Message

2024.4.7

The Nine Plagues (Part 2)

Exodus chapters 8:20 – 10:29

 

Good morning, everyone. 

How are you all doing? 

 

By the way, what do you do on your days off?  I’m the type of person to just want to go out on my days off.  I don’t like to stay home on holidays. 

 

The other day, the Kitakyu Subway Line was extended, and it’s near our house.  So I went to the two new stations.  With my wife.  And we thought to have lunch at the terminal station of Minoh-kayano, but it was so crowded, and there were more than ten groups waiting at every restaurant.  I was wondering what to do when I heard a voice saying, “You can be seated right away.”  Looking in that direction, it was a beef tongue restaurant, and all the items on the menu cost more than 2000 yen.  “Hmmm,” I hesitated, but my wife said, “Beef tongue’s okay, too.”  I was like, “What?” but we ended up going there.  And it was really delicious.  We had a set in which we were able to compare different beef tongues, and the prime beef tongue was really very good, so next time, I want to try the prime beef tongue set.  It’s expensive though. 

 

The next day off I had, my wife and I took the monorail to LaLaPort in Kadoma.  We had lunch in the food court, and as I was walking around trying to decide what to eat, a tempura rice bowl shop caught my eye.  An ordinary tempura bowl was about 1000 yen, shrimp tempura bowl was a little more than 1300 yen, and the Edomae tempura bowl was more than 1500 yen.  Well, normally, I would get the ordinary tempura bowl, but that Edomae tempura bowl had an anago(conger eel) tempura on it.  After considering it for a long time, I ended up ordering that Edomae tempura bowl with miso soup.  It was so good.  I definitely want to eat it again.

 

Like that, by nature, I’m stingy, but these days, my purse strings are loosening.  But I think the day will come when I won’t be able to go out to lunch with my wife like this anymore, so until that day, I’m going to thank God for his grace, and not be too stingy.

 

Now, getting into our topic, today is part two of the Nine Plagues in our Moses series, and we are going to be looking at Exodus 8:20 to the end of chapter 10. 

 

Last time, we looked at the first half.  Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and told him to let the Israelites go, but Pharaoh wouldn’t listen.  So the three plagues of the Nile River turning into blood, the plague of frogs, and the plague of gnats struck Egypt.  Even then, Pharaoh hardened his heart, and wouldn’t let the people go.

 

Today, we will be looking at the fourth plague on that came next.  Let’s open our Bibles. 

Let’s read 8:20 to 22.  Please look in your Bibles.  Exodus 8:20 to 22.

 

20 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Get up early in the morning and confront Pharaoh as he goes to the river and say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 21 If you do not let my people go, I will send swarms of flies on you and your officials, on your people and into your houses. The houses of the Egyptians will be full of flies; even the ground will be covered with them.

 

22 “‘But on that day I will deal differently with the land of Goshen, where my people live; no swarms of flies will be there, so that you will know that I, the Lord, am in this land.

 

Flies are common insects, and they look like this.  God said, if you do not let my people go, flies will swarm all over Egypt.  However, only the land of Goshen where the Israelites live, would be fee of flies.  Goshen is around here. 

 

Goshen was a region good for livestock farming in northern Egypt, and the Israelites lived there together in a community.  Egyptians disliked people keeping cattle, so lived away from them.  And the flies did not come to Goshen.  That was to show clearly that this plague was not a normal natural disaster, but the judgement of God. 

 

In verse 25, Pharaoh ordered the two to make the sacrifice in the country.  However, Moses turned him down flat.  The reason Moses gave for that was because they would be sacrificing things that the Egyptians detested.  What this meant was that for each of the Egyptian gods, there were sacred animals.  For example, bulls were sacred animals to a god named Apis and a goddess named Isis.  Also, a ram was a sacred animal to a god named Amon.  If those animals were killed, the Egyptians would become furious and stone the Israelites to death.  Because of that, he was saying they could not offer the sacrifices in Egypt.  Moses proudly stood up to Pharaoh, and rejected his compromise.  Moses was getting tougher.  Originally, Moses wasn’t like that.  He wasn’t a good speaker, and was afraid of God’s command.  However, in this series of interaction with Pharaoh, God commanded Moses himself to speak.  For example, in chapter 7 verse 16, it says, “say to him.”  This was the prophecy of the River Nile turning into blood.  Also in 8:1, it says, “Go to the Pharaoh and say to him.”  This was the prophecy of the plague of the frogs.  Also, in 8:20 it says, “and say to him.”  It was the prophecy of the plague of gnats. 

Moses carried out those commands of God as he was told.  He simply and obediently obeyed God’s command.  Through that, he was trained, and grew. 

 

Now, in response to Pharaoh not letting his people go, God struck Egypt with a plague that brought on disease to the livestock.  It was the fifth plague.  However, not one livestock of the Israelites died.  Still, Pharaoh’s heart was unyielding and wouldn’t let the people go.

 

The sixth plague was boils.  When Moses tossed soot from the furnace into the air, it stuck on people and livestock throughout Egypt, and broke out as festering boils.  The magicians could not stand before Moses because they had boils, too. 

