kansas. Thunder, hail and fire mingled with in it pounded the land. It was a super storm.

    Read David's account of this in Psalm 78:47-49 NLT This is interesting to read. These plagues are so famous that they're mentioned many times in the Bible. He destroyed their vines with hail and shattered their sycamore-figs with sleet. He gave over their cattle to the hail, their livestock to bolts of lightning. He unleashed against them his hot anger, That's quite a plague!

    Lightening Bolts Zigzagging through the sky like laser-guided smart bombs, seeking out those camels, seeking out those donkeys, killing them. Zapping them, Zeroing in on each target with deadly accuracy.

    All this was unleashed by Moses rod. Here we see Aaron fading away and Moses standing at the helm. Moses being the leader. With every trial Moses faith in God grew stronger. That is the better purpose of trials. So the next time you youngsters face a unbending teacher or a broken relationship, some great trial, grow from it. Become stronger. The next time you adults get a speeding ticket, learn from it. Slow down. Gain strength from the trials of life.

    Well, in Egypt, all the forests were broken down. They were fast losing all that had been gained by the labor of the Hebrews. Now their growing food supply was gone, crushed, destroyed by the hail, by the sleet. The rest of the animals were slain by either heavy hail or lightening bolts.

    Let me ask you a question: Remember plague number five killed all the livestock. And plague number seven is killing animals. Where did these living animals come from that were killed in this plague? They could have been domestic animals, or animals that had been indoors during the fifth plague because that was on outdoor animals. Or they could be animals that the Egyptians had purchased from the Hebrews after the fifth plague. Maybe that's where they came from.

    Moses has become the Mighty spokesman, the real magician. You don't read any more about magicians from here on, do you. They have disappeared from the picture. Moses is the true magician, using the power of God. His stuttering lips have become uncommonly persuasive because God spoke through Moses.

    In this plague for the first time, human life is taken. Not just animal life. Humans are losing their lives. Any slave that is in the field was killed by that hail. And in this plague, the very first time, Pharaoh is now admitting to sin and asks Moses to pray for him. He's about to be converted. Moses treats him less as a sovereign and more as a sinner.

    Exodus 9:27 Then Pharaoh summoned Moses and Aaron. "This time I have sinned," he confessed. "The LORD is in the right, and I and my people are in the wrong. Please beg the Lord to end this terrifying thunder and hail. I will let you go at once." "Pray to the LORD, for we have had enough thunder and hail. I will let you go; you don't have to stay any longer. I won't change my mind this time. This is it!"

    Apparently a large hail stone hit Pharaoh's hard dome and cracked it a little and he began to see stars and a little light got in. He could almost see God.

    Notice that God did not hold Moses to his bargain that Aaron would do "ALL" the talking. Remember they made that little bargain way back there in Midian? (Ex 4:15ff). God didn't hold him to that. It's a good thing because now Moses is the spokesman. Sometimes we make careless flippant statements that we later deeply bemoan. And God can forgive us and allow us to change to a better route.

    Observe an interesting thing about that Hail storm. It is hailing like crazy, ice chunks are falling everywhere. They're crashing, they're killing, they're destroying, trees are being stripped. And at that moment Pharaoh says: "Run over and get Moses as fast as you can." Question: would you volunteer to go out in that storm? Somehow a message gets through to Moses and he makes his way to the palace, sheltered by God's umbrella. Do you think those hailstones hit Moses? No way! They didn't! In a protected zone, with hail pelting down in front of him and hail crashing behind him, Moses is preserved by God's hand. When you do God's will you go in safety.

    With each plague the Hebrew slaves were becoming more and more confident of deliverance. Their taskmasters were beating them less and less, realizing these people must be special: the plagues aren't falling on them. God was finally gearing up for the Exodus. His people had languished long enough in the furnace of affliction.

