January 20

Exodus 8 -- 10

While God was in the process of delivering the Israelites, the Egyptians suffered through each of the ten plagues because the false gods they worshiped were lifeless and, consequently, powerless. The Egyptians were forced to admit there was but One True God. He alone deserves our full obedience as well as our heartfelt worship. What we believe about God, as well as how we worship Him, does make a difference. Since the plagues brought suffering upon the Egyptians but did not affect the Hebrews, even Pharaoh's magicians recognized who was in control of the plagues. They said to Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: but Pharaoh's heart was hardened (Exodus 8:19) and he stubbornly refused to change. Following the plague of hail that destroyed all that was in the field, both man and beast. . . . Pharaoh sent, and called for Moses and Aaron, and said to them, I have sinned this time: the Lord is righteous, and I and my people are wicked (9:25,27).
Pharaoh assured Moses that the Israelites could go free the moment the hail ceased. But, again Pharaoh changed his mind and further hardened his heart against the will of God. Without a doubt, Pharaoh did harden his own heart each time he decided to reject the Word of God (7:13-14,22; 8:15,19,32; 9:7). But, we also read that the Lord hardened Pharaoh's heart, and these are two different expressions. The time arrived when God hardened Pharaoh's heart (9:12; 10:1,20,27; 11:10; 14:8).
Eventually, Pharaoh seemed to agree to Moses' request, saying: Go, serve the Lord your God: but who are they that shall go? and Moses said, We will go with our young and with our old, with our sons and with our daughters, with our flocks and with our herds . . . for we must hold a feast to the Lord (10:8-9) -- meaning that everyone from the youngest child to the most elderly person must worship the Lord. However, Pharaoh insisted that the Israelite slaves must worship on his terms. Pharaoh's own advisors again withstood him, saying: Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God: know you not yet that Egypt is destroyed? (10:7). Disregarding his advisors, Moses and Aaron were driven out from Pharaoh's presence (10:8-11).
The real issue facing everyone is: "Who is in control?" The person who is most deceived is the one who believes he will live for Jesus later in life. Like Pharaoh, he refuses to give up control of his life. But there comes a day when the time of repentance is past. God alone decides how long He will be insulted.
During the days of Noah, before the flood, God warned: My Spirit will not always strive with man (Genesis 6:3). While Israel was prosperous, but worshiping false gods, God spoke to Jeremiah not to pray any longer for the nation. And, for all who stubbornly reject the gracious mercy and longsuffering of God, the message is the same (Jeremiah 7:16). Because I have called, and you refused . . . when distress and anguish comes upon you. . . . Then shall they call upon Me, but I will not answer. . . . For they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the Lord (Proverbs 1:24-29).
Word Studies:
8:15 respite = an interval of delay; 8:22 sever = set apart; 8:23 put a division = make a distinction; 9:3 grievous murrain = severe pestilence or disease; 9:31 in the ear = ripening; bolled = in the bud; 10:7 snare = endanger.

Prayer:

Government Officials: Rep. Shelley Berkley (NV) and Sen. Paul Coverdell (GA) · Pray for Harold Holdbrook, Missionary in Ghana · Pray for the Bible Pathway International Radio Broadcast in honor of Steve and Laura Harle · Country: Solomon Islands (347,000) in the southwestern Pacific · Major languages: 120 indigenous languages · Religious freedom · 66% Protestant; 17% Roman Catholic; 4% spirit worship, ancestor worship, and sorcery · Prayer Suggestion: Begin each morning with prayer (Psalms 5:3).
Optional Reading:
Matthew 20

Memory Verse for the Week:
Psalms 9:1