 

However, Pharaoh’s heart was hardened again, and wouldn’t listen to the two of them.  Seeing the plagues occur one after the next, how would have Moses felt?  Declaring God’s judgement, and then having them come true, and seeing the people of Egypt suffer would not have made Moses happy at all.  Rather, it would have been very painful for him.  Moses was a kind, quiet, and gentle person.  He was the kind of person who could pray for the plagues to stop, but could never pray for those plagues to get worse.  Moses who had been like that came to be God’s instrument for bringing pain to the Egyptian people.  It was a very difficult mission for him.  However, Moses did not shirk.  He prophesied the next plague firmly. 

 

Let’s read verses 17 to 19.  Please look in your Bibles.  Exodus 9:17 to 19.

 

17 You still set yourself against my people and will not let them go. 18 Therefore, at this time tomorrow I will send the worst hailstorm that has ever fallen on Egypt, from the day it was founded till now. 19 Give an order now to bring your livestock and everything you have in the field to a place of shelter, because the hail will fall on every person and animal that has not been brought in and is still out in the field, and they will die.’”

 

The seventh was a terrible natural disaster, the plague of hail.  When Moses stretched out his staff toward the sky, God struck Egypt with hail and thunder.  For us, we have the image of hail scattering down, but there are surprising cases where they come down in very big pieces.  According to Wikipedia, hail that fell in Saitama Prefecture in the 6th year of Taisho Era(1917) was 30 centimeters in diameter, and more than 3 kilograms.  Also, the hail that fell in Nebraska in the U.S. in 2003 was 17.8 cm in diameter and 47.6 cm in circumference.  That is like a rock falling.  Thud, crash, bang!

 

In verse 25 it says it beat down everything growing in the fields and stripped every tree.  It must have.  However, there was no hail in Goshen where the Israelites lived. 

 

Pharaoh called Moses and Aaron and told them he was in the wrong, that he would let them go.  Moses promised to stop the hail and thunder, but also stated that Pharaoh and his people have not yet come to fear the Lord God.  And true to that, when the hail and thunder stopped, Pharaoh and his people hardened their hearts, and did not let the people go.  And called in the next plague.

 

Let’s read 10:3 to 6.  Please look in your Bibles.  10:3 to 6.

 

3 So Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “This is what the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, says: ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, so that they may worship me. 4 If you refuse to let them go, I will bring locusts into your country tomorrow. 5 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. 6 They will fill your houses and those of all your officials and all the Egyptians—something neither your parents nor your ancestors have ever seen from the day they settled in this land till now.’” Then Moses turned and left Pharaoh.

 

The eighth was the plague of locusts.  Moses rebuked Pharaoh severely, and warned him.  Then turned swiftly around and walked out on him.

 

Pharaoh’s people begged him to accept the demand.  They said Egypt would be ruined if this continued.  So Pharaoh came up with the compromise of letting only the adult men go, but Moses rejected it firmly.  And so locusts covered the land of Egypt.  The land became dark, and what greenery was left was quickly devoured.  Pharaoh called the two, admitted his sin, and asked them to pray for him.  And when Moses prayed, the plague of locusts stopped.  Then again, Pharaoh went back on his promise.

 

Now, it says in verse 13 that the locusts were brought by the east wind.  And in verse 19, it says they were carried away by a very strong west wind.  Please look at the map. 

 

The army of locusts came from the east, and went away blown by wind from the sea, the west wind.  And in verse 19, it says they were carried into the Red Sea.  In the footnotes it says the Red Sea is also the Sea of Reeds. 

 

About where the Red Sea is, actually, there is the narrow definition and the broad definition.  In the narrow sense, it refers to the lake or sea that is on the border between northeastern Egypt and the Sinai Peninsula.  In the broad sense, it refers to the sea between the African continent and the Arabian Peninsula, which is the Red Sea, the northern part of which diverges into the Gulf of Suez and the Gulf of Aqaba. 

 

The Red Sea in the passage we are looking at now seems to be referring not the whole of the Red Sea, but the Gulf of Suez.  By the way, the term Sea of Reeds does not appear in the New Testament Bible.  It is all referred to as the “Red Sea”.  That is because in the Translation of the Seventy Bible that was the first translation of the Old Testament from Hebrew to Greek translated “the Sea of Reeds” in Hebrew to “the Red Sea” in Greek. 

 

Now, Pharaoh who did not let the people go even after the plague of the locusts called in still another plague.

 

That was the ninth plague, the plague of darkness.

 

It was so dark that people could not even see each other or stand for three days.  It was pitch dark even in the house.  Even if they turned on a light, it was still dark.  It was the miracle of God.  However, the Israelites had light.

 

I have not experienced true darkness, but it must be more terrifying than I could imagine.  Pharaoh called Moses, and offered him a compromise saying the people of Israel could go, but they had to leave their sheep and cows.  However, Moses rejected it.  Pharaoh got angry and threatened them saying “Make sure you do not appear before me again.  The day you see my face you will die.”   Upon hearing it, Moses did not flinch, and with calm dignity, replied, “Just as you say.” 