    8- Locusts

    Now notice the eighth plague. Exodus 10:4-6 If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. They will cover the face of the ground so that it cannot be seen. They will devour what little you have left after the hail, including every tree that is growing in your fields. They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians--

    Several years ago some reporters saw a horde of locusts coming and they stationed themselves right in front, in the path of the advancing cloud of Locusts. As the locusts got nearer and nearer, the reporters were recording this and they couldn't even hear themselves talk. The sky got dark, the sound became so loud they could not talk above the noise. It was so loud that it sounded like they were standing between two passing freight trains. It was an exceedingly loud thing.

    Back several years ago a ship was going across the ocean and a cloud of locusts came over that was approximately fifty miles wide and forty-eight miles long and about twenty five hundred feet thick. They took samples, I don't know how they did this, and the average was one hundred forty-four locusts per cubic foot. That's a lot of locusts! And I will tell you that they still have locust storms today. When those insects land they are hungry. They eat everything alive, everything green.

    At God's command, clouds of Locusts blew in from the East. They ate what little was left. This was now a national disaster. The citizens of Egypt were in severe starvation. While just across the fence Goshen looked like paradise. Everything was green, everything nice.

    I got to thinking about these plagues. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God when you're not on His side, when you have zero relationship with God. Pharaoh got the knowledge of God the hard way. Perhaps you have lived the fast worldly life. Maybe you've been out smoking, you've been on drugs, you've been doing things you had no business doing, things that even your parents don't know about, nobody knows about, your wife doesn't know about, but God knows. And maybe God is allowing disasters to plague your life to discipline you. If so, learn from those trials. Benefit from those disasters in your life. Begin to yield you life to God. Maybe your heart is hard, and the harder it becomes the more it takes for God to break through.

    Where are you living today? Are you living in Goshen or are you living in Egypt? Are there plagues falling all around you? Or are you sheltered under the hand of God? I don't know. You know where you live. Praise God if undeserved favor fills your life. Praise Him for His numerous blessings and daily protection. Appreciate His light and shield that surround you.

    But if you live in Egypt today, be quick to invite God into your life. So soften your heart. Surrender your entire life to Jesus. Invite Him to live in your heart. I can tell you that a heart that Jesus is living in cannot be a hard heart.

    9- DARKNESS before Death.

    Let's get to the ninth plague. Exodus 10:21-23 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Stretch out your hand toward the sky so that darkness will spread over Egypt--darkness that can be felt." So Moses stretched out his hand toward the sky, and total darkness covered all Egypt for three days. No one could see anyone else or leave his place for three days. Yet all the Israelites had light in the places where they lived.

    Let me ask you: What is so bad about three days of darkness? You get to sleep in. Don't have to go to work. Is that bad? Well...That's one of the worst plagues that fell on Egypt. Since no one knew how long it would last they were in fear. Maybe they would never see the sun again. The sun was their chief god. Ra, the sun god. I mean, this was the chief god of Egypt. He didn't shine anymore. He was gone. How long would he be gone, they didn't know. They might never see their god again. The chief source of life was gone. Imagine the theological implications of this plague! Their god was defeated.

    Everything was paralyzed. It was a dark chapter in the annals of Egypt. You couldn't even see your hand in front of your face. The priests could not see to perform their sacrifices. The great Egyptian statue Memon failed to greet the morning sun with music.

    The Hebrews were bathed in light over there in Goshen. If you ever feel that a little dark cloud hovers over your head you can imagine how the Egyptians felt on their great dark days. The dark times of life make us appreciate the light even more. Maybe you need to move to Goshen. How do you do that? You can't avoid all the plagues of life, but you can change the way you react to them. You can invite Jesus into your heart. The dark times of life help us to appreciate the light even more.

    Moses had become the true magician. The weak shepherd of Midian became a mighty leader. Respected by both king and people. He had fled that same palace forty years before in fear but now he walks out with the authority of a monarch.

    By now we can clearly see the immanent doom of Pharaoh is coming. Sin is losing against the unchanging will of God. God will always win. You will be a winner if you are on Gods side. If you desire to be successful in life, you don't dress for success unless you put on the robe of Christ's righteousness.

    Opening Hymn: #341, To God Be the Glory
    Scripture: Responsive reading, #801
    Closing Hymn: #337 Redeemed how I love to Proclaim it
    
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