Bethel Baptist Church
20.8.23 Morning Worship
  • O God, Our Help in Ages Past
  • In Christ Alone
      • 1 Chronicles 16:28–31ESV

  • Is Your All On the Alter
  • Creation Sings
  • Blessed Redeemer
  • INTRODUCTION:
    One of the darkest places to live,
    is a place where people worship false gods.
    Living in a society where there is no god is just as dark,
    but false worship has it’s own unique tragedy and emptiness.
    Western culture has lived apart from ancient paganism so long,
    that we don’t realize what it’s like to live under a false gods.
    Gods of empty stone and wood.
    And this is a time in history, the Exodus,
    when Egypt was neither an Islamic nation,
    nor a Christian nation.
    It was a society that had idolatry oozing from every part of its existence.
    > Probably the most obvious to us would be the architecture.
    The cities of the Egyptians would’ve been packed with the worship of god’s.
    There were numerous temples.
    “Ramesses III, for example, gave numerous vineyards to the god Amun”
    You going by a vineyard, and pass by the vineyard of the god Amun.
    But there were other signs.
    Major portion of Egypt’s economy was built around either temple worship or funerals.
    Slide for Quote
    “Ancient Egyptian culture centered on the dead and the needs of the gods. Egypt’s economy was closely tied to all aspects of religion. The country produced food for the gods as offerings placed in temples and for the wealthy dead as they began their journey in the afterlife. Egyptian traders went to Punt for incense and Byblos for timber for coffins.
    The economic structure of Egypt concentrated on building religious monuments, temples, and tombs. Quarrying, stoneworking, mining, metalworking, and carpentry skills thrived. The temples became industrial monopolies, for they owned both the mines and the metalworking industries. In this, Egypt differed from other Mediterranean countries, for its emphasis was on the gods and the royal and wealthy dead even more than on the living.”
    Branch, Robin G., and Emerson B. Powery. “Wealth & Poverty.” Dictionary of Daily Life in Biblical & Post-Biblical Antiquity. Peabody, MA: Hendrickson Publishers, 2014–2016.
    But it was even more invasive then just the architecture and the economy.
    If you are sick, then you would appeal to “a variety of gods for healing, such as Isis, Hathor, Khnum, and Heket, and feared others, such as Seth and Sekhmet, as the sources of sickness”
    Agricultural was a major part of the economy … and many of the animals they raised were considered sacred.
    Were in cattle country, there is my sacred bull in the back.
    If you were an orphan or a widow, you would look to the Sun God Re.
    “The sun god Re was viewed as a judge who protected the powerless segments of society. ”
    The most vulnerable people of society, looked to a false empty god.
    That is a lot of background information - why does that matter?
    Because we are now entering a section that could be summarized
    as a frontal assault against of the false god’s that they trust in.
    ILLUSTRATION/EXPLANATION:
    It is D-Day on the Egyptian god’s,
    and God is literally liberating the Egyptians from the emptiness of false worship.
    And the book of Exodus communicates this -
    Exodus 7:5 ESV
    The Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I stretch out my hand against Egypt and bring out the people of Israel from among them.”
    Exodus 12:12 ESV
    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.
    Numbers 33:4 ESV
    while the Egyptians were burying all their firstborn, whom the Lord had struck down among them. On their gods also the Lord executed judgments.
    The book of Exodus tells us God is attacking the false God’s of Egypt and the Egyptians false belief in them.
    This morning - we will look at the first five plagues.
    And I challenge us from this text -

    The LORD Alone deserves our trust.

    And these judgments and signs demonstrate the inadequacy of trusting in anything else.
    To understand why that is true.
    we have to lean a little bit heavier on history this Sunday.
    CAVEAT:
    If you are a new visitor today,
    I encourage to look to some of my past sermons.
    Because the unique content of the 10 plagues,
    changes the norm of what I do.
    - I typically focus on passages.
    - I try to be careful not to bring to much academics into the pulpit.
    But this section requires a little be different approach.
    I think you can understand why.
    CAVEAT/EXHORTATION:
    Further, I encourage everyone to read this passage as part of your devotions.
    Observe what can’t be communicated in a half an hour, by reading it yourself.
    So as we jump into our text this morning -
    Slide for Point
    Observe-

    The power of the LORD and the emptiness of the Egyptian gods.