 

Up to here, we have looked at the nine plagues that struck Egypt.  Pharaoh’s stubbornness catches our eye, but what can be seen in the background is the growth of Moses.  What made Moses grow?  There was nothing special.  Just that Moses simply obeyed God.  But that’s what made Moses grow.  As I said earlier, Moses was afraid of God’s command.  He had made excuses to try and avoid that responsibility.  However, now, Moses returned to Egypt where he had fled when he was young, and is refusing to back down before Pharaoh, a terrifying dictator.  He is rejecting all of the compromises Pharaoh comes up with.  Because they are not in accordance with God’s command.

 

What we learn from here is that there is no better way for our faith to grow than to just simply obey God.  The value of that cannot be overvalued. 

 

In my previous sermon, I mentioned that even when God shows us something, we tend to often ignore them or put them off.  However, even though they are few, but there are a few cases that are not so for me.  One of them is the Wednesday morning prayer meeting.  When I was given the idea for a morning prayer meeting, as usual, I began thinking, this is necessary, that is necessary, there’s this kind of problem, that kind of problem.

 

And sought the advice of a person.  The person smiled and suggested, “Why don’t you just say, ‘I’m just going to start’?”  I thought, that’s true.  And in the next Sunday worship service, I announced, “I will come to church and pray from 5:30 in the morning.  I will pray alone.  If anyone is willing to pray with me, let’s pray together.”  It’s been about 2 years and 3 months, but I think it was probably only once that I prayed alone.  There aren’t many participants, but someone comes every time.  Also, afterwards, we go for breakfast together to a family restaurant and that has become very important to me. 

 

Well, I can’t really recommend starting in such a reckless way for anything else, but still, let’s just simply obey God in order to carry out the responsibilities given to us.  That is God’s will.  Don’t procrastinate, don’t make excuses, don’t doubt, just do.

 

Don’t get distracted by how it’s going, or be on an emotional rollercoaster at each result.  They are God’s domain.  We just do what we should with all our heart, and that’s it.

 

Let’s read Colossians 3:23 and 24. 

 

23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.  It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

 

Just as it is in these words of God, let’s do it with all our heart, as working for the Lord.  The reward is inheriting the kingdom.  We are serving Christ.

 

Let’s pray.

 

Today, we saw that Moses grew by simply obeying God.  There may be people here whose heart ached or people who realized something.  If so, let’s tell that honestly to God and ask to be guided in those things.  Also, those of you who can’t think of anything, let’s tell that to God, and ask to be given the awareness that you need. 

 

Even when we think of good things, we are slow to act on them.  And even if we start on them, it is hard for us to keep at them.  Let’s ask God to give us good wisdom from above, to be given a good plan and schedule, a way that would work for us. 

 

Heavenly Father God.  We learned today that simple obedience to you makes us grow.  Please help us to follow the example of Moses.  Even if we cannot do such a great thing as Moses did, may we be able to deal with the problems we face in our daily lives in your way.  May we be able to choose the way you wish for us.  And be able to carry them out simply and obediently.  Help us to just simply obey you.  We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.  Amen.

 

There may be people here who do not understand about the Bible yet, or don’t understand the meaning of Christ’s cross.  Let me explain a bit.  The Bible teaches that there is God the Creator who created all things in heaven and earth.  Human beings were created by God, too.  We were created to walk in close relationship with God.  However, the first humans, Adam and Eve sinned before God.  They ate of the fruit of the tree that they were forbidden to.  As a result, they were separated from God.  Sin separated humans from God.  And all people who are their descendants are born with the nature of sin, and have actually sinned.  The Bible teaches that all people have sins, that all people ae sinners.  And if we die with sin, we will be judged by God, and be eternally separated from God, and receive eternal suffering.  That is called everlasting destruction.  Solving this problem of sin was impossible for humans with sins.  However, God loves us sinners deeply.  And prepared a way for us to solve the problem of our sins, and for us to be reconciled with God.  That is the cross of Jesus Christ.  Christ was God who became human to come to this earth.  He had not a single sin.  However, he died on the cross.  But that was in our place.  Receiving the penalty for our sins in our place, Christ died on the cross.  By that sacrificial death, the price for our sins has been paid in full.  The problem of sins has been solved.

 

When we personally accept that with appreciation, God forgives all our sins, reconciles us with God, and gives us eternal life to live with him.  Let’s now pray to give thanks for the cross of Christ.  I will pray in short segments.  You do not need to pray out loud, but please pray after me in your heart.  Let’s pray.

 

God in heaven.  /  Before you /  I too, have sins.  /  I heard today that the reason Jesus Christ  /  went on the cross  /  was in my place  /  to forgive me of my sins.  /  God, I thank you.  /  I now  /  believe and accept  Christ  /  to be my Savior.  /  Amen. 

 

Those of you who prayed with me now have been forgiven of all your sins.  You have become Christians.  Please continue coming to worship.  Let’s worship the wonderful God together.