Pastor Miles opened this Sunday morning message reminding the Rock church of the move to the new facility on Ruffin Road on November 21st. The first event at the Ruffin Road facility will be held November 13th celebrating the np3 anniversary.
For those who are old enough to remember there use to be a television show on called "Let's Make a Deal," hosted by Monty Hall. On this show participants come with all kinds of different items and the host calls out for a particular item. It could be something like a paper clip, or a blue earring. Whoever in the audience had the particular item mentioned got to go up on stage and make a deal with their item for something behind a door, or in an envelope, or whatever it may be.
For any deal a person makes involves a price and terms. A price involves what the person is going to give, and the terms involve what the person will get. When a person goes to buy a car, they negotiate a certain price for certain terms concerning the car. For example, as the car salesman and the buyer negotiate a price, the buyer may require certain things they want their new car to have like a 5-disc c.d changer, or an air conditioning system, and so on, for the price they are going to pay.
Today Pastor Miles took us through Exodus 7-9 in which God makes an offer to Pharaoh, that Pharaoh wants to negotiate. However, when it comes to making a deal with God it is not negotiable. We will see that God wants all His slaves freed, and that Pharaoh will get a lesson on God because of his actions.
Hard Hearts Won't Hinder God, Only You
In Exodus 7:14-18, The Lord said to Moses: "Pharaoh's heart is hard; he refuses to let the people go. Go to Pharaoh in the morning, when he goes out to the water, and you shall stand by the river's bank to meet him; and the rod which was turned to a serpent you shall take in your hand. And you shall say to him, 'The Lord God of the Hebrews has sent me to you, saying, "Let My people go, that they may serve Me in the wilderness"; but indeed, until now you would not hear! Thus says the Lord: "By this you shall know that I am the Lord. Behold, I will strike the waters, which are in the river with the rod that is in my hand, and they shall be turned to blood. And the fish that are in the river shall die, the river shall stink, and the Egyptians will loathe to drink the water of the river."
This was the first of the plagues to fall upon the land of Egypt. Though the Egyptians were greatly troubled by this because they could not find any water to drink, Pharaoh's heart only grew harder, and he was unwilling to obey the Lord's calling to let His people go. However, God is not stopped nor does a hard heart limit Him. However, hard hearts cause us to suffer. It is important that as Christians, we do not let our hearts grow hard but instead acknowledge God's absolute power over all the things that we may put before Him. We must remove those things and let Him have control, and not let our own hard hearts control us.
Frogs, Lice, and Flies, Oh My!
Because Pharaoh's heart remained hardened against the Lord, he did not agree to let the children of Israel go, so God allowed three more plagues to fall upon the land of Egypt.
In Exodus 8:3-4 we see the second plague. So the river shall bring forth frogs abundantly, which shall go up and come into your house, into your bedroom, on your bed, into the houses of your servants, on your people, into your ovens, and into your kneading bowls. And the frogs shall come up on you, on your people, and on all your servants. Pharaoh began to see what the Lord could do, and called on Moses and Aaron asking them to ask the Lord to stop the frogs from coming and if God did, he would then let the people go. So the frogs died out of the land and the land stank, but when Pharaoh saw relief in the land, his heart only became hardened again.
Then the Lord, through the rod Aaron caused the land of Egypt to be filled with lice, but Pharaoh's heart only grew harder, as God said it would. God sent Moses to Pharaoh again to plead with him to let the people go, and if he did not there would be another plague on the land of Egypt.
Exodus 8:21-24 states, Or else, if you will not let My people go, behold, I will send swarms of flies on you and your servants, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians shall be full of swarms of flies, and also the ground on which they stand. And in that day I will set apart the land of Goshen, in which My people dwell, that no swarms of flies shall be there, in order that you may know that I am the Lord in the midst of the land. I will make a difference between My people and your people. Tomorrow this sign shall be." And the Lord did so. Thick swarms of flies came into the house of Pharaoh, into his servants' houses, and into all the land of Egypt. The land was corrupted because of the swarms of flies.
Through this though God's ability to distinguish between the punished and the delivered, and His ability to determine the timing of His judgments are clearly seen. Just as a parent can recognize his own children, so can God. Therefore, it is vital to not let our hearts grow hard toward Him, but to allow God total control of our lives and trust His judgments and His timing.
It Is Not a Bargain
Pharaoh sought relief for himself and his people through each plague, telling Moses that if God would remove the plague he would let the people go. However, as God removed each plague Pharaoh would again harden his heart and not let the children of Israel go. So God again sent Moses to Pharaoh telling him to let the children go and if he wouldn't a severe pestilence would come upon the cattle of his land.
But Exodus 9:4-5 states, And the Lord will make a difference between the livestock of Israel and the livestock of Egypt. So nothing shall die of all that belongs to the children of Israel." Then the Lord appointed a set time, saying, "Tomorrow the Lord will do this thing in the land." God was not going to let Pharaoh bargain, or negotiate with Him. It is God's way, or the highway. And His ways are higher than ours. But Pharaoh did not heed the Lord, but instead his heart remained hardened.
A plague of boils, and then a plague of hail came upon the land of Egypt, but the children of Israel were spared. Then Pharaoh said to Moses and Aaron in Exodus 9:27-28 I have sinned this time. The Lord is righteous, and my people and I are wicked. Entreat the Lord, that there may be no more mighty thundering and hail, for it is enough. I will let you go, and you shall stay no longer. But as soon as the plagues had ceased Pharaoh once again hardened his heart, and continued in sin.
God was continually merciful, and allowed opportunities through each plague for Pharaoh to turn and repent, but his heart continued to be hard towards the Lord.
Make the Deal!
Some of us may look at this story of Pharaoh and the plagues and wonder why Pharaoh never got the picture. However, sometimes we don't get the picture either. God is continually merciful, He has absolute power, and yet sometimes we let our hearts grow hard. It is vital that if we find ourselves in this position that we turn and repent, and make the deal with God. It is a non-negotiable deal that we give up the gods, or sin, or whatever it is we hold onto and let God have total control.
The longer we hold out and negotiate the more pain we will experience like we see in the story of Pharaoh. God wants to give us life, a spiritually abundant life, even eternal life with Him. So lets make the deal!