    To begin with,
    I prefer the term judgment & signs, as opposed to plague.
    A plague is simply a term for death and sickness.
    But this is more than just a plague, because it’s a judgment from God.
    - In several places, we are told that Moses and Aaron warned Pharoah in advance.
    - And prophesied the time that the judgement would end.
    It’s more than just a plague, because God is purposely showing signs that point to the true God.
    He is trying to change the believe and trust of the people of Egypt to the one true God.
    And thus, the words judgment and sign is a better term then plague.
    So how does this text show that the Egyptian god’s are empty and lifeless?
    And how does this text show that the LORD is great and mighty?
    It does that by showing us judgement and signs.
    Consider,

    (1) Judgement and Sign #1: Turning the Nile into blood. (Ex 7:14-25)

    Exodus 7:17–18 ESV
    Thus says the Lord, “By this you shall know that I am the Lord: behold, with the staff that is in my hand I will strike the water that is in the Nile, and it shall turn into blood. The fish in the Nile shall die, and the Nile will stink, and the Egyptians will grow weary of drinking water from the Nile.” ’ ”
    A couple weeks ago we talked briefly about the significance of Moses turning the Nile River and blood.
    May I add some details today.
    Economically Egypt depended upon the Nile for prosperity.
    > the Nile was a major source of food, water, and trade.
    Without the Nile Egypt was bankrupt and in a famine.
    > It is not surprising that the Nile was believed to be controlled by their Gods.
    - Osiris, the god of the Nile, who was depicted with the river running through his bloodstream.
    - Nu, the god of life in the river. 
    Hapi, the god of the flood, the annual flooding of the Nile gave birth to Egypt and nursed its strength.
    What does it say about these God’s – when the Lord turned it into blood?
    Its not good.
    The LORD is more powerful.
    So pharaohs summons the magicians.
    “In the ancient world, Egypt was considered to be a premier training ground for the magical arts. The concept of magic (Egy. ḥq3) in ancient Egypt was personified by the god Heka”
    They were people who were believed to be able to call on the god’s and use its power.
    So Naturally – Pharaoh summons the magicians.
    Exodus 7:22 ESV
    But the magicians of Egypt did the same by their secret arts. So Pharaoh’s heart remained hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
    Some have struggled with this, but I don’t think we need to.
    (1) What have they accomplished?
    the Nile has been turn in the blood, and magicians have now turned more water into blood.
    At most, they replicated the miracle. But they could not change it.
    (2) secondly, we know Satan is capable of incredible miracles.
    2 Thessalonians 2:9–10 ESV
    The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.
    So we should not be surprised, when the magicians of false gods can produce counterfeit miracles.
    Ultimately,
    the first sign shows that the Lord has power over the most important resource of Egypt, the Nile.
    And the gods of Egypt powerless to stop it.
    Next, consider -

    (2) Judgement and Sign #2: Frogs infest the land. (Ex 8:1-15)

    Exodus 8:1–3 ESV
    Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go in to Pharaoh and say to him, ‘Thus says the Lord, “Let my people go, that they may serve me. But if you refuse to let them go, behold, I will plague all your country with frogs. The Nile shall swarm with frogs that shall come up into your house and into your bedroom and on your bed and into the houses of your servants and your people, and into your ovens and your kneading bowls.
    ILLUSTRATION:
    Last weekend I attended a wedding in a barn, and outside, boys being boys, found a frog hopping in the rocks.
    One or two frogs are a delight of boys.
    But thousands of frogs or another story.
    Thousands of frogs invade your fields, your houses, and even your ovens – frogs aren’t a delight anymore.
    They become an incredible nuisance.
    When you can’t rollover in your bed without a frog in it.
    When you can’t get any sleep because the noise of the frogs.
    Frogs are a terrible thing.
    > So the ever helpful magicians show up again.
    Exodus 8:7 ESV
    But the magicians did the same by their secret arts and made frogs come up on the land of Egypt.
    > Again, what did they accomplish?
    The land is overflowing with frogs, so they bring more frogs, just to show how powerful they are.
    But they couldn’t stop the judgement.
    BACKGROUND:
    A little background information,
    you are going to believe this – the frogs were considered sacred.
    - Heqet, a goddess of fertility with a frog head,
    And so, the land is over flowing with frogs and they can’t even kill them.
    It’s almost as though God has a sense of humor,
    fine you want to worship frogs, I will give you a fill of frogs.
    Ultimately, the Lord is shown to be the true controller of fertility.
    And the false gods of Egypt were shown to be powerless in the face of the Lord.
    Further,

    (3) Judgement and Sign #3: Gnats infest the land. (Ex 8:16-19)

    A shorter judgement,
    Exodus 8:16–17 ESV
    Then the Lord said to Moses, “Say to Aaron, ‘Stretch out your staff and strike the dust of the earth, so that it may become gnats in all the land of Egypt.’ ” And they did so. Aaron stretched out his hand with his staff and struck the dust of the earth, and there were gnats on man and beast. All the dust of the earth became gnats in all the land of Egypt.
    The word translated gnats here, is extremely rare.
    this is the only place is found in our Bibles.
    the word could mean mosquito, lice, or several different kinds of flying bugs.
    Either way,
    Aaron was able to turn dust into these bugs, and infest everything.
    One or two bugs can annoy us.
    but being constantly covered with bugs will drive you insane.
    Try eating your dinner while being covered with bugs.
    Try keeping your food clean with that many bugs.
    But even more important,
    it would’ve prevented the priests of Egypt from worshiping the false gods.
    ceremonial purity was an essential requirement of temple worship.
    “Above many of the temple entrances, there was a sign that read, “Everybody who enters the temple, must be pure” (Bleeker, 86). ”
    And so,
    none of the priests and even call upon God in this judgment.
    Talk about trusting in the wrong things.
    We are not sure of the precise god that the Lord is judging here.
    Perhaps he’s judging all god’s, by making their priests unable to worship these false gods.
    > But third times the charm,
    the magicians come back out.
    Exodus 8:18–19 ESV
    The magicians tried by their secret arts to produce gnats, but they could not. So there were gnats on man and beast. Then the magicians said to Pharaoh, “This is the finger of God.” But Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he would not listen to them, as the Lord had said.
    this time they’re not even able to produce this miracle.
    Perhaps it was a good thing, but they were just making the problem worse.
    This also demonstrates this Satan only have so much power, and it is incomparable in power of God.
    The magicians actually say something really remarkable here.
    They realize that their gods are nothing compared to the Lord,
    and Moses could only do this by the power and will of the Lord.
    “This is the finger of God.”
    Ultimately,
    this judgment is unremarkable.
    God just used gnats, to overwhelm Egypt, and destroy false worship.
    I would say – the Lord is by far more powerful than the gods of Egypt.
    Now consider,

    (4) Judgement and Sign #4: Flies infest the land. (Ex 8:20-32)

    Exodus 8:20–21 ESV
    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.
    There is a debate here about what kind of fly it is,
    and thus which in false idol God is judging here.
    Some of the possibilities include:
    Re (dog flies),
    Uatchit (Ichneuman flies),
    Scarab (beetle that represented the sun and eternal life),
    or Beelzebub ("lord of the flies").
    In any case, this plague directly attacked the Egyptian gods. 
    The Lord of the flies must not be very much of the god,
    if he can’t even control the flies he’s Lord of.
    This judgment was so extensive the Scripture describes the flies as
    being in swarms on the air,
    and covering the ground.
    Similar to the last judgment,
    flies would have infested food,
    annoyed livestock, carried disease,
    and literally effected every activity the Egyptian people.
    With the one exception - God would demonstrate that he is behind the judgement by passing over Israel.
    Exodus 8:22 ESV
    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.
    Ultimately, the Lord again is more powerful then the gods of Egypt.
    And God makes it very clear.
    I can do what your God’s cannot do.
    Last and final one,

    (5) Judgement and Sign #5: Death of livestock. (Ex Ex 9:1-7)

    Exodus 9:3 ESV
    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.
    If you know anything about Egyptian worship, you know that livestock was an essential part of the worship.
    - Osiris, the savior, cannot save the body he resides in. 
    - Hathor, goddess of love, was in the form of a cow. 
    - Apis was represented as a bull and was so honored that it's body was ebalmed and buried in it's own sarcophagus. 
    - Isis, queen of the gods, was often pictured with bull horns. 
    - Other livestock included: the ram of Ammon, the sheep of Sais, and the goat of Mendes
    When your livelihood is based on livestock, this judgment would have ruined you.
    When when the very form of your favorite pet god dies, in a massive judgment, it opens your eyes.
    Who are the God of Egypt, they can’t even protect one of the most important parts of the economy.
    Who are the gods of Egypt, when they can’t even protect the livestock that is supposedly so sacred.
    Just like the Nile turning in the blood,
    this what have been a very clear message to every Egyptian,
    because every household would have had some form of livestock.
    The fifth judgment and sign,
    would have been a powerful description of who is really the God of heaven and earth.
    Especially since, everybody’s livestock is dead except Israel.
    Exodus 9:4 ESV
    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.” ’ ”
    CONCLUSION:
    Consider the first five plagues, what do they teach us?
    As a theme in Exodus, what is the Lord doing as he judges the gods of Egypt?
    He is teaching that they are empty and lifeless.
    Magicians may be able to come up with false miracles,
    but their inability to stop Moses demonstrates that they are lifeless.
    Pharoah himself is supposed to be a deity,
    and yet Pharoah is shown to be at the becking call of God.
    Does it make any sense to worship these gods in the temple?
    Does it make sense to trust these gods to carry you to the afterlife?
    Does it make sense to plea to these gods when you are sick?
    Does it make sense for widows and orphans to call upon Re, the son God?
    APPLICATION:
    Now as always, we want to bring this text back to us.
    What does the first five plagues teach me?
    We have to conclude:
    The LORD Alone deserves our trust.
    And these judgments and signs demonstrate the inadequacy of trusting in anything else.
    We may not worship false gods,
    but that doesn’t mean were trusting in the Lord either.
    Remove idolatry from our world,
    and that doesn’t get is right with God.
    Inherently, we can still trust in the wrong things
    The Egyptians trusted and empty and lifeless gods
    > Osiris, Isis, Hathor, and Pharoah
    The same way, we are all trusting in something.
    The question is – is it worthy of our trust?
    What do people who don’t believe in a God,
    wrongly trust in?
    My strength, my perfection, my abilities, my good planning. Me and what I can do.
    I wonder if instead of worshiping false gods, we instead worship >>>> me myself and I.
    That is where we go from prosperity and help.
    As I read of how the Egyptians looked to the gods for healing, I wonder how we do the same thing when we assume doctors can guarantee us a long life.
    As I look at investing for retirement, I wonder how much I trust the stock market more than my lord.
    As a train up my kids, I wonder how much I trust my parenting techniques, rather than My God.
    Ladies and gentlemen,
    we’re just as idolatrous,
    and our hopes can be just as miss placed as the Egyptians.
    Life without any god is just as dark, tragic, and empty as a life worshiping the wrong God’s.
    I wonder how many of us were crushed by life,
    because we place our trust in the wrong things.
    Just as our Lord showed signs and wonders that he is greater then the lifeless gods of Egypt,
    our Lord is greater in the all securities we put our trust in.
    We have to conclude:
    The LORD Alone deserves our trust.
    And these judgments and signs demonstrate the inadequacy of trusting in anything else.
    **************************************************
    Handout:
    Cross Reference: God judgement upon the gods (Exodus 7:5, 8:22, 12:12)
    Response:
    a) How did this passage teach the false hope of the Egyptian gods? How god attack the belief system of the Egyptians?
    b) What do you trust in for personal blessing, security, and health?
    (1) When and how do you trust in the LORD alone?
    (2) When and how do you trust in something else?
      • Exodus 7:5ESV

      • Exodus 12:12ESV

      • Numbers 33:4ESV

      • Exodus 7:17–18ESV

      • Exodus 7:22ESV

      • 2 Thessalonians 2:9–10ESV

      • Exodus 8:1–3ESV

      • Exodus 8:7ESV

      • Exodus 8:16–17ESV

      • Exodus 8:18–19ESV

      • Exodus 8:20–21ESV

      • Exodus 8:22ESV

      • Exodus 9:3ESV

      • Exodus 9:4ESV

  • Great and Mighty